Richard Graham (politician)

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Richard Graham

Official portrait of Richard Graham MP crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Gloucester
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byParmjit Dhanda
Majority10,277 (19.1%)
Personal details
Born (1958-04-04) 4 April 1958 (age 62)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Anthea Graham
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
WebsiteOfficial Website

Richard Michael John Ogilvie Graham (born 4 April 1958)[1] is a British Conservative Party politician, who was first elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gloucester.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

The grandson of the cricketer and British Army officer Ogilvie Graham,[3] Graham was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford where he was an exhibitioner in Modern History.[4] Whilst at Oxford University, he was a Cadet with the Oxford University Air Squadron. Graham has played international squash and still plays cricket for Gloucester City Winget Cricket Club and the Gloucestershire Over 50s.[5]

Graham was previously an airline manager, a diplomat and a pensions manager. He started with John Swire and Sons and became general manager of Cathay Pacific Airways in France at 24 and in the Philippines at 26, concurrently Vice-chairman of the board of Airline Representatives. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1986, and was Second, later First, Secretary, in the British High Commission Nairobi and then British Trade Commissioner China, First Secretary British Embassy Beijing and HM Consul Macao (1989–1992). Graham joined Barings Bank as its Chief Representative China in 1993, and became a director of Baring Asset Management in 1996.[6]

He was previously a Director of the charitable company Care for Children, which organises and trains foster parents for Chinese orphans.[7]

Graham was elected as a Cotswold district councillor in 2003, becoming Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in 2006.[8] He unsuccessfully contested the Conservative Party Stroud Parliamentary nomination and the South West of England in the 2004 European elections.

International Experience[edit]

Graham has lived and worked in ten countries and speaks eight languages: Indonesian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, French, Malay, Swahili and English.[9]

Richard Graham was the first MP to speak Indonesian in the Chamber [10] when he spoke during PMQs on 10 October 2018 on the recent natural disaster at Palu in Indonesia's Sulawesi islands. “Teman yang membantu saat dibutuhkan adalah teman sebenarnya”: a friend in need is a friend indeed.”[11]

Richard has been described by the Speaker of House John Bercow on numerous occasions as a “noted Sinologist.”[12][13]

Parliamentary career[edit]

First parliament (2010–15)[edit]

In the run up to the 2010 general election, Graham was criticised by the incumbent Gloucester Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda and Stroud MP David Drew for using members and supporters of the foxhound pack Heythrop Hunt[14] to campaign and leaflet on his behalf.[15]

Following his election to the House of Commons in 2010, Graham was a member of the Select Committee for Work and Pensions May–November 2010, and since July 2015.[16] He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt Hon Lord Howell from November 2010 to September 2012. He was also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt Hon Hugo Swire, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office until 2014. In November 2012, Graham was appointed Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Indonesia.[17] In January 2016 he was also appointed the Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Malaysia, the Philippines, and the ASEAN Economic Community.[18] He is the longest serving PMs trade envoy in the Commons.

In June 2010, his first debate in Parliament regarding apprenticeships and their importance to Gloucester was cancelled after both he and the apprenticeship minister arrived late. Graham later blamed a 'Printer Error'.[19] Graham also apologised to the Serjeant at Arms in 2010 after he shared a photo taken of him in the House of Commons Chamber when it was not sitting with the Gloucester Citizen which also accompanied an article in that newspaper on his maiden speech.[20] Photography is only permitted by the Speaker in exceptional circumstances.[21]

In January 2013, Graham attracted criticism after suggesting to Gloucester Citizen that young women who wear high heels and short skirts put themselves at greater risk of rape. He said, "If you are blind drunk and wearing those clothes how able are you to get away?"[22] Graham denied he was "victim blaming", saying that his comments were about "risk management".[23]

Graham has made apprenticeships a particular cause and has employed his own apprentice every year since 2011. Graham has organised 14 jobs fairs in Gloucestershire since 2010.[24]

Graham successfully campaigned for stronger dangerous driving sentencing laws in 2013 for those driving uninsured and under the influence of alcohol.[25] In July 2015, he was banned from driving for six months at Stroud Magistrates Court after he was caught driving at 90 mph in a 70 mph speed limit on the A417 near Cirencester, in the Cotswolds on 14 December 2014.[26] He already had nine points on his licence at the time so faced automatic disqualification.[27] He was fined £525 with £85 costs and a £53 victim surcharge. Consequently, he also had a road safety award withdrawn which he received from the charity Brake in January 2015.[26]

In June 2013, he was advised by the Information Commissioner's Office that he was in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the EU directive concerning Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 after sending political campaign emails to people who had contacted him on parliamentary business without first obtaining their permission.[28]

In November 2014, a UK China Leadership Forum in China, led by Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke, was cancelled at the last minute in sympathy with Graham after he was denied a visa to China following a Westminster debate on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong where he voiced his support for the protesters' human rights demands.[29]

Second parliament (2015–17)[edit]

In April 2015, Graham was ordered by a judge to remove tweets that discussed a murder trial in Gloucester after the defendant's barrister accused him of "a clear attempt to win votes by ingratiating himself with his electors." [30] The defendant was later found guilty of murder. Graham was re-elected with an increased majority of 7,241 votes at the 2015 general election. He apologised for parking his official campaign van in the County Council building car park disabled parking bay for 30 minutes for a memorial ceremony for police after a "37 hour day" following the election.[31]

In May 2015, Graham was mocked on Twitter after taking a joke by David Schneider about YouGov Polls at face value.[32]

In November 2015, Graham was accused of quoting Joseph Goebbels in defending a new surveillance bill with the words "if you've nothing to hide you have nothing to fear". The Independent pointed out that former Conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague had also used the same phrase in 2013 whilst Graham dismissed the argument as "clearly absurd" as Goebbels would have spoken in German.[33]

In 2016, Graham was a member of the joint Select Committee which investigated the British Home Stores Pension Fund. He asked Sir Philip Green, who had responded angrily to previous questions about corporate governance, if he regarded the offshore company structure as appropriate for a modern UK company. Green did not answer directly, but said the structuring could have been more aggressive and others were jealous of his success.[34] Graham addressed Philip Green on what he would do for pensioners and the latter committed to funding the deficit.[35]

In January 2016, Graham launched the UKTI Education is GREAT campaign to increase engagement with British education in Malaysia.[36]

Graham campaigned for a "Remain" vote during the 2016 EU membership referendum[37] but has since been involved in informal talks regarding future Free Trade Agreements as the Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to the Philippines.[38]

In May 2017, during a BBC interview regarding the benefits system, Victoria Derbyshire discussed Personal Independent Payments (PIPs) for disabled people with Graham and asked why some people with permanent degenerative conditions are being reassessed for their social security payment. Graham said: "some conditions do degenerate, some stabilise, occasionally some do get better. It's a mixed situation" but didn't clarify his remarks leading to criticism.[39]

Third parliament (2017-2019)[edit]

Graham was re-elected with an increased share of the vote with 50.3%, but a reduced majority of 5,520 votes at the 2017 general election.

In March 2018, Graham voted through in favour of changes for any parent of children in Year 3 and above earning more than £7,400 to be ineligible to claim the free school meals.[40]

In August 2018, Graham wrote in an online newsletter[41] to his constituents that in order to increase recycling rates there would need to be an "education programme for immigrants not used to urban recycling", which drew criticism from opposition politicians,[42] but he defended his comments as "entirely factual."[43]

During a debate on Universal Credit on 15 October 2018 in the House of Commons, Graham raised concerns about the lack of data gathered about local food bank users. He said, "one of the difficulties with trying to correlate the people on universal credit with those who go to food banks is that there is no precise data to compare the two. I know anecdotally the number of foreigners claiming food bank vouchers is quite high". Opposition politicians criticised this citing national Trussell Trust data.[44]

In December 2018 during a debate on Brexit and free movement, Graham mentioned a case of a pregnant 'Young Gloucester girl who was badly beaten by her European boyfriend'. Critics from opposing parties were quick to criticise his comments.One commented 'The situation Richard Graham mentioned is an obviously distressing case of domestic violence, and Richard Graham should know better than to exploit it by jumping on an anti-immigrant bandwagon to score political points'. Graham later applogised to the House for his comments which he admitted were 'clumsy'.[45]

In March 2019, Graham compared Brexit to the Rwandan genocide on Twitter. Attached to his tweet was a picture of two men, one of whom he wrongly attributed the murder of four children to. Graham later deleted the tweet after attracting criticism, but has not commented or apologised for it [46]

Graham chairs the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Indonesia, China, and Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons. He is also a member of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee.

During the Conservatives' 2019 leadership campaign, he backed Jeremy Hunt.[47]

Fourth parliament (2019–present)[edit]

Graham was re-elected with an increased share of the vote with 54.2%, the highest vote share in the constituency since 1935, and an almost doubled majority of 10,277.

Campaigns and Projects[edit]

Gloucester History Festival[edit]

In 2010, Graham created the first Gloucester History Festival and chairs the Gloucester History Committee.[48] In 2018, it attracted 23,000 visitors to the city. He is also a trustee of the Gloucestershire Community Foundation,[49] Patron of the Discover de Crypt project [50] and an Hon. Member of the Showmen's Guild.


In October 2018, the ‘Gloucester Transport Hub’ was opened after a £60m deal managed by Stanhope PLC was agreed with Gloucester City Council to revamp the King's Square area.[51] Graham also proposed a redevelopment on the railway station, with an additional new car park and access to the station from Great Western road, an improved underpass from Bruton Way to Great Western Road, and a new forecourt and exit onto Metz Way from the existing carpark, which was funded by Government after a successful bid. As of June 2019, the first stage of work has been completed with a new carpark, electric car charging points and rear entrance installed.[52]


In February 2019, Graham along with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Alex Chalk MP formally opening the £5million School of Business and Technology at the University of Gloucestershire. The Vice Chancellor Stephen Marston spoke of the “massive contribution to Gloucester and its wellbeing”,[53] whilst the Chancellor added that the investment brings “together academic and business expertise and ensure the students here today develop the skills they need to become the business leaders of the future.” [54]

Graham along with Nic Dakin have co-authored a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond seeking more funding for Further Education, which gained the support of 165 MPs from four parties represented in Parliament. He handed the letter over to the Chancellor and reiterated the main point that ‘while government policy has protected the incomes of schools and universities, colleges have been dealt an average funding cut of 30% over the last ten years. The Chancellor’s departmental spending review is a chance to announce an above inflation increase which would boost skills, productivity and social mobility.’ [55]


Graham, along with Alex Chalk have worked on extending the maximum penalty for stalking. They introduced a Private Member's Bill in 2016 calling for the limit to be doubled. Then justice minister Sam Gyimah thanked Richard Graham for his “considerable efforts in highlighting this issue.”[56] and the law was changed in January 2017 through the Policing and Crime Bill.

Laura Richards, the founder and director of Paladin, National Stalking Advocacy Service released this statement in support of the work of Graham. “This law change will allow Judges greater flexibility when sentencing stalkers and provide some respite for victims of stalking. This is about justice, ensuring better protection for victims as well as changing lives and saving lives. We are grateful to Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP, as well as Baroness Jan Royall for tabling the amendment in the House of Lords.” [57]

Commonwealth Servicemen[edit]

In March 2019, a cross party group of MPs led by Richard Graham and Madeleine Moon wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid calling for the abolition of visa fees for commonwealth servicemen and women in the British Armed Forces. Graham said “These men and women are willing to put their life on the line for our country and the current situation doesn’t reflect our and the nation’s respect for them. The changes we propose are in line with the Armed Forces Covenant and would make a real difference to those who’ve shown such commitment to the UK.” [58] On 5 June 2019 Sajid Javid announced the rule change which would allow soldiers from Commonwealth countries to bring families to Britain.[59]


Graham has also been campaigning for a gambling levy and greater protection for online gambling.[60] On 24 April 2019, he presented a ten-minute rule bill which would require a review of a mandatory levy, for the first time, calling for “immediate and deep investment in research to analyse the extent of gambling addiction, including looking at all aspects of marketing and advertising by gambling companies.” [61]

Position of Trust[edit]

Since 2017, Graham has pushed for the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to extend the legislation on positions of trust to include those who are coaching or training under-18-year olds, particularly driving instructors or sports coaches.[62]


  1. ^ "Richard Graham MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Election 2010: Gloucester". Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Gloucestershire Marks 100 Years Since Battle Of The Somme". The Breeze. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Richard Graham MP". Gloucestershire Conservatives. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  5. ^ "At home with Gloucester MP Richard Graham". Gloucestershire Echo. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  6. ^ "We are all Brexiters now - Bio". China Daily. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Richard Graham MP". Gloucester Conservatives. Retrieved 26 September 2016
  8. ^ "Richard Graham :biography". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  9. ^ "About Richard"
  10. ^ "A friend in need is a friend indeed- Richard Graham"
  11. ^ "Hansard Record of first Bahasa Indonesia spoken in Chamber"
  12. ^ "Hansard - Noted Sinologist"
  13. ^ "Hansard - Noted Sinologist"
  14. ^ "Tally ho! 'Barbour cavalry' rides to Tories' rescue". Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  15. ^ "Tories ride into town for election". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  16. ^ "Work and Pensions Committee – membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Trade Envoys – GOV.UK". Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Embarrassment as Gloucester MP turns up late for his own debate in Parliament". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Gloucester MP Richard Graham gives maiden speech". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Gloucester MP Richard Graham forced to apologise over Commons picture". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  22. ^ "'Short skirts and high heels risk sexual assault warning lands Richard Graham MP in sexism storm". National Post. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  23. ^ Elgot, Jessica (January 2013). "Tory MP Richard Graham: 'Short Skirts And High Heels Make Women More Vulnerable To Rapists'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Apprenticeships and Jobs"
  25. ^ "Gloucester MP campaigns for dangerous driving laws reform". BBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  26. ^ a b Wilkinson, Michael (24 July 2015). "Road safety champion Tory MP Richard Graham given six-month driving ban for speeding". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  27. ^ "MP Richard Graham given six-month driving ban". BBC News. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  28. ^ "Richard Graham rebuked for signing people up to his mailing list". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  29. ^ "MPs' trip to China cancelled after row over Hong Kong protests debate". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  30. ^ "Richard Graham accused of using alleged murder of Gloucester's Zac Evans to win votes ahead of trial". Gloucester Citizen. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  31. ^ "Gloucester MP Richard Graham caught parking in disabled bay hours after General Election win - Gloucestershire news - Gloucester Citizen". Gloucester Citizen.
  32. ^ "Tory MP mocked after falling for comedian's tweet". The Daily Telegraph. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  33. ^ Bartlett, Evan (4 November 2015). "Tory MP Richard Graham accused of quoting Joseph Goebbels in defence of new surveillance bill". The Independent. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  34. ^ "Ex-BHS owner Sir Philip Green attacks 'envy and jealousy' but insists: 'I have done nothing wrong'". Business Insider. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Malaysia launches education campaign at Imperial". Imperial College London. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  37. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  38. ^ Mercurio, Richmond. "Philippines, United Kingdom eye possible free trade pact". Phil Star Global. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  39. ^ "MP Richard Graham given six-month driving ban". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Live. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  40. ^ Lane, Ellis (15 March 2018). "How free school meal changes will affect Gloucestershire parents after MPs vote for new rules". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Live. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  41. ^ "E-Newsletter on Tip". Mail chimp. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  42. ^ "MCall for Gloucester MP Richard Graham to apologise for 'suggesting immigrants could not use dustbins'". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Live. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  43. ^ "Gloucester MP Richard Graham defends immigrant recycling comments". BBC. 14 August 2018.
  44. ^ "Gloucester MP criticised for comments about 'foreigners' using food banks". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Live. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  45. ^ "Gloucester's MP Richard Graham apologises in the House of Commons over comments about 'European' criminals". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Live. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  46. ^ Smith, Mikey (21 March 2019). "Tory MP compares Brexit to Rwandan genocide in most ill-judged tweet of the week". Gloucestershire: Daily Mirror. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  47. ^ "Which MP is backing which candidate. Our named estimates. Johnson 131, Hunt 48, Gove 36, Javid 22". Conservative Home. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  48. ^ Gloucester History Festival. Retrieved 26 September 2016
  49. ^ "Trustees". Gloucestershire Community Foundation. Retrieved 26 September 2016
  50. ^ "Our Supporters". Discover DeCrypt. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  51. ^ "Transport Hub Approved"
  52. ^ "E-news from Richard Graham"
  53. ^ "Youtube Link to UoG opening of Business School"
  54. ^ "Chancellor visits UoG"
  55. ^ "Richard Graham Website Statement on Further Education"
  56. ^ "Guardian Article on Law Changing Maximum Sentence for Stalking"
  57. ^ "Charity Statement on Law Change on Stalking"
  58. ^ "MPs call to abolish visa fees"
  59. ^ "Sajid Javid announces rule change"
  60. ^ "Richard Graham Website Statement"
  61. ^ "Hansard Record on Gambling"
  62. ^ "Richard Graham website statement on positions of trust"

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parmjit Dhanda
Member of Parliament for Gloucester