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Patrick Mercer

Patrick John Mercer OBE (born 26 June 1956) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He is Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Newark.

Born in Stockport, Cheshire Patrick Mercer is the son of Eric Arthur John Mercer, who became Bishop of Exeter. His mother was born in Lincolnshire. He was educated at The King's School, Chester and went on to read History at Exeter College, Oxford. He later studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

British Army officer

He followed his father, who had served in the Sherwood Foresters regiment, into the British Army, being commissioned into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment in 1975. During his time in the Army, Mercer completed nine tours in Northern Ireland and latterly commanded his battalion in Bosnia, Canada, Germany, Tidworth and Uganda. Mercer served as an instructor at both the Staff College Camberley and at the Army’s University at Cranfield.

Mercer was Mentioned in Despatches in 1983 whilst 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. Mercer was the target of two IRA assassination attempts, which are detailed in the books Dirty War and Trigger Men, both by Martin Dillon.

Journalist

Mercer left the army in 1999 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and accepted a post as the Defence Reporter for BBC Radio 4’s "Today Programme." Mercer reported from a number of trouble spots, most notably Kosovo.

Upon being selected as the Conservative candidate in Newark, Mercer left the BBC and became a freelance journalist writing for the Daily Telegraph.

MP for Newark

Mercer was first elected to parliament at the 2001 general election, defeating the Labour incumbent, Fiona Jones, who had been embroiled in an electoral controversy when she was first elected in 1997. Mercer was appointed to post of Shadow Minister for Homeland Security in June 2003 by the then-Leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith.

The post of Shadow Minister for Homeland Security does not have an immediate equivalent in government. The Rt Hon Adam Ingram, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces whom Mercer scrutinizes as part of his brief, commented in September 2003 that "I note that he calls himself a Shadow Minister, but he is more of a ghost Minister, because he does not have a department to shadow."

In 2004 he attempted to introduce a Private Member's Bill in response to the publicity surrounding the case of Tony Martin that proposed to give householders greater powers when protecting their property from burglary. This Bill failed to become law as his party did not support it.

Race row resignation

On March 8, 2007, Mercer made the following statements in an interview in The Times:

I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours. I remember one guy from St Anne's (Nottingham) who was constantly absent and who had a lot of girlfriends. When he came back one day I asked him why, and he would say: 'I was racially abused'. And we'd say: 'No you weren't, you were off with your girlfriends again'.

I had five company sergeant majors who were all black. They were without exception UK-born, Nottingham-born men who were English - as English as you and me... They prospered inside my regiment, but if you'd said to them: 'Have you ever been called a nigger?' they would have said: 'Yes'. But equally, a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time - a far harder time than a black man, in fact. But that's the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you'd get people shouting: 'Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard'.

In my experience, when you put on the uniform then all differences disappear. If you are a good soldier, you will do well. If you are a bad soldier, you will leave prematurely. There is a degree of colour-blindness among the vast majority of soldiers. I never came across a piece of nastiness inside the battalion that was based exclusively on racism.

Mr Mercer was forced to resign, with Tory leader David Cameron responding to the remarks, saying "The comments made by Patrick Mercer are completely unacceptable and I regret that they were made. We should not tolerate racism in the Army or in any walk of life. Patrick Mercer is no longer a shadow minister.

Mr Mercer was criticised by fellow Tory MP, Alan Duncan, who said he "appeared to be indifferent to the fact that someone was taunted for being black."

However, Mr Mercer's former army colleague, Leroy Hutchinson, a black ex-Corporal defended his remarks saying "He never tolerated racism in the battalion and not a single one of his men would consider him to be racist.", adding "In the forces... name-calling - whether you be black, white, ginger, red, brown - it is part of the establishment."

Personal life

Mercer lives just outside Newark with his wife Cait, son Rupert and pet dog Hector. A historian by training, Mercer's interests include British 18th and 19th Century History, watercolour painting and country sports. With two books published to date, Mercer is currently working on a television documentary and another historical volume.

Publications

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References

External links

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