|The Right Honourable
|Minister without Portfolio|
4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Baroness Warsi|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
4 September 2012
Serving with Lord Feldman
|Preceded by||Baroness Warsi|
|Minister of State for Housing and Local Government|
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||John Healey (Housing)
Rosie Winterton (Local Government)
|Succeeded by||Mark Prisk|
|Member of Parliament
for Welwyn Hatfield
5 May 2005
|Preceded by||Melanie Johnson|
14 September 1968 |
Watford, Hertfordshire, England
|Alma mater||Manchester Polytechnic|
Grant V. Shapps (born 14 September 1968), also known as Michael Green and Sebastian Fox, is an internet entrepreneur and Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield in the United Kingdom. He first won the seat in the general election on 5 May 2005 and was returned to parliament in the May 2010 election with a 17,423 majority.
On 9 June 2010, he was appointed as a Privy Counsellor. On 4 September 2012, he was appointed Conservative Party Co-Chairman, replacing Baroness Warsi; he was also appointed Minister without Portfolio, in the Cabinet Office, an unpaid post.
Family and early life
Shapps was born in Watford, Hertfordshire to a British Jewish family. He was educated at Yorke Mead Primary School, Watford Grammar School for Boys where he received five O-levels, followed by Cassio College. He completed a business and finance course at Manchester Polytechnic, and received a Higher National Diploma. Shapps was also a B'nai B'rith youth leader. In 1989, Shapps was in a car crash in Kansas, United States, leaving him in a coma for a week.
Shapps married Belinda Goldstone in 1997 and they have three children. In 2000 he had chemotherapy and recovered from cancer, his children being conceived by IVF after the therapy. Mick Jones, a former member of punk rock band The Clash, is Shapps' cousin.
Shapps stood for the Welwyn Hatfield constituency for the 2001 election, again unsuccessfully. He was reselected to fight Welwyn Hatfield in 2002 and continued his local campaigning over the next four years.
Member of Parliament
Shapps stood again in the 2005 election and was elected as the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield, defeating the Labour MP and Minister for Public Health, Melanie Johnson. He received 22,172 votes (49.6%) recording the second highest swing in the 2005 election of 8.2% from Labour to Conservative, a majority of 5,946 (13.3%).
Shapps publicly backed David Cameron's bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party, seconding Cameron's nomination papers. Upon Cameron's election as party leader Shapps was appointed vice chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for campaigning.
Shapps was a member of the Public Administration Select Committee between May 2005 and February 2007.
Shadow housing minister
In June 2007, Shapps became shadow housing minister, outside the shadow cabinet, but entitled to attend its meetings. Shapps was shadow housing minister during the period of the last four Labour government housing ministers.
Shapps argued in favour of a community-up approach to solving the housing crisis and warned against the then Labour government's strategy of top-down Whitehall driven housing targets, which he believed had failed in the past. In his 2007, 2008 and 2009 Conservative Party conference speeches on housing, Shapps outlined a vision of localism being used to replace centrally imposed housing targets with the aim of creating more new build overall.
In May 2008, Shapps revealed to the parliamentary commissioner that he had accepted donations amounting to several thousand pounds from companies linked to his housing portfolio (two online mortgage brokers, an estate agent, a commercial property developer and a firm of solicitors specialising in conveyancing and remortgaging). Because of the companies' links to his portfolio, there were allegations of sleaze in the press. The Conservative party denied that Grant Shapps had been influenced by the donations and a party spokesman is reported to have said "Some of the Conservative policy on housing is actually against the policy of the donors". Shadow ministers are allowed to receive donations from organisations covered by their brief as long as the person has a company in the UK or lives in the UK. The Commissioner exonerated all shadow cabinet members involved.
In April 2009, Shapps launched the Conservative party's ninth green paper on policy, "Strong Foundations". In it Shapps argued for new Local Housing Trusts designed to allow local communities to grant themselves planning permission to expand and a new Right To Move intended to encourage more mobility within the social housing sector.
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
In May 2010 Shapps became housing and local government minister within the Communities and Local Government department and immediately repealed Home Information Pack (HIP) legislation. He chairs the Cross-Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness which includes Ministers from eight Government departments.
As Minister of State for Housing, Shapps promoted plans for flexible rent and, controversially, proposals for amending tenure for future social tenants. Shapps also promoted plans to reward councils for backing new housing through a scheme known as the New Homes Bonus and denied claims that changes in Housing Benefit rules would be unfair and championed Tenant Panels.
At the 2011 party conference, Shapps backed the expansion of right to buy with the income being spent on replacing the sold housing with new affordable housing on a one for one basis.
Conservative Party Chairman
In March 2013 Shapps defended the then new government policy 'The Under Occupancy Penalty' (often referred to as the 'Bedroom Tax' ) by telling Sky News that his own children share a bedroom. He was criticized for misrepresenting his situation, given that he is a millionaire, as being comparable to a family in receipt of housing benefit.
Professional and writing career
In 2005, he founded HowToCorp, a web business selling self-help guides and a software package, TrafficPaymaster, which creates web pages by "spinning and scraping" content from other sites to attract advertising from Google, reportedly breaching Google's code of practice. Using the names Michael Green and Sebastian Fox, Shapps claimed people could "make $20,000 in 20 days guaranteed or your money back". A string of 19 website businesses founded by Shapps (occasionally operating as Michael Green) were later blacklisted by Google for breaches of its rules on copyright infringement, and were banned from carrying Google's advertisements. Many of the companies established by Shapps were later legally transferred to his wife, daughter and mother, and he argues he no longer has any involvement in their operation. In October 2012 the Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom) started an investigation into HowToCorp in response to a complaint that its website made misleading claims.
Alternative Identity Practice
Grant Shapps has a complex history of playing with identity, misrepresenting himself as other people or altering his history in ways beneficial to his own economic and political goals. Shapps' denies his use of alter egos constitute leading a 'double life'.
Shapps has founded a number of businesses, sometimes under pseudonyms. He has been photographed as 'Michael Green', a self-help guru, and has used other pseudonyms including 'Sebastian Fox'. He has reportedly said that his use of a pseudonym was to keep his business separate from his political work, and said in October 2012 that he had stopped using the alter-egos "a long time ago".
In 2004 Shapps attended an internet conference posing as 'multimillion-dollar web marketer' Michael Green. In 2006, using the same pseudonym, he gave a tour of the Houses of Parliament to his business partners.
Another instance of Shapps pretending to be someone else occurred during the Ealing Southall by-election in 2007. A comment was made under a YouTube video made by the Liberal Democrat party purporting to be from a party member. The comment urged Liberal Democrat supporters to admit defeat and praised the Conservative Party. But the comment was made by the YouTube account belonging to Grant Shapps, leading website Liberal Democrat Voice to conclude Shapps was attempting to misrepresent himself as a Liberal Democrat but had forgotten to sign out of his account before making the comment.
In September 2012 it was reported in the Daily Mail that campaign leaflets published on behalf of Shapps when he was standing for election in North Southwark and Bermondsey stated he was born in London, while those published after he won his Welwyn Hatfield seat claimed he was born in Hertfordshire. A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Grant lived in London at the time and this was a genuine mistake in the literature that was later corrected."
Also during September 2012 The Guardian reported that Shapps had been surreptitiously editing his Wikipedia biography, removing a list of "unfortunate gaffes", details of his school qualifications (it was said this was done because the Wikipedia article originally incorrectly listed him as having four instead of five O levels) and the identity of financial donors to his private office. Shapps told the Daily Mail that in fact he had not edited his Wikipedia article in years: "these days when I see stuff that's blatantly wrong on my Wiki page, I just shrug my shoulders. If people want to claim I'm a Jehovah's Witness, agnostic or crashed a car into a school wall—all real edits I'd previously changed—then I just leave them to it."
Further confirming his association with misrepresentation of his own and other peoples' identities, in April 2013 Shapps was caught lending his image to a Conservative Party website article presenting a found photograph of Australian students as young Conservative Party volunteers.
It also emerged in research carried out by Yatterbox, "a political marketing consultancy firm", that he—or a person who was able to use his account—appeared to have been periodically adding 5,000 people at a time to those he followed on his Twitter account, including "the organisers of a beekeeping project in Morocco". If the people he followed did not respond by following him in return, he then "unfollowed" them.
- How to Bounce Back from Recession 2009/10. Under the name 'Michael Green'
- 10 Success Habits to Swell Your Bank Balance 2006. Talking Ebook, with Peter Twist. Under the name 'Michael Green'
- How to Create Your Own Money-Making Mint! 2003. Under the name 'Michael Green'
- Shapps' full name as given when he was nominated as a Parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield in the 2001 general election. See "Election 2001: The Official Results", Electoral Commission/Politico's Publishing, 2001, pp. 209, 370.
- Ramesh, Randeep (2 September 2012). "Grant Shapps founded company selling software that breaches Google code". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Shapps: ‘Real desire to make Tory/Lib Dem coalition work’". Welwyn Hatfield Times. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- "Privy Council appointments, 9 June 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- "Grant Shapps made Tory party co-chairman to revive party's grassroots". Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Her Majesty's Government". Parliament.uk. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Jessica Elgot (14 May 2010). "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle.
- Paton, Graeme (9 September 2012). "Grant Shapps 'edited Wikipedia page to remove school records'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- "Meet the MP: Grant Shapps". BBC News. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- "MP talks about recovering from coma".
- "Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Shadow Housing Minister". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Porter, Andrew (29 December 2007). "How Grant Shapps slept rough for Christmas". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Newsnight, BBC2, 14 April 2010
- Grant Shapps, Conservative, Welywn Hatfield Echo, May 2010
- "Southwark North and Bermondsey-the 2005 general election". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010.[dead link]
- "In full:Shapps speech on housing". BBC News. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Shadow ministers take cash from firms linked to their portfolios The Guardian, 16 May 2008
- Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's £500,000 secret donations[dead link]
- "Sharp launches new housing policies". The Conservative Party. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- "MPs' expenses: The saints (Part ii)-Grant Shapps". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Letts, Quentin (23). "He stood up to the old class warrior, almost snarling". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- "Hips scrapped by coalition government". BBC News. 20 May 2010.
- "David Cameron prepared for backlash over council homes". Thisislondon.co.uk. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "New Homes Bonus". Bbc.co.uk. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Amelia Gentleman. "Housing minister rebuts opposition critics: 'We are not being unfair'". Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Wellman, Alex (31 August 2011), "Tenant panel training scheme launched", Inside Housing Text "Inside Housing " ignored (help)
- "Shapps Sharpens the Right To Buy'". Spectator.co.uk. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Chapman, James (15 March 2013). "ain Duncan Smith's fury at the BBC for adopting the language of Labour and calling benefit cut 'bedroom tax'". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Dominiczak, Peter (March 31, 2013). "Grant Shapps defends 'bedroom tax' by saying his children share a room". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Boniface, Susan (6 June 2010). "Millionaire Tory minister Grant Shapps makes mockery of 'green government' pledge with private plane ride for public appearance". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Johnson, Andrew (31 March 2013). "Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps attacked for using his own children in 'bedroom tax' row". The Independent. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Hetherington, Peter (20 January 2010). "Tories' housing plans to raise the roofs". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- Watts, Robert; Oliver, Jonathan; Warren, Georgia (21 June 2009). "Conservative MPs rush to quit second jobs". London: Times Online. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- "Grant Shapps founded company selling software that breaches Google code". Guardian News and Media Limited. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "Grant Shapps' business 'plagiarising' software and breaching Google's rules". Telegraph Media Group Limited. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Rupert Neate. "Google blacklists websites run by family of Grant Shapps | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Grant Shapps to be investigated by advertising watchdog". Guardian News and Media Limited. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- Hall, Richard (13 October 2012). "Revealed: Grant Shapps' get-rich-quick guide (or it that Michael Green's?)". The Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Lister, Sam (30 September 2012). "Grant Shapps denies 'double life' accusations despite business alter ego". The Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Maybe it's because I'm a Watforder: 'Double life' Tory chief can't decide if he was born in London or Herts". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- James Cusick. "Tory chairman accused of running dirty tricks campaign while minister". The Independent. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- Daniel Boffey. "Grant Shapps altered school performance entry on Wikipedia". The Observer. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- Ramesh, Randeep (21 September 2012). "Grant Shapps posed as web guru at $3,000-a-head Las Vegas conference". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Kelly, Tom (23 September 2012). "How future Tory chief Shapps went to £200-a-head Vegas internet conference under an assumed name". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Grant Shapps posed as internet expert at $3,000-a-head Las Vegas conference (48932). London: The Daily Telegraph. 22 September 2012. p. 8.
- "Grant Shapps gave entrepreneurs tour of parliament as 'Michael Green'". 12 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Pack, Mark. "EXCLUSIVE: Grant Shapps says "realistically we’re not going to win" in Ealing". Journalism. Liberal Democrat Voice. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Boffey, Daniel (8 September 2012). "Grant Shapps altered school performance entry on Wikipedia". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Walker, Kirsty (9 September 2012). "Top Tory 'airbrushed his Wikipedia page', new chairman 'deleted political gaffes and altered exam details'". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- Ramesh, Randeep (21 September 2012). "Grant Shapps posed as web guru at $3,000-a-head Las Vegas conference". Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Lyons, James (13 April 2013). "Conservatives in photo fakery row: 'Young Tory activists' featured on party website are AUSSIE students". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Wintour, Patrick (7 September 2012). "The rise and fall of Grant Shapps' Twitter followers". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- Geeta Guru-Murthy. "Profile: Grant Shapps, Conservative party co-chairman". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- Grant Shapps MP Official constituency site
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at PublicWhip.org
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.com
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Articles authored at Journalisted
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Welwyn Hatfield
The Baroness Warsi
|Minister without portfolio
with Kenneth Clarke
|Party political offices|
The Baroness Warsi
The Lord Feldman of Elstree
|Chairman of the Conservative Party
with The Lord Feldman of Elstree