Robert John Blackman (born 26 April 1956) is a Conservative Party politician serving as the Executive Secretary of the 1922 Committee since 2012 (serving jointly with Nigel Evans until 8 January 2020 when Evans became Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), and has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harrow East since 2010. He was also the Greater London Assembly member for Brent & Harrow between 2004 and 2008.
|Executive Secretary of the 1922 Committee|
|Assumed office |
17 May 2012
Serving with Nigel Evans (2017–2020)
|Chairman||Sir Graham Brady|
|Preceded by||Peter Bone &|
Sir Christopher Chope
|Member of Parliament |
for Harrow East
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Tony McNulty|
|Member of the London Assembly|
for Brent and Harrow
10 June 2004 – 1 May 2008
|Preceded by||Toby Harris|
|Succeeded by||Navin Shah|
|Born||26 April 1956|
Kensington, London, England
|Alma mater||University of Liverpool (BSc)|
Early life and career
Blackman studied at the University of Liverpool and left with a Bachelor of Science degree. While at Liverpool, he was president of the students' union. He joined the sales team of Burroughs Machines (later Unisys) on graduation. He worked in various sales and management positions for BT and worked at their training school in Milton Keynes as a tutor and later as a Regulatory Compliance Manager for BT until his election to Parliament.
Blackman unsuccessfully stood as the Conservative candidate in the Tokyngton ward of London Borough of Brent Council in 1986. Four years later, he stood in the Preston ward and was elected; he retained the seat until 2010, when he did not stand. He was the leader of the Conservative group on Brent council from 1990 to 2010, having been council leader between 1991 and 1996, when his party lost control of the council. From June 2006 to May 2010, he was Deputy Leader of Brent Council, the Conservatives having formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
He unsuccessfully stood as the Conservative Party candidate for the constituency seat of Brent and Harrow of the London Assembly at the 2000 elections, losing to the Labour Party candidate Toby Harris. However, he subsequently defeated Harris at the 2004 assembly elections and was elected as the Conservative's Group Whip on the London Assembly. In the 2008 Assembly election, Blackman lost his seat to the Labour candidate Navin Shah by a 1,649 votes.
Member of Parliament
In 2010 he was elected a member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. and was elected Secretary of the 1922 Committee in 2015. In Parliament, Blackman currently serves on the Procedure Committee, the Backbench Business Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.
In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Blackman was one of 72 Conservative MPs voting against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.
Blackman supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum. He subsequently joined the European Research Group, the primary Eurosceptic lobbying group within Parliament, which is currently chaired by Mark Francois.
Blackman is an Officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel group and has been part of several delegations to Israel, including during the Operation Defensive Shield conflict when he visited for an Israeli military briefing on the Iron Dome defence system.
In 2015, the Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) made a judgement that Blackman had submitted 732 inaccurate mileage claims. According to IPSA he claimed up to 10 miles for a two-mile journey, making him the highest-mileage MP, claiming almost twice the mileage as the 10 next-highest MPs.
In 2017, Blackman drew criticism from Tom Peck of The Independent for hosting Tapan Ghosh, an anti-Islam extremist from India, at a House of Commons event in October 2017, as well as sharing anti-Islam posts on Twitter by far-right activist Tommy Robinson and being a member of numerous anti-Islam groups on Facebook. These comments and others by some Conservative candidates and representatives led the Muslim Council of Britain to call for an independent inquiry into alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
In March 2019, Blackman was among a group of MPs who argued for a number of measures to encourage people to quit smoking and prevent young people from taking it up, including raising the legal smoking age to 21 and introducing a levy on large tobacco companies.
In August 2019, Blackman expressed his support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoking Article 370 of the Constitution of India, calling the article an "anomaly", adding that "Kashmiri Pandits must be guaranteed right of return after they were the victims of ethnic cleansing".
Blackman called for the adoption of plain packaging legislation for cigarettes, and supported Cameron's plan calling for energy companies to provide simplified energy bills to their customers. On 1 July 2015, Blackman was elected Chair of the All Party Political Group on Smoking and Health, after serving as its Secretary for several years.
In 2012, when the Conservative Party launched a consultation into legalising same-sex marriages, Blackman suggested that David Cameron should resurrect Section 28, stating that he strongly believed that "Section 28 was the right rules to have in school so that we should not in any way shape or form promote same-sex relationships" and said he would be "very opposed" to seeing teachers being forced to say same-sex relationships are equivalent to heterosexual relationships.
In December 2012, David Cameron announced his approval for same-sex marriage. In response, on 7 December 2012, Blackman told the BBC News Channel that Cameron's backing of religious same-sex marriages was wrong "on principle" and that marriage had to be "between one man and one woman". According to the Harrow Times, he was accused of hypocrisy by a former fellow Brent council colleague who claimed she had an 11-year affair with him whilst he was married. On 5 February 2013, Bob Blackman voted against the bill in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain. In March 2019, Blackman was one of 21 MPs who voted against LGBT inclusive sex and relationship education in English schools.
In 2016, he was drawn second in the annual Parliamentary ballot for a Private Member's Bill and subsequently put together a Homelessness Reduction Bill in partnership with national homelessness charity, Crisis. It was the first Private Member's Bill to be supported by a Select Committee. After receiving Government support at 2nd Reading, it passed through all stages in Parliament unopposed in both Houses and received Royal Assent on Thursday 27 April 2017.
Following an interim report on the connections between colonialism and properties now in the care of the National Trust, including links with historic slavery, Blackman was among the signatories of a letter to The Telegraph from the "Common Sense Group" of Conservative Parliamentarians. The letter accused the National Trust of being "coloured by cultural Marxist dogma, colloquially known as the 'woke agenda'".
Blackman, as chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Azerbaijan, is a close ally of the state of Azerbaijan, having carried out paid visits there on several occasions. This has caused some criticism, with some claiming that he is a beneficiary of caviar diplomacy, a lobbying strategy of Azerbaijan.
Honours and Awards
- 2020: Padma Shri of India
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- Doward, Jamie (24 November 2013). "lush hotels and caviar diplomacy: how Azerbaijan's elite wooed MPs". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
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