John was our MP at Oswestry in the ’60s. In his bachelor days, my Mum invited him to lunch at our farm many Sundays. He taught me to play cricket on the lawn when I was 6 – a game he loved although he had little skill!
Later on in the mid-70s I lived for a while in his apartment in Vauxhall, from where he biked to the HoC every day (no Lexus behind). He always came back late and left early so I rarely saw him.
Pre-Sarah he led a quiet home life and worked extraordinarily long hours. He then became a very well known figure on the national scene.
He assisted one or two campaigns I ran (mostly frustration with early EU regulations in the 1990’s) by forwarding letters to relevant Ministers. As he was in the Cabinet, this carried considerable weight, and we had some successes such as making it much easier for developers of new buildings to get regulators to work together rather than in competition with each other.
If only it was possible to get a John Biffen letter to achieve as much nowadays. It’s always impossible now as the reply comes back – ‘sorry. the proposal is impossible because of our treaty obligations etc.
John often had a wry smile on his face, and would throw his head back when he laughed. He always asked in detail after everyone.
Despite his illness he still attended the Lords until fairly recently, and was always interested to talk about the latest developments in the Party.
It is a sad day that he is gone as everyone who met him liked him. He always had time for everone else. Shropshire will not be the same without him around, where he and Sarah would attend Point to Point Races and the like.
Sarah should get his autobiography published when she is ready, as people would love to know all about John as a person as well as a politican.