The above exchange reminded me of the existence of Nigel Evans [Con, Ribble Valley], a perfect candidate for my Deadhead MPs series.
Nigel Evans was born in 1957 and will be 62 within a couple of weeks of the appearance of this article. He was born and brought up in Swansea, attending what was, from 1971, a comprehensive school, attended at other times by people as well-known as, or indeed better-known than Evans, among which were numbered an Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams), at least one other MP (Julian Lewis), and —now long-gone but once a household name— Sir Harry Secombe (d.2001), singer, actor, comedian and Goon. The school no longer exists.
Nigel Evans attended the University of Swansea and, in or about 1979, was awarded a BA in Politics. His only known job before becoming an MP in 1992 is that of assisting his parents in the operation of their corner shop in Swansea. The shop operated as a newsagents and convenience store.
Evans became a county councillor in West Glamorgan in 1985, rising by 1990 to become deputy leader of the Conservative group on the council. 1991 saw Evans step down from that role.
Evans contested two seats unsuccessfully before winning in the usually safe Conservative seat of Ribble Valley in Lancashire in 1992 (the LibDems had held it for a year; Evans had failed to win the 1991 by-election).
As MP, Evans made slow but steady progress. He joined several Commons Select Committees, was PPS to three more senior MPs in turn (including the then shadow Secretary of State for Wales, William Hague) and was in the Shadow Cabinet himself during 2001-2003 (as shadow Secretary of State for Wales). I assume that he is a freemason but admit that I have no direct evidence for that.
As MP, Evans has been a consistent opponent of the National Minimum Wage (is that the small shopkeeper in him coming out?) but is perhaps best known (or was, until he was tried for male rape) for his unusual expenses, claiming up to £400 a month for mobile telephone calls, as well as claiming for no less than four digital cameras in 18 months. Having said that, Evans has been in fact one of the least expensive MPs in terms of expenses.
In 2010, Evans became a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. He announced that he was gay later the same year.
In 2013, Evans was charged with counts of male rape and of sexual assault (six of the latter, one of the former), involving seven young men. In 2014, Evans was acquitted at trial on all charges.
Reading the newspaper accounts (see Notes, below) and casting my mind back to TV news reports of the time, I think that Evans was lucky to have been acquitted, overall, but there it is…
I might add that the Guardian reported after the trial that Henry Hendron, a notorious gay barrister since convicted at the Old Bailey of serious crimes and yet, surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly…) not disbarred (again, see Notes, below) is or was a friend of Evans and provided moral support during the rape trial.
Like most “Conservative” MPs, Evans has consistently voted to cut back help for the disadvantaged, eg. State benefits, legal aid etc. Amusingly enough, this backfired on him when he himself needed help!
“In 2012 he had supported large cuts to legal aid which became part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; in 2018, after losing his life savings defending himself in 2014, Evans said that the experience had shown him that “It’s wrong, completely wrong, to remove people’s right to have expert legal representation … We’re definitely talking about justice being denied as a result of LASPO.““
Ah, there’s nothing like personal experience to teach you a lesson…
There’s nothing much more to say about Nigel Evans, except that, judging by his TV appearances, he has arguably the worst taste in clothing of any male MP (and surely must have the worst sartorial taste of any gay MP!). I tweeted about his clothing once (though that would not usually much interest me), when I had a Twitter account, and to the effect that, on BBC Daily Politics, he looked like Phil Silvers or someone out of a Phil Silvers film. I was tweeted back by a furious member of the Phil Silvers Society!
Evans has maintained a vote-share above 47% since he became MP in 1992; his worst result was still nearly 48% (in 1997), and his latest (2017), at 57.8%, was his best ever, though still below the 60%+ attained by David Waddington in the 1980s. Evans is embedded, so to speak, in Ribble Valley, and looks set to stay until the House of Lords or the Grim Reaper beckon.
So there we are. Nigel Evans, an MP whose only previous experience was a few years as a county councillor and helping to run a corner shop owned by his parents. A true deadhead MP, whose TV appearances show him vainly struggling for mediocrity; he is therefore well-fitted for the Westminster monkeyhouse as it now is.
A comment on Twitter re. MPs, from “Old Holborn”; I think that I may add this tweet to some of my future (and even previous) Deadhead MPs articles…
I think that the answer to his rhetorical question is that so many better-qualified potential candidates, people like me, are weeded out at the MP-selection stage. They are too independent, not facilely “anti-racist” and “anti-sexist” etc, and unwilling to be controlled by a pack of Jew-Zionists. As for myself, I never thought of abandoning my principles and ideals in order to get selected as an MP, though I suppose that it would have been easy enough, if I had been willing to ditch all honour and integrity.