INSIGHT PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Philip Hammond, MP

Effective, talented and one of Westminster's wealthiest MPs, Philip Hammond has enjoyed a steady rise to the Opposition front-bench, having rarely put a foot wrong during his political career.

Although sketch writers occasionally lambaste his dullness, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury is likely to feature in a Cameron cabinet, as undoubtedly one of the Conservative Party’s brightest stars.
 
Born and raised in Essex, Hammond attended a local state school before winning a scholarship to University College, Oxford where he obtained a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He gained extensive business experience, taking a series of directorships across a range of sectors including the distribution of medical equipment, property, oil and gas. He also gained experience on assignments for the World Bank in Latin America and Africa. It was reported in the News of the World in late 2008 that, Hammond’s business interests in the last five years had earned him £2.7 million.
 
His decision to become actively involved in Conservative Party politics was informed against the backdrop of the UK’s economic malaise of the 1970s.  He eventually decided to stand in 1994 for Newham North East in a by-election, citing the unfinished work of the Thatcher/Major era as his primary motivation. Despite losing the by-election, he was elected for the seat of Runnymede and Weybridge in 1997 after losing out during selection for Maidenhead to the current incumbent, Theresa May.
 
He has managed to rise steadily through Conservative ranks, despite a tendency to back the losing candidate during leadership contests, having supported Peter Lilley in 1997 and Michael Portillo in 2001. However, he was one of the first promotions of the 1997 intake, becoming a health spokesperson under Hague, before Iain Duncan-Smith brought him onto the front bench in 2001 with the Trade and Industry brief.
 
Following three years as Shadow Minister for Local and Devolved Government Affairs, in 2005 he was moved to the Shadow Treasury team as George Osborne’s number two. Overlooking his ill-fated support for David Davis in the 2005 leadership contest Cameron promoted Hammond six months later to lead the Work and Pensions brief. However he was shuffled back to his previous post after Brown’s accession. This was perceived by critics as a demotion, but insiders regarded it as a necessary move to free-up Osborne for his role as the Party’s General Election co-ordinator.
 
Esteemed within the party for his intellectual aptitude he is seen as a risk-free, experienced pair of hands and is odds on to be rewarded with a place around Cameron’s cabinet table.

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