Clive Lewis (politician)
|Shadow Minister for the Treasury|
|Assumed office |
12 January 2018
Serving with Lyn Brown
|Preceded by||Anneliese Dodds|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy|
6 October 2016 – 8 February 2017
|Preceded by||Jon Trickett (Business, Innovation and Skills)|
Barry Gardiner (Energy and Climate Change)
|Succeeded by||Rebecca Long-Bailey|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Defence|
27 June 2016 – 6 October 2016
|Preceded by||Emily Thornberry|
|Succeeded by||Nia Griffith|
|Member of Parliament|
for Norwich South
|Assumed office |
7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Simon Wright|
Clive Anthony Lewis
11 September 1971
|Alma mater||University of Bradford|
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
|Branch/service||British Army (Territorial Army)|
|Years of service||2006–2009|
|Unit||7th Battalion, The Rifles|
He studied at the University of Bradford before being elected to various student union roles and then serving as vice-president of the National Union of Students. Lewis then worked as a TV reporter for BBC News, becoming BBC Look East's chief political correspondent. He was also one of the Labour government's National Black Role Models. In 2006, he passed out of Sandhurst as an infantry officer with the Territorial Army, and he served a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009.
Lewis often broke the party line on issues including nuclear weapons, tuition fees and immigration. Describing himself as a "proud socialist", he was also appointed as the Chair of the Humanist APPG. During the 2015 Labour leadership election, he was one of 36 MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn, and has remained a strong supporter.
Appointed to Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence in June 2016, Lewis was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the October 2016 reshuffle. He left the Shadow Cabinet on 8 February 2017 in protest over the Labour Party's decision to whip its MPs into voting to trigger Article 50, but rejoined the front bench a year later.
Early life and education
Born in London, Lewis grew up on a council estate in Northampton, the son of a single father. He was the first member of his family to attend university, reading economics at the University of Bradford before being elected student union president, and eventually vice-president of the National Union of Students. In November 1995, he was a signatory to a letter that argued for the abolition of student loans, saying "Any loans system will be unfair".
Lewis was suspended as vice-president in 1996 by then-president Jim Murphy for attending a debate on free education organised by the Campaign for Free Education (CFE). Murphy's actions were condemned in an early day motion authored by Ken Livingstone which received the backing of 13 MPs. Running on a campaign of a return to full grants and free education, Lewis ran as the CFE candidate for president of the National Union of Students in 1996. He lost the election to Douglas Trainer, the Labour Students candidate by 586 to 458 votes.
Lewis' first job was at the BBC, as a security guard at BBC World News in London. After completing a post-graduate diploma in journalism, he worked on local newspapers in Northampton and Milton Keynes before being accepted into the BBC's News Trainee Scheme. He went on to work as a broadcast journalist in Nottingham, Norwich, and Coventry. He then became a senior broadcast journalist and the main reporter on the BBC's Politics Show East.
In 2017 Lewis admitted to biased reporting whilst working for the BBC. At a Momentum rally he stated: "I was able to use bias in my reports by giving less time to one than the other. I reported on both but the angle and words and the language I used — I know the pictures I used — I was able to project my own particular political positions on things in a very subtle way."
Lewis joined the Territorial Army, passing out of Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006 as an infantry officer with 7 RIFLES. In 2009, he served a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Shortly after returning from his tour of duty, he faced depression, saying "I just felt like I was being crushed by it all." However, he recovered after receiving counselling from the Ministry of Defence.
Lewis was selected as the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South at the party's hustings in November 2011, defeating challengers including Blur drummer Dave Rowntree. Norwich South had been won by Liberal Democrat Simon Wright in the 2010 general election by a margin of just over 300 votes, defeating former Home Secretary and Education Secretary Charles Clarke.
In April 2015, Lewis commented in an interview for the New Statesman (in jest), in response to a question on whether he was taking his upcoming victory for granted, he would only lose if he was "caught with [his] pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end". He subsequently apologised for the remark, saying he was "sincerely sorry" if anyone had been offended by the comment.
On 7 May 2015, Lewis was elected MP for Norwich South, winning 19,033 votes, 39.3% of the total vote, giving him a 15.8% majority of 7,654. Lewis, in his victory speech, declared New Labour to be "dead and buried" and promised to stand up for Norwich's most vulnerable against an "onslaught of cuts" by the Conservative Party. In keeping with these views, Lewis is a member of the Compass Management Committee. The left wing pressure group was established because it was felt that 'New Labour was failing to make the most of a historic opportunity to fundamentally transform the UK into a much more equal, democratic and sustainable society'.
Lewis was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015. Corbyn credited Lewis with getting his nominations "off the ground". Following Corbyn's election as leader on 12 September 2015, Lewis said: "There is going to be a big realisation that the party needs to pull together, there were people in the room who weren't happy, some people are in shock, some are upset but I know that Jeremy will be magnanimous, inclusive and conciliatory." Lewis has been described as an "ally" of Corbyn, and one of his "early backers".
Views and campaigns
As a candidate, Lewis often broke from the party line on issues such as nuclear weapons, tuition fees and immigration. Locally, Lewis supported the campaign to prevent Hewett School, a comprehensive school in Norwich, from being turned into an academy. He describes himself as a "proud socialist" and is a member of three trade unions (Unite, GMB and the National Union of Journalists).[unreliable source?]
In June 2015, Lewis was elected Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, a group which represents humanists in Parliament; he held this position until September 2017, when he became the group's Vice Chair. On how his views influence his politics, he has said that "Central to being a humanist, which I am, is the core understanding that doubt and criticism are essential attributes in the quest for knowledge." In July 2015, he became a patron of the Anti Academies Alliance.
Lewis has criticised British involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. He said: "It’s sickening to think of British-built weapons being used against civilians and the government has an absolute responsibility to do everything in its power to stop that from happening. But as ministers turn a blind eye to the conflict in Yemen, evidence that humanitarian law has been violated is becoming harder to ignore by the day."
Lewis has also criticised Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Lewis said that safety risks and problems had been known since 2014. Lewis also said, "This has become a national disgrace. We are looking at a national and local system-wide failure of governance, commissioning, regulation and inspection. Unless we change course, I know exactly what's coming next. Senior trust board members will mouth the same platitudes about lessons being learnt and plans for change - even though those same people have long track records of failure in various parts of the local NHS." Lewis maintains the Care Quality Commission has, "the power to put the trust into Special Administration and get rid of this board".
It was suggested that Lewis could serve as either Shadow Secretary of State for Defence or as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in a Jeremy Corbyn-led shadow cabinet. It has also been suggested that Lewis could succeed Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, although Lewis has said of the suggestion: "Personally, I think it's the political kiss of death". However, following the result of the leadership election, when asked about the possibility of his being in the shadow cabinet, Lewis said: "I don’t want to do that at this moment – I think we need the ability and experience and he [Corbyn] has to reach out, it must be from all parts of the party".
Following a large number of resignations from Corbyn's shadow cabinet after the 2016 EU referendum, Lewis was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. In September 2016, at the Labour party 2016 Conference when Lewis was preparing to give his first speech as Shadow Defence Secretary, a section announcing that he "would not seek to change" Labour's current policy on nuclear weapons was changed by Corbyn's communications advisor Seumas Milne. Lewis was informed of the change by a post-it note. A month later, Corbyn removed Lewis from the defence brief, replacing him with his fellow nuclear abolitionist Nia Griffith MP, Lewis being re-appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The move was viewed as a tactical demotion, though still a helpful career progression for Lewis.
Reappointment to the Shadow Cabinet
2017 Labour party conference
In October 2017 video footage, taken at a Labour party conference fringe event, emerged in which Lewis told the actor Sam Swann to “get on your knees bitch”. Lewis's choice of language attracted condemnation across the political divide. Labour colleague, Stella Creasy, for example said: “It’s not OK. Even if it’s meant as a joke, reinforces menace that men have the physical power to force compliance.” Commenting later, Swann explained 'it is clearly jovial and nothing vicious ... I think Clive Lewis is an absolute legend'
Lewis subsequently tweeted an apology in which he described his behaviour as 'offensive and unacceptable'.
Sexual assault allegation
Clive Lewis was accused by a 39-year-old woman of groping her at Momentum's "World Transformed" event. In response to the accusation, Lewis said he was "pretty taken aback" by the accusation and "completely" and "categorically" denied the claim. On 12 December 2017, he was cleared by Labour's National Executive Committee sexual harassment panel.
Suicide mime row
In November 2018 Lewis was criticised on social media after appearing to mime shooting himself in the head whilst sitting on the Labour front bench during a debate on tax avoidance in the House of Commons.
Clive Lewis married the Yorkshire school teacher and actress Katy Steel on 6 May 2017. The couple's infant daughter won unexpected praise from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow just over a year later when she attended a debate in the visitor's gallery: "I must just say to the House ... that for all the turbulence and discord of today's proceedings the little baby who has been observing them has been a model of impeccable behaviour from start to finish."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clive Lewis.|
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
for Norwich South
| Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
| Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change