David Shaw, who died aged 71 after a long illness, became a Conservative Dover MP for over 10 years until his defeat in 1997 as one of the most controversial members of the House of Commons.
Despite his assiduous participation in committees and pioneering use of the internet in Westminster, Shaw has cultivated the image of a bullet-headed partisan.
Firmly to the right of his party, he campaigned for tougher abortion controls, sporting ties to white South Africa, the return of the death penalty and the privatization of British Rail. In 1996 he tried to include a teacher dress code in Gillian Shephard’s education bill.
But he went further, having been branded the Commons “number one libel dealer” (by Labout MP David Winnick) after responding to the Westminster Council’s “houses for votes” scandal by accusing a Labor councilor of corruption.
Shaw blamed the fire that closed the Channel Tunnel in 1996 from sabotage by a surprising French truck driver and, attempting a comeback five years later, suggested that popular Labor Minister Mo Mowlam’s fatal brain tumor was due. to excessive drug inhalation.
The Tunnel – which he opposed even before he was selected for Dover and was not popular in the city – was a prime target for Shaw. During his excavations he claimed that Irish tunnelers were raising funds for the IRA and, after its completion in 1994, he tried to shut it down when the electrical grids preventing the passage of rabid animals had to be turned off after the water that dripping from the trucks had caused them to short out.
However, Shaw – outside of politics an accountant who developed a successful corporate finance boutique – at the start of construction in 1987 cunningly predicted that if the cost increased, Eurotunnel’s investors would have next to nothing left.
In common with any other Dover MP, he has had to deal with the strained relationship between P&O Ferries and its quarrelsome workforce. He had no doubt which side he was on; in 1988, Labor threatened to suspend customary parliamentary courtesies after Shaw accused the party’s National Executive Committee of supporting “violence and intimidation” by striking crew members.
Tony Benn ironically remarked that if P&O had been involved in Shaw’s selection, they had “made a wise choice”. It is no coincidence that the Labor candidate who nearly took Dover from him in 1992, then the next time with a five-figure majority, was a ferryman: Gwyn Prosser, chief engineer of P&O rival Sealink.
Shaw also had the misfortune of hiring an unpaid part-time researcher in late 1988, after an introduction from the editor of Boardroom magazine. It was Pamella Bordes, exposed shortly after by the tabloids as a call girl dating two national newspaper editors, a young Tory minister and a Saudi arms dealer. Unaware of these other talents, Shaw had secured her a Commons pass to help with a bill she was promoting to end the Net Book pricing deal.
In connection with the Bordes episode, Shaw tried to snatch a camera from a photographer for Today, the newspaper that branded him as “Britain’s vilest lawmaker”. He was fined £ 180 for assault, Judge Percy Harris claimed he “acted like a child fighting for his favorite toy” and that his defense of him was “far-fetched and specious”.
David Lawrence Shaw was born in Hampton Court on November 14, 1950, the son of an international marketing executive and volunteer.
Educated at King’s College School, Wimbledon and the City of London Polytechnic, Shaw joined Coopers & Lybrand in 1970, earning his qualifications as an accountant in 1974. Since 1979 he has been a merchant banker at County Bank.
In 1983 Shaw founded corporate financial advisors Sabrelance, building the business over three decades.
He joined the Young Conservatives in Twickenham and was elected to the Kingston upon Thames council in 1974. Over the next four years he reorganized his management structure to save £ 250,000 a year.
In the 1979 election he fought against Leigh’s secure Labor seat. He wrote a first article for the Bow Group on how British Gas could be privatized, chaired the Group in 1983-84 and founded its Transatlantic Conference.
Shaw was selected for Dover in 1986 after former cabinet minister Peter Rees announced his retirement; he rose to the polls the following year with a reduced majority of 6,541. He was considered the new parliamentarian with the most executive positions: 13.
Since 1991 Shaw has served on the Social Security Select Committee. He also chaired the Conservative Small Business Committee and the All-Party Dolphin Committee.
In the 1992 election, Prosser reduced Shaw’s majority to 833. And in 1997, when New Labor came to power under Tony Blair, it captured Dover with 11,739 votes.
This was not the end of Shaw’s political career. He tried for several seats and for the 2001 election was chosen to face future Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey on the familiar grounds of Kingston and Surbiton.
The Conservatives had lost their seat in 1997 by just 56 votes and had every confidence to win it back. But in one of the most extraordinary results of an election that generated minimal national swing, Davey’s majority shot to 15,676 while Shaw’s candidacy bleeding 6,000 Conservative votes.
Shaw was vice president of the Institute of Patentees and Inventors; an active member of the Quoted Companies’ Alliance, the Business Council for International Understanding and the International Trade and Investment Center; and senior advisor to the Center for Global Economic Growth in Washington. From 2004 to 2017 he also administered his own charitable foundation, for the benefit of young people.
David Shaw married Dr. Lesley Brown in 1986; she outlives him with her son and daughter. His son’s birth in September 1989 coincided with the IRA bombing of the Royal Marines’ music school in Deal, with the loss of 11 lives; Shaw left his wife’s bedside in London to care for the wounded.
Her daughter, Annabel, turned to the 2009 Conservative Conference at just 15, getting an ovation when she said Gordon Brown needed to apologize to his generation for “mishandling” the economy.
David Shaw, born November 14, 1950, died August 23, 2022