Christopher Francis Patten CH was born in 1944. He was educated at St Benedict’s School, Ealing and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Modern History and was elected a Domus Exhibitioner. In 1965 he won a Coolidge Travelling Scholarship to the USA. Lord Patten joined the Conservative Research Department in 1966. He was seconded to the Cabinet Office in 1970 and was personal assistant and political secretary to Lord Carrington and Lord Whitelaw when they were Chairmen of the Conservative Party from 1972-1974. In 1974 he was appointed the youngest ever Director of the Conservative Research Department, a post which he held until 1979. Lord Patten was elected as Member of Parliament for Bath in May 1979, a seat he held until April 1992. In 1983 he wrote THE TORY CASE, a study of Conservatism.
Following the General Election of June 1983, Lord Patten was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office and in September 1985 Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science. In September 1986 he became Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1989 and was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1998. In July 1989 Patten became Secretary of State for the Environment. In November 1990 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chairman of the Conservative Party.
Lord Patten was appointed Governor of Hong Kong in April 1992, a position he held until 1997, overseeing the return of Hong Kong to China. He was Chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland set up under the Good Friday Peace Agreement, which reported in 1999.
In September 1999 he was appointed European Commissioner for External Relations, a post he held until November 2004. On leaving office in Brussels he was made a life peer. Lord Patten is also Chancellor of Newcastle and Oxford Universities. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and Honorary Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He was appointed Chancellor of Newcastle University in 1999, and elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003. He was Chairman of the BBC Trust from 2011 to 2014.
Lord Patten married Lavender Thornton in 1971. They have three daughters, Kate (born in 1973), Laura (1974) and Alice (1979). He reads a lot and is keen on tennis and gardening.
Most politicians write autobiographies to ‘set the record straight’ and provide retrospective justification for their careers. That is not the case with this book. ‘It occurred to me that to track down myself would enable me to discuss an issue that had begun to intrigue me, namely the relationship between politics and identity, the things that had shaped me and whether and how they had come to reflect my life and opinions. As I wrote, the question of identity moved from the wings to centre stage, and roiled politics and nations on both sides of the Atlantic.’
‘Who am I? Who are we?’ Chris Patten’s career has taken him from the outer London suburbs to the House of Commons, a seat in the Cabinet, last Governor of Hong Kong, Chairman of the BBC and Chancellor of Oxford University. About all of these he is enlightening and entertaining. He has unexpected and telling things to say about each of the three Prime Ministers for whom he worked – Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major. But his political heroes – Baldwin, Macmillan, Butler – came from an earlier time: he is proud to be ‘wet’, and reckons all his paladins were pretty damp themselves. But more, Patten uses each phase of his life as a spur to reflect upon its contemporary situation – education, America, conservatism, Ireland, China, Europe and finally the question of links between violence and religion. Unlike one No.10 press secretary, Patten definitely ‘does God’.
At the end, the reader has an impression of someone who knows himself as well as any of us can, and who continues to think, passionately and intelligently, about the world around him. Wise, funny and opinionated, First Confession is a different sort of memoir, a meditation on personal and political identity which, in an age of simplification, reminds us of the complexities of both.
PUBLISHER: Allen Lane
PUBLICATION DATE: 22nd June 2017
COUSINS AND STRANGERS: AMERICA, BRITAIN, AND EUROPE IN A NEW CENTURY – Buy it here
A frank and controversial assessment of the United States, Great Britain, and Europe, and the stakes for all three if the West breaks apart.
Despite the efforts of President Woodrow Wilson, Am erica washed its hands of Europe after the First World War. After the Second World War, it stayed involved, helping to preserve freedom in half of Europe, and creating an infrastructure of global governance that gave the world a remarkable half century of (for the most part) peace and prosperity.
In Cousins and Strangers, Chris Patten, one of Europe’s most distinguished statesmen, scrutinizes the final years of the twentieth century and how the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 fundamentally changed the nature of this Western alliance. Today, the threat of terrorism, economic competition from Asia, and a seemingly unbridgeable cultural divide have strained the alliance to a moment of reckoning. Patten argues that America’s status as the only superpower must be reined in, but he also warns Europe against too ardently challenging U.S. leadership. He questions whether Britain needs to choose between bolstering its “special relationship” with the United States and forging a greater role in a united Europe.
Drawing on more than three decades of experience in government and international diplomacy, Patten brilliantly investigates the three-way relationship among Britain, Europe, and America and how all three must adapt to cope with the economic and political challenges of the twenty-first century.
PUBLISHER: Times Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 10 January 2006
WHAT NEXT?: SURVIVING THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Globalisation, energy, international crime, Weapons of Mass Destruction, nuclear proliferation, small arms proliferation, international drugs trafficking, climate change, water shortage, migration, epidemic disease, the fraying of the nation state: the list of challenges facing our world is itself proliferating rapidly, and nobody seems to have much of a grip on what is going on. Digesting vast amounts of information from a multiplicity of sources, and drawing on his experience at the highest levels of national and international politics, Chris Patten analyses what we know in each of these areas and argues how in each of them we could get somewhere we might want to be. Very little, he says, has turned out as we might have expected twenty years ago, but there is plenty we can still do.
Readers of Patten’s previous books will know what a penetrating analyst and engaging writer he is. This is his most ambitious and impressive yet.
“He is an eloquent and wise voice in a cacophonous world. What Next? deserves a wide voice”. Lionel Barber, FT.
PUBLISHER: Penguin Press
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2008
NOT QUITE THE DIPLOMAT: HOME TRUTHS ABOUT WORLD AFFAIRS – Buy it here
Not Quite the Diplomat describes what has been happening in Britain, Europe and the world since 1997 from the perspective of one at the heart of international events. In examining how we got to where we are, he writes frankly about many of the major players and what happened behind closed doors; his sketches of world leaders – including Chirac, Putin, Kohl, and Blair (a man who has convictions to which he holds strongly – while he holds them’) – and of key moments are done with the brush of a master portraitist. In arguing about where we should be, he writes with the directness of a man freed at last from the bonds of diplomatic restraint. No recent book by a politician of any political persuasion has been so engaging, so outspoken – and often so funny. If Chris Patten is no longer the diplomat, it is the readers of this book who are the beneficiaries.
PUBLISHER: Penguin Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 1st June 2006
EAST & WEST: CHINA, POWER AND THE FUTURE OF ASIA- Buy it here
In June of 1997, over a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong came to an end. Chris Patten writes about his experiences as the last governor of the colony of Hong Kong. He explains why he adopted the stance that he did, and how he fought his battles.
“Patten is rightly critical of the so-called Asian values, but he is not vindictive. He even exonerates Singapore’s elder statesman, Lee Kuan Yew, who had done much to make life difficult for Patten as governor. The bulk of the book, however, may be seen as an eloquent plea for the virtues of small government, the market, liberty and democracy. It is the manifesto of the “best Conservative politician of his generation” rather than the reflections of the last governor that many had hoped.” –Michael Yahuda
PUBLICATION DATE: 10th September 1998