The General Election of 2019 has washed up an almost embarrassing number of new deadhead MPs onto my golden shore. I have now an even wider choice than heretofore. Out of that mass, I have now chosen Selaine Saxby [Con, North Devon].
I have to admit that I had never heard of Selaine Saxby until yesterday. The material available online about her is sparse, but I think that one can come to an outline understanding of her character and background from what can be found.
Selaine Saxby has very recently been in the news, with others, for her truly stupid and unpleasant intervention in the “free school meals” debate: https://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/north-devon-mp-makes-statement-after-social-media-post-1-6899273; https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/tory-mps-ben-bradley-crack-den-brothel-free-school-meal-vouchers-a4572832.html;
Twitter has had much to say about Saxby, mostly critical:
What I find extraordinary about Selaine Saxby’s original comment is not only that it shows a complete absence of any compassion for the poor and struggling, but that it also attacks the very people most likely to vote Conservative: business people, company directors etc.
Selaine Saxby’s background
I had not previously encountered the Christian name “Selaine”. My brief researches have discovered that (unlike, say, Sharon, Sarah, Selena) “Selaine” has no classical or other meaning. There is some suggestion that it might be of French origin, but I have discovered that, in the whole of the past century, and in the whole world where records are available, only 80 girls were named Selaine, almost all between the years 1970-1990, and mostly in Brazil. A mystery.
Selaine Saxby was born in November 1970 in Coventry, and will be 50 within a few weeks. Her father was a school headmaster. Her school education is not, apparently, in the public domain; she then read Mathematics and Management at Cambridge.
I saw a tweet to the effect that Selaine Saxby is “a lawyer”, but that seems to be wrong. I can find no trace of her ever having qualified as either solicitor or barrister.
Having been born in 1970, Selaine Saxby probably graduated in the early 1990s, about 1991 or 1992. The years between then and 2000 are blank, it seems. What was she doing in those ~8 years? Sitting on a beach? Surfing? Working for MI5? We do not know.
Selaine Saxby started an online sport bra company (Lessbounce Ltd) in 2000. It seems to have been modestly successful, but was liquidated in 2016, with debts.
Other activities have included raising money for charity (though she seems to have done that as a “consultant”, i.e. she was paid, so there is no need to look upon her as having been particularly altruistic…).
Her Lessbounce (Lesbounce?) company was obviously no more than modestly successful. When it collapsed in 2016, she had already been working for a year as salaried Chief of Staff (big title for smallish job?) for gay Conservative Party MP, Ben Howlett [Con, Bath, 2015-2017]. As to Ms. Saxby’s own private life, Wikipedia, the several profiles of her online, and the MP’s own website, are silent.
After Ben Howlett lost his seat at Bath in 2017, Ms. Saxby’s job disappeared, so she became a schoolteacher (mathematics) at a state secondary in Bideford (North Devon) for what seems to have been only a few months, until a date in 2019. She had previously fought a doomed campaign at Llanelli (Wales), in 2015, in which contest she finished last out of four candidates.
Nothing much is known of Ms. Saxby’s ideological stances except that she voted Leave in 2016, and was elected on the “get Brexit done” basis. Her recent comments seem to reflect unthinking “Daily Mail” views on social welfare. She seems to have said nothing publicly on questions of race and culture.
Attitude to money
I note that, since her election, Selaine Saxby has claimed expenses which have been not huge, and I find it odd that her “staffing costs” seem to have been only £885 in the past year (the maximum claimable is something like £165,000). She claims to take “a packed lunch” to Westminster! If true, rather silly and almost vulgar in view of MPs’ pay and expenses, especially when MPs get excellent restaurant food at Westminster for a few pounds, i.e. heavily subsidized, like the old Soviet “Kremlyovsky payok” (Kremlin ration).
I wonder whether she is not basically a bit of a skinflint. That would seem to explain her comments about both hungry children and struggling businesses.
Ms. Saxby is, incredibly, a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in the Commons (she gets extra pay for that).
Selaine Saxby’s recent comments well qualify her as a deadhead MP. I have read her own website and what has been written about her online by Wikipedia, in the Press, on Conservative Home, the House of Commons online resource etc. Phrasing this in the colloquial, I do not detect a lot going on there…
Having said that, she is not going anywhere. North Devon has alternated between Conservative and LibDem for decades, and before that, Liberal, in toto for over a century. Nick Harvey held the seat for the LibDems for 23 years (1992-2015), and Selaine Saxby took over the seat from another Conservative Party MP in 2019.
The collapse of LibDemmery nationwide has meant that a number of their former strongholds are now safe Conservative seats. North Devon is one. It seems, therefore, that Ms. Saxby will be around for some time.