Craig Whittaker

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Craig Whittaker
Craig Whittaker 04-10-2010 1.jpg
Whittaker at the 2010 Conservative Party Conference
Member of Parliament
for Calder Valley
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Christine McCafferty
Majority 4,427 (8.3%)
Personal details
Born Craig Whittaker
(1962-08-30) 30 August 1962 (age 54)
Radcliffe, Lancashire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Elaine Wilkinson
Children 3
Religion Mormon

Craig Whittaker (born 30 August 1962)[1] is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Calder Valley since the 2010 General Election. Craig was re-elected at the General Election in 2015 increasing both his vote and his share of the vote significantly.[2]

He fulfills a variety of roles in Parliament and currently serves as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport.[3] In addition to this, he continues to be an active constituency MP, tabling Parliamentary Questions on behalf of his constituents and speaking in Parliament on issues of local concern.[4]

Early life[edit]

Craig was born in 1962 in Radcliffe, Lancashire. He emigrated to Australia at the age of five with his parents. In 1984, Craig came back to live in England and settled in Yorkshire.

Craig was a Retail General Manager for a Blue Chip high street retailer and was involved in Retail Management from leaving high school in Australia, after completing his Higher School Certificate.[5] He was the Branch Manager at Wilkinsons for six years and then became the Retail General Manager for PC World for an eleven year period until 2009.[6] Craig uses his experience of the retail industry to assist businesses throughout the Calder Valley and has worked with hundreds of businesses during his time as an MP. Since Craig became the MP for Calder Valley, unemployment in the area has reduced to just 1.8% [7]and hundreds of new businesses have been created as the local economy has improved significantly since the financial crash of 2008. [8] Craig lives in Rastrick, Calderdale. [9]

Political career[edit]

In 2003, Craig was elected to Calderdale Council for the Brighouse Ward, gaining the seat from the Labour Party after a hard fought campaign. [10]

He stood down from the Council in 2004 when his term as a Councillor ended. In 2007, Craig was once again elected to Calderdale Council, this time for the neighbouring ward of Rastrick, securing 1336 votes for the Conservatives and increasing the Party’s majority. [11]During this period, Whittaker served as the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People. [12]

During Craig’s time on the Cabinet, the Conservative-run Council invested heavily in a number of projects across Calderdale and delivered new Swimming Pools for Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse. [13]

Craig has lived in a number of different places across the Calder Valley, and during his time living in Heptonstall he served on the Parish Council from 1998-2003.[14] He is a former Conservative Party agent, and managed the 2005 General Election campaign of Liz Truss in the Calder Valley. Craig is also a former Chair of the Calder Valley Conservative Party. [15]

Craig was selected to be the Conservative Party’s candidate for Calder Valley in March 2007.[16] In May 2010 he was duly elected as the MP for constituency being the first Conservative to win the seat for 18 years. Craig secured a 3.6% increase in the Conservative vote and won 8 of the 9 wards across the constituency polling 20, 397 votes.[17]

Whittaker served on the Education Select Committee in the 2010–2015 Parliament.[18] During his time on the Committee, he was not afraid to speak out against the Government on occasion and criticised policy in relation to transferring responsibility for careers advice to schools, describing it as a "bit of a pigs ear".[19]

Indeed, although Craig generally votes in line with his fellow Conservative MPs, he has voted against the Government on a number of occasions. Whittaker was one of 79 Conservative MPs who supported a 2011 rebel motion calling for a referendum on the EU. [20]He also joined a 2013 rebel amendment expressing regret at not including the referendum in the government's plans. He subsequently backed the government's plans to hold a referendum.[21]

During his time as an MP, Craig has generally voted for lower taxes, stricter immigration controls, a reduction in the number of MPs, and additional investment in infrastructure. [22] His interests in Parliament include Education, Local Government, Transport, Defence and Railways. Craig has a particular interest in ensuring that looked after children are able to reach their full potential in life and his this issue was the primary subject of his maiden speech in Parliament in 2010.[23] Furthermore, Craig set up a charity, Together for Looked after Children, to support the life chances of children in care in Calderdale.[24]

As a passionate advocate of the Calder Valley and its different communities, Craig has sought to draw attention to many local issues and causes in Parliament. Within the last year he has asked Ministerial Questions on subjects including business support for Calder Valley firms; additional school funding; new Railway Stations for Elland & Hipperholme; road investment; local mental health services; care for the elderly; apprenticeships and the living wage, to name just a few topics. [25]

In the last 12 months, he has also spoken in Parliament on issues including flood support for the Calder Valley and funding for Todmorden High School. [26]

In the new Parliament of 2015, he was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire MP. [27]Since then, Craig has been appointed as PPS to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Karen Bradley MP. [28]His record of attending votes is above average for MPs and he tables significantly more Written Parliamentary Questions than most MPs. [29]

Craig supported ‘remain’ during the Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union in 2016. However, he stated that he would support the result of the Referendum and as such, is firmly of the opinion that Brexit must now be delivered and that the Government must get the best possible deal for the UK outside of the EU. [30] In the Calder Valley, Craig is involved with dozens of local community groups and projects throughout the different areas of the constituency. Craig enjoys visiting local businesses, schools and voluntary organisations and seeing the work that these do and the positive benefits that they bring to the different areas of the community.

Craig is an open and accountable MP. He holds a large number of surgeries for constituents to speak to him about any issues or government policies. With the help of a team of Parliamentary staff in his Brighouse office, Craig responds to individual cases about a range of issues including benefits problems, issues with the CSA, crime and immigration. [31]

Personal life[edit]

Whittaker is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [32]and lives with his wife, businesswoman Elaine Wilkinson, in Rastrick. [33]The couple married in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft at the House of Commons in August 2011.[34]

Away from politics, Craig enjoys getting involved in the local community and spending time with his family. [35]

Funding and expenses[edit]

Prior to being elected as an MP, Craig signed a pledge that he would publish all of his Parliamentary expenses. Full details of Craig’s expenses claims going back to 2010 are available on his website.[36]

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) finalised accounts and more detailed breakdowns of Whittaker’s budgets and expenses can be accessed on the Parliamentary Standards website. [37]

Both Whittaker and the local Conservative Association receive donations from constituents and businesses every single year. The vast majority of donations that the local Conservative Association receive are from local Party members and businesses. However, Lord Ashcroft's company, Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd (now Impellam Ventures), contributed in £2,320.71 to the association several years ago.


The Spectator blog reported that persons working from House of Commons IP addresses had made multiple edits to Wikipedia to remove references to allegations against Whittaker, who said he had asked a staff member to remove a particular comment he considered to be "misleading and not correct".[38] The article referred to a series of comments by Whittaker in relation to reconfiguring health services in the Calderdale and Huddersfield area.

The downgrading of Halifax Royal Hospital’s A&E Department was stated as a preferred option by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and was covered in extensive detail by local newspapers, the Huddersfield Examiner and the Halifax Courier, and led to Calderdale Council to conduct an inquiry into the proposals. After a year reassuring his constituents the proposals weren't true and accusing protesters of 'scaremongering', Mr Whittaker admitted on his Twitter account that he did not know what was going to happen.

Craig heavily critisied the Halifax Courier for inaccurate coverage of the proposals and accused the local Labour Party of misleading people because of their claims that Halifax’s A&E Department would be fully closed.[39] Craig was fully vindicated when the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that they were not looking to either close or downgrade Halifax’s A&E Department in January 2016. [40]

Whittaker remained critical of how the local Labour Party had sought to mislead people on this issue in the run-up to the 2015 General Election. Despite their claims that Halifax would lose it’s A&E Department, the Calder Valley Labour Party were proved to be spectacularly wrong when the final proposals were announced. [41]

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Whittaker attracted criticism for sharing a tweet by Richard Littlejohn saying "Vote Labour? I'd rather trust Jimmy Savile to babysit".[42]

In May 2016, West Yorkshire Police confirmed that they were investigating a complaint made by a member of the public with regards to the finances of the Calder Valley Conservative Association. West Yorkshire Police later stated that they had found absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. [43]


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