Priti Patel

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Priti Patel
MP
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by David Gauke
Member of Parliament
for Witham
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Constituency created
Majority 15,196 (32.4%)
Personal details
Born (1972-03-29) 29 March 1972 (age 42)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Alex Sawyer
Children Freddie
Alma mater Keele University

Priti Patel MP (born 29 March 1972)[1] is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Witham constituency in Essex since 2010.

Early life[edit]

Patel was born in London,[2] England, shortly before Idi Amin announced the expulsion of Ugandan Asians in August 1972 and grew up in South Harrow and Ruislip. Her parents were Ugandan immigrants of Gujarati origin from Navsari, India ancestry who came to Britain in the early 1970s.[3] They ran a post office in rural Norfolk and then a successful small shop in south east England. Patel attended Watford Grammar School for Girls[4] in Watford, before studying economics at Keele University and then going on to the University of Essex. She joined the Conservative Party during the time John Major was Prime Minister.

Early political career[edit]

After graduating, Patel was given a job by Andrew Lansley (then a Head of the Conservative Research Department) at Conservative Central Office. From 1995 to 1997, she headed the press office for the Referendum Party which polled over 800,000 votes in the 1997 general election.

After the 1997 general election, the Conservative Party changed from having criteria before entering the Euro to asserting they now would only join the currency if there was a referendum on the issue. Patel rejoined the Conservative Party to work for the new leader William Hague in his press office, dealing with media relations in London and the South East.

Following an article in the Financial Times in August 2003,[5][6] where she stated that racist attitudes persisted in the Conservative Party ("Racist attitudes do persist within the party.... There's a lot of bigotry around."), she wrote to the FT[7] to complain that the article misinterpreted her comments in implying that she had been blocked as a candidate for the party because of her ethnicity.

She then left party politics and worked for Weber Shandwick, a public relations consultancy, advising major companies.[8] In the 2005 general election, she stood as the Conservative candidate for Nottingham North, losing in a landslide to its long-standing Labour MP Graham Allen by 5,671 votes (18.7%) to 17,842 votes (58.7%).[9]

During her work at Weber Shandwick, she lobbied on behalf of British American Tobacco for several years, with a memo from their company showing that she was employed to "provide strategic advice on the account, with a particular focus on the Conservative Party", billing the company for over £20,000 per month. This led to criticism of her later stance as an MP against policies like plain packaging for cigarettes, due to claims of an undeclared conflict of interest.[10]

There are suggestions that she may have worked on ‘Project Sunrise’,[11] which "laid out an explicit divide-and-conquer strategy against the tobacco control movement."[12] In November 2000, Patel was part of a strategy group looking at how BAT could influence the outcome of the World Health Organisation’s negotiations on developing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.[13]

Patel then moved to Diageo, a British multinational alcohol beverages company, and worked corporate relations team between 2003-2007, shaping "a global strategy on responsible drinking" according to PRWeek. On her re-appointment to Weber Shandwick in 2007 Patel was reported as having been in the Corporate Relations team at Diageo Plc, where she "worked on international public policy issues related to the wider impact of alcohol in society."[14] Other sources however named her as Diageo’s Corporate Relations Director.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Patel was placed on the "A-List" of Conservative Party candidates before the 2010 general election.[15]

On 20 November 2006, she was adopted as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the notionally safe Conservative seat of Witham, a new constituency in central Essex created after a boundary review.[16][17] Patel was elected in the 2010 general election, with a majority of 15,196 votes. Patel is on the right wing of the Conservative Party and has been described as a "modern-day Norman Tebbit"[18][19] and is an officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel group.[20]

She has taken robust stances on crime and caused controversy when she argued for the restoration of capital punishment on the BBC's Question Time in September 2011.[21] She also opposes prisoner voting. Kelvin MacKenzie has suggested she would make a good Home Secretary, as "the country would know bad guys would be going away for a hell of a long time."[22] She has also opposed allowing Jeremy Bamber, whose murders occurred in her constituency, access to media to protest his innocence.[23]

In August 2012, Patel, co-authored Britannia Unchained. In the book the authors claim that: "Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world".[24] When contacted by journalists about her contributions to the book, Patel refused to discuss the subject.[25]

Patel has been criticised for raising issues in parliament related to her time working for the tobacco and alcohol industry.[26] As a parliamentarian, Patel has remained supportive of tobacco industry positions. In October 2010, she voted for the smoking ban to be overturned. In December 2010, she signed a letter demanding that plain packaging for cigarettes be reconsidered. Patel has also campaigned with the drinks industry, holding a reception in parliament for the Call Time On Duty Campaign, which campaigned for the end of the alcohol duty escalator and is supported the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association and the TaxPayers' Alliance.[27] Patel was also criticised for taking a £2,000 donation from a tobacco and drinks distribution business.[28] In July 2014 she was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, a role that includes overseeing excise duties on alcohol.

In June 2014, Priti officially lodged a complaint to the BBC for its alleged one-sided coverage critical of Narendra Modi on the eve of his victory in Indian elections, 2014 on 16 May.[29][30]

Patel joined the Number 10 Policy Unit in October 2013.[31] In July 2014, she was promoted to become Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.[32]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2004, Patel married Alex Sawyer. They have a son, Freddie, born in August 2008.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Democracy Live | Your representatives | Priti Patel". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  2. ^ About Priti, Priti4Witham
  3. ^ Palash R. Ghosh (18 October 2011). "Priti Patel: The Rise of a British-Asian Conservative". 
  4. ^ Richard Porritt (July 16, 2012). "East meets Westminster: Young, Asian and female - Essex MP Priti Patel is modern face of the Tories". 
  5. ^ "Would-be Tory MP says party has racist elements", Financial Times
  6. ^ cited by Robin Brant "A year on, has the A-list worked?" BBC News, 4 December 2006
  7. ^ "Overwhelmed by the support of party members", Financial Times
  8. ^ David Singleton (2010-05-11). "''PR Week'' 11 May 2010 "Many lobbyists win seats but some see majority decreased" by David Singleton". Prweek.com. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  9. ^ Ask Aristotle - Nottingham North: the 2005 General Election The Guardian
  10. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/03/tory-cigarette-packaging-rebel-tobacco-lobbyist?commentpage=1
  11. ^ http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/qzo14a99
  12. ^ http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/research/doc_research_sunrise.jsp
  13. ^ http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/srl55a99/pdf
  14. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20080116141016/http://www.webershandwick.co.uk/homepage-sections/what-we-are-up-to/157
  15. ^ Brant, Robin (4 December 2006). "A year on, has the A-list worked?". BBC News. 
  16. ^ "Priti Patel takes Witham by storm". East Anglian Daily Times. [dead link]
  17. ^ Dines, Graham (21 November 2006). "Priti Patel takes Witham by storm". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Tory rightwinger Priti Patel promoted to Treasury". The Guardian. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Priti Patel: saviour of the Tory Right". Total Politics. October 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "About Conservative Friends of Israel". .cfoi.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  21. ^ Rachel Helyer-Donaldson "Furore as Priti Patel urges return of death penalty", The Week, 23 September 2011
  22. ^ Gockelen-Kozlowski, Tom (5 October 2012). "Priti Patel takes Witham by storm". Total Politics. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Why was killer Bamber given access to media?". Maldon Standard. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Tackle 'lazy' Britain, fellow Tories tell David Cameron". Evening Standard. 17 August 2012. 
  25. ^ Ramesh, Randeep (17 August 2012). "Tory young bloods say Britons are idlers who need to emulate Asia". The Guardian. 
  26. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/03/tory-cigarette-packaging-rebel-tobacco-lobbyist
  27. ^ http://www.wsta.co.uk/press/697-call-time-on-duty-campaign-makes-its-case-to-parliamentarians
  28. ^ http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-mp-who-led-plain-3578709
  29. ^ "Indian-origin MP takes BBC's ‘Modi coverage’ complaint to UK ministry". THE TIMES OF INDIA. 22 June 2014. 
  30. ^ "British PM Cameron's aide takes on BBC over critical comments against Modi". HINDUSTAN TIMES. 20 June 2014. 
  31. ^ "New Number 10 policy board announced". The Spectator. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "Priti Patel MP: Who is the new Treasury minister who supports death penalty and rejects plain packaging for cigarettes?". The Independent. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  33. ^ "Newborn Freddie is the Tory party's youngest member | This is Essex". Thisistotalessex.co.uk. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Witham
2010–present
Incumbent