One of the leading Conservative politicians of the 1980s and 1990s and holder of several of the great offices of state at home and abroad Lord Chris Patten looks back at his time as a minister, MP and public servant, in this special event organised by FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival to mark the publication of his memoir, First Confession.
Patten became Conservative MP for Bath in 1979. He was a member of the Thatcher and Major cabinets between 1989 and 1992 and chairman of the Conservative Party between 1990 and 1992. He lost his seat in the 1992 election but went on to hold many of the highest public offices including as the last British Governor of Hong Kong, a European Commissioner, and chairman of the BBC Trust. Patten looks back at his time in all these offices and explores the unexpected sides to some of the great figures of his day. He explores his own identity and examines the dangers of the identity politics he encountered through his work in places from Northern Ireland to Asia and the Middle East.
Patten is Chancellor of the University of Oxford, a post he has held since 2003. He sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher. As a leading Roman Catholic layman, Patten was appointed by the Prime Minister in 2010 to organise Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.
He is no stranger to controversy, be it his defence of the Rhodes scholarship programme; his support for the Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s Russia; or his condemnation of the independence campaign in Hong Kong while supporting democracy in the territory.