Leader comment: Teddy Taylor had the last laugh

Teddy Taylor escorts Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher on a visit to Leith during a general election campaign tour in May 1979. Also in the picture is Mrs Thatcher's daughter Carol and husband Denis.
Teddy Taylor escorts Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher on a visit to Leith during a general election campaign tour in May 1979. Also in the picture is Mrs Thatcher's daughter Carol and husband Denis.
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Sir Teddy Taylor, who has died at the age of 80, was the definition of political maverick.

Despite his deep loyalty to Margaret Thatcher, he could not keep his strident anti-European views in check, which ruled him out of the running for any position of significance within government.

He was not always taken seriously. He was the Scot who was rejected in his native city and had to head south to find a seat in England, which his critics would be quick to remind him about whenever he popped up north of the Border – usually when elected Conservative members were so thin on the ground that the honourable member for Southend East with the Glasgow accent had to make up the numbers.

He had a knack of backing unpopular causes, characterising him as both an irritation and a source of amusement, inside and outside his own party. He supported birching, the death penalty and Enoch Powell’s campaign against immigration, while opposing abortion and the legalislation of homosexual acts.

And yet one of his “lost causes”, his unwavering crusade against the European Union, defines British politics today. In the end, Sir Teddy Taylor had the last laugh.