Sir Herbert Keith Speed RD DL (11 March 1934 – 12 January 2018) was a British Conservative politician and former Member of Parliament.[1] He was a descendant of cartographer and historian John Speed.[2]

Sir Keith Speed

Sir Keith Speed.png
Member of Parliament
for Meriden
In office
29 March 1968 – 8 February 1974
Preceded byChristopher Rowland
Succeeded byJohn Tomlinson
Member of Parliament
for Ashford
In office
11 October 1974 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byBill Deedes
Succeeded byDamian Green
Personal details
Herbert Keith Speed

(1934-03-11)11 March 1934
Died12 January 2018(2018-01-12) (aged 83)
Political partyConservative


Speed was born on 11 March 1934 in Evesham and educated at Bedford Modern School.[3] He served in the Royal Navy from 1947–56 and continued in the Royal Naval Reserve thereafter as a Lt Cdr. After a period as a sales and marketing manager, he gained employment in the Conservative Research Department in 1965.[4]

After unsuccessfully contesting St Helens in 1964, Speed was elected MP for Meriden in Warwickshire in a 1968 by-election and held the seat until 1974. New constituency boundaries were drawn up prior to the February 1974 general election and Speed lost his Meriden seat to Labour's John Tomlinson.

He was selected to succeed Bill Deedes as Conservative Candidate for the seat of Ashford in Kent in the October 1974 General Election, and was elected as MP with a majority of over 6,000.

On 4 May 1979 he was appointed Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Defence, a position known then as the Navy Minister. He was sacked by Margaret Thatcher in May 1981, after refusing to hand in his resignation. This was because he was unable to accept the reductions in the strength of the Royal Navy proposed by Thatcher and then Secretary of State for Defence, John Nott. With typical service humour, a Royal Navy saying of the time was the fictitious order "Less (K)notts, more Speed!".[5] Later events in the Falklands War showed the shrewdness of his position, and he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1992. He retired as an MP in 1997.

In 1982 he wrote a book, Sea Change (see bibliography), which outlined the background to the Falklands conflict and expressed admiration for former Soviet Admiral Sergey Gorshkov.

As of April 2005, Sir Keith Speed was a Deputy Lord-Lieutenant for the County Of Kent, and Vice President of the Maritime Volunteer Service.

Speed died in hospital on 12 January 2018.[6]


  • Speed, Keith (1982). Sea Change: The Battle For The Falklands And The Future Of Britain's Navy. Ashgrove Press ISBN 0-906798-20-5


  1. ^ "Sir Keith Speed, former Navy minister – obituary". 22 January 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2019 – via
  2. ^ "Sir Keith Speed, former Navy minister – obituary". 22 January 2018 – via
  3. ^ Bedford Modern School of the black & red. OCLC 16558393.
  4. ^ Speed, Keith (1982) Sea Change: The Battle for the Falklands and the Future of the Royal Navy, Ashgrove Press, jacket cover inset
  5. ^ Rick Jolly, Jackspeak: A Guide to British Naval Slang & Usage, FoSAMMA (2000), ISBN 0-9514305-2-1
  6. ^ "Tributes to 'model of kindness' former MP". Kent Online. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Christopher Rowland
Member of Parliament for Meriden
1968Feb. 1974
Succeeded by
John Tomlinson
Preceded by
W.F. Deedes
Member of Parliament for Ashford
Oct. 19741997
Succeeded by
Damian Green