|Member of Parliament
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Anthony Steen|
17 February 1962 |
Woking, Surrey, England
|Alma mater||King's College London|
Sarah Wollaston (born 17 February 1962) is a British general practitioner and Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Totnes since 2010. She was selected as a candidate to follow the retiring MP Anthony Steen through an 'open primary' in which the Conservative Party posted ballot papers to every voter in the constituency.
Wollaston has portrayed herself as a politician who has worked a "real job", and has campaigned for restrictions on alcohol sales to combat alcohol-related crime.
Family and early life
A descendant of Polish immigrant John Israel Wollstein (the family changed their surname during World War I), Wollaston was born in Woking, Surrey, and moved frequently in her early life as her father Ken, serving in the Royal Air Force, was posted to different bases. She was educated at a mixture of military and civilian schools, spending the longest time at Tal Handaq in Malta.
In 1980 she went to Guy's Hospital to study medicine, taking an additional course in pathology at the same time as her primary course. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pathology in 1983, and graduated in Medicine from King's College London in 1986. She then trained as a general practitioner, qualifying in 1992.
While at Guy's Hospital, she met her now husband Adrian; they have three children.
In 1996 Wollaston moved to Devon to work as a general practitioner in Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor. She was also a police forensic examiner from 1996 to 2001, dealing with victims of sexual assault. From 2001 she was a part-time teacher of junior doctors at Peninsula Deanery in Plymouth. She became a fellow of the Higher Education Academy in Exeter in 2007, and was an examiner for the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Wollaston joined the Conservative Party in 2006, having been spurred into politics by her opposition to the threatened closure of Moretonhampstead Community Hospital. However Wollaston accepted that she had "no background in politics" when in 2009 she put her name forward for the selection of a candidate for the Totnes constituency, citing as qualifications "only real life experience, approachability and enthusiasm". The Conservative Association placed her on the shortlist of three to succeed Anthony Steen, who had announced his retirement after criticism as part of the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009; the Conservatives had already decided that the selection would be made by an 'open primary' in which non-members would have a vote. On 9 July the Conservative Party leader David Cameron announced that the party would, for the first time, send a postal ballot paper to every voter instead of holding the selection at an open meeting.
During the selection process, Wollaston campaigned on the problems of alcohol-related crime, citing also the 8,000 annual deaths from alcohol. She later supported curbs on low priced alcoholic drinks. Wollaston said that she might not have put her name forward had she known that the selection was to be by open primary, but highlighted that the selection offered voters a choice between a career politician and "someone with a real job". At a public hustings, she was asked whether her lack of political experience would make it difficult for her to throw and take political punches; she replied that this was not what politics was about for her, and that she would not indulge in it. Her reply prompted spontaneous applause.
The primary was conducted under the plurality ("first past the post") method used in national elections. In the selection result, Wollaston was proclaimed the winner with 7,914 votes (48%), ahead of Sara Randall Johnson (leader of East Devon District Council) who had 5,495 (33%), and Nick Bye (Mayor of Torbay) who had 3,088 (19%). Nearly a quarter of all voters returned their ballots, a higher turnout than was expected.
As the general election approached, Wollaston made clear her anger at suggestions that she would be a part-time MP, saying that she would not continue her medical practice if elected. The local Liberal Democrats denied that they were behind rumours that Wollaston intended to continue to practice part-time. She accepted that the scandal over Anthony Steen's expenses claims had damaged the Conservative Party's chances, and declined his offer of the use of his home to run the Conservative campaign. She pledged to vote in a eurosceptic direction and to support a bypass for Kingskerswell.
On election day, Wollaston was elected with a majority more than double the previous election. She supported the formation of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government as being the most appropriate for her constituency in the circumstances after the election, explaining that voters wanted to see politicians working together. Her maiden speech on 2 June further outlined her concerns about alcohol-related crime and alcoholic drink pricing, and also mentioned issues of concern in her constituency including bovine tuberculosis.
In July, Wollaston referred to her experience working with sexual assault victims in warning the Government against its plans to introduce anonymity for people suspected of or charged with rape. She argued that it would constitute a "further barrier" for victims to report their crime and that the vast majority of sexual assaults already went unreported. She successfully pressed the Government to take up the way the European Union's Working Time Directive applied to junior doctors' training, saying that it was causing patient care to suffer. Wollaston declared in October 2010 that she would not vote to repeal the Hunting Act 2004 because "the overwhelming majority" in her constituency were opposed to hunting.
Wollaston broke the Conservative whip in November 2010 to support an amendment setting a threshold of 40% turnout for the result of the referendum on voting systems to be valid, and later that month supported a Labour amendment to allow more policyholders to claim compensation over the collapse in Equitable Life dividends.
In March 2011, Wollaston warned David Cameron that the NHS reforms would result in the NHS going "belly up." Wollaston warned that the reorganisation would result in confusion with doctors being overwhelmed. She said there was a risk that Monitor, the new regulator would be filled with "competition economists" who would change the NHS beyond recognitition. There was no point 'liberating' the NHS from political control only to shackle it to an unelected economic regulator. However, her opposition to the NHS reforms calmed after party leadership changed certain clauses at her suggestions. Wollaston has incorrectly claimed on Twitter that no PFI contracts were signed for NHS hospitals in England before May 1997.
In September 2013 she waded into a debate about niqabs saying she finds them offensive and that the government should ban them.
- "The Times Guide to the House of Commons 2010", Times Books, 2010, p. 279.
- Cameron must see past the hysteria and grasp the nettle on immigration (retrieved 25 November 2013)
- P Greaves (8 September 2009). "The new face of Tory politics". Exeter Express and Echo. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
- "The Class of 2010", Total Politics/Weber Shandwick, London, 2010, p. 330-2.
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- Allan Tudor, "Party workers backing under-fire Teign MP", Herald Express, 2 June 2009, p. 6.
- Steve Peacock, " Voters will choose new Tory candidate", Herald Express, 10 July 2009, p. 5.
- Call for 50p-per-unit alcohol tax
- Olivier Vergnault, "Tories face 400 voters in first open primary", Western Morning News, 27 July 2009, p. 8.
- Louise Vennells, "All constituents can select new Tory candidate", Western Morning News, 25 July 2009, p. 11.
- Matthew Parris, "It's queer, this letter from Coutts", The Times, 30 July 2009, p. 22; "I am proud to have joined the Totnes Tories in a pioneering political evening", The Spectator, 1 August 2009.
- Louise Vennells, "Doctor victorious in historic public vote", Western Morning News, 5 August 2009, p. 5.
- "'I won't be a part-time MP' vows GP running for election", Western Morning News, 10 March 2010, p. 8.
- "Tory candidate admits fears over expenses", Western Morning News, 16 April 2010, p. 5.
- "Election Diary", Western Morning News, 19 April 2010, p. 6.
- Constituency profile, Herald Express, 29 April 2010, p. 7.
- "'Rollercoaster' campaign doubles majority", Herald Express, 8 May 2010, p. 3.
- Matt Chorley, "Cameron leads first coalition for 70 years", Western Morning News, 12 May 2010, p. 1.
- Tina Crowson, "Parties reject truce plea", Herald Express, 13 May 2010, p. 1.
- "New MP targets cheap alcohol and badgers in maiden speech", Herald Express, 4 June 2010, p. 5.
- Francis Elliott, "Tory women MPs attack rape suspect anonymity plan", The Times, 9 July 2010, p. 8.
- Rebecca Smith, Robert Winnett, "EU law harming doctors' training", The Daily Telegraph, 8 September 2010, p. 1.
- Owen Bowcott, "Countryside Alliance outfoxed by new generation of Tory MPs", The Guardian, 29 October 2010, p. 20.
- Division 109. Hansard, HC 6ser vol 517 col 855.
- Division 114. Hansard, HC 6ser vol 518 col 323.
- Melissa Kite (20 March 2011). "David Cameron's health reforms risk destroying the NHS, says Tory doctor". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- "Warning on hospitals' PFI spending". The Express. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Wollaston, W. (June 26, 2012) "First English NHS #PFI hospital contracts signed July 1997 & opened in 2000, agreed poor policy which got worse after ditching of VFM panels" Twitter.com
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Sarah Wollaston|
- Dr Sarah Wollaston MP official site
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|