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Grant Shapps

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The Right Honourable
Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps Official.jpg
Minister without portfolio
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by The Baroness Warsi
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 September 2012
Serving with The Lord Feldman
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by The Baroness Warsi
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
In office
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
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Melanie Johnson
Majority 17,423 (35.6%)
Personal details
Born (1968-09-14) 14 September 1968 (age 46)
Watford, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Belinda Goldstone
Children 3
Alma mater Manchester Metropolitan University
Religion Judaism[1]
Pseudonym Michael Green

Grant Shapps (born 14 September 1968) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is co-chairman of the Conservative Party,[2] and incumbent election candidate for Welwyn Hatfield in England. He first won the seat, as Grant V Shapps,[3] in the general election of 5 May 2005. Shapps was returned to parliament in the May 2010 election with a 17,423 majority.[4] He has used the name Michael Green in his internet marketing businesses.[5]

On 9 June 2010, Shapps was appointed as a Privy Counsellor.[6] On 4 September 2012, he was appointed Conservative Party Co-Chairman,[7] replacing Baroness Warsi; he was also appointed Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office. His salary is paid by the party.[8]

Family and early life

Shapps was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, to a British Jewish family.[1] He was educated at Yorke Mead Primary School, Watford Grammar School for Boys, and Cassio College.[9] He completed a business and finance course at Manchester Polytechnic, and received a Higher National Diploma.[9] Shapps was also National President of the Jewish youth organisation BBYO.[10][11] In 1989, Shapps was in a car crash in Kansas, United States, that left him in a coma for a week.[12]

Shapps married Belinda Goldstone in 1997 and they have three children.[13] In 1999 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy recovering from cancer by the following year.[11][14][15] As a result of the effects of chemotherapy, his children[16] were conceived by IVF.[17] Mick Jones, a former member of punk rock band the Clash, is Shapps's cousin.[18][19]

Political career

Parliamentary candidacy

Shapps unsuccessfully contested the seat of North Southwark and Bermondsey[20] during the 1997 election as the Conservative Party candidate.

Shapps stood for the Welwyn Hatfield constituency in the 2001 election, again unsuccessfully.[17] 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%.[21]

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.[17]

He was a member of the Public Administration Select Committee between May 2005 and February 2007.

In the 2010 election, he was re-elected with a further 11.1% swing and a majority of 17,423, taking 57% of the vote.[22]

Shadow housing minister

In June 2007, Shapps became shadow housing minister,[13] 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.[17]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[24] The Commissioner exonerated all shadow cabinet members involved.[25]

In April 2009, Shapps launched the Conservative party's ninth green paper on policy, "Strong Foundations".[26] In early 2010 Shapps published a series of six speeches in a pamphlet called "Home Truths".[27]

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.[28] He chaired the Cross-Ministerial Working Group[29] on Homelessness which includes ministers from eight Government departments.[30] 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.[31] He also introduced the New Homes Bonus which rewarded councils for building more homes.[32] 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.[33] Shapps championed Tenant Panels.[34]

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.[35]

In 2012, Shapps launched StreetLink[36] - a website and phone app for the public to bring help to rough sleepers.[37]

Conservative Party co-chairman

Shapps speaking at Conservative Party conference 2011

In September 2012, Shapps was appointed Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party[2] in Cameron's first major reshuffle.

On arrival Shapps set about preparing Conservative Campaign Headquarters for the 2015 election by installing an election countdown clock.[38][39]

In November 2012, Shapps hired Australian strategist Lynton Crosby to provide strategic advice and run the 2015 election campaign.[40][41] 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.[42]

In March 2013, Shapps defended the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (often referred to as the "Bedroom Tax") saying his own children share a bedroom.[43] 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.[44][45]

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.[46]

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".[47] 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".[48] 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."[49]

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.[50]

Wikipedia editing

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.[51][52][53] In 2012, Shapps stated that he had not touched his Wikipedia biography for years[54] and that he only edited to make his biography more accurate.[55] 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.[56] Shapps denied the allegations in a BBC interview.[57]

Professional and writing career

In 1990, aged 22,[17] Shapps founded PrintHouse Corporation,[58] a design, print, website creation and marketing business in London,[9][59] based on a collapsed printing business he purchased from the receiver.[60] He stepped down as a director in 2009,[61] but remained the majority shareholder.[60]

Shapps founded a web publishing business, How To Corp Limited, with his wife while he was recovering from cancer.[62] 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.[63][64] 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.[65]

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.[66]

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."[67] In March 2015 Shapps admitted to having had a second job whilst being an MP and practising business under the pen name.[68][69] In March 2015, Dean Archer, the constituent previously threatened with legal action by Shapps, informed Shapps he would begin legal action against him.[70][71]

References

  1. ^ a b Christopher Richards (2 September 2010). "Interview: Grant Shapps". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "BBC News - Cabinet reshuffle: David Cameron's new line-up". Bbc.co.uk. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Offices - Parliamentary Election Results". welhat.gov.uk. 
  4. ^ "Shapps: ‘Real desire to make Tory/Lib Dem coalition work’". Welwyn Hatfield Times. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Ian Dunt. "The tactics Grant Shapps used to escape Michael Green". politics.co.uk. 
  6. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 9 June 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Hope, Christopher (4 September 2012). "Grant Shapps made Tory party co-chairman to revive party's grassroots". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Her Majesty's Government". Parliament.uk. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "Meet the MP: Grant Shapps". BBC News. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  10. ^ Jessica Elgot (14 May 2010). "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle. 
  11. ^ a b Guru, Geeta (11 September 2012). "BBC News - Profile: Grant Shapps, Conservative party co-chairman". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "MP talks about recovering from coma". 
  13. ^ a b "Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Shadow Housing Minister". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Cancer survivor MP Shapps backs research campaign - News - Welwyn Hatfield Times". Whtimes.co.uk. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Grant Shapps: Keeping It Real | House Magazine". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Porter, Andrew (29 December 2007). "How Grant Shapps slept rough for Christmas". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  18. ^ Newsnight, BBC2, 14 April 2010
  19. ^ Grant Shapps, Conservative, Welywn Hatfield Echo, May 2010
  20. ^ "Southwark North and Bermondsey-the 2005 general election". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Election 2005 | Results | Welwyn Hatfield". BBC News. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  22. ^ "Election 2010 | Constituency | Welwyn Hatfield". BBC News. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  23. ^ David Hencke, Westminster correspondent (16 May 2008). "Shadow ministers take cash from firms linked to their portfolios | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Shadow ministers take cash from firms linked to their portfolios The Guardian, 16 May 2008
  25. ^ Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's £500,000 secret donations[dead link]
  26. ^ "Shapps launches new housing policies". The Conservative Party. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  27. ^ "Some home truths on housing | Grant Shapps | Comment is free". theguardian.com. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  28. ^ "Hips scrapped by coalition government". BBC News. 20 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "St Mungo's welcomes new announcements by Housing Minister". mungos.org. 
  30. ^ Department for Communities and Local Government. "Minutes of the ministerial working group on preventing and tackling homelessness - Publications". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  31. ^ "David Cameron prepared for backlash over council homes". Thisislondon.co.uk. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  32. ^ "New Homes Bonus". Bbc.co.uk. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  33. ^ Amelia Gentleman (28 October 2010). "Housing minister rebuts opposition critics: 'We are not being unfair'". London: Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  34. ^ Wellman, Alex (31 August 2011), "Tenant panel training scheme launched", Inside Housing 
  35. ^ "Shapps Sharpens the Right To Buy'". Spectator.co.uk. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  36. ^ Twinch, Emily (3 September 2012). "Shapps hands out homelessness cash | News". Inside Housing. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  37. ^ "Help connect rough sleepers to local services". StreetLink. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  38. ^ "Countdown to 2015 General Election - ITV News". Itv.com. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  39. ^ "Re-arranging the desk chairs on the Titanic » Spectator Blogs". Blogs.spectator.co.uk. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  40. ^ "BBC News - Tories hire Boris Johnson's strategist Lynton Crosby". Bbc.co.uk. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  41. ^ "BBC News - Grant Shapps on police election votes and Lynton Crosby". Bbc.co.uk. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  42. ^ Andrew Grice (17 July 2013). "Smoking gun? David Cameron dodges Lynton Crosby cigarette packaging controversy question - UK Politics - UK". London: The Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  43. ^ Dominiczak, Peter (31 March 2013). "Grant Shapps defends 'bedroom tax' by saying his children share a room". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  44. ^ "Incapacity benefit test claims 'conflated figures' - watchdog". BBC. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  45. ^ Johnson, Andrew (31 March 2013). "Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps attacked for using his own children in 'bedroom tax' row". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  46. ^ "BBC News - Conservatives protest to UN over 'bedroom tax' report". Bbc.co.uk. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  47. ^ Ross, Tim (26 October 2013). "BBC could lose right to licence fee over 'culture of waste and secrecy', minister warns". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  48. ^ Rajeev Syal. "BBC licence fee threat: Greg Dyke hits back at Tory chairman". the Guardian. 
  49. ^ Hope, Christopher (4 November 2013). "BBC needs to start treating public money as its own, says Lord Hall". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  50. ^ Urquhart, Conal (19 March 2014). "Scorn for 'patronising' beer and bingo tweet from Tory chair Grant Shapps". The Guardian (London). 
  51. ^ Daniel Boffey (8 September 2012). "Grant Shapps altered school performance entry on Wikipedia". The Guardian. 
  52. ^ Randeep Ramesh (11 September 2012). "Grant Shapps's Wikipedia page was edited to remove byelection gaffe". The Guardian. 
  53. ^ Randeep Ramesh (21 April 2015). "Grant Shapps accused of editing Wikipedia pages of Tory rivals". The Guardian. 
  54. ^ Walker, Kirsty (9 September 2012). "Top Tory 'airbrushed his Wikipedia page', new chairman 'deleted political gaffes and altered exam details'". Daily Mail]]. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  55. ^ Mason, Rowena (5 October 2012). "Grant Shapps: my Michael Green alias was only a 'joke'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  56. ^ "Grant Shapps Wikipedia edits: the key questions". Channel 4 News. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  57. ^ "Election 2015: Grant Shapps denies Wikipedia claims". BBC News. 21 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  58. ^ PrintHouse Corporation. "Design & Print Company London - PrintHouse Corporation". Printhouse.co.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  59. ^ Hetherington, Peter (20 January 2010). "Tories' housing plans to raise the roofs". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  60. ^ a b Simon Hattenstone (28 April 2012). "The Saturday interview: Grant Shapps". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  61. ^ Watts, Robert; Oliver, Jonathan; Warren, Georgia (21 June 2009). "Conservative MPs rush to quit second jobs". London: Times Online. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  62. ^ Mason, Rowena (5 October 2012). "Grant Shapps: my Michael Green alias was only a 'joke'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  63. ^ Rosa Prince (3 September 2012). "Grant Shappses' business 'plagiarising' software and breaching Google's rules". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  64. ^ Rupert Neate. "Google blacklists websites run by family of Grant Shapps". the Guardian. 
  65. ^ "Companies In The UK". Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  66. ^ Hall, Richard (13 October 2012). "Revealed: Grant Shapps' get-rich-quick guide (or it that Michael Green's?)". Independent. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  67. ^ "When Shapps Told LBC He Didn't Have Second Job As MP". LBC. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  68. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (15 March 2015). "Grant Shapps admits he had second job as 'millionaire web marketer' while MP". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  69. ^ Randeep Ramesh (16 March 2015). "Revealed: Grant Shapps's threat to sue constituent over Michael Green post". TheGuardian.co.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  70. ^ "Grant Shapps Was Ambushed With Legal Threat Over His Alter Ego "Michael Green"". BuzzFeed. 
  71. ^ Daniel Boffey (21 March 2015). "Grant Shapps faces legal action from constituent he threatened to sue". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Melanie Johnson
Member of Parliament
for Welwyn Hatfield

2005–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Warsi
Minister without Portfolio
2012–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Warsi
Chairman of the Conservative Party
2012–present
Served alongside: The Lord Feldman of Elstree
Incumbent