John Redwood

John Redwood

honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = John Redwood

office = Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
term_start = 15 June 1999
term_end = 2 February 2000
leader = William Hague
predecessor = Gillian Shephard
successor = Archie Norman
office2 = Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and President of the Board of Trade
term_start2 = 11 June 1997
term_end2 = 15 June 1999
leader2 = William Hague
predecessor2 = Margaret Beckett
successor2 = Angela Browning
office3 = Secretary of State for Wales
term_start3 = 27 May 1993
term_end3 = 26 June 1995
primeminister3 = John Major
predecessor3 = David Hunt
successor3 = William Hague
constituency_MP4 = Wokingham
parliament4 =
term_start4 = 11 June 1987
term_end4 =
majority4 = 7,240 (15.7%)
predecessor4 = William van Straubenzee
successor4 =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1951|6|15|df=yes
birth_place = Dover, Kent
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse =
party = Conservative
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater = Magdalen College, Oxford
occupation =
profession =
religion = Anglican

website =
footnotes =

John Alan Redwood (born 15 June 1951 in Dover, Kent) is a British Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Wokingham. Formerly Secretary of State for Wales in John Major's Cabinet, he 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.

Academic career

Redwood had an excellent academic career behind him, first attending Kent College, Canterbury on scholarship before graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford in geography. He has been a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford since 1972 and is currently a visiting professor at Middlesex University. He married Gail Chippington on 20 April 1974. They had two children, Catherine, born in 1978 and Richard, born in 1982. They divorced in 2003 after 29 years of marriage.

Member of Parliament

He was an Oxfordshire County Councillor between 1973 and 1977and became MP for Wokingham in 1987, having previously 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, before being made a Parliamentary under-secretary of state in 1989 for Corporate Affairs at the DTI. Promoted to Minister of State in 1990, he supervised the liberalisation of the telecoms industry. Redwood has been labelled the "Pol Pot" of privatisation by the Yorkshire Post.

He 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. Redwood consistently opposed the poll tax on grounds that it was unworkable.

Redwood has been a strong 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 the Death Penalty 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

After the May 1993 Government reshuffle, Redwood given a cabinet post as Secretary of State for Wales. This role was usually expected to go to an MP for a Welsh constituency, but the 1992 general election had left the Conservatives with only six MPs in Wales, and it was felt that none of them was sufficiently experienced to serve as a cabinet minister.

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. [ [ "BBC apologises for 'ridiculing' Redwood" - article in the Daily Mail] ]

Redwood provoked criticism in December 2007, when he said on his website blog [ [ "A Better Class of Criminal" - blog post at] ] that "there is a difference between a man using unreasonable force to assault a woman on the street, and a disagreement between two lovers over whether there was consent". Redwood said that Labour's "doctrine of equivalence" had "led to jury scepticism about many rape claims". He clarified these comments by stating that: "women have every right to go on a date and to say "No", and have this respected", and saying: "I wish the law to protect women from rape, as all sensible people do... I condemn all rape and wish to see all rapists successfully prosecuted. No force should be used in any circumstances". His comments were incorrectly interpreted by some newspapers as suggesting that he believed date rape to be less serious than stranger rape.

hadow Cabinet

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. It was on the question of the European Union that Redwood took issue with the party leadership, taking a eurosceptic stance. On this occasion Redwood received 89 votes, around a quarter of the then Parliamentary party. When Major resigned after the 1997 general election defeat, Redwood stood for the leadership again, and was again defeated, though he secured more support than rival candidates Peter Lilley and Michael Howard.

He served in the Shadow Cabinet of eventual winner William Hague, shadowing first the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, leading strong opposition to the National Minimum Wage. He continues to oppose it to this day. Then he 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 him to the Shadow Cabinet as spokesman on deregulation (a post without a direct counterpart in the current government), in a move seen by many commentators as a reaction to the relative success of the United Kingdom Independence Party in the 2004 European Parliament election.

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.

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 "". 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. He 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 his former colleague turned political sketch-writer, Matthew Parris, noting similarities between him and Star Trek's Mr. Spock and so Redwood is often called a Vulcan. In line with this, political cartoonists often draw him with pointed ears. It is a comparison which Redwood has seemingly 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!".


External links

* [ John Redwood MP] official site
* [ John Redwood's Diary] official blog
* [ Conservative Party - John Redwood MP] official site
* [ ePolitix - Rt Hon John Redwood] profile
* [,9290,-4356,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: John Redwood MP]
* [ - John Redwood MP]
* [ The Public Whip - John Redwood MP] voting record
* [ BBC News - John Redwood] profile 16 October, 2002
* [,_John/ Open Directory Project - John Redwood] directory category

Offices held

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