Rollercoaster ride for Chief Whip

editorial image

“It’s been a roller coaster and the most fascinating period to be involved in politics,” explains Patrick McLoughlin MP, summing up his 25 year-milestone in the House of Commons in just one sentence.

The Derbyshire Dales representative this year celebrated a quarter of a century as the region’s top politician, and looks back with some fond memories.

The 54 year-old is the 18th longest-serving current member of the Tory party, has served as private secretary to the Minister of State at the Department for Education and Science, then to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has served in the Department of Transport, Department of Employment, and has worked or opposed five Prime Ministers in total, including David Cameron whom he now works closely with on a daily basis as the Government’s Chief Whip.

He even has his office at number 9 Downing Street – a far cry from his hometown of Cannock in Staffordshire where he once worked as a miner at the Littleton Colliery.

He now lives in Quardon near Derby but spent five years as a resident of Matlock.

He has a son and a daughter with his wife Lynn, who works as his assistant at the constituency office on Matlock’s Rutland Street.

And it’s his constituency that the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin prefers to talk about, rather than the prestige of front-line politics.

“There’s what you do in politics on the national stage, and then there’s what you do in your constituency,” he says.

“One of the challenges in a place like the Derbyshire Dales is the size of it, it’s a huge constituency and it’s so beautiful.

“Being available has been a challenge, but it’s really rewarding. No two days are ever the same.”

Like all politicians there have been some forgettable moments.

Most notably, there was the expenses scandal of 2009, and last year when he hit the national headlines for being reprimanded in a schoolboy manner by the Speaker of the Commons after he was adjudged to have spoken out of turn.

But amongst the day-to-day business of British politics there have been some particular memories that bring a smile to his face.

Most recently, he was paid a visit by Oscar-winning American actress Meryl Streep, who was researching her role as Margaret Thatcher in the anticipated biopic, The Iron Lady, and was even involved on set.

“It was absolutely fascinating,” he explained. “It was January last year when she came to my office, she was marvellous, asking questions about Mrs Thatcher. She had done a huge amount of back reading for it.

“We talked for a while and were asked to advise on the set to get the chamber of the House of Commons right. In a day’s filming they got about 90 seconds, which is incredible.”

Margaret Thatcher also played a part in one of his earliest political memories, during the first day he entered the House of Commons back in 1986.

His wife and mother both joined him when they were all invited by the Prime Minister to meet her in her office.

Mr McLoughlin said: “My mother had never met a senior politician ever in her life, and all of sudden we are with the Prime Minister in her office.

“I sat on one settee with Norman Tebbit, and on the other sat my mother and Mrs Thatcher.

“Within two minutes they were gassing away like a pair of fishwives, I couldn’t get a word in edge ways! It was just surreal.”

But while it’s obvious he cherishes the countless memories of his 25 years, he is still looking to the future.

“It’s been a great privilege to have been a member of parliament in West Derbyshire and Derbyshire Dales. I would like to carry on being a good member of parliament, I enjoy being the Chief Whip and will see what happens in the future.”