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Patrick Mercer, former Member of Parliament for Newark, previously worked as a journalist and as a soldier with the British Army.
Patrick Mercer has a reputation as a lively and uncompromising British conservative politician, whose fascinating career experiences and robust political engagement on security and anti-terrorist issues make him a formidable, direct ‘no-nonsense’ speaker.
Patrick Mercer read History at Oxford University before following his father’s example and joining the British Army, being commissioned into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment in 1975. He completed nine tours in Northern Ireland and commanded his battalion in Bosnia, Canada and Tidworth.
He was mentioned in despatches in 1983 while serving in Northern Ireland and earned a gallantry commendation in 1990 and the MBE in 1992. In 1997 he received the OBE for services in Bosnia. He left the Army in 1999 as a Colonel, having been head of communications and strategy at the Army Training & Recruiting Agency.
He then became the Defence Correspondent for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and worked as a freelance for the Daily Telegraph; this involved him reporting from many trouble-spots, including Kosovo and East Timor where he helped design newly independent East Timor’s first national defence policy.
In 2001 he was Member of Parliament for Newark in the English Midlands, defeating the Labour candidate in a strong personal success. After serving as a back-bencher on the Defence Select Committee he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. In 2003 he took up a senior new opposition position as Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, a position he held until March 2007 when he resigned following a controversy over remarks made about race relations in the Armed Forces.
In 2004 Mercer introduced a Private Member’s Bill intended to give stronger legal protection to householders defending their property from burglars; this initiative received much popular support but did not proceed after the 2005 general elections.
Patrick Mercer is now known for his clear and uncompromising conservative positions on defence and intelligence issues. He supported the Iraq intervention and opposes further European Union powers, favouring a strong national UK defence effort. On domestic questions he has opposed the introduction of a national identity card scheme and favours reduced central state control of education.
His novel To Do and Die was praised by Bernard Cornwell: ‘A tremendous achievement by a storyteller who knows the humour, the fear and the frenzy of men in battle.’
Patrick Mercer has firm convictions and trenchant views, drawn from his unusually varied career often spent applying policies to tough real-life military and anti-terrorist circumstances in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. He speaks fluently and with passion, including memorable and thought-provoking examples from past and present where lethal force has been used, for better or worse.
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