The Knitting Circle

The Knitting Circle: Parliamentarians

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Biography, writing, press cuttings.

Alan Duncan

Born 31st. March, 1957.

British Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, 1992 -.

Full name: Alan James Carter Duncan

His father, J. G. Duncan OBE, was an RAF wing commander. His mother, Anne Duncan (née Carter), was a teacher.

He went to school at Merchant Taylor's School.

He studied at St John's College at Oxford University. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1979, and he was also president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was cox for his college first eight rowing team.

He worked for Shell International Petroleum from 1979 to 1981.

He was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard University from 1981 to 1982.

He became an oil trader, working with Marc Rich & Co from 1982 to 1988, including a period in Singapore from 1984 to 1986. Marc Rich was later prosecuted in the US for tax fraud. From 1988 Alan Duncan became a self-employed oil trader and consultant for the oil supply and refining industries. He acquired over £1m through taking advantage of the need to supply oil by tankers to Pakistan when Kuwait's supplies were curtailed by the Gulf war.

He was the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Barnsley West and Penistone in 1987. He became the MP for Rutland and Melton in Leicestershire in 1992.

Within two hours of Margaret Thatcher announcing her resignation in November 1990 Alan Duncan offered his home in Gayfere Street, Westminster, as the headquarters for John Major's campaign for the leadership.

His first government job was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health in December 1993. He resigned from the post in January 1994.

He was a member of the Select Committee on Social Security from 1993 to 1995.

In 1995 he set out his political views in the book Saturn's Children in which he called for a minimalist state where taxes were collected only for defence and health. He also made the case for legalising hard and soft drugs.

From 1995 to 1997 he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Brian Mawhinney who was then the Conservative Party chair. Alan Duncan was caught on camera making a citizen's arrest on a protester who threw a pot of paint at Brian Mawhinney.

From 1997 to 1998 Alan Duncan was the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.

In 1997 he was the Parliamentary Political Secretary to the MP William Hague (who was later to become the leader of the Conservative Party). For a while they shared a flat.

He was appointed as an opposition spokesman on health from 1998 to 1999, and on trade and industry from 1999 to 2001.

He was part of the team for Michael Portillo's campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party after William Hague resigned. When Michael Portillo dropped out of the race Alan Duncan was taken on by Iain Duncan Smith's campaign team.

He was appointed a shadow Foreign Affairs minister by Iain Duncan Smith in 2001.

Outing

Senior Conservative Party colleagues had been aware of Alan Duncan's sexuality for some time, and there has been speculation that he was held back from advancement within the Party because of it.

In 2000 a web page was published entitled "WHICH OF THESE TORY MPs ARE GAY HYPOCRITES?", and described itself as "NEWS RELEASE 4 - 22-09-00". It displayed the names and photographs of eight Conservative Party MPs including Alan Duncan. The web page continued:

"All these MPs advocate discrimination against homosexuals."

"We are fed up with the Tory Party being shamed by two-faced hypocritical MPs who are gay in private but anti gay in public."

"All eight Tory MPs named today support Section 28 and the ban on gay marriage."

However, in 2002 Alan Duncan seemed to come out publicly in his own way and in his own time. Without any trumpeting of the event he declared his sexuality in an interview article in The Times on Monday 29th. July, 2002. On that morning the later editions of the other UK national newspapers also mentioned the public revelation and it became the lead item on radio and television news bulletins.

He was first Conservative Party MP who had come out public as gay while in office through his own choice. Michael Brown had been outed by the newspapers without his consent in 1994. Michael Portillo was not an MP in 1999 when that he said that he had had "homosexual experiences" in his youth. Matthew Parris did not come out publicly as gay until after he had ceased to be a Conservative Party MP.

The political commentators noted that Alan Duncan's public declaration of his sexuality followed a few days after the leader of the Conservative Party (Iain Duncan Smith) had reshuffled his shadow cabinet and there had been some tension between traditionalists and the modernisers in the Party. Alan Duncan was seen as a moderniser who had supported the reduction of the age of consent for gay sex to 16, and had also talked of liberalising the drugs laws. Some political commentators saw the coming out as heralding a new phase in the Party.

Alan Duncan held his seat in the general election on 5th. May 2005 with a majority of 12930. He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport by Michael Howard. Alan Duncan was seen as a possible contender for the leadership of the Conservative Party when Michael Howard announced that he would be standing down.


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First uploaded 4th. August, 2002.

Last altered 15th. May, 2005.