Lord Montague of Oxford

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Biographical Information

Lord Montague of Oxford, died aged 67 in 1999. He was a "major donor to the Labour party before he became a life peer in 1997, less than four months after the general election." Derek Draper writes: "We first met in 1995, when I was looking for a patron for Progress, the magazine I was setting up to spread the moderniser's word to Labour's grassroots... Cynics might see his elevation to the Lords as a reward for all that financial support. In fact, his life's work would have led there anyway. He combined a successful career in business, including the chairmanship of Yale & Valor, with involvement in the arts - he served as chairman of the Henley Festival and vice-president of the Royal Albert Hall, and did stints as chairman of the English Tourist Board and the National Consumer Council.

"Educated at High Wycombe Royal Grammar School and Magdalen College School, Oxford, he had a natural flair for salesmanship. In 1958 he founded his own electrical firm, Gatehill Beco Ltd; a million-dollar order from the US led to its being bought out in 1962 by Valor Co. Michael became managing director of the enlarged company, and then chairman of Yale & Valor plc from 1965-91, travelling the world to sell British goods, from nuts and bolts to aircraft.

"Above all, he succeeded in the Asian market, and was chairman of the Asia committee of the British National Export Council (1968-71), for which he was awarded the CBE. From 1991, he was chairman of Montague Multinational Ltd. ... Michael valued his private life. Only those he really liked would be invited to River Willows, the beautiful modern Oxfordshire home he shared with his lifelong partner Takashi Sizuki. His genuine political friends - John Smith had been one, Peter Mandelson became another - were made welcome, but were treated no differently from anyone else."[1]

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  1. guardian.co.uk Lord Montague of Oxford, organizational web page, accessed July 1, 2012.