Conservative Intelligence

Conservative Intelligence

This site is currently down for maintenance and should be back soon.

Priti Patel MP

Position: Executive member, 1992 Committee 2010-

Last Updated: Friday, March 11th, 2011

One of the feistiest members of the new intake of Tory MPs elected last year is Priti Patel, who represents Witham in Essex.

Just this week she has expressed outrage at news that more than 1,600 prisoners are getting funding to study Open University degree courses while they are serving their sentences; urged the Government to work towards repatriating more powers from the EU; and welcomed Iain Duncan Smith’s “long overdue” Welfare Reform legislation, pressing the Government to take “strong action against those who are disregarding the traditional British value of fair play and have been using the benefits system as an alternative to work”.

The daughter of refugees from Uganda who ran a series of small businesses, she was born in 1972 and educated at a state comprehensive school in Watford, before going on to study Economics at Keele University and then British Government and Politics at the University of Essex.

She had joined the Conservative Party at the age of 18 and her first job after university was as a researcher in the Conservative Research Department (a role she was given by then CRD head Andrew Lansley after much badgering).

However, she became disenchanted with the direction of the Major Government, not least on European matters, and in 1995 went to work as a press officer for Sir James Goldsmith and the Referendum Party, which fielded 547 candidates against the Tories in 1997 on a Eurosceptic ticket.

But she was back in the Tory fold virtually immediately after the election, and working at Tory Central Office as deputy press secretary to the new leader, William Hague.

She later moved to the private sector, working in communications and lobbying – for Shandwick and Diageo among others – whilst remaining an active member of the Conservative Party. She chaired her local association in Erith and Thamesmead and unsuccessfully fought Nottingham North at the 2005 general election.

After David Cameron’s election as party leader and a shake-up of selection procedures, Patel was installed onto the A-List of the 50 men and 50 women which the party was keenest to see selected as candidates and so it was that was selected in November 2006 for Witham, a newly-created safe Tory berth in Essex drawing on parts of four existing seats.

She surprised many by landing the nomination for this far from ethnically diverse constituency, but in the words of one who witnessed her selection: “They didn’t choose her because she’s a woman and they didn’t choose her because she’s Asian; they chose her because she’s a Conservative – and a Right-wing Thatcherite Conservative at that”.

She is on the record as favouring a return to capital punishment and has defined her position on our relations with Europe in terms of wanting to see “a Britain that is governed by the British for the British”.

Since her election to Parliament, she has become a regular contributor in the Commons chamber, using her maiden speech to praise the free market policies of Margaret Thatcher which allowed the businesses of hard-working people like her parents to flourish.

She is clearly popular with her colleagues too, having been elected by them to serve on both the Executive of the 1922 Committee and the Board of the Party (being part of the successful 92 Group slate in the latter election).

She has not, however, exhibited many rebellious tendencies to date, despite her fervent Right-wing beliefs. In October 2010 she signed Douglas Carswell’s rebel amendment calling for a reduction in the British contribution to the EU and gave a typically robust contribution to the Commons debate on the matter, but when it came to the vote, she opted to abstain rather than blot her copy book with the Government whips.

She was recently appointed one of the Conservative Party’s official spokesmen for the campaign against Alternative Vote and if she is willing to continue toeing the party line (or at least not actively opposing it in the division lobbies), it is hard to see her not being promoted to the ranks of ministerial office: Cameron has long wanted to change the way the party looks and her many talents aside, the fact that Patel is an Asian woman can only aid her chances of a red box in due course.

From the Conservative Intelligence member's site

Miliband’s Threat To Outside Earnings May Drive Tory Mps Over The Edge

Conservative MPs are capable of a wide range of emotions, encompassing the normal human set and then a few extras thrown in. Pride, injured pride, confidence, optimism, crushing depression, panic, fury, resentment, contentment, ambition, resignation, triumph and a host of others are within their repertoire. Even at the best of times, a healthy parliamentary party […]

Cameron Woos Mrs Rochester

“There’s no stunts or backroom deals, just a strong local candidate you can trust.” So wrote David Cameron in a letter sent this week to every voter in Rochester and Strood, where the next UKIP-engineered by-election is to take place towards the end of November.  At the end of it, he made the point again […]

To Respond To Defeat In Clacton, The Tories Will Need A Tougher Immigration Policy

Everyone expected the UKIP candidate, Douglas Carswell, to win in Clacton, but few people thought he would win by the enormous margin of 12,404 votes. An exceptionally rude kick has been administered to David Cameron. It is not much consolation for the Conservatives that a scarcely less rude kick has been administered to Ed Miliband […]

The Tories Leave Birmingham With A New-Found Confidence

No-one knew quite what to expect when the Conservative family gathered in Birmingham on Sunday. Mark Reckless had just delivered the second UKIP defection blow in as many months, and Brooks Newmark’s indiscretions were causing embarrassment (though less existential questions for the party). If anything, observers might have expected a depressed conference mood. Instead, though, […]

21 People To Watch As Next Week’s Conservative Conference Looms

1. Those two MP defectors to UKIP – if, of course, they exist at all.  If so, they will presumably turn up on Saturday evening.  If they don’t, the media will treat this as a further sign that the Party isn’t grown-up, since it talked but didn’t deliver.   2. George Osborne. The Conservative election […]

Will Cameron Go Fast And Slow On Devolution All-Around?

The Prime Minister announced this morning that more devolution for Scotland and reform elsewhere – specifically, action on English votes for English laws – will take place “in tandem” and “at the same pace”.  Draft legislation will be “published by January”. His statement opens up two possible outcomes. The first is that he pushes for […]

Whatever The Result, The Scottish Referendum Has Killed Blair’s Devolution Settlement

The Scottish referendum result is up in the air – polls swing from No to Yes and back again, all within the margin of error. The rush from Westminster to Scotland, not only of the party leaders but of scores of Labour MPs, demonstrates how seriously the prospect of a Yes result is being taken. […]

Two Conservative Scenarios If Scotland Votes Yes

Scenario One: David Cameron does not resign as Prime Minister (or as Conservative leader).  Nor does any member of the Cabinet other than Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary.  The Coalition hangs together.  The Conservative Parliamentary Party rallies round its leader. UKIP’s attempt to provoke an English nationalist backlash comes to nothing.  Perhaps unexpectedly, […]

Cameron’s Ability To Neutralise Opponents Is Brilliantly Illustrated By His Handling Of The New Surveillance Law

David Cameron will always do what the Establishment considers to be prudent.  The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, sprung upon the Cabinet on Thursday morning, is a case in point. Cameron has been told by the security services that these powers are needed. He has therefore set out to square Nick Clegg and Ed […]

Why Critical Headlines About Donor Dinners Raise A Smile In Downing Street

In politics, as with so many things, it’s tempting to judge a book by its cover. The personalities, the catchphrases, the emotional and cultural baggage carried by politicians and parties all compete for our attention. They’re important, of course, but they’re only one part of the political process. The showbiz elements often distract people from […]