Tim Montgomerie in 2012
24 July 1970
Barnstaple, Devon, England
|Political party||Conservative (until 2016)|
|Alma mater||University of Exeter|
Timothy Montgomerie (born 24 July 1970) is a British political activist, blogger, and columnist. He is best known as the co-founder of the Centre for Social Justice and as creator of the ConservativeHome website, which he edited from 2005 until 2013, when he left to join The Times. He was formerly the newspaper's comment editor, but resigned in March 2014. On 17 February 2016, Montgomerie resigned his membership of the Conservative Party, citing the current leadership's stance on Europe, which has been supportive of EU membership. In 2019, he was briefly a special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, advising on social justice issues.
Montgomerie has been described as "one of the most important Conservative activists of the past 20 years", and in February 2012, The Observer said that "In the eyes of most MPs, Montgomerie [is] one of the most influential Tories outside the cabinet." He was listed in talk radio station LBC's list of top 100 most influential conservatives of 2019.
Montgomerie was born into an army family in Barnstaple in 1970. He said in a Guardian interview that "his teenage Thatcherism was tempered by discovering evangelical Christianity at sixteen".
Montgomerie was educated at the King's School, a secondary school in Gütersloh, Germany run by Service Children's Education (SCE) for children of military personnel. He then attended the University of Exeter, where he studied Economics and Geography, and ran the Conservative Association with Robert Halfon, Sajid Javid and David Burrowes, all future Conservative members of parliament.
At Exeter University, Montgomerie and Burrowes also started the Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF) in December 1990, supported by the Christian Coalition of America. During this period, he argued that the Conservative Party should form closer links with churches on issues such as homosexuality and Section 28, saying that the party should "expose the unbiblical and the libertine". He has since reversed his position on those issues. He served as Director of the CCF from 1990 to 2003.
Conservative Party Central Office
From 1998 to 2003, Montgomerie was the speech-writer for two Conservative Party leaders, William Hague, and then Iain Duncan Smith. He also had responsibility for the Conservative Party's outreach to faith communities and the voluntary sector. In September 2003, Montgomerie became Conservative Party leader Duncan Smith's Chief of Staff; Duncan Smith was replaced by Michael Howard two months later. He had become a main influence behind Duncan Smith's theme of compassionate conservatism.
Centre for Social Justice
In 2004, with Iain Duncan Smith and Philippa Stroud, Montgomerie established the Centre for Social Justice to take forward the work on "compassionate conservatism" that Smith had begun as party leader. Following the tradition of people such as William Wilberforce, the Earl of Shaftesbury and Richard Oastler he aimed to make the condition of the poor a priority. He established a social action project called "Renewing One Nation" which helped Duncan Smith focus on these issues.
On 28 March 2005, Montgomerie launched the ConservativeHome website in the period just before the general election campaign that year. With Conservative MP John Hayes, he also set up conservativedemocracy.com, which successfully co-ordinated grassroots opposition to party leader Michael Howard's attempt to abolish the "one member, one vote" rule in the 2005 Conservative leadership election.
In September 2006, The Independent described Montgomerie as "emerging as a major player in Tory politics." He was critical of the A-List and argued that the party leader after 2005, David Cameron, was in danger of alienating working-class Tory voters, and pressed Cameron for specific pledges on tax cuts. He supported the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales arguing that it was a way to strengthen the institution more generally. Through ConservativeHome, Montgomerie was used as an expert on internet campaigning by Conservative Central Office.
Montgomerie was a director of the internet television channel 18 Doughty Street which began broadcasting in October 2006 and went off air in November 2007. While at 18 Doughty Street, Montgomerie hosted its 'Campaign HQ' programme, which developed the channel's Internet political advertisements after allowing viewers to vote on a choice of (usually) three different proposals. Previous adverts included attacks on taxes, state funding of political parties, and London Mayor Ken Livingstone. The latest, "A World Without America", with an end scene depicting the Statue of Liberty wearing a burqa, was co-produced by 18 Doughty Street and the website BritainAndAmerica, and had 50,000 views within its first 24 hours of publication.
Montgomerie continued to edit ConservativeHome alongside others including co-editor Jonathan Isaby, assistant editor Joseph Willits, deputy editor Matthew Barrett, and Isaby's replacement, former Conservative MP Paul Goodman After the 2010 general election Montgomerie wrote a report that was critical of David Cameron's election campaign, entitled "Falling short". The Guardian listed him at number 81 in their 2012 list of the most powerful people in the media.
Through his prominence with ConservativeHome, Montgomerie wrote frequent articles on Conservative politics for The Guardian and The Times, and occasionally for the Daily Mail, The Independent, and the Financial Times. In April 2011, he became a columnist for The Sunday Telegraph, but in October of the same year, Montgomerie resigned from his column, after a series of attacks on him by the Mandrake column in The Daily Telegraph, its sister paper. Montgomerie wrote that a tweet critical of the Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher had started the attacks: "A senior Telegraph journalist told me that Tony Gallagher... was "sh*tbagging" me for daring to tweet a criticism of the newspaper last week." Montgomerie became a columnist for The Times soon after.
In February 2013, Montgomerie announced that in April that year he would join The Times as comment editor, replacing Anne Spackman, but maintained a role as an "advisor" and weekly blogger for ConservativeHome.
He founded the UnHerd website in 2017 "to appeal to people who instinctively refuse to follow the herd and also... to investigate 'unheard' ideas, individuals and communities". On 25 September 2018, he announced that he had left UnHerd.
In September 2019, Montgomerie was appointed as "social justice adviser" to the Prime Minister in Number 10 Downing Street. On 31 January 2020, he said on the BBC's Politics Live that the role lasted until the election was called in November 2019 and that he was now in discussions with Boris Johnson regarding a new advisory role following Johnson's success in that election. By May 2020 Montgomerie had become a frequent critic of the government, in particular of the Prime Minister's Senior Adviser Dominic Cummings and the Prime Minister himself.
"Limits of liberalism"
In 2019, Montgomerie was reported as saying that the British government should have a "special relationship" with Hungary post-Brexit, saying at a meeting of the Danube Institute that “Budapest and Hungary have been home, I think, for an awful lot of interesting early thinking on the limits of liberalism, and I think we are seeing that in the UK as well. So I hope there will be a special relationship with Hungary amongst other states.”
In 2020, Montgomerie reacted to a court ruling where the decision to build a third runway was found unlawful due to not taking into account the UK's international agreements and currently settled law. His reaction saw him ridiculed by other users as he said "I fear judges tend to “interpret” rather than “enforce” laws" to which legal twitter had a field day with the Secret Barrister replying "I fear firefighters tend to “extinguish” rather than “embrace” fires" , George Peretz QC giving a thread on why the decision was given  and other twitter users remarking that this was, in fact, the role of Judges and was "Law 101".
- Greenslade, Roy (11 March 2014). "Tim Montgomerie resigns as The Times's comment editor". The Guardian.
- Montgomerie, Tim (18 February 2016). "Enough. I'm quitting the Conservative party". The Times. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Pike, Joe (24 May 2020). "Ex @BorisJohnson adviser Tim Montgomerie (@montie) is now live on Sky News. Says lack of apology is a 'terrible failure' and undermines govt communications. Says key problem is No 10 'lacks a diversity of views' and PM likes people who say 'yes' to him". @joepike. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
- Finkelstein, Daniel (13 October 2009). "The coup behind the Tories' clap for poverty". The Times.
- Helm, Toby (12 February 2012). "Tim Montgomerie, the man who takes the Conservative pulse". The Observer. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- "The Top 100 Most Influential Conservatives of 2019". LBC. 30 September 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- "The NS Interview: Tim Montgomerie". New Statesman. 12 March 2010.
- Beckett, Andy (23 October 2012). "Tim Montgomerie: pushing for a rightwing Tory party – with a heart". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Eaton, David (8 March 2012). "The softly spoken assassin feared by David Cameron". New Statesman. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- Olasky, Marvin (22 July 2006). "A new fab four". World. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Cohen, Nick (1 May 2000). "Onward, Christian Tories". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Grice, Andrew (15 September 2015). "Prominent Tory disowns 'religious right' and supports gay marriage". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Conference Chairs / Facilitators / Presenters Speakers Specialist
- Happold, Tom (4 September 2003). "Blue heaven: now, at last the Tories have a prayer". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Hinsliff, Gaby (13 October 2002). "Devout whiz-kid seen as Tory saviour". The Observer. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- Vass, Steven (10 April 2005). "Bloggers ready for general election debut". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Bennett, Rosemary (2 June 2005). "Davis has eyes on 'common ground'". The Times. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- "New Model Tories: Tory tribes". The Independent. 23 September 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2006.
- Cowell, Alan (3 October 2006). "New Leader Tries to Update Conservatives' Image". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Tories vow to learn over A-list BBC News, 31 May 2006
- Tories 'failing to recruit women' – BBC, 14 July 2006
- "Cameron set to avoid tax giveaway". BBC News. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- "Tories to use US internet tactics to target BBC". Financial Times. 10 February 2006.
- Tory activists may get blog spot BBC News, 8 June 2006
- Battle of the conference blogs BBC News, 15 September 2006
- 18 Doughty Street Archived 25 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Joseph Willits joins ConservativeHome World Magazine, 22 July 2006
- Falling short
- "81. Tim Montgomerie". The Guardian. 16 September 2012.
- "All articles by Tim Montgomerie". journalisted.com.
- "Tim Montgomerie". The Daily Telegraph.
- "Tim Montgomerie: Why The Telegraph is "sh*tbagging" me". Conservative Home.
- "Tim Montgomerie moving to become Comment Editor of The Times (but he'll still be writing for ConservativeHome)". Conservative Home.
- "Tim Montgomerie finds a new home at the Times". The Guardian. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Goodman, Paul. "Can UnHerd gain Moo-mentum?". Conservative Home. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
- Twitter, Freddy Mayhew (25 September 2018). "Former Times columnist Tim Montgomerie leaves Unherd news website he founded last year". Press Gazette.
- Goodman, Paul. "Good luck, Tim Montgomerie". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- "Boris Johnson government should have 'special relationship' with far-right Hungarian regime, PM's ex-aide says". The Independent. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
- Philips, Aleks (7 January 2020). "Boris Johnson aide says he hopes UK will have 'special relationship' with Viktor Orbán's Hungary". www.thejc.com. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
- "A Top Boris Johnson Aide Says the UK Will Have A "Special Relationship" with Viktor Orbán's Hungary After Brexit".
- "Is Tim Mongomerie the most powerful man in politics?".