Guy Opperman

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Guy Opperman
MP
Official portrait of Guy Opperman crop 2.jpg
Official parliamentary portrait
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Pensions and Financial Inclusion
Assumed office
14 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Sec. of State David Gauke
Preceded by Richard Harrington
Lords Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
17 July 2016 – 14 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Chancellor Philip Hammond
Member of Parliament
for Hexham
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Peter Atkinson
Majority 9,236 (20.0%)
Personal details
Born (1965-05-18) 18 May 1965 (age 52)[1]
Marlborough, Wiltshire, England[2]
Political party Conservative
Alma mater University of Buckingham
Website Official website

Guy Thomas Opperman[2] (born 18 May 1965) is a British Conservative Party politician, who was first elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hexham.[3]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Opperman born in Marlborough, Wiltshire and was educated at Harrow School, an independent all-boys boarding school. Opperman has a degree in law from the University of Buckingham and a first class diploma from the University of Lille, France.[4]

Opperman was called to the bar in 1989. He spent 20 years as a barrister of which 15 years were spent predominantly at the criminal bar. Opperman prosecuted and defended in a number of murder and rape trials.[citation needed]

While a barrister, he did many years of pro bono work with the Western Circuit Free Representation Unit and the Bar Pro Bono Unit, providing free legal assistance in hundreds of cases on behalf of Victim Support and Citizens Advice Bureau. The Times named him "Lawyer of the Week" in 2007 and was awarded the Bar Pro Bono Award by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC, for his voluntary work on behalf of victims in Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals. In 2009, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, presented him with a Pro Bono Hero award in the House of Commons for his work on preventing hospital closures. He is now a "door tenant" at 3PB and is no longer in active practice at the Bar having committed to being a full-time Member of Parliament.[5]

Opperman previously stood for election to Parliament in Swindon North at the 1997 general election and for Caernarfon in 2005. He was a Councillor in Kennet from 1995 to 1999.[6]

Opperman led a legal campaign to oppose the closure of the NHS's Savernake Hospital at Marlborough which he credited with saving his mother's life from cancer[7].

Parliamentary career[edit]

Opperman was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hexham in Northumberland. He was one of the first MPs in the United Kingdom to employ an apprentice.[8]

Opperman runs a series of social action projects in the North East. In 2010, he established a work experience scheme based in his Hexham office to give young people an insight into politics and experience in work. Since its inception almost 100 local young people have taken part in the programme. During Christmas 2011, he collected presents for soldiers serving abroad in Afghanistan. In 2012, he coordinated the collection of more than 300 toys for disadvantaged children in north east England as part of the Northumberland Conservatives' Christmas appeal, "Buy One More Toy".

In September 2012 Opperman was appointed as Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) to Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister at the Home Office.[9]

Opperman has previously described himself as "rather on the left" of the Conservative Party and has previously opposed regional pay but supported the Living Wage, regional banks, and industrial activism. He called for his party to do more to show it supports "the hard working people in our public sector". In 2012, the New Statesman magazine summarised his positions on low wages, corporate responsibility, and apprenticeships in an article called "Meet the Tories the left should be frightened of".[10]

According to the website "They Work For You" Opperman spoke in 75 debates in the last year of the 2010–15 parliament, well above average amongst MPs. He has received answers to 43 written questions in the last year, above average amongst MPs and voted in 73.38% of votes in this Parliament with this Party. Opperman's interests in Parliament include fuel poverty, vocational education, the future of the Falklands Islands, assisted dying and prison reform.[11]

On 8 August 2013, Opperman declared his support for the Living Wage in an article for the New Statesman.[12] In this article he asked: "How and why did we let it become acceptable for a full-time job not to pay enough to live on?".

Although he led a campaign to oppose the closure of Savernake Hospital, Opperman has overseen multiple NHS service closures in his constituency, for instance, the shutting of the overnight urgent care services at Hexham hospital.[13]

Controversy[edit]

In 2014, Opperman caused minor controversy for mistaking a member of the public for Mario Balotelli whilst at a drugs policy debate.[14] Balotelli was, in fact, at the Melwood training ground in Liverpool.[15]

In 2015, Guy Opperman was named by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for not paying £161 in expenses due, this was later revised to £32.

Guy Opperman was appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on 14 June 2017.[16] He quickly found himself mired in controversy in the national press, when footage from 2013 was uncovered showing him stating that he understood what it was like to live on a zero-hours contract because he once worked as a £250-per-hour barrister.[17] Weeks later, in response to the group Women Against State Pension Inequality, he was quoted as saying that older women who face cuts to their state pension could take up apprenticeships as a route to re-employment.[18] Opperman faced criticism in October 2017 for pulling out of a pensions fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in an apparent attempt to avoid a nearby protest staged by Women Against State Pension Inequality.[19]

He was criticised in the Financial Times in September 2017 for being "clueless" about the Lifetime ISA[20] and for following a "line of pensions ministers with no interest in pensions stretching back to the 1990s".[21]

Brain tumour[edit]

In April 2011, Opperman was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering from headaches whilst at work in Parliament. He was rushed to hospital on the advice of his fellow Conservative MP and doctor, Dan Poulter, and underwent emergency surgery. He recovered fully after several months.[citation needed]

Guy Opperman has raised almost £10,000 for charity including over £4,000 in 2011 for the National Brain Appeal at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery which he credits with saving his life after suffering from a brain tumour.[22] He and Labour MP Paul Blomfield, who also had a brain tumour in 2011, walked the first section of the Pennine Way in 2012 to raise money for Headway UK. In 2012, Opperman walked 280 miles from Sheffield to Scotland raising £2,500 for the Great North Air Ambulance.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Opperman was a director of his family engineering business until 2009.[citation needed] Opperman is a supporter of Middlesbrough Football Club.[24][25] On 2 June 2017, during his general election campaign, Guy married his partner Flora.[26]

Opperman is an amateur jockey and rode his first winner in 1985. He continues to ride and has won a number of point-to-point horse races, including at Downhills, Corbridge just after his selection as the Conservative Party Candidate for Hexham in 2009.[27]

Author and blogger[edit]

In 2010 Opperman's blog was named as in the top 30 of all MPs by Total Politics magazine.[28]

In October 2012, Opperman had his first book published, Doing Time, an examination of the prison service and offender rehabilitation in the United Kingdom. In it he offers a consideration of re-offending, prisoner training, drug rehabilitation, prison management and payment by results in the prison system.[29]

Opperman is a member of the Advisory Board of the High Pay Centre and has co-authored an essay with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady entitled "Better Business: Moral Matters". In the essay he contrasts community-focused businesses in his own Northumberland constituency with the lack of responsibility demonstrated by the banking sector.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Guy Opperman MP". Democracy Live. BBC Online. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Guy Opperman", Who's Who, A & C Black, (Subscription required (help)) 
  3. ^ "Election 2010: Hexham Results". Hexham Courant. CN Group. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Guy Opperman". Conservative Party Profile. Conservative Party. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Guy Opperman". Members. 3PB Barristers. 
  6. ^ "Guy Opperman". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Queen on the application of Val Compton v Wiltshire Primary Care Trust". England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions. BAILII. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Prudhoe teenager Jade gets apprenticeship with MP". The Journal. Trinity Mirror. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "Full list of Conservative ministerial aides revealed". ITV. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Davis, Rowenna (9 October 2012). "Meet the Tories the left should be frightened of". New Statesman. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Guy Opperman". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Opperman, Guy (13 August 2013). "Guy Opperman: the Conservative case for a living wage". New Statesman. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Overnight closure of hospital urgent care service likely to stay in force | Hexham Courant". www.hexham-courant.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-09. 
  14. ^ Opperman, Guy (30 October 2014). "Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has popped in to Commons Gallery to watch the Drug Policy debate -wearing sharp suit, pink shirt &a poppy". @GuyOpperman. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Tory MP embarrassingly mistakes black man watching House of Commons Drugs Policy debate for Mario Balotelli". The Independent. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  16. ^ "Guy Opperman MP". Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  17. ^ Chapman, Ben (16 June 2017). "Tory minister says he understands life on zero-hours contracts because he used to be £250-an-hour barrister". The Independent. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  18. ^ Syal, Rajeev (5 July 2017). "Minister suggests women hit by pension age change 'take up apprenticeships'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  19. ^ Gilbert, Jack (4 October 2017). "Pensions minister dodges women's event amid Waspi protests". Citywire. Retrieved 5 October 2017. 
  20. ^ Hughes, Emma Ann (15 September 2017). "Pensions minister is clueless about Lisa". FTAdviser. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  21. ^ Hazell, Tony (27 September 2017). "No need to scare expat pensioners". FTAdviser. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  22. ^ "Guy Opperman MP". Our Heroes. The National Brain Appeal. 
  23. ^ "Guy's Page". Just Giving. 27 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Middlesbrough celebrity fans | Famous celebrity football fans of Premier League clubs | Sport Galleries | Pics | Express.co.uk". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  25. ^ Passant, Andy (12 March 2009). "Famous faces are backing Boro's survival push". gazettelive. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  26. ^ Walker, Jonathan (6 June 2017). "Would-be MP swaps honeymoon for the campaign trail after wedding clash". nechronicle. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  27. ^ "Tyndale Point to Point". Blogspot. 1 March 2009. 
  28. ^ "Top 30". Blogspot. 4 September 2010. 
  29. ^ Opperman, Guy. Doing Time – Prisons in the 21st Century. Surbiton: Bretwalda Books. ISBN 1909099031. 
  30. ^ "Better Business: Morals Matter – A collection of essays about business ethics". High Pay Centre. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Atkinson
Member of Parliament for Hexham
2010–present
Incumbent