Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010…
1. What is your earliest political memory? Being born in 1979 it would have to be Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power. I vaguely remember the miners’ strike in 1984 and the circularity of life was not lost on me 25 years later when I was elected as a Conservative MP in a constituency which once boasted 52 working coal mines
2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I’m middle class and I think it’s about time politicians stood up for the dutiful tax-payers, the law abiders and those who aspire to a better life for themselves and their children. They are too often forgotten, yet they are middle Britain and they are the majority of Britain. Their concerns, needs and aspirations are just as important as those of the poor and those of the rich.”
3. Who is your political hero and why?
Ronald Reagan – who can forget such immortal lines as: “What are the ten most dangerous words in the English language? I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” and “The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP?
When I won my School’s Mock Election in 1997 – afterwards pupils were coming up to me asking when I would be delivering on my election pledges such as privatising the tuck shop and having a joint dining hall with the girls’ school!
5. What is your reading material of choice? Political biographies, Grahame Greene novels, The Spectator, Sunday Times, ConHome and since my girlfriend works in fashion, I am increasingly attracted to NOW magazine and Cosmopolitan!
6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Jeremy Paxman. Just a flash of those raised eyebrows and withering look of contempt for a politician’s stock answer would have me wriggling in my seat…
7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? The Home Office. I spent many years working with police forces before becoming an MP, trying to reduce their bureaucracy and make them more efficient and effective. I also worked inside the Home Office itself, helping to set up the single non-emergency number, 101. I was especially proud when Nick Herbert asked me to help him write Policing for the People, the Conservatives’ blueprint for reforming the police, as part of David Cameron’s Police Reform Taskforce.
8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? If you take the word politician at its worst interpretation – that of a Machiavellian manipulator – Tony Blair. At the height of his powers he was an extraordinary communicator and persuasive speaker, who won three elections. I am extremely glad that none of the Labour leadership contenders possess anything like his ability. I am also glad he has been found out! Most actors are.
9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? Lord Prescott. It’s a size thing.
10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? Reluctant Republican.
11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? Cooking with my girlfriend.
12. What is your favourite book? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
13. What is your favourite film? E.T.
14. What is your favourite music? Coldplay.
15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? Lamb saag balti and peshwari naan in virtually any curry house in the West Midlands.
16. What is your favourite holiday destination? Bali.
17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? Help to put Cannock Chase back on the map by showing that we are open for business, have a skilled and motivated local workforce, and to increase the profile of the area. For the record our location at the heart of the country and proximity to the M6 toll makes us an ideal destination for conferences and exhibitions, as well as businesses and jobs – in case any employers are reading!
18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I was the runner up in the national auditions to become the Milky Bar Kid.
19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. In the reign of Henry VIII the forest of Cannock Chase was frequented by the King and gentry for hunting – and is still home to wild deer that descend from the original herd introduced in Norman times.
20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. A key member of my campaign team looks uncannily like Rodney Trotter from Only Fools and Horses – and introducing ‘Rodders’ was a fantastic way to break the ice at local meetings!
> Previously: Gavin Williamson MP