Before being elected to Parliament, John was a publisher and Chairman of Logotron Ltd, a small independent company creating educational software for schools. He used to be Managing Director of Longman, publishing school textbooks for the UK and parts of Africa. Earlier in his career, John worked in publishing for Thomson, in management consulting for McKinsey, and in banking for JPMorgan.
John lives in his constituency, in the village of Winscombe. His father was brought up in nearby Timsbury, and his grandfather taught at Midsomer Norton school. His parents were both teachers, but John’s father died in 1992. His mother has since remarried and now lives in Scotland. John married Dido Harding in 1995. Her family have been Somerset farmers for many generations. Dido’s horse, Cool Dawn, won the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and John has been kicking himself ever since because he didn’t bet on the race.
John’s hobbies are fishing, beekeeping, rowing, worrying while Dido rides in steeplechases, and celebrating when she wins.
John was selected as candidate for Weston-super-Mare in November 2000 and campaigned strongly for solutions to Weston’s drug and crime problems, saving the constituency’s greenfields, improving roads and rail links to Bristol, better pensions for Weston’s elderly, and a fairer funding deal for Weston’s local hospital and schools. Local people supported these initiatives in the General Election 18 months later, cutting the majority of Weston’s sitting Lib-Dem MP to just 338 votes.
After the election many people assumed that John would move on to a safer Conservative constituency, but he preferred to show his commitment to the people in the area, and to his family home, by staying. In 2002 he agreed to fight the seat for a second time, and his position was unanimously confirmed in July 2003.
John is involved in several local community initiatives. He has been Chairman of one of Weston’s “Blue Skies” action groups, a project to revive Weston’s tourism industry which enjoys widespread community support. He’s also President of the Weston YMCA, which acts as an umbrella organisation for a range of local organisations such as the local Credit Union; the Teenage Pregnancy Advisory unit; Junction 21 (Weston’s Crime Concern Trust); Connexions (youth advice and mentoring); the local Deposit Guarantee Board (housing for the homeless); and VIA (drug and alcohol rehabilitation assessment).
He was elected as Member of Parliament in May 2005.
The Bow Group
John was in charge of research for the Bow Group, a long-established and highly-respected Conservative think-tank, in 1998. He commissioned and published papers on Reforming the House of Lords, Human Rights, Reforming Europe and recruiting more Conservative women MPs.
John was Parliamentary Candidate in 1997 for Ealing Southall, a safe Labour seat with a strong ethnic mix. He was also a governor of Beaconsfield Primary School in Southall from 1996 until 2000.
In January 2009, John was appointed Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform by David Cameron.
From May 2010 to September 2012, John was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In October 2013 he was appointed Assistant Government Whip.