Siôn Simon

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Siôn Simon
MEP
Sion Simon.jpg
Member of the European Parliament
for West Midlands
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Preceded by Michael Cashman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Creative Industries
In office
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Barbara Follett
(as Minister for Culture, Tourism and Creative Industries)
Succeeded by Ed Vaizey
(as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Further Education
In office
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by David Lammy
Succeeded by Kevin Brennan (as Minister of State)
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Erdington
In office
8 June 2001 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Robin Corbett
Succeeded by Jack Dromey
Personal details
Born Siôn Llewelyn Simon
(1968-12-23) 23 December 1968 (age 49)
Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
Website www.sion-simon.org.uk

Siôn Llewelyn Simon (born 23 December 1968) is a British Labour Party politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the West Midlands since 2014. He previously served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Erdington from 2001 to 2010. Simon was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education from 2008 to 2009 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Creative Industries from 2009 to 2010. He stood down at the 2010 general election to campaign for a directly elected Mayor of Birmingham, with the intent of running in the first election.[1] In 2014 Simon was elected a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands. In 2016 he was selected as Labour's candidate for West Midlands Mayor but was defeated in the 2017 election by 50.4% to 49.6% of the vote in the final round.[2]

Early life[edit]

Siôn Simon was born in Doncaster to Welsh-speaking parents, and was raised in Birmingham, where he lived in Great Barr, Handsworth and Handsworth Wood. His parents were both teachers in Birmingham. He attended Handsworth Grammar School, where he joined the Labour Party at the age of 16. Simon enrolled at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1987, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He was elected President of the college Junior Common Room in his second year.[citation needed]

After university, he was a research assistant for George Robertson MP for three years.[citation needed] He worked for two years in the Guinness management team at Diageo, then a FTSE top 20 company.[citation needed] He then freelanced at speechwriting, policy and advice. His clients included Tony Blair while in opposition, Microsoft UK, the International Duty Free Confederation and various charities and communication companies.[citation needed] He then became a journalist, working for The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express and the News of the World. He was also an associate editor at The Spectator. His columns varied from restaurant reviews to politics.[citation needed]

In the 1992 election campaign, Simon ran the European desk for the Labour Party and then, during the 1997 election campaign, the foreign press department at Labour Party headquarters.[citation needed]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Simon was first elected in the 2001 general election for Birmingham Erdington with a majority of 9,962. He retained the seat in 2005 with a slightly reduced majority of 9,575.

As a backbencher he served on the Public Accounts Committee, Treasury Select Committee, chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Private Equity and Venture Capital and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Business Services.[citation needed]

Shortly after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in July 2007, Simon became Vice-Chair of the Labour Party, with special responsibility to draft the "Law and Order" manifesto for the upcoming 2010 general election.[citation needed]

Following the October 2008 reshuffle, Simon was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.[3] In June 2009 he became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Creative Industries in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

On 3 February 2010 he announced he would not stand for re-election in order to campaign for a directly elected Mayor of Birmingham, and stand in a subsequent election.[citation needed] A referendum was held in Birmingham on 3 May 2012, but the proposal was defeated with 57.8% of the vote.

After leaving parliament, Simon founded the website Labour Uncut in May 2010.[4] In 2011 Simon wrote the cover story for Newsweek about the August riot disturbances.[5] He also supported HS2 in an article for Progress.[6] He wrote a chapter in What Next for Labour? Ideas for a new generation entitled Why Mayors Matter and Why Labour Should Support them.[7]

Member of the European Parliament[edit]

Placed second on Labour's candidate list, Simon was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands in the 2014 European Parliament elections alongside Neena Gill.[8] In 2014 he joined the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.[9]

During 2016 EU membership referendum vote, Simon participated in Labour in for Britain pro-EU campaign.[10]

Mayoral candidate[edit]

In 2016 Simon was selected as the Labour candidate for Mayor of the West Midlands. He was defeated in the 2017 mayoral election by Conservative candidate Andy Street by 50.4% of the vote to 49.6% in the final round.[2]

Controversies[edit]

On 5 September 2006 he and Chris Bryant co-ordinated a letter which was signed by 17 Labour backbenchers calling for Tony Blair to resign.[11] The MPs failed to force Blair out of office, but Blair publicly pledged to stand down within 12 months.

On 12 October 2006 Simon created a YouTube spoof of David Cameron's video blog, in which, pretending to be Cameron, he offered viewers one of his children and the opportunity to sleep with his wife.[12] This led to expressions of disgust from both parties with the stunt being called "tasteless".[13][14] In an interview on Sky News that same day, Simon described Cameron's attempts to reach out to the youth culture as "shallow" and "pathetic" and told his interviewer to "be quiet".[15] The video was removed on 13 October by his friend Tom Watson MP, who he described as a "proppa blogga".[16]

At the time of the Labour Party Conference in September 2007, Simon wrote an article for the New Statesman in which he wrongly predicted that "Shortly there will be an election, in which Labour will increase its majority".[17]

In 2009 it was revealed that Simon had breached parliamentary rules by renting his "second home" in London from his sister, Ceri Erskine and paying her more than £40,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses.[18][19] Simon claimed that he had inadvertently broken the rules and agreed to repay £21,000. He apologised "unreservedly". Six weeks later Simon announced that he would resign from the Government and stand down as MP for Birmingham Erdington.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Simon suffers from the rare genetic disorder choroideremia, a condition that leads to progressive deterioration in eyesight and in its later stage, blindness.[21] He co-founded, and works as a trustee for, the Choroideremia Research Foundation.[22] Simon lives in Birmingham is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a season ticket holder at West Bromwich Albion F.C.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Birmingham MP to quit Commons in bid to be first mayor". BBC News Online. 3 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Parveen, Nazia (5 May 2017). "Andy Street elected West Midlands mayor". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "Minister who infuriated Muslims is put in charge of immigration policy". Dailymail.co.uk. 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  4. ^ Pickard, Jim (20 May 2010). "Is Labour about to extend the leadership nominations process?". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  5. ^ ''Newsweek' article by Simon"
  6. ^ Simon, Siôn (2011-08-10). "High speed future". Progressonline.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  7. ^ "Contributors". Whatnextforlabour.com. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  8. ^ "West Midlands (European Parliament constituency)". BBC News. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  9. ^ "Labour MEPs elected to top jobs in European Parliament". Labour in Europe. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  10. ^ @sionsimon (2016-06-04). "Great mood in Kenilworth this morning. Vote Remain" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  11. ^ "Minister joins Blair exit demands". BBC News. 5 September 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Sion Simon's original "I'm a twat, twat, twat, twat" video". YouTube.com. 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2017-01-16. 
  13. ^ "MP's YouTube Cameron spoof". BBC News. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Tories shrug off Cameron send-up". BBC News. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "Sion Simon: from Leftie Lickspittle to utter Berk". YouTube.com. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  16. ^ "Labour MPs 'sorry' for Tory spoof". BBC News. 13 October 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Rampen, Julia (2007-09-25). "We cannot be killed". Newstatesman.com. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 
  18. ^ "Sion Simon: Minister in secret £40,000 payment to sister". The Telegraph. 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2017-04-23. 
  19. ^ "Minister Sion Simon to repay second home expenses". BBC. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2017-04-23. 
  20. ^ "Birmingham MP Sion Simon to stand down". Birmingham Mail. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  21. ^ "Sion Simon". BBC News. 21 October 2002. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  22. ^ Simon profile at Choroideremia Research Foundation website Archived 4 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ "Biography". Sion-simon.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-10. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robin Corbett
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington
20012010
Succeeded by
Jack Dromey
Preceded by
David Lammy
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Kevin Brennan (as Minister of State)