Richard Bacon (politician)

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Richard Bacon
MP
Richard Bacon MP.jpg
Member of Parliament
for South Norfolk
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by John MacGregor
Majority 10,940 (19.9%)
Personal details
Born (1962-12-03) 3 December 1962 (age 51)
Solihull, Warwickshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Victoria Panton
Alma mater London School of Economics and Political Science

Richard Michael Bacon (born 3 December 1962, Solihull) is a British Conservative Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for the South Norfolk constituency.

Early life[edit]

Bacon was educated at The King's School, Worcester and at the London School of Economics and Political Science, gaining a First in politics and economics. He was also executive editor of the student newspaper, The Beaver.

He worked variously in investment banking, financial journalism and public relations consultancy, before setting up his own business advising blue chip international companies on communications.

Bacon joined the Conservative Party in 1978. He contested the safe Labour seat of Vauxhall at the 1997 general election, finishing third.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Bacon was selected for the very safe Conservative seat of South Norfolk on the retirement of its veteran MP and former Cabinet Minister, John MacGregor. He won the seat at the 2001 general election, and was returned again at the 2005 general election with an increased majority. In the 2011 district council elections his constituency lost a single Conservative seat to the Liberal Democrats resulting in a majority of 30 seats.

Bacon is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and has taken a particular interest in the nature and causes of overspending, delays and failures with Government schemes and IT projects - the subject of his 2013 co-authored book Conundrum (see below).

Though he rarely rebels against the party line,[1] he has consistently rebelled in votes on military action in the Middle East. In March 2003 he was one of only 15 Conservative MPs to vote against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He stated at the time that "I do not believe war is always wrong. If I had, I would not have served in the Territorial Army".[2]

Following the Commons debate on Britain's response to the Syrian civil war on 29 August 2013, Bacon voted against his own party on a motion approving the use of military force "if necessary" (one of 30 Conservatives to do so, and the only MP to do so in his region of the UK), saying he was "voting against the principle of military action".[3]

In the Commons debate on intervention against ISIS in Iraq held on 26 September 2014, Bacon again voted against his own party,[4] becoming one of only 6 Conservatives to defy the three-line whip imposed on Conservative MPs.[5] Prior to the vote he said: "After bombing the Middle East for much of the past twenty five years, we should have realised by now that we are making things worse".[6]

In May 2009 Bacon was one of the 15 MPs to sign the Motion of No Confidence in Speaker Martin.[7]

He has also voted against the anti-terror laws, top-up fees, foundation hospitals, and the ban on fox hunting, and was one of the few Conservatives to support the Impeach Blair campaign. He is also sceptical about aspects of the climate change debate, having opposed plans to build new wind turbines in South Norfolk,[8] claiming the scheme was not viable for the area.

In February 2007 Bacon was alleged to be the politician with the highest expenditure on taxi and car hire during the previous year,[9] a claim which he disputed and referred to the National Audit Office.[10]

Deporting foreign prisoners[edit]

In April 2006 Bacon's questioning of Home Office officials concerning the fate of failed asylum seekers released from prison[11] led to a major embarrassment for the Labour administration in the run-up to the local elections the following month, and the dismissal of Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary.[12] However, Bacon was not actually himself in favour of the sacking of Clarke, a fellow Norfolk MP, declaring that he had always liked him, and that his questioning had been "business, not pleasure".[13]

In July 2006, Bacon was named "Backbencher of the Year" by his fellow MPs for the result of his efforts, and in November 2006, he won three more awards: "Parliamentarian of the Year" from the Spectator magazine, "Politician of the Year" from the Political Studies Association and "Outstanding Parliamentarian of the Year” from the ConservativeHome website.

Conundrum[edit]

Bacon is co-author, along with Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph of Conundrum: Why every government gets things wrong and what we can do about it[14] (2013), an analysis of the failure of high-profile UK public sector projects, including the National Health Service IT programme and the Child Support Agency, Passport Agency, Tax Credit scheme, Rural Payments Agency and Student Loans Company. They argue that a key reason for the repeated failure of such projects is that civil servants - charged with turning the grand vision of ministers into reality - “have been recruited on the basis of their cognitive abilities in terms of playing with ideas, not for their ability to make things happen”.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Bacon was married to Victoria Panton in 2006 at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, and has two children.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John MacGregor
Member of Parliament for South Norfolk
2001–present
Incumbent