3 Alan Duncan

Alan Duncan

Infobox Politician

name =Alan Duncan MP
honorific-suffix =
imagesize =
birth_date = birth date and age|1957|03|31
birth_place = Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
website = [http://www.alanduncan.org.uk/ www.alanduncan.org.uk]
office = Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
term_start = 7 December 2005
as Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
term_end =
leader = David Cameron
predecessor = David Willetts
successor = Incumbent
office2 = Member of Parliament for
Rutland and Melton
term_start2 = 9 April 1992
term_end2 =
predecessor2 = Sir Michael Latham
successor2 = Incumbent
majority2 = 12,930 (26.2%)
nationality = British
alma_mater = St John's College, Oxford
Harvard University
spouse = James Dunseath

Alan James Carter Duncan (born 31 March 1957) is a British politician. He is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Duncan began his career in the oil industry with Royal Dutch Shell, and was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election. After several minor positions in the government of John Major, he played a key role in William Hague's successful bid for the Conservative leadership in 1997. He received several promotions to the Conservative front bench until he eventually joined the Shadow Cabinet after the 2005 general election and stood for the Conservative leadership in 2005 but withdrew early on due to a lack of support. Eventual winner David Cameron appointed him Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in December 2005, the title of which was changed to its current form in July 2007.

He is known as one of the most strident and ideological libertarians within the leading ranks of the Conservative Party, and is a leading member of the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward grouping. He is also well known as the first openly gay Conservative Member of Parliament, having publicly come out in 2002.

Early life


Duncan was born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, the son of J.G. Duncan OBE, an RAF wing commander, and his wife Anne Duncan (née Carter), a teacher.cite web |url=http://knittingcircle.org.uk/alanduncan.html |title=Knitting Circle Alan Duncan |accessdate=2008-06-02 |date= |publisher= ] He was educated at Beechwood Park School and Merchant Taylors' School, at both schools he was Head Monitor (head boy), and St John's College, Oxford, where he coxed the college first eight, was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1979,cite web |url=http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&PersonID=4664 |title=Alan Duncan MP |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date= |publisher=Conservative Party ] Whilst there, he formed a friendship with Benazir Bhutto, and ran her successful campaign to become the President of the Oxford Union. [cite news |first=Philip |last=Webster |title=Loyal colleagues are ready to reap the rewards |url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3101735.ece |publisher=The Times |date=2007-12-28 |accessdate=2008-05-05 ] He then went on to win a Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard between 1981 and 1982. [cite web |url=http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/medicine/news/p71007/ |title=Medical student wins Kennedy Scholarship |accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2007-08-10 |publisher=Imperial College London ]

Business career

He worked as a trader of oil and refined products, first with Royal Dutch Shell (1979–1981) and from 1982 to 1988 for Marc Rich, working in London and Singapore.cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,485718,00.html |title=Top Tory at centre of sanctions busting claims |last=Maguire |first=Kevin |coauthors=Pallister, David |accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2001-05-04 |publisher=The Guardian ] From 1988 to 1992 Duncan was self-employed acting as a consultant and adviser to foreign governments on oil supplies, shipping and refining. He made over a million pounds after profiting from the need to supply oil to Pakistan after Kuwait's supplies had been disrupted in the Gulf War.

Political career

Duncan was an active member of the Battersea Conservative Association from 1979 until 1984, when he moved to live in Singapore, from which he returned in 1986. After Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned in November 1990, he offered his home in Westminster as the headquarters of John Major's leadership campaign.

Member of Parliament

Duncan first stood for Parliament as a Conservative candidate in the 1987 general election, unsuccessfully contesting the safe Labour seat of Barnsley West and Penistone. For the 1992 general election he was selected as the Conservative candidate for Rutland and Melton, a safe Conservative seat, which he won with 59% of the vote. In the Labour landslide of 1997 his share of the vote was cut back to 45.8% but has since increased to 48.1% in 2001 and 51.2% in 2005.

From 1993 to 1995, Duncan sat on the Social Security Select Committee. His first governmental position was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health, a position he obtained in December 1993. He resigned from the position within a month after it emerged that he had used the right-to-buy programme to make profits on property deals. [cite book |title=Ministers of the Crown |last=Brazier |first=Rodney |year=1997 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford |isbn=0198259883 |pages=p. 112 ] Gyles Brandreth describes this event in his famous diary as '...little Alan Duncan has fallen on his sword. He did it swiftly and with good grace.' [cite book |title=Breaking the code: Westminster diaries May 1990-May 1997 |last=Brandreth |first=Gyles |authorlink=Gyles Brandreth |year= |publisher= |location= |isbn= |pages= |chapter=Saturday 8th January ]

After returning to the backbenches, he became Chairman of the Conservative Backbenches Constitutional Affairs Committee. He returned to government in July 1995, when he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Brian Mawhinney. In November 1995, Duncan performed a citizen's arrest on an Asylum Bill protester who threw paint and flour at Mawhinney on College Green.cite news |first=Rachel |last=Sylvester |coauthor=Copley, Joy |title=Loyal colleagues are ready to reap the rewards |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1997/06/20/nboy220.html |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=1997-06-20 |accessdate=2008-04-28 ]

Duncan was a key player in the 1997 leadership contest, being the right-hand man of William Hague, the eventual winner. In this capacity, he was called 'the closest thing [the Conservatives] have to Peter Mandelson'. Duncan and Hague had been at Oxford at the same time, both been Presidents of the Oxford Union, and had been close, both politically and personally, since at least the early 1980s.

Front bench career

As a reward for his loyalty to Hague during the leadership contest, in June 1997, Duncan was entrusted with the positions of Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and Parliamentary Political Secretary to the Party Leader. In June 1998 he became Shadow Health Minister. [cite web|url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmwib/wb980606/shadow.htm|title=Opposition front bench team as at 5 June 1998|date=6 June 1998|work=House of Commons Weekly Information Bulletin|publisher=Parliament of the United Kingdom|accessdate=2008-09-25] In June 1999 he was made Shadow Trade and Industry spokesman. In September 2001 he was appointed a Front Bench Spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

When Michael Howard became Conservative party leader in November 2003, Duncan became Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, but as Howard had significantly reduced the size of the Shadow Cabinet, Duncan was not promoted to the top table. This continued to be the case when he was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in September 2004. However, following the 2005 general election, the Shadow Cabinet was expanded to its original size once more, and Duncan joined it as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

He held this position for just seven months, becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 7 December 2005, after David Cameron's election to the party leadership the previous day. On 2 July 2007, he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, as new prime minister Gordon Brown had abolished the Department for Trade and Industry the previous week, replacing it with the aforementioned new department.

Failed leadership bid

Before the 2005 general election, Duncan was rumoured to be planning a leadership campaign in the event that then-leader Michael Howard stepped down after a (then-likely and later actual) election defeat.cite news |first=Michael |last=White |authorlink=Michael White (journalist) |title=Duncan willing to run for Tory leadership |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/dec/21/conservatives.politics |publisher=The Guardian |date=2004-12-21 |accessdate=2008-05-05 ] On 10 June 2005, Duncan publicly declared his intention of standing in the 2005 leadership election. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4078868.stm |title=Duncan to run for Tory leadership |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date=2005-06-10 |publisher=BBC News ] However, on 18 July 2005, he withdrew from the race, admitting in "The Guardian" that his withdrawal was due to a lack of 'active lieutenants', and urged the party to abandon those that he dubbed the 'Tory Taliban':

Political views

Duncan is a libertarian. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2163663.stm |title=Alan Duncan |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date=2002-10-16 |publisher=BBC News ] "The Guardian" has variously described him as 'economically libertarian' [cite web |url=http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,,-1492,00.html |title=Duncan, Alan |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date= |publisher=Guardian Unlimited ] and 'socially libertarian'. He has been described as the 'liberal, urbane face of the Conservative Party'. [cite web |url=http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-6416.html |title=The 50 most powerful LGBT people in British politics |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date=2007-12-27 |publisher=Pink News ] He is considered to be one of the modernisers in the Conservative Party. [cite news |first=|last=|authorlink=|title=Alan Duncan: 'I'm an MP who happens to be gay' |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml?xml=/portal/2008/03/05/ftduncan105.xml |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=5 March 2008 |accessdate=2008-06-02 ]

One of the chapters in his book "Saturn's Children" is devoted to an explanation of his support for the legalisation of all drugs. However this chapter was removed when the paperback edition was published to prevent embarrassment to the Party leadership. [cite news |first=Michael |last=White |authorlink=Michael White (journalist) |title=Tory candidate takes the Michael |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/jun/24/conservatives.politics |publisher=The Guardian |date=2005-06-24 |accessdate=2008-05-05 ] The omitted chapter is available on Duncan's personal website. [cite web |url=http://www.alanduncan.org.uk/legalisationofdrugs.html |title=The Legalisation Of Drugs |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date= |publisher=Alan Duncan ] He believes in minimising the size of government,cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2163663.stm |title=Alan Duncan |accessdate=2008-06-02 |date= 2002-10-16 |publisher=BBC News] and in "Saturn’s Children" advocated limiting government responsibility to essential services such as defence, policing and health. He has been described as a "staunch" Eurosceptic.

He is on the council of the Conservative Way Forward (CWF) group. He is one of the leading British members of Le Cercle, a secretive foreign policy discussion forum. [cite news |first=Chris |last=Blackhurst |title=Aitken dropped by the Right's secret club |url= |publisher=The Independent |date=1997-06-29 ] In contrast with most members of both CWF and Le Cercle, who hold pro-Republican Atlanticist views, he actively supported John Kerry in the United States' 2004 presidential election.cite news |first=Nicholas |last=Watt |title=Tory oil tycoon who won't be backing Bush |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/oct/30/uselections2004.conservatives |publisher=The Guardian |date=2004-10-30 |accessdate=2008-05-05 ] Duncan is friends with Kerry, having met him whilst at Harvard.

Personal life

Duncan was the first sitting Conservative MP voluntarily to acknowledge that he is gay; [cite web |url=http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,9061,765023,00.html |title=Gay Tory frontbencher comes out |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date=2002-07-29 |publisher=The Guardian ] he did this in an interview with "The Times" on 29 July 2002, although he has said that this came as no surprise to friends. [cite news |first=Neil |last=Tweedie |title=Alan Duncan: 'I'm an MP who happens to be gay' |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml?xml=/portal/2008/03/05/ftduncan105.xml |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=2008-03-05 |accessdate=2008-05-05 ] Indeed, in an editorial published on the news of Duncan's coming out, "The Daily Telegraph" reported, "The news that Alan Duncan is gay will come as a surprise only to those who have never met him. The bantam Tory frontbencher can hardly be accused of having hidden his homosexuality." [cite web |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2002/07/30/dl3002.xml |title= Openly Tory |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date=2002-07-30 |publisher=The Daily Telegraph ]

On 3 March 2008 it was announced in the Court & Social page of "The Daily Telegraph" that Duncan would be entering into a civil partnership with his partner James Dunseath,cite news |first=Andrew |last=Pierce |authorlink= |title=Tory MP Alan Duncan to enter civil partnership |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/03/ntory103.xml |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=2008-03-04 |accessdate=2008-04-28 ] which would make him the first member of either the Cabinet or the Shadow Cabinet to enter into a civil partnership.cite news |first=Tony |last=Grew |authorlink= |title=Civil partnership for senior Tory |url=http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-7009.html |publisher=Pink News |date=2008-03-03 |accessdate=2008-04-28 ] The two were joined as civil partners on 2008-07-24. [cite news |first=Lucy |last=Cockcroft |authorlink= |title=Alan Duncan becomes first Tory MP to seal civil partnership |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/2461102/Alan-Duncan-becomes-first-Tory-MP-to-seal-civil-partnership.html |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=2008-07-26 |accessdate=2008-07-28 ]

Duncan has a committed following in the gay community and is active in speaking up for gay rights. He was responsible for formulating the Conservatives' policy response to the introduction of civil partnership legislation in 2004, which he considered his proudest achievement of the Parliament between 2001 and 2005. [cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/apr/06/alanduncan |title=Alan Duncan |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date=2005-04-06 |publisher=Guardian Unlimited ] Duncan was voted third most eligible bachelor and best looking male politician by the gay news website Pink News in a 2005 poll of their readers.Fact|date=November 2007 In 2007, the same publication named him the 15th-most powerful LGBT person in the UK.

Works and appearances

*"An End To Illusions" (Demos, 1993) ISBN 1-898309-05-1
* "" [with Dominic Hobson] , (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995) ISBN 1-85619-605-4

*He has appeared three times on the satirical news quiz Have I Got News For You: first appearing on 28 October 2005, [cite web |url=http://www.tv.com/have-i-got-news-for-you/chris-langham-ross-noble-alan-duncan/episode/552104/summary.html?tag=ep_list;title;2 |title=Chris Langham, Ross Noble, Alan Duncan |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date= |publisher=TV.com ] , then 20 October 2006, [cite web |url=http://www.tv.com/have-i-got-news-for-you/alistair-mcgowan-fern-britton-alan-duncan/episode/910579/summary.html?tag=ep_list;title;1 |title=Alistair McGowan, Fern Britton, Alan Duncan |accessdate=2007-11-20 |date= |publisher=TV.com ] and again on 2 May 2008. [cite web |url=http://www.tv.com/have-i-got-news-for-you/brian-blessed-marcus-brigstocke-alan-duncan-mp/episode/1197202/summary.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=episodessh&tag=episodes;title;1 |title=Brian Blessed, Marcus Brigstocke, Alan Duncan MP |accessdate=2008-05-05 |date= |publisher=TV.com ]


* Mr Alan Duncan (1957–1992)
* Mr Alan Duncan MP (1992–)

ee also

* Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (UK)


External links

* [http://www.alanduncan.org.uk/ Alan Duncan MP] official site
* [http://www.epolitix.com/EN/MPWebsites/Alan+Duncan/ ePolitix.com - Alan Duncan] profile
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-1492,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Alan Duncan MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/alan_duncan/rutland_and_melton TheyWorkForYou.com - Alan Duncan MP]
* [http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Alan_Duncan&mpc=Rutland+%26amp%3B+Melton The Public Whip - Alan Duncan MP] voting record
* [http://dmoz.org/Regional/Europe/United_Kingdom/Society_and_Culture/Politics/Parties/Conservative/MPs/Duncan,_Alan/ Open Directory Project - Alan Duncan] directory category

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