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Template:Infobox Politician John Selwyn Gummer MP (born 26 November 1939), is a British politician, and Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal. He is chairman of the environmental consultancy company Sancroft International. He is also a non-executive director and regular columnist for the Catholic Herald.
John Gummer was one of the three sons of a Church of England minister whose living was in Gravesend, Kent. He began his education at Holy Trinity Primary School in Brompton, London and later went to King's School, Rochester. He read History at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was the chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and later President of the Cambridge Union Society.
Whilst at Cambridge, he was a member of what became known as the Cambridge Mafia – a group of future Conservative Cabinet ministers, including Leon Brittan, Michael Howard, Kenneth Clarke, Norman Lamont, and Norman Fowler.
In 1962, Gummer joined Business Publications as an editor, leaving in 1964 to become editor in chief with Max Parrish & Oldbourne Press. He left to take up the position of special assistant to the chairman of BBC Publishing in 1967, transferring to become a publisher within the special projects department until 1969, when he was promoted to become the editorial coordinator, where he remained until he was first elected to Parliament. He has held various board level positions in publishing companies since his election.
Member of Parliament
At the 1964 general election, Gummer stood as a candidate in the Greenwich constituency, but was heavily defeated by the incumbent Labour MP, Richard Marsh. He stood again some 18 months later at the 1966 general election and lost even more heavily.
He was finally elected to the House of Commons on his third attempt, at the 1970 general election, when he narrowly unseated the sitting MP James Dickens in the Lewisham West constituency. However, at the February 1974 general election he lost the seat to Labour's Christopher Price, and failed to regain it in the October 1974 election.
In 1979, he eventually returned to the House of Commons, securing the seat of Eye, following the retirement of veteran Tory Harwood Harrison. He held the constituency until its abolition for the 1983 general election. Since then he has been the MP for Suffolk Coastal.
Under Edward Heath, Gummer held various minor positions in the government, ultimately being appointed Conservative Party Vice-Chairman (a position he held until the fall of the government). In 1979, he was re-elected as an MP as the Conservative Party returned to Government. He held various government positions and also chaired the Conservative Party from 1983 to 1985; he was chairman at the time of the Brighton hotel bombing during the Conservative party conference. However, unlike his predecessor, Cecil Parkinson, and many of his successors, he did not hold cabinet rank at this time. He eventually joined the cabinet in 1989 as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, moving to become Secretary of State for the Environment under John Major in 1993. As Environment Secretary he introduced the UK's first Environmental Tax, the landfill tax. BBC Wildlife magazine described him as the "Environment Secretary against which all others are judged", putting him in the top ten environmental heroes [BBC Wildlife Magazine 2007]. In 1997, he was awarded a Medal of Honour by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Since the 1997 Labour election victory he has been a backbencher. He is chairman of the all-party group on architecture and planning. Along with the likes of Kenneth Clarke, Michael Howard and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Gummer is one the few remaining MPs who served in the cabinet of Margaret Thatcher.
For many years, including his period as Conservative Party Chairman, he was known as John Selwyn Gummer. He dropped the Selwyn from common usage as he entered the cabinet in the late 1980s.
He is one of the members of Thatcher's cabinet who were said to have wept when she met with them individually on the evening before her resignation in November 1990 to seek their views on whether she should continue to fight for the party leadership.
He was a member of the General Synod of the Church of England from 1978 until he left the church and was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1992, following the decision of the General Synod allowing the ordination of women to the priesthood.
He introduced an Early Day Motion on Climate Change to Parliament along with Michael Meacher and Norman Baker. In 2001, he called on the European Union to come together against nuclear terrorism.
He is also a strong opponent of abortion. The former Conservative MP Gyles Brandreth records in his published diaries an incident when Gummer was campaigning in Brandreth's Chester constituency during the 1997 General Election campaign:
"John's happiest moment comes when we encounter a lone Labour activist... The man mutters something derogatory as JG strides past. John spins round. 'What does your candidate have to say on abortion then?' The man is momentarily stunned, and then declares with some conviction, 'She believes in a woman's right to choose.' 'Oh yes, oh yes,' trills John, voice rising, breath quickening: 'She believes in murdering babies does she? Just so we know.' The Secretary of State for the Environment is smacking his lips now. 'You want us to vote for someone who believes in murdering babies. Thank you! Thank you very much!'" 
Despite this outburst, the Labour candidate, Christine Russell, won the seat.
Soon after the election of the new leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, in 2005, Gummer was asked to chair a new Quality of Life Policy Group with Zac Goldsmith as his deputy. He was chosen for his experience as Secretary of State for the Environment and known interest in environmental issues.
He is noted for delaying a ban on beef in 1989, and for the way he attempted to feed a hamburger to his four-year-old daughter Cordelia at the height of the BSE panic in 1990, though photographs of the event were staged and the burger was in fact bitten into by a civil servant.
In 1993, he was called a "drittsekk" (translated as "shitbag") by the Norwegian Minister of Environmental Affairs, Thorbjørn Berntsen, who commented "John Gummer is the biggest shitbag I have ever met." after Gummer had refused to discuss an acid rain problem on Norwegian soil.
In 2009, Gummer achieved notoriety because of his parliamentary expense claims, in which he charged the public purse for, among other things, mole-catching, jackdaw nest removal and "gardening" on his country estate at Debenham in Suffolk.
- 1966: When the Coloured People Come, by John Gummer, Oldbourne, ISBN 0-356-01199-2
- 1969: To Church with Enthusiasm, by John Gummer
- 1971: The Permissive Society: Fact or Fantasy?, by John Selwyn Gummer, Cassell, ISBN 0-304-93821-1
- 1974: The Christian Calendar, by Leonard W. Cowie and John Selwyn Gummer, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-76804-2
- 1987: Faith in Politics: Which Way Should Christians Vote?, by John Gummer, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, ISBN 0-281-04299-3
- 1990: Christianity and Conservatism, by John Gummer
- 1997: Green Buildings Pay, edited by B. W. Edwards, foreword by John Gummer, Spon Press, ISBN 0-419-22730-X
- 1998: From Earth Summit to Local Agenda 21: Working Towards Sustainable Development, edited by William Laffery, Katarina Eckerberg, William M. Laffery, foreword by John Gummer, Earthscan Publications, ISBN 1-85383-547-1
- 1998: Precision Agriculture: Practical Applications of New Technologies, by John Gummer and Peter Botschek, The International Fertiliser Society, ISBN 0-85310-062-4
- 2002: Goat Farming, by Alan Mowlem, foreword by John S Gummer, Farming Press, ISBN 0-85236-235-8
- Weekly columnist in Estates Gazette magazine
- Official Website
- Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: John Gummer MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com - John Gummer MP
- BBC article on the burger / BSE story
- Video of BSE story from 1990
- ↑ "Ex-cabinet minister John Gummer to step down as an MP". BBC News Online. 30 December 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8434735.stm.
- ↑ "Tory candidate chosen for next election", Evening Star, 16 August 2007.
- ↑ UK Parliament - Early Day Motions By Details
- ↑ "EU should 'unite against nuclear threat'". BBC News Online. 1 November 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1631958.stm.
- ↑ Gyles Brandreth, Breaking the Code - Westminster Diaries (Phoenix, 1999). Saturday 12th April 2007. p507-8.
- ↑ [http://www.qualityoflifechallenge.com/ Quality of Life Challenge
- ↑ "John Gummer: Beef eater". BBC News Online. 11 October 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/369625.stm.
- ↑ "Breakdown At The Hague". The Socialist Party of Great Britain. http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/jan01/hague.html.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Gummer Of Great Britain
- ↑ The Norwegian Wikipedia article gives a different reason, alleging it was because of issues around the nuclear site in Sellafield, but unsourced, and no English-speaking source was found.
- ↑ "John Gummer claimed more than £9,000 a year for gardening on MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. 10 May 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5301734/John-Gummer-claimed-more-than-9000-a-year-for-gardening-on-MPs-expenses.html.
- ↑ John Gummer MP, Suffolk Coastal (TheyWorkForYou.com)
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Lewisham West|
1970 – Feb 1974
| Succeeded by|
|Member of Parliament for Eye|
1979 – 1983
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal|
1983 – present
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
1983 – 1985
| Succeeded by|
Title last held byCecil Parkinson
1984 – 1985
| Succeeded by|
|Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food|
1989 – 1993
| Succeeded by|
|Secretary of State for the Environment|
1993 – 1997
| Succeeded by|
as Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions