Conservative Member of Parliament, Welwyn Hatfield. Shadow Minister for Housing

Amanda Stuart, Account Director. Insight Public Affairs
Amanda Stuart, Account Director. Insight Public Affairs

Welwyn-Hatfield's self-styled 'Energetic Member of Parliament', should be closely watched by the Westminster village as an emerging parliamentary talent. The Conservative shadow minister for Housing, an MP since 2005, has already developed a reputation as both an exceptional communicator and political campaigner.

His three years in Parliament have also been marked by a keen grasp of policy detail. Shapps has authored a series of highly commended reports covering both his housing brief and a selection of other issues including health, 'the complete germ map of Great Britain', highlighting the risks of infection of Clostridium Difficile, and most recently a report on loan sharks.

Educated at Manchester Poly, his academic credentials arguably conceal his potential. He graduated with an HND in business and finance before pursuing a career as an entrepreneur, founding Printhouse Ltd, the London based digital printing company, where he retains a directorship.

His political career took the well-trodden path of a series of failed parliamentary candidacies, contesting North Southwark and Bermondsey in 1997 and Welwyn Hatfield in 2001 before finally defeating Health Minister Melanie Johnson at the 2005 election, and in so doing securing the second biggest Conservative swing from Labour of that election.

Today Shapps plays a crucial role in the Cameron coterie. He is one of the few people to have the ear of the leader, and his appointment as a vice-chairman of the Party with special responsibility for campaigning, places him at the heart of Conservative's general election campaign team. A crucial part of this role is as 'Mentor in Chief' to the current Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), a responsibility that will undoubtedly consolidate his authority within the party when those PPCs are elected to Westminster.

Shapps is one of the most accessible Conservative MPs engaging fervently in social networking and web-based campaigning. He has a strong presence on both YouTube and Twitter; he has built an impressive personal website; developed additional campaigning sites on local services; and he runs the Welwyn Hatfield Forum (online) which boasts over 900 members.

Outside of his housing brief Shapps pays a particular interest in health issues, having championed a number of issues that fall outside of his portfolio. Engaging, charismatic and a real listener, Shapps is without question a rising star within the party. He can execute an effective grass-roots campaign, he has the likeability factor, he has the communication skills to be effective at the Despatch Box and he has a good grasp of policy. He will be a distinct asset in the forthcoming
election, as an outstanding campaigner and one of the few MPs who truly appreciates how to maximise the benefits of an online campaign.

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