Steven Norris

Steven John Norris (born May 24 1945 in Liverpool) is a British Conservative politician. He was the official Conservative candidate for Mayor of London in 2000 and 2004, reducing the gap between Mayor Livingstone and himself and attracting sufficient second preference votes to achieve 45% of the vote on the final ballot in 2004.

A former Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, he was chair of the transport working group in Conservative Party leader David Cameron's Quality of Life Commission.

Early life and career

Steven Norris attended the famous and well-respected grammar school, Liverpool Institute for Boys from 1956 to 1963, a prefect and in his last year Head Boy. He took an open Exhibition in Social Studies and graduated from Worcester College, Oxford University, where he was a member of the Labour club. After graduating he pursued a career in the engineering and motor industries and entered politics when he was elected on to Berkshire County Council in 1977.

Parliamentary and ministerial career

He became the Member of Parliament for Oxford East in 1983. After narrowly losing that seat in 1987, he re-entered the House of Commons at a by-election for Epping Forest in 1988. He served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary for William Waldegrave at the Department of Environment, Nicholas Ridley as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Kenneth Baker as Home Secretary before being promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport and Minister for Transport in London by John Major in 1992, where he was responsible for the Jubilee Line Extension, the largest extension of the London Underground network to date.

Norris became known in particular for his interest in public transport. He is, or has been, Chairman of the National Cycling Strategy Board, Director General of the Road Haulage Association and President of the Motor Cycle Industry Association and a patron of the cyclists charity, Sustrans and of the Campaign for Better Transport (UK) Trust.

Personal life

Twice married, and the father of three children, Norris's colourful private life has been well reported in the UK tabloids. In 1993 stories circulated of several previous mistresses, although he claimed this had taken place over a period of 25 years. This earned him the nickname of "Shagger Norris" in some quarters.Despite this he remained as a minister largely because he was popular with colleagues and was highly regarded by his officials.

London Mayoral bids

In 1996 he published his autobiography 'Changing Trains' in which he first expressed an interest in running to be Mayor of London. He stood down from Parliament at the 1997 General Election to pursue business interests.


In 1999, Norris was pitted against writer Jeffrey Archer in the race to become Tory candidate for mayor of London. The battle was bitterly fought with Norris at one point remarking to a Tory colleague that he would never support Archer "alive or dead". Archer was selected, but withdrew in 1999 after it was revealed that he had committed perjury in a libel case. Archer was subsequently convicted and imprisoned. Norris was selected as the Conservative party candidate in a ballot of Conservative Party members in London at the end of that year. In the Mayoral election itself, he came in second with 42% in the final round, losing to temporarily independent but former- and future-Labour member Ken Livingstone.


In February 2003 he was again selected as Conservative mayoral candidate for the next elections in 2004. His platform included promises to open the Tube until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and a "zero tolerance" approach to crime adapted from New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he met to discuss strategies to combat crime in April 2004. The 2004 election saw him increase his share of the vote, in contrast to the London-wide vote of Conservative candidates for the London Assembly which fell two percentage points compared to 2000.

Possible future candidacy

After speculation he would run again in 2008, Norris declined to put his name forward in time for the deadline for nominations to be submitted, initially scheduled for August 4 2006. The day following Norris's announcement the Tory leader David Cameron extended the deadline for nominations in the hope of attracting a heavyweight candidate. Norris did not rule out being the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London in the 2008 Mayoral election. In an interview on February 22 2007, Mr. Norris demonstrated his continued interest in, and passion for, the Mayoralty. He concluded by saying: "If I run, I'll win." However, he did not hand in his nomination papers for the new later Conservative Party deadline of July 16 2007, and Boris Johnson was later selected.

Business career

Norris is unusual in that he has combined a career in politics with a successful career in business. Although he was much criticised for it at the time he took on the chairmanship of Jarvis plc, the quoted construction and rail engineering giant when it was in financial meltdown following the Potters Bar rail disaster in 2002 and the poor performance of its main construction business. He is widely credited with having done a good job in rescuing the company from almost certain bankruptcy. He is currently Executive Chairman. He is also Chairman of Balmer Lindley Holdings Ltd, and AMT-Sybex Ltd. He is Senior Independent Director of ITIS Holdings Ltd and a non-executive director of a number of other private companies.


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