Paul Holmes (politician)

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Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes 01.jpg
Chair of the Liberal Democrats
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
LeaderCharles Kennedy
Menzies Campbell
Nick Clegg
Preceded byMatthew Taylor
Succeeded byVacant
Member of Parliament
for Chesterfield
In office
8 June 2001 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byTony Benn
Succeeded byToby Perkins
Personal details
Born (1957-01-16) 16 January 1957 (age 62)
Sheffield, England
Political partySocial Democrats (Before 1988)
Liberal Democrats (1988–present)
Children2 daughters
1 son
Alma materUniversity of York
University of Sheffield
WebsiteOfficial website

Paul Robert Holmes (born 16 January 1957) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, previously held by Tony Benn, from 2001 to 2010.

Early life[edit]

He grew up in Sheffield on a council estate. He went to Prince Edward Primary School, Manor Top, then Firth Park Secondary School (now Firth Park Community Arts College), a comprehensive from 1969 (when he was 12).


Holmes graduated in History from the University of York in 1978[1] and before being elected an MP, was a history teacher for 22 years. He gained a PGCE from the University of Sheffield. He taught from 1979–84 at Chesterfield School (now Brookfield Community School[2]), then Buxton College from 1984–90, and from 1990–2001 he was Head of Sixth Form at Buxton Community School (the successor to Buxton College).

Political career[edit]

Holmes joined the SDP in 1983. From 1987–95 he was a councillor for Brimington South Ward, then from 1999–2003 for Walton ward on Chesterfield Borough Council.

Parliamentary career[edit]

His election as chairman of the parliamentary party in 2005 was a surprise to many, since it came at the expense of incumbent chairman Matthew Taylor (a close friend of then Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy). Commentators attributed the result to dissatisfaction with some elements of Kennedy's leadership and a belief amongst MPs that the role of party chairman should be more that of a backbenchers' 'shop steward' and less under the influence of the leadership.

Holmes, not yet an MP, supported Simon Hughes in the leadership election following Paddy Ashdown's retirement in 1999. At the 2005 party conference, he voted against plans by the leadership to support capping the European Union budget at 1% of GDP and to privatise the post office (and was on the winning side in both votes). However, he publicly declared himself to be in full support of Kennedy's leadership following rumours that Hughes was planning a leadership challenge.[3] In the leadership election caused by the resignation of Charles Kennedy, Paul Holmes took on the role of chair to Simon Hughes' leadership campaign

Holmes was a member of the House of Commons Education & Skills Select Committee from 2001–2007, but stood down from the Committee in July 2007 to concentrate on his appointment as Shadow Minister for Housing. Previously Holmes had been a Spokesman on Disability (2001–2005), Work and Pensions (2002–2005) and Arts and Heritage (2006–2007). In December 2007 he returned to the back benches, being one of only two MPs in the party to lose their shadow cabinet responsibilities in the reshuffle after Nick Clegg's election as Liberal Democrat leader.[4]

Holmes hit the headlines in March 2008 when he was the only Liberal Democrat MP to sign an Early Day Motion praising Fidel Castro at the time of his resignation. He was quoted on the BBC as saying "It is true Cuba has political prisoners and no free elections, but it has very good dentistry."[5]

Holmes was the Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Justice[6] and sat on the Children, Families and Schools Select Committee.[7]

Holmes is a founding member of the centre-left Beveridge Group within the Liberal Democrats.[8] He is also an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of Humanists UK, and was also a vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, before his defeat in the 2010 general election.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 1978 he married Raelene Palmer. His children were born and brought up in Chesterfield.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The University of York – Development and Alumni Relations". Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Examination of Witnesses (Questions 960 – 979)", Q967, Education and Skills Committee Evidence, House of Commons, 8 December 2003 (
  3. ^ Matthew Tempest in Blackpool (21 September 2005). "The Guardian". London: Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  4. ^ O'Donoghue, Gary (20 December 2007). "What to make of Clegg reshuffle?". BBC News. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  5. ^ "BBC News Magazine Monitor". 3 March 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Labour and the Tories have failed on youth justice (Chesterfield Liberal Democrats)". 3 September 2009. Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ "Children, Schools and Families Committee: Members – UK Parliament". Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ About usThe Beveridge Group 28 October 2007
  9. ^ "Register of All-Party Groups". Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tony Benn
Member of Parliament for Chesterfield
Succeeded by
Toby Perkins
Party political offices
Preceded by
Matthew Taylor
Chair of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by