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Lee Anderson: Who is the new Tory deputy chairman?

Lee Anderson: Who is the new Tory deputy chairman?

Known for his outspoken views, it didn't take long for Lee Anderson to hit the headlines again after he was appointed as the Conservative Party's deputy chairman.

In an interview conducted a few days before he was given the role, the MP for Ashfield expressed his support for bringing back the death penalty - a position not shared by the government.

But despite his tendency to create media storms, his supporters in the Conservative Party believe the former Labour councillor can connect with so-called "red wall" voters in the Midlands and the north of England in a way that others can't.

Born in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, to a family of coal miners, he followed in the footsteps of his father by working in the area's pits for 10 years after leaving school.

After separating from his partner, he raised his two sons as a single parent on what he described as a "meagre wage".

"I've been that man that has to put five quid in the gas meter on a Sunday night and been watching the meter spin round all week," he told TalkTV last year.

He went on to volunteer at a local Citizens Advice centre before working in hostels for homeless care leavers.

His first job in politics was working in the office of local Labour MP Gloria De Piero, serving as a district councillor at the same time.

In February 2018 he was suspended from the council's Labour group after hiring a digger and placing concrete blocks to stop travellers illegally camping in a car park.

A month later he defected to the Tories, saying his former party had been "taken over by the hard-left".

In the 2019 general election the Brexit-supporter stood as the Conservative candidate for Ashfield, winning the seat from Labour.

The constituency was one of many Leave-supporting areas to turn blue in Boris Johnson's landslide victory over Jeremy Corbyn.

However, his successful campaign was not without controversy.

He faced mockery after he appeared to be caught setting up a door knock while out canvassing, accompanied by journalist Michael Crick.

During the visit a microphone picked up Mr Anderson asking a voter not to mention he was his friend during filming.

There was further criticism for comments suggesting "nuisance tenants" living on a council estate should be forced to live in tents and pick vegetables.

Mr Anderson continued to attract attention for his strident views as an MP.

During the Euro 2020 football tournament he criticised the England team for taking the knee in protest at racism and vowed to boycott their matches.

Last May, he suggested people should learn to cook and budget, rather than use food banks, claiming it was possible to make a meal from scratch for around 30p a day.

It was a theme he returned to in January, when he posted a photo on Twitter of one of his staff members to illustrate his argument that nurses on £30,000 a year didn't need to use food banks.

The post, which detailed her monthly spending on rent and travel, provoked a backlash on social media.

The 56-year-old's appointment as deputy party chairman by Rishi Sunak came despite Mr Anderson initially backing his rival Boris Johnson in last year's leadership election.

He's also been critical of the government's approach to tackling illegal immigration.

In December, he wrote that he was "putting my party on notice" over the issue, saying the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats was "making us the laughing stock of the world".

However, the choice of a red wall MP balances out Mr Sunak's pick for chairman, Greg Hands, who represents the affluent London constituency of Chelsea and Fulham.

Many of Mr Anderson's fellow Tory MPs in the Midlands and north of England love his outspoken style.

They think he reflects the concerns of real voters - the people they want to hold on to at the next election.

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, welcomed Mr Anderson's appointment, describing him as "authentic".

"From time to time it's refreshing to have someone in the party who actually has his own views," he told the BBC.

Making Mr Anderson deputy chairman, a role partly responsible for preparing for May's local elections in England, is not without risk for the Tories.

More controversy will mean more questions asked of Mr Sunak and his ministers.

But with the Conservatives languishing in the polls, that might be a risk worth taking for the prime minister.


Lee Anderson: "There's not this massive use for food banks in this country"


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