David Atkinson (politician)

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For the Canadian academic, see David W. Atkinson.
David Atkinson
Member of Parliament
for Bournemouth East
In office
24 November 1977 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by John Cordle
Succeeded by Tobias Ellwood
Personal details
Born (1940-03-24)24 March 1940
Died 23 January 2012(2012-01-23) (aged 71)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sue Pilsworth (1968-1992,div.)
Robert Reid (2011-2012, his death)
Children Anthony
Religion Roman Catholicism

David Anthony Atkinson (24 March 1940 – 23 January 2012) was Conservative British Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East from a 1977 by-election until he stepped down at the 2005 general election.

Early life[edit]

Born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Atkinson attended St George's College, Weybridge and Southend College of Technology. He later went to the College of Automobile and Aeronautical Engineering in Chelsea where he gained a Diploma in Automobile Engineering and Motor Trade Management. From 1963-72, he was Director of Chalkwell Motor Co. Ltd in Leigh-on-Sea, and from 1973-77 he worked for David Graham Studios Ltd in printing, marketing, artwork and design.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Atkinson was national chairman of the Young Conservatives from 1970 until 1971, more right-wing than the long line of his moderate predecessors and successors. He contested the Newham North West constituency in February 1974 and Basildon in October 1974. He served as PPS to Paul Channon and as an vociferous supporter of corporal punishment and was nearly sacked for voting against the Government in its support. [1] He was an active MP and supported local causes such as AFC Bournemouth during their financial troubles.

Atkinson was vocal in his criticism of the Soviet Union and active in a number of international forums aimed at highlighting communist abuse of human rights. He was less critical of South Africa's apartheid regime, calling for the lifting of sanctions . [2]and denouncing the pressure on the South African Government:

"If half the pressure that the world is putting on South Africa at present to end apartheid were applied to the Soviet Union to get out of Afghanistan, I believe that it would be only a matter of time before it did so. For France and other European countries to grovel to Third-world, black, corrupt, debt-ridden dictatorships to pile on the agony for South Africa and at the same time actively to pursue increased trade with the Soviet Union whilst it remains in Afghanistan, and to accept Siberian gas, is sheer hypocrisy and double standards." [3]

The Independent revealed that Atkinson was invited on a visit to South Africa by Strategy Network International, the lobby group fronted by Derek Laud, the ex Monday Club member and protege of Michael Brown: "John Carlile, Mr Colvin and David Atkinson, who led an SNI delegation to observe the Angolan peace process in 1992, a year before the firm closed." [4]

Atkinson took a stand against racism, agreeing to support Greville Janner's motion on anti-semitism. [5]

Personal life[edit]

Atkinson married Susan Pilsworth in 1968. They had a son and a daughter. He came out as gay and entered into a civil partnership in 2011. His wife discovered he had been in a relationship with the footballer Justin Fashanu, when Fashanu came out as gay and said he’d had an affair with an un-named, married Conservative MP whom he’d met in a London gay bar. After confronting Atkinson, he revealed he was gay and had been in a series of gay relationships.

"He just said: “Yes, I am gay”. He was cold. He stared straight ahead. David wanted to carry on, for me to have affairs, and for him to continue with the set-up in London where he’d have gay liaisons. We talked into the early hours, and I’m not good at anger. I just felt sad and upset. And I remember thinking about all the young, male PAs he’d had — he employed lots of Americans — and his biggest offence was to bring them home.

‘I’d welcome them and look after them and I now knew he’d been having sex with some of them. He told me too, that night, that he’d used rent boys. He said he’d crashed my car into the back of a bus in Trafalgar Square when he was kerb-crawling.

‘I felt utter grief, really. I sat and listened to this man in a suit who had just come from Westminster. I thought about his hypocrisy. I felt disbelief. My mind was in turmoil." [6]

His son has accused him of being a sexual predator and revealed Geoffrey Dickens had stayed at the Atkinson family home:

"I suspect my father is named in the Dickens’ dossier. Only the other day I found a photograph of my father with Geoffrey Dickens. Dickens once came to stay and he famously said that one of his friends is named in the dossier and that could be my dad. It is hard to reconcile all this with the father I grew up with.”[7]

However his son later qualified his statement to stress his father had not been in engaged in activity that equated to the scope and scale Savile's activities. ‘I didn’t intend to compare my dad to Jimmy Savile’ says son of former MP David Atkinson. [8]

The Daily Mail raised the question of blackmail: "did his predatory interest in youths in their late teens make him vulnerable to blackmail? In an era when an MP’s homosexuality could destroy his career, did Atkinson finally become a victim himself?" [9] His son revealed similar concerns:

"...my dad was just somebody who was gay and was not comfortable with that and got himself into some scrapes. But I think my father got mixed up with the wrong people. I think he didn’t want anybody to find out he was gay and [they] used that to influence him. He liked young men.” [10]


In 2011, Atkinson underwent an operation after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He died on 23 January 2012 at the age of 71.[11]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Cordle
Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East
Succeeded by
Tobias Ellwood