Damien Green is the Second-Most Powerful Politician in Britain. But Who is Damien Green?

Damien Green is the Second-Most Powerful Politician in Britain. But Who is Damien Green?

Damien Green is the second-most powerful politician in Britain. And yet, prior to deciding to write this article, if you had asked me “Who is Damien Green?”, I fear I might have replied “Isn’t he a goalkeeper?”. In my mind, Theresa May was stood on her own when she signed the DUP agreement. I remember Jeremy Hunt being on May’s right-hand man for the first PMQ’s after the snap election. When she couldn’t make it one Wednesday in July, I thought Phillip Hammond stepped in. It turns out in all of these cases, I was wrong. In all of these cases, present was a man called Damien Green. Green is the standing Minister for the Cabinet Office, and the First Secretary of State, making him officially The Man Who Is In Charge If Theresa Calls In Sick. I would like to think I’m reasonably clued up on British politics, but I recognised neither Green’s name nor face. Yet there he was, floating in plain sight, completely absent from my recollection. You know that episode of Doctor Who with the aliens who edit themselves out of your memory the moment you aren’t looking at them? Spotting Green at May’s side over and over made me wonder whether one of them had joined the Conservative Party. He isn’t controversial, he isn’t full of soundbites, he isn’t even David Davis. He’s an anonymous anomaly in a highly public world. And that’s why I think it’s important we ask, just who is Damien Green?

Probably the poshest person to ever come out of Barry Island, Green has a background in economics and accounting, and was a financial journalist prior to entering politics in 1984. He apparently presented shows for Channel 4 and the BBC for a cumulative span of nine years, but no record of these shows exist, likely even in the memories of those who watched them. Having always apparently harboured political aspirations, Green went on to work for the John Major administration. In this period, he combined working as a financial advisor with a role as one of Major’s major speech writers, which gives you a very good idea of his level of wit and charisma. In fact, Major is about the only noteworthy player in world history for whom it makes sense to have had most of the words he spoke handed to him by a charted accountant.

Green ran for parliament in 1997, won, and has been a steady member of the Conservative Party ever since. In twenty years as a Tory MP, his record is very consistent with the party line. Since they took Downing Street in 2010, Green has not once rebelled against the party. He was for same-sex marriage, against raising welfare benefits, and has generally been absent for votes on making parliament more transparent. Nine times out of ten, Green has skipped the session on letting the public know their private business. Normally, I’d take this as a clear sign an MP is hoarding cash under his sink to give out to the hookers dressed as horses he greets every Tuesday. However, with Green, I honestly believe he just forgot there was a vote on that day. For a figure who has been up and down from the front bench like a footballer dealing with rolling subs and a hyperactive manager, his career has been very light on scandal. He has arrested in 2008 for “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office”, but the case was never a big deal, and ultimately dropped for “Insufficient evidence”. That’s as far as his list of naughty-doing goes. Frankly, it’s nothing. It’s not far off a Tory right of passage. Not one instance of him being caught on camera saying the only good thing about having black people in Britain is that they come in handy during the Olympics, or that he wishes Lidl would start lacing their baked goods with rat poison in the hope they catch out a few more poor people. Nothing. He’s had a controversy-free career, a real rarity in this day of twenty-four hour rolling scrutiny.

In a career without headlines, the most interesting part of The Damien Green Saga comes before he ever had the chance to vote against nationalising the rail service. Obviously Oxford educated, Damien Green is that rarest of things; a staunch Tory from a state-funded school. He went on to become President of the Oxford Union (Essentially a debating society for the young and right-wing). One evening, a very green Green was one day walking back from a dinner date with another young undergraduate when a group cornered him. Grabbing him, they threw him twelve feet into the River Cherwell as punishment for the great crime that is attending a state school. Green only broke his wrist, but if a Telegraph article on the topic is to be believed, he was inches away from landing on some rusty spikes and dying in a manner that could be described as “Sonic the Hedgehog-esque”.

Theresa May, just as I remembered, stood absolutely on her own.

Understandably, it didn’t work out with the girl who set this up. Soon enough, Green began seeing a young lady by the name of Alicia Collinson, whom met through the Oxford Union. I’ve never had an all-Tory romantic evening, but I imagine they save fox hunting for the second date and do the classic combination of lobster dinner and a close analysis of movement on daddy’s stocks. Romance blossomed between the pair, and Alicia was even quoted in student paper The Cherwell as saying “[Green]’s got a very strong sex drive, he’s just not all that discriminating”. As they began to spend more and more time together, Green got to better-know Collinson’s best friend, a young Geography student by the name of Theresa May. Green and May both shared political ambitions, with Collinson saying she remembers one morning, over breakfast, May telling her she dreamt of one day becoming Prime Minister. May was apparently a very hard-working pupil, but never the top of her class, so a few ‘F’s may well have fallen into her grade list along the way.

The three became very close, and have remained so ever since. Collinson and Green wed at a country manner in 1988, and May was there, presumably for the surrounding fields of wheat. In the fall-out of this year’s General Election, May clearly decided her best move was to surround herself with people she can trust, and Boris Johnson. So, days later, her old university pal Damo gets the spare set of keys to the country. I’m not going to say Green’s appointment was nepotism, but let’s just say I don’t think even Green himself anticipates remaining in the cabinet once it’s no longer Theresa’s call. To say this kind of political favouritism is unheard of, or even rare, would be wrong, but I do feel Green’s case is fairly unique. He’s not a man who climbed to his position in the way you may perhaps expect of a man with his apparent sexual appetite. He didn’t get here off his family’s money, influence or reputation. It wasn’t even a case of a huge web of connections, stretching all of politics. He got his ‘break’ because he was a loyal friend to one person for over thirty years. When that one person needed a loyal friend most, she brought him closer. You can argue the case for nepotism, but in a political climate that almost celebrates and necessitates Frank Underwood-tier backstabbing, I think there’s something admirable about Green’s path to the top.

I am a member of both the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, so I can only really claim to be unbiased about 50% of the political spectrum, but I think that just makes it all the more remarkable that, after all I’ve read, I actually quite like Damien Green. He’s like the quiet guy in your group who always knows when the last bus is. He’s forged a way to the top of politics without screwing anyone over or causing offense. In fact, the only people he did upset were other Tories for not being posh enough. It helps, too, that he’s a huge fan of my favourite band, obscure/ingenious Wirral outfit Half Man Half Biscuit, to the degree it’s in his Twitter bio and he wore a Dulka Praga away kit to a festival last year in reference to a track on the band’s first album. Whilst I hope the irony that the song he’s referencing is about a rich kid who profited off unfair favouritism isn’t lost on him, I won’t hold it against him. Damien Green is that rarest of things: A staunch Tory whose being in power makes me kinda proud. I may not have known the name Damien Green before, but if I forget about him now, I think we can say for certain the Conservative Party has recruited memory-wiping aliens after all.

Nick Clegg apologist.

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