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The Right Honourable
 John Redwood

In office
15 June 1999 – 2 February 2000
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Gillian Shephard
Succeeded by Archie Norman

In office
11 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by Angela Browning

In office
27 May 1993 – 26 June 1995
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by David Hunt
Succeeded by William Hague

Member of Parliament
for Wokingham
Assumed office 
11 June 1987
Preceded by William van Straubenzee
Majority 7,240 (15.7%)

Born 15 June 1951 (1951-06-15) (age 58)
Dover, Kent
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
Religion Anglican

John Alan Redwood (born 15 June 1951) is a British Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Wokingham. Formerly Secretary of State for Wales in John Major's Cabinet, he unsuccessfully challenged Major for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1995. He is currently co-chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.


Early life

Redwood was born in Dover, Kent. His parents lived in a council house in Canterbury until Redwood was four years old. Redwood was educated locally, attending Kent College, Canterbury, on a scholarship before graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford with a MA in History in 1971. He was a contemporary of figures including Christopher Hitchens, Robert Jackson, William Waldegrave, Edwina Currie, Stephen Milligan, John Scarlett, William Blair, Bill Clinton and Gyles Brandreth.[1] From St Antony's College, Oxford, he gained a DPhil in 1975.

From 1974 to 1977, he was an investment analyst at Robert Fleming & Co.. From 1977 to 1978, he was a bank clerk at N M Rothschild & Sons, becoming a manager in 1978, assistant director in 1979 and a Director of the Overseas Division from 1980 to 1983. From 1986 to 1987, he was Overseas Corporate Finance Director and Head of International (non-UK) Privatisation.

Academic career

He has been a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, since 1972 where he was a tutor and lecturer from 1972-3 and has been a visiting professor at Middlesex University since 2000.

Member of Parliament

He was an Oxfordshire County Councillor between 1973 and 1977, the youngest ever at the age of 21, and contested Southwark, Peckham in October 1982 at the Peckham by-election, 1982 which brought Harriet Harman to public view.

Redwood became MP for Wokingham in 1987. He was selected two years earlier, when he joked to the selection committee, "I understand you have a California estate. Would you allow yourself to plant four Redwoods among you?". Previously had been the head of Margaret Thatcher's Policy Unit in the early to mid 1980s. He was a backbencher for his first two years in parliament. Thatcher wanted to make Redwood a junior minister straight away after the election, but David Waddington, then Chief Whip, told her that he needed experience as an MP and back-bencher. Redwood was made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in July 1989 for Corporate Affairs at the DTI. In November 1990, he was promoted to Minister of State. He supervised the liberalisation of the telecoms industry. Redwood has been labelled the "Pol Pot" of privatisation by the Yorkshire Post.

Redwood became Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities after the 1992 General Election where he successfully saw through the abolition of the Community Charge, known as the "poll tax", and its replacement, the Council Tax. However, like Nigel Lawson, Redwood opposed the poll tax on the grounds that it was unworkable. He also opposed capping of local authorities, believing that it undermined local accountability.

Redwood was in favour of wider share ownership among workers, as to prevent them going on strike, because he believed that "Why would people go on strike if they were striking against themselves?".

Redwood is a conservative on social matters, being opposed to attempts to reduce the age of consent for homosexuality in both 1994 and 1999. He voted for the reintroduction of capital punishment in 1988, 1990 and 1994, and voted in favour of keeping Section 28 (along with almost every other Conservative MP in a whipped vote) in November 2003.

In Government

In the May 1993 Government reshuffle, Redwood was appointed to the cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales.

Redwood was an energetic and somewhat controversial Secretary of State for Wales. He was an exponent of keeping open smaller, older and rural hospitals against the national trend of concentrating larger hospitals in the big cities. He also launched a scheme to provide more funding for popular schools with high numbers of applicants and concentrated extra expenditure on health and education services away from administrative overheads. Despite this, Redwood's perceived haughty manner and apparent disregard for national feeling did not endear him to some of the population, perhaps most notoriously when in 1995 he returned £100,000,000 of Wales' block grant to the UK treasury unspent following efficiency savings and cost-cutting measures, and when he made a speech in Cardiff in July 1993 stating that before state aid be granted to single mothers, the father should first be contacted to help financially. This position has now been adopted by all mainstream political parties in the UK.

Redwood's most famous gaffe was his attempt in 1993 to mime to the Welsh national anthem at a public event, when he appeared not to know the words. Redwood did later sing the Welsh national anthem at numerous events in Wales. In August 2007, when the BBC chose to illustrate an unconnected news story on Redwood by showing the clip, he requested an apology which was duly given. The showing of the clip angered some right-wing commentators in the UK media.[2] His tenure as Secretary of State for Wales was summarised humorously by an MP for Plaid Cymru:

"The most bizarre political appointment since Caligula made his horse a senator."
Adam Price MP, 12 September 2009, Plaid Cymru 2009 Party Conference, Llandudno [1]

1995 Leadership Contest

When John Major tendered his resignation as Conservative leader in 1995, Redwood resigned from the cabinet and stood against Major in the subsequent party leadership election on June 26. It was on the question of the European Union that Redwood took issue with the party leadership, taking a eurosceptic stance. Redwood's policies were tax cuts, reduced public spending, opposing the closure of popular local hospitals, Britain's non-participation in a single currency, extended right-to-buy public housing schemes, keeping the Royal Yacht Britannia, and carrying on with the Northern Ireland peace process.

In the ballot held on July 4, Redwood received 89 votes, around a quarter of the then Parliamentary party. Major received 218 votes, or two-thirds of the parliamentary party vote. There were eight abstentations and twelve spoiled papers.

After the 1997 General Election Defeat

When Major resigned after the 1997 general election defeat, Redwood stood for the leadership, and was again defeated, though he secured more support than rival candidates Peter Lilley and Michael Howard.

Redwood served in the Shadow Cabinet of eventual winner William Hague, shadowing first the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, leading the shadow cabinet's opposition to the National Minimum Wage.

Redwood was appointed shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, but was dropped in a mini-reshuffle in February 2000. In 2001 Hague's successor, Iain Duncan Smith offered Redwood the Shadow Trade and Industry portfolio once again, but he declined. He remained a potent presence on the back benches, making attacks on the government and writing books and pamphlets denouncing the European Union and praising Newt Gingrich and US capitalism. Among the many groups he has published pamphlets for are the Bruges Group, Research Centre Free Europe and the Selsdon Group.

On 8 September, 2004, Michael Howard (by now Leader of the Opposition) added Redwood to the Shadow Cabinet as spokesman on deregulation (a post without a direct counterpart in the current government).

During the 2005 Conservative leadership campaign, Redwood supported first Liam Fox and then David Cameron. He was appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party's new Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness by Cameron in December 2005.

As his local party office had been the subject of numerous donations from Mabey Group,[3] Redwood became chairman of a Mabey family trust for six years until 2007. He resigned 12 months before a Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribe payments made by Mabey Group to the regieme of Saddam Hussein.


Redwood has also been an active writer of books, including: Stars and Strife, Superpower Struggles, Singing the Blues, The Death of Britain, Our Currency Our Country and Just Say No: 100 Arguments Against The Euro. His latest book, I Want to Make a Difference - But I Don't Like Politics, examines the reasons for the decline in turnout at UK elections and was published in October 2006. Redwood is also a regular contributor to The Times newspaper and contributes to Freedom Today, the journal of the Freedom Association, and The Business and appeared on 18 Doughty Street Talk TV in December 2006.


Redwood's appearance has led to some commentators, originally former Conservative MP turned political sketch-writer, Matthew Parris, noting similarities between him and Star Trek's Mr. Spock and so Redwood is often called a Vulcan. The name stuck, and in line with this, political cartoonists often draw him with pointed ears. It is a comparison which Redwood has (apparently) taken in good humour.

In the media

Redwood was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!.


Personal life

He married Gail Felicity Chippington, a barrister, on April 20 1974 in Chipping Norton; they had two children, Catherine (born 1978) and Richard (born 1982). They divorced acrimoniously in 2003.[4][5] Redwood entered a with former Vogue model and Conservative councillor Nikki Page, which ended amicably after five years,[6] before embarking on a relationship with chartered accountant Susan Precious.[7][8]


External links

News items

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William van Straubenzee
Member of Parliament for Wokingham
Political offices
Preceded by
David Hunt
Secretary of State for Wales
1993 – 1995
Succeeded by
David Hunt

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