Sir Malcolm was born in Edinburgh in 1946. His father was a
small businessman and his mother had been brought up in Manchester.
He was educated at George Watson's College and Edinburgh University where he
studied law before taking a postgraduate degree in political science. While
at University he took part in an overland expedition to the Middle East and
India. He, also, appeared on University Challenge.
From 1967-69 he lived in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and taught at the
local University. He travelled widely around southern Africa and wrote his
postgraduate thesis on the Politics of Land in Rhodesia. While in Africa he
met his wife, Edith, whose parents had emigrated there when she was a small
On return to Britain he was called to the Bar and practised as an Advocate
until 1979. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1985. During his time at
the Bar he appeared in both civil and criminal cases.
In 1970 he fought his first Parliamentary campaign and from
1970-74 he was a local councillor in Edinburgh. In 1974 he was elected as MP
for Pentlands and represented that constituency until 1997.
Sir Malcolm was appointed to the Front Bench in 1975 but
resigned over devolution in 1977. In 1979, when the Conservatives were
returned to power under Margaret Thatcher, he was appointed a Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State, at first in the Scottish Office and then, at the
time of the Falklands War, he was transferred to the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, being promoted to Minister of State in 1983.
He became a member of the Cabinet in 1986 as Secretary of
State for Scotland. In 1990 he became Minister of Transport and in 1992
Secretary of State for Defence. From 1995-97 he was Foreign Secretary. He
was one of only four ministers to serve throughout the whole Prime
Ministerships of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major. In 1997 he was
knighted in recognition of his public service.
Since 1997 Sir Malcolm has worked in the private sector and has assisted a
number of companies as a director or consultant. He is, currently,
non-executive chairman of Alliance Medical Holdings and of ArmorGroup.
He has also been active in a number of voluntary organisations. He is a
member of the Dulverton Trust, serves on the Court of Edinburgh University
and is an honorary colonel in the Territorial Army, as well as being a
member of the Queen's Bodyguard, the Royal Company of Archers.
Between 1997 and 2004 he remained active in the political
world on radio and TV and in the Press. He was invited by William Hague to
attend a number of Shadow Cabinet meetings and assisted with policy
formulation as well as fighting his former parliamentary seat in 2002. That
seat has now been abolished as a result of Boundary Commission proposals.
In 2004, Sir Malcolm was adopted as the Conservative
parliamentary candidate for Kensington and Chelsea and has since been active
with local residents and voluntary organisations on a range of issues
throughout the constituency. He was re-elected as a Member of Parliament in
May 2005. He served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and
Welfare Reform until December 2005.
Malcolm and Edith Rifkind have a daughter, Caroline and a son, Hugo, both of
whom live and work in London.