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Rob Wilson

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For other people named Robert Wilson, see Robert Wilson (disambiguation).
Robert Wilson
Minister for Civil Society
Assumed office
27 September 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Brooks Newmark
Member of Parliament
for Reading East
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Jane Griffiths
Majority 7,605 (15.2%)
Personal details
Born (1965-01-04) 4 January 1965 (age 50)
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater University of Reading
Profession Politician

Robert Owen Biggs Wilson (Rob Wilson)[1] (born 4 January 1965) is a United Kingdom politician and political author. He was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the Reading East parliamentary constituency in the 2005 general election.[2] He became Minister for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office on 27 September 2014.

Early life

Wilson was born and brought up in south Oxfordshire[2] and moved to Reading in 1984. Between 1984 and 1988 he attended the University of Reading, the final year of which he spent as the President of the Reading University Students' Union. Wilson was a member of the Social Democratic Party.[3]


Local government

Wilson joined the Conservatives, and was elected as one of three councillors for Thames Ward of Reading Borough Council in 1992, serving one term (until 1996).[4] In 2003 he was elected for the neighbouring Caversham Ward in a by-election for a one-year term. Voters elected him for Thames ward in 2004. Following his election as Member of Parliament, he stood down from the Council in May 2006.[4]

MP during the Blair-Brown government

Wilson had previously unsuccessfully contested Bolton North East (UK Parliament constituency) at the 1997 general election.[4] He was selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Reading East using a pioneering primary system, which opened the selection to non-party members for the first time.

At the 2005 General Election he faced the Labour candidate and councillor, Tony Page.[5] Page had replaced sitting MP, Labour's Jane Griffiths, who had been de-selected by her party.[5]

Wilson won 15,557 votes (35.4%) against Page's 15,082 votes (34.3%).[6] The Conservative share of the vote increased by 3.4%.[6]

After his election Wilson served on the Education and Skills Select Committee, selected by the committee chair. Here he played a role in the committee stage of the Education and Inspections Bill, on issues such as Special Educational Needs.[4]

In July 2007 Wilson was promoted to the Conservative frontbench as Shadow Higher Education Minister replacing Boris Johnson.[4]

The MP, during his terms of office, promoted a major anti knife-crime campaign of Reading's papers; to do so meeting with crime victims' families and Thames Valley Police. Wilson successfully lobbied the DfT, Network Rail and local council to secure funding for the expansion and increase in facilities at Reading railway station – associated with investment into high rise and mid rise offices, retail and hotels in Reading. He jointly with former Labour MP Martin Salter successfully lobbied for the extension of Crossrail services to and from Reading, providing direct trains to much of Central London, and western parts of Essex and Kent.[7]

MP during the Cameron ministry

Wilson was re-elected by the people of Reading East with a majority of 15.2% of those who voted and 42.6% of the vote. In the resulting Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition from May 2010 the Liberal Democrats shared in ministerial positions. Wilson was among Shadow Ministers in the previous Parliament that were not offered a position as a Minister in coalition. In 2010 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP.[4]

In July 2014 the MP stated that he would have accepted an undisclosed ministerial position but wished to use his spare time to publish a book on the scandals involving former MP Chris Huhne (who perverted the course of justice by lying about driving too fast to keep his driving licence) and the Chief Whip's plebgate incident each of which meant they lost their ministerial positions.[8] He had earlier been offered a position as a junior government whip but refused this as still writing the same book.[8] Critics, unnamed in a BBC interview with Wilson, attributed his decision to decline a promotion to their perception that the Conservative Party was likely to lose both of its Reading seats and said that in writing this sort of polemic, the government may prefer not to promote Wilson.[8]

The Prime Minister's office appointed Wilson to the government as a minister on 27 September 2014, following the resignation of Brooks Newmark following allegations in Daily Mirror that Newmark had sent sexually explicit images to an undercover reporter[9][10] He became the Minister for Civil Society which entails charities, volunteering and social enterprise, which he accepted a month after finishing the book, which he assessed as incompatible with being in a senior government or opposition role.


Further reading

  • Wilson, Rob (2010). 5 Days to Power. Biteback. ISBN 978-1849540810. 
  • Wilson, Rob (2014). The Eye of the Storm: The View from the Centre of the Political Scandal. Biteback. ISBN 9781849545013. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jane Griffiths
Member of Parliament for Reading East