|The Right Honourable
|Minister without portfolio|
4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||The Baroness Warsi|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
4 September 2012
Serving with The Lord Feldman
|Preceded by||The 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 |
|Alma mater||Manchester Metropolitan University|
Grant Shapps (born 14 September 1968) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and incumbent election candidate for Welwyn Hatfield in England. He first won the seat, as Grant V Shapps, in the general election of 5 May 2005. Shapps was returned to parliament in the May 2010 election with a 17,423 majority. He has used the name Michael Green in his internet marketing businesses.
On 9 June 2010, Shapps 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. His salary is paid by the party.
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, and Cassio College. He completed a business and finance course at Manchester Polytechnic, and received a Higher National Diploma. Shapps was also National President of the Jewish youth organisation BBYO. In 1989, Shapps was in a car crash in Kansas, United States, that left him in a coma for a week.
Shapps married Belinda Goldstone in 1997 and they have three children. In 1999 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy recovering from cancer by the following year. As a result of the effects of chemotherapy, his children were conceived by IVF. Mick Jones, a former member of punk rock band the Clash, is Shapps's cousin.
Shapps stood for the Welwyn Hatfield constituency in 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%) and had a majority of 5,946 (13.3%), recording the second highest swing from Labour to Conservative in the 2005 election of 8.2%.
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.
He 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.
He was shadow housing minister during the period of the last four Labour government housing ministers. During this period of opposition he argued in favour of a community-up approach to solving the housing crisis and warned against top-down Whitehall driven housing targets, which he believed had failed in the past.
In May 2008, Shapps was cited as one of several shadow ministers who had received cash from firms linked to their portfolios. The donors were originally recruited by Michael Gove who previously held the shadow housing portfolio. The Conservative party said shadow ministers had not been influenced by donations. "Some Conservative policy on housing is actually against the policy of the donors", said a Conservative spokesman. 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 early 2010 Shapps published a series of six speeches in a pamphlet called "Home Truths".
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 chaired the Cross-Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness which includes ministers from eight Government departments. The group introduced "No Second Night Out", a policy designed to prevent rough sleeping nationwide.
As Minister of State for Housing, Shapps promoted plans for flexible rent and controversially ended automatic lifetime social tenancies. He also introduced the New Homes Bonus which rewarded councils for building more homes. He denied claims that changes in Housing Benefit rules would be unfair claiming that ordinary people could no longer afford some of the homes paid for by the £24bn Housing Benefit bill. Shapps 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 co-chairman
In November 2012, Shapps hired Australian strategist Lynton Crosby to provide strategic advice and run the 2015 election campaign. Credited with helping John Howard to win three Australian elections and the re-election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, Crosby is a controversial figure who was accused of having influenced government smoking policy in July 2013.
In March 2013, Shapps defended the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (often referred to as the "Bedroom Tax") saying his own children share a bedroom. Some were critical of him for comparing his privileged situation with that of a family receiving housing benefit. Others argued that Shapps was right to point out that families who are not on welfare should not have to pay for additional bedrooms. At the same time Shapps was criticized by Andrew Dilnot, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, for wrongly claiming that nearly one million people on disability benefits had dropped their claims rather than face medical checks. The real figure was 19,700.
In early 2013, Shapps recruited the head of Barack Obama's 2012 US presidential campaign Jim Messina to advise on campaigning and digital strategy. Following this, he set up Team2015, an initiative aiming to deploy volunteers effectively for targeted campaigning.
In September 2013, Shapps complained to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about a press release issued in its name claiming that the government's Spare Room Subsidy policy went against human rights.
In October 2013, Shapps used a Daily Telegraph interview to say that the BBC could lose the right to all of the licence fee if it did not resolve its "culture of waste and secrecy". He also suggested that the organisation was biased against the Tory Party, saying it did not "apply fairness in both directions" and that there was a "question of credibility for the organisation". The licence fee might be withdrawn if it did not address this. His comments sparked a vigorous response from a former BBC Director General Greg Dyke who said that "politicians shouldn't define partiality". Others, including the current BBC Director General Tony Hall echoed some of Shapps's comments by saying that the "BBC needs to start treating public money as its own."
In March 2014, Shapps drew national headlines for a tweet in support of the 2014 budget. Opponents criticised Shapps of being patronising to working people by reducing their hobbies to bingo and beer.
The Guardian newspaper has said that Shapps's Wikipedia article has been edited from his office, to remove embarrassing information multiple times and on one occasion to correct an error. In 2012, Shapps stated that he had not touched his Wikipedia biography for years and that he only edited to make his biography more accurate. In April 2015, during the general election campaign, The Guardian reported allegations that Shapps has used a sockpuppet account to remove embarrassing material from his own Wikipedia page, whilst also making "largely unflattering" edits those of other politicians, including some in his own party. Shapps denied the allegations in a BBC interview.
Professional and writing career
In 1990, aged 22, Shapps founded PrintHouse Corporation, a design, print, website creation and marketing business in London, based on a collapsed printing business he purchased from the receiver. He stepped down as a director in 2009, but remained the majority shareholder.
Shapps founded a web publishing business, How To Corp Limited, with his wife while he was recovering from cancer. The company marketed business publications and software. In 2012 Google blacklisted 19 of the Shappses' business websites for violating rules on copyright infringement related to the TrafficPayMaster software sold by the Shappses. TrafficPayMaster makes advertising revenue for its subscribers by scraping material from other websites and then passing that information off as their own. Google pays the owners of websites and blogs for hosting advertisements it supplies, but has strict rules barring sites which contain no original material. Shapps stood down as a director in July 2008, however his wife remained as director until the company was dissolved in 2014.
The Guardian reported that one of HowTo Corp's products released whilst Shapps was a director in 2007, "sounds very much like a pyramid scheme". The 20/20 Challenge publication cost $497 and promised customers earnings of $20,000 in 20 days. Upon purchase, the "toolkit" was revealed to be an ebook, advising the user to create their own toolkit and recruit 100 "Joint Venture Partners" to resell it for a share of the profits.
His use of the pen name Michael Green attracted controversy in 2012. Shapps denied having used the pseudonym after entering Parliament and, in 2014, threatened legal action against a constituent who had stated on Facebook that he had. In February 2015 he told LBC Radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty, "Let me get this absolutely clear...I don't have a second job and have never had a second job while being an MP. End of story." In March 2015 Shapps admitted to having had a second job whilst being an MP and practising business under the pen name. In March 2015, Dean Archer, the constituent previously threatened with legal action by Shapps, informed Shapps he would begin legal action against him.
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- Newsnight, BBC2, 14 April 2010
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- Randeep Ramesh (21 April 2015). "Grant Shapps accused of editing Wikipedia pages of Tory rivals". The Guardian.
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- Mason, Rowena (5 October 2012). "Grant Shapps: my Michael Green alias was only a 'joke'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- Rosa Prince (3 September 2012). "Grant Shappses' business 'plagiarising' software and breaching Google's rules". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
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- "Companies In The UK". Retrieved 31 March 2015.
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- "When Shapps Told LBC He Didn't Have Second Job As MP". LBC. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Ramesh, Randeep (15 March 2015). "Grant Shapps admits he had second job as 'millionaire web marketer' while MP". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- Randeep Ramesh (16 March 2015). "Revealed: Grant Shapps's threat to sue constituent over Michael Green post". TheGuardian.co.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "Grant Shapps Was Ambushed With Legal Threat Over His Alter Ego "Michael Green"". BuzzFeed.
- Daniel Boffey (21 March 2015). "Grant Shapps faces legal action from constituent he threatened to sue". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- Grant Shapps MP Official constituency site
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- 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
|Party political offices|
The Baroness Warsi
|Chairman of the Conservative Party
Served alongside: The Lord Feldman of Elstree