Philip Davies

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Philip Davies
MP
Member of Parliament
for Shipley
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Chris Leslie
Majority 9,624 (19.0%)
Personal details
Born Philip Andrew Davies
(1972-01-05) 5 January 1972 (age 44)
Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Deborah Helmsley (m. 1994; div. 2012)[1]
Children 2
Alma mater University of Huddersfield
Website www.philip-davies.org.uk

Philip Andrew Davies (born 5 January 1972) is a British Conservative Party politician who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Shipley in West Yorkshire. First elected at the 2005 general election, he is the most rebellious serving Conservative MP, having voted against the Tory whip over 250 times in the course of his parliamentary career,[2] and he has been criticised for his use of the filibuster to "kill off legislation he doesn’t like".[3][4][5][6] Davies has regularly been criticised by other politicians and prominant public figures for comments he has made on gender equality and women,[7] homosexuality,[8] ethnic minorities[9] and the disabled.[10] He is currently under investigation for his links with the gambling industry, something for which he has previously apologised to Parliament.[11]

Early life[edit]

Born in Doncaster, Davies' father is Peter Davies, a former elected Mayor of Doncaster.[12] He was educated at the Old Swinford Hospital school, Stourbridge, and at Huddersfield Polytechnic (which was restyled Huddersfield University in his third year). He was awarded a 2:1 BA Hons degree in History and Political Studies in 1993. Following his graduation, Davies worked at Asda from September 1993 to May 2005,[13] first as a Customer Services Manager and later as a Marketing Manager. He has also worked at Marilyn Davies Bookmakers and Mark Jarvis Bookmakers.[14]

He joined the Conservative Party in 1988.

Parliamentary career[edit]

He unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat of Colne Valley at the 2001 general election and was defeated by the sitting Labour MP Kali Mountford by 4,639 votes.

In May 2005, he was elected as an MP at the for the seat of Shipley with a majority of 422 votes, defeating the Labour MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs Chris Leslie. He received donations toward his successful campaign from Bearwood Corporate Services,[15] a front company set up by non-domicile Lord Ashcroft to give out donations to marginal seats such as Davies'. Bearwood has given a total of £5.1 million to the Conservative Party since 2003.[16]

Davies made his maiden speech on 7 June 2005, where he recalled Titus Salt and the mentioned the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saltaire. He also announced that he wanted to remain a backbencher and not to be a shadow spokesman or a minister, and that he wanted to feel able to speak for his constituents.[17] Davies held his seat with an increased majority of 9,944 votes in the 2010 general election, and held his seat for a second time with a slightly reduced majority of 9,624 in the 2015 general election.

He was re-elected onto the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs in 2010 and is a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. He has also become a member of the newly established backbench business committee and a member of the Speaker's Panel, chairing Westminster Hall debates.[18] Davies is rated as one of the Conservatives' most rebellious MPs.[19]

On 2 November 2012, Davies wrote to the Metropolitan Police requesting it to re-open a second investigation into ex-Labour MP Denis MacShane's expenses claims.[20]

Use of the filibuster[edit]

In November 2014, Philip Davies was reprimanded by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons during his successful attempt to filibuster, or "talk out", the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which would have prevented landlords from evicting tenants for requesting vital repairs.[3]

In November 2015, Davies gave the longest speech in a sequence by Conservative MPs that resulted in 'talking out' a bill backed by St. John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, and the British Heart Foundation to provide first-aid training to children. Among his reasons for killing the bill was that he had "forgotten the first aid training he had himself received in school".[6]

In March 2016, he joined three other Conservative backbench MPs in 'talking out' a bill by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, which aimed to reverse NHS reforms which Lucas claimed were leading to privatisation of the NHS. By filibustering for three and a half hours, Lucas was left with just 17 minutes to present her bill, which was subsequently shelved without a vote.[21]

Investigation into links with the gambling industry[edit]

In 2012, Davies was found to have accepted gifts from bookmaking companies whilst at the same time calling for them to be given tax concessions by the Government.[22] Subsequently, he also supported offshore bookmakers by opposing a Point of Consumption Tax on online gambling.

In February 2013, it was reported that Davies was to be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards following a complaint claiming he received more than £10,000 in benefits from companies with links to the gambling industry which he did not fully declare in the register of members' interests during a year-long investigation into the betting industry.[23] The Commissioner required Davies to apologise for breaching the parliamentary code after not declaring an interest in a debate and at the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The financial interest involved was £870 of hospitality from the bookmaker Ladbrokes, rather than the larger amount complained about which came from an employment services company with links to firms in the gambling sector.[11]

In August 2016, it was reported that Davies had received from Ladbrokes three tickets to the Royal Ascot horseracing festival worth £960; hospitality at Cheltenham Racecourse from both Ladbrokes and Gala Coral; and a trip to Sandown Racecourse, also from Gala Coral. The total value of his horseracing hospitality in 2016 was reported to be in excess of £3,000.[24]

Altercation with Jon Snow[edit]

On 21 October 2014, as part of a group, Davies was given a tour of the ITN building in London on Gray's Inn Road. During the tour, Davies argued heatedly with the Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow whom he called too left-wing and suggested Snow should retire.[25] Snow reportedly began the row by challenging Davies to demonstrate when he had shown any bias. Davies told Anita Singh, of The Daily Telegraph: "I said I was quite happy to come back at a later date but I hadn't come armed with any examples today." Davies accused Snow of behaving like a "playground bully" in their encounter.[26]

Opinions[edit]

Davies is on the governing council of The Freedom Association pressure group,[27] and an organiser for the Taxpayers' Alliance.[28] He has called for government to "scrap the Human Rights Act for foreign nationals and chuck them out of the country".[29] Davies was criticised as being "disgracefully reactionary" for his public comment that he wanted to see "an increase in the prison population".[30]

Davies is among a minority of Conservative MPs[31] who has called for the scrapping of the minimum wage in the UK.[32][33] Davies does not want books sent to prisoners, and rejects same-sex marriage.[8]

European Union[edit]

Davies has called for complete withdrawal from the European Union, starting the Better Off Out campaign,[34] and campaigning at the Conservative Party Conference in 2005.

The eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party did not field a candidate against Davies at the 2010 general election and campaigned for his re-election because of his anti-EU views.[35] In the event, Davies held his seat with an increased majority of just under 10,000 votes.

Islam[edit]

On 28 March 2007, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported that Davies urged Muslims in the whole country to fly the Union flag on mosques to show their unity and commitment to Britain.[36] He is treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group.[37]

In July 2010, Davies argued it would not be beneficial to allow the United Kingdom Youth Parliament to stage a debate in the House of Commons Chamber because it would create a precedent which would mean organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain would be able to use the House of Commons.[38]

Racial equality[edit]

Davies is the parliamentary spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness[39] and was accused of wasting the Equality and Human Rights Commission's time by sending a stream of correspondence to its Chair, Trevor Phillips, between 2008 and 2009. In this correspondence, he asked questions relating to race and sex discrimination such as: "Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person?" and "Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?"[9][40] Some commentators suggested that he was "lobbying for 'blacking up'".[41][42] He also asked whether it was racist for a policeman to refer to a BMW as "black man's wheels" and whether the Metropolitan Black Police Association breaches discrimination law by restricting its membership to black people.[9] Peter Herbert, the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: "This correspondence seems a complete and utter waste of time... he shouldn't be using the Human Rights Commission as basically a source of legal advice".[9]

Gender and sexuality issues[edit]

In March 2007 he voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 which proposed to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, create criminal offences, and provide for exceptions.[43] He also complained, while calling for a Parliamentary debate on "political correctness", about a school production of Romeo and Julian during LGBT History month. Commons Leader Harriet Harman described his remarks as "cheap shots".[44]

He was called a "troglodyte" in 2009 by the Conservative MP (now Commons' Speaker) John Bercow for his opposition to debating the Equalities Bill, the effect of the recession on women and International Women's Day.[45]

During a debate in Westminster Hall in October 2012 on the sentencing of women, Davies said there was "unequivocal evidence that women are treated far more favourably than men". He claimed that 58% of male offenders who entered a guilty plea were given a custodial sentence compared with just 34% of women.[46]

Speaking in Parliament in October 2014, Davies said he believes parents and not schools should take responsibility for the sex education of children. Believing his constituents associate increased sex education with an increase in teenage pregnancies, he thought they would welcome its abandonment.[47]

On 27 October 2015, he presented the case to the Backbench Business Committee for a parliamentary debate on men's issues such as: prostate and testicular cancer, less equality for men in child custody and lower performance in education compared to girls of the same age.[48] In addition, he proposed parliamentary observance of International Men's Day.[49] This led to a public disagreement with Labour MP Jess Phillips over his proposal.[50][51] "As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day", Phillips said in response to Davies during the meeting.[52]

The committee originally rejected his case, but a debate in Westminster Hall on 19 November was eventually granted after Labour and Conservative colleagues gave their support.[53] Davies said during the debate: "The problem is virtually everything we do in this House and debate in this House seems to start with the premise that everything is biased against women and something must be done about it – never an appreciation that men’s issues can be just as important and that men can be just as badly treated in certain areas as women".[7] Maria Miller, Conservative chair of the women and equalities select committee responded to Davies: "Women face discrimination on a daily basis, that’s not a myth. My honourable friend does not do his case much good at all when he tries to belittle that".[7]

In July 2016, Davies gave a speech to an event held by the anti-feminist Justice for Men and Boys Party. In addition to returning to his opinion of the way the Justice system works, he said: "I don’t believe there’s an issue between men and women. The problem is being stirred up by those who can be described as militant feminists and the politically correct males who pander to this nonsense".[54] Objecting to the lower number of men who win in custody cases with their former partners, he said: "Many women use their children as a stick to beat the father with". He rejected a suggestion that his appearance at a J4MB event meant that he subscribed to the party's viewpoint.[54]

In response to Davies comments at the July 2016 event, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, said that Davies' "deeply sexist" opinions showed that he had an "utter contempt for women". He called on Theresa May, the Conservative leader, to withdraw the party whip from Davies.[55] The Labour peer Baroness Corston, a barrister who reviewed the issue of women in the justice system for the Home Office, told The Guardian that "There is indisputable evidence that women are treated by the courts more harshly" than men.[56] Davies responded by providing figures from the Ministry of Justice and other sources, which appeared to suggest that the courts give women lesser sentences. He said that Corston is thus "ill-informed or deliberately lying when she accuses me of lying".[56]

Disability[edit]

He has said in Parliament that disabled workers are "by definition" less productive and that the minimum wage was a "hindrance to disabled jobseekers".[57][10] Among others, Davies was criticised by Labour's Anne Begg and a member of his own parliamentary party, and the Conservative party quickly distanced themselves from his comments.[58][57] Representatives from the mental illness charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness called his suggestion "preposterous"[10] and "seriously misguided".[59] Davies' initial response was that the furore over his comments was "left-wing hysteria".[10]

As part of his use of the filibuster technique, in October 2015, Davies led a sequence of speeches[60] that resulted in a private members' bill exempting parking charges for hospital carers being 'talked out'.[4][5] Davies spoke for 90 minutes to "talk out" the bill proposed by Labour MP Julie Cooper. He said he objected to the bill because he was concerned it would cause higher parking charges for disabled people and a reduction in revenue for hospitals.[61] The comedian Russell Howard in his programme Good News, called him an "arsehole", "windbag", "wanker" and a "toad-faced hypocrite". when discussing the incident, and accused the MP of filibustering (talking out a bill). Davies complained on the grounds of inaccuracy and misrepresentation. The BBC Trust rejected his complaint, and considered "robust criticism" was legitimate in political satire.[62]

Global poverty[edit]

In early 2010, Davies was criticised by the press,[63] and religious organisations,[45] for using Parliamentary rules to "wreck" the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill, an anti-poverty measure designed to stop "vulture funds" from buying up the debt of third-world countries in order to aggressively pursue repayments through the international courts. The bill was stopped because an anonymous Tory shouted "object", but was passed into law after intervention by Conservative whips.[64][65]

Reform of parliament[edit]

Davies is against introducing proportional representation and having an elected House of Lords. He has been targeted by the Power 2010 campaign as one of 6 MPs "who stand in the way of a reforming Parliament". Davies responded in the local press saying that the group's view was "unbalanced".[66]

Smoking[edit]

In March 2011, Davies claimed, that there was "no basis in evidence" that restricting branding on cigarette packets would reduce smoking levels, saying "I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that".[67] The physician Ben Goldacre promptly outlined in his Guardian column the evidence base that Davies claimed did not exist, concluding that: "If you don’t care about this evidence, or you think jobs are more important than people killed by cigarettes, or you think libertarian principles are more important than both, then that’s a different matter. But if you say the evidence doesn’t show evidence of harm from branded packaging, you are simply wrong".[68] Davies does not want to ban smoking in cars with children.[8]

Local issues[edit]

In January 2011, Davies was actively opposing the planned housing developments in his constituency.[69] He called for a fairer slice of the "transport cake" for his constituency, coupled with working with local residents on issues such as the flight path of planes from Leeds Bradford Airport and helping parents to get their children to their desired schools.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Davies married Deborah Gail Hemsley, whom he met at university, in July 1994 in Doncaster. The couple have two sons. They separated in 2011, blaming the pressures of his role as an MP,[70] and divorced in November 2012. She continued to work for Davies as his part-time secretary.[1] He subsequently shared a flat in London with fellow MP Esther McVey.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Former wife of Shipley MP is expecting baby". Keighley News. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Voting record at The Public Whip
  3. ^ a b Wright, Oliver (14 December 2014). "Philip Davies, the master of filibuster and friend to rogue landlords". The Independent. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Stone, Jon (1 November 2015). "Tory MP Philip Davies who blocked law to scrap hospital parking charges for carers says he was 'speaking up for carers'". The Independent. 
  5. ^ a b Frances Perraudin (30 October 2015). "Tory MP's filibuster blocks bill to give carers free hospital parking". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Stone, Jon (20 November 2015). "Tory MPs block bill to give first aid training to children by talking non-stop until debate ends". The Independent. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c Perraudin, Frances (19 November 2016). "Philip Davies: 'politically correct males pander to militant feminists'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Wright, Oliver (8 May 2015). "Four reasons the Tories shouldn't feel too smug – despite an incredible election result". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d Owen, Paul (18 December 2009). "Philip Davies MP bombarded watchdog in 'political correctness' campaign". The Guardian. London. 
  10. ^ a b c d Ross, Tim; Winnett, Robert (18 June 2011). "Disabled should work for less than minimum wage, Tory MP suggests". The Telegraph. London. 
  11. ^ a b Ramesh, Randeep (19 March 2013). "MP apologises for code breach over Cheltenham trip". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Shock message for Government as maverick Mayor takes control". Yorkshire Post. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Where are they now? Philip Davies MP". The Grocer. 28 January 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Philip Davies: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  15. ^ "Register of Members Interests: Philip Davies". TheyWorkForYou.com. 
  16. ^ "Briefing: Lord Ashcroft and Bearwood". Times Online. 4 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "Orders of the Day — Finance Bill". Hansard/TheyWorkForYou. 7 June 2005. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Philip Davies". 
  19. ^ "Philip Hollobone continues to top the league table of backbench rebels". Conservative Home. 
  20. ^ "MP's expenses: Denis MacShane resigns over false invoices". BBC News. 2 November 2012. 
  21. ^ "Tory MPs talk for so long they derail law to stop creeping privatisation of the NHS". Daily Mirror. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  22. ^ "Tory MP calls for betting tax cuts — after £5,500 donations from bookies". Political Scrapbook. 27 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "Tory MP to be investigated over gambling industry benefits". The Guardian. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "PROSPER & GAMBLE". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 5 August 2016. 
  25. ^ Sommers, Jack (23 October 2014). "Jon Snow Has Extraordinary Bustup With Tory MP Philip Davies In Channel 4 News Studio". The Huffington Post. 
  26. ^ Singh, Anita (22 October 2014). "Jon Snow 'acted like playground bully', says Tory MP". Daily Telegraph. 
  27. ^ "Council". The Freedom Association. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  28. ^ Philip Gives Support to Tax Payers' Alliance Campaign
  29. ^ Baker, Hannah (28 January 2011). "City solicitor tells of concerns over 'prisons without bars'". 
  30. ^ Meneaud, Marc (18 January 2011). "Councillor and Tory rival to hold public debate after remark over prison numbers.". Telegraph and Argus. 
  31. ^ Wage Concern. "Anti-Minimum Wage Tories slammed in the Commons". YouTube. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  32. ^ "Shipley's Philip Davies is criticised". Telegraph & Argus. 12 May 2009. 
  33. ^ Wright, Greg (5 May 2009). "MP in call to scrap national minimum wage". Yorkshire Post. 
  34. ^ Wheeler, Brian (5 December 2006). "UKIP leader 'offered Tory seat'". BBC News. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  35. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog". ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog. 
  36. ^ "MP tells mosques to fly the flag". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. 28 March 2007. 
  37. ^ UK Parliament – Register of All Party Groups
  38. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 20 July 2010 (pt 0004)". 
  39. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (8 December 2006). "The phoney war on Christmas". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  40. ^ Hough, Andrew (19 December 2009). "Philip Davies: Tory MP 'never understood' why blacking-up was offensive". The Daily Telegraph. 
  41. ^ Nugent, Helen (19 December 2009). "Conservative MP lobbies for 'blacking up'". The Times. London. 
  42. ^ Mollison, Hazel (20 December 2009). "Tory MP asks: is it okay to 'black up'?". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 
  43. ^ "Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations — 19 Mar 2007 at 19:25". 
  44. ^ "'Politically correct' Romeo and Julian play sparks anger". The Telegraph. London. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  45. ^ a b "Yorkshire MP funded by Ashcroft's company 'will wreck anti-poverty bill'". Ekklesia. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  46. ^ "Sentencing of female offenders". 
  47. ^ Deacon, Michael (21 October 2014). "Sketch: No sex education please, we're British". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  48. ^ "Backbench Business Committee". 27 October 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  49. ^ Poole, Glen (29 October 2015). "What's so funny about a men's rights debate?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  50. ^ "Jess Phillips vs Philip Davies on 'ridiculous' International Men's Day debate". The Spectator. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  51. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (2 November 2015). "Watch: Rival MPs Jess Phillips and Philip Davies clash over International Men's Day". New Statesman. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  52. ^ Perraudin, Frances (30 October 2015). "MPs rally in support of colleague subjected to rape threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  53. ^ Dathan, Matt (11 November 2015). "Tory MP wins battle for International Men's Day debate in Parliament". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  54. ^ a b Grierson, Jamie (12 August 2016). "Feminist zealots want women to have their cake and eat it, says Tory MP". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  55. ^ Grierson, Jamie (12 August 2016). "Pressure mounts on PM to respond to Philip Davies' 'feminist zealots' comments". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  56. ^ a b Grierson, Jamie (14 August 2016). "Philip Davies' claim that courts favour women 'not backed by evidence'". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2016. 
  57. ^ a b "MP says minimum wage a hindrance to disabled jobseekers". BBC News. 17 June 2011. 
  58. ^ Stratton, Allegra (17 June 2011). "Tory MP Philip Davies: disabled people could work for less pay". The Guardian. London. 
  59. ^ "Tory MP defends disability remarks". Yorkshire Post. 18 June 2011. 
  60. ^ Heather Saul (21 November 2015). "Philip Davies: Bills the Tory MP has attempted to filibuster". The Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  61. ^ "Philip Davies: Why I blocked free parking bill". BBC News. 1 November 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  62. ^ Sweney, Mark (29 September 2016). "Tory MP's complaint about Russell Howard jibes rejected by BBC Trust". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  63. ^ Stewart, Heather (11 March 2010). "Vulture fund bill under threat from Tory backbencher". The Guardian. London. 
  64. ^ Stewart, Heather (12 March 2010). "Tories accused of scuppering vulture funds bill". The Guardian. London. 
  65. ^ Wray, Richard (8 April 2010). "Bill to stop vulture funds using UK courts gets royal assent". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  66. ^ Bourley, Anika (23 March 2010). "Shipley MP hits back at group's 'unbalanced' take on his views". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. 
  67. ^ "Plain cigarette packs idea panned". Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  68. ^ "Why cigarette packs matter". Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  69. ^ "Councillors, campaigners and MPs form new protest group". Telegraph & Argus. 27 January 2011. 
  70. ^ "Conservative MP blames job pressures for ending 17-year marriage". 

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Chris Leslie
Member of Parliament for Shipley
2005–present
Incumbent