George Younger

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George Younger (Lord Younger of Prestwick and latterly Lord Younger of Leckie) was a former conservative Defence Secretary, Margaret Thatcher's campaign manager when she was challenged by Michael Heseltine for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1990 and latterly the Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He died in January 2003.

Political career

He was initially selected to stand for the Perth and Kinross seat in a by-election in late 1963, but agreed to stand aside to allow the new Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home the chance to enter Parliament. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather the 1st Viscount, Younger became Member of Parliament for Ayr in 1964. A summary of his political career follows:

  • 1965–1967: Scottish Conservative Whip
  • 1967–1970: Deputy-Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Association
  • 1970–1974: Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
  • 1974: Minister of State for Defence
  • 1974–1976: Chairman of the Conservative Party of Scotland (having been Deputy Chairman from 1967 to 1970)
  • 1979–1986: Secretary of State for Scotland
  • 1986–1989: Secretary of State for Defence
  • 1987–1988: President of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations

He succeeded Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence when Heseltine resigned from the cabinet over the Westland crisis.

Later years

Younger quit the cabinet in 1989, and joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, being made a director in that year, and in 1992, he left life as an MP behind altogether, and became the Bank's chairman.

That same year, he was made a life peer, becoming Baron Younger of Prestwick, of Ayr in the District of Kyle and Carrick. Upon the death of his father on June 25, 1997, he inherited the family's baronetcy and viscountcy, becoming the 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie.

He died on January 26, 2003, after a battle with cancer, at the age of 71.

Business role

Appointed deputy chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland group in January 1990, he assumed the chairmanship one year later. His chairmanship coincided with one of the bank’s most successful periods in its history, culminating in the acquisition of Nat-West.[1]

Patrician style

According to his colleague Malcolm Rifkind:

I admired him, but our styles were very different. I remember vividly when we had to meet a delegation of Scottish council leaders, mostly Labour, who thumped on the table and declared how terrible and unhelpful the government was being to them. If I had been in charge of the meeting I would have thumped the table in response and given as good as I had got. We would have had a splendid row and they would have issued some indignant statement to the waiting press.
Younger’s approach was quite different. He listened to them and then said: "Gentlemen. If I was sitting where you are sitting I would have said exactly the same thing. But let me share with you my problems." The councillors left thinking they had had a very good hearing and only later must they have realised how little he had conceded. [2]



Younger's nephew Rupert Younger is a partner at PR firm Finsbury



  1. David Scott 'Lord Younger - iron fist in velvet glove, The Scotsman, 27 January 2003.
  2. Malcolm Rifkind 'George Younger dies after long illness' The Scotsman, 27 January 2003.