Paul Burstow

Paul Kenneth Burstow (born 13 May 1962) is a British former politician who served as the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam for 18 years, from 1997 to 2015, when he was defeated by Paul Scully.

Paul Burstow
Minister of State for Care Services
In office
11 May 2010  4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPhil Hope
Succeeded byNorman Lamb
Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats
In office
22 March 2006  11 May 2010
Preceded byAndrew Stunell
Succeeded byAlistair Carmichael
Member of Parliament
for Sutton and Cheam
In office
1 May 1997  30 March 2015
Preceded byOlga Maitland
Succeeded byPaul Scully
Personal details
Born (1962-05-13) 13 May 1962
Carshalton, England
Political partySocial Democratic Party (Before 1988)
Liberal Democrats (1988–present)
Spouse(s)Mary Everdell Kemm
Children1 son
2 daughters
Alma materSouth Bank Polytechnic

He was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Health in May 2010, and served in that position until September 2012.

Early life

Burstow was born in Carshalton in Surrey, son of a tailor, and was educated at Glastonbury High School for Boys,[1] a former boys' secondary modern school in Carshalton, followed by Carshalton College and the South Bank Polytechnic, where he obtained a degree in business studies. He started his career as a buying assistant with Allied Shoe Repairs in 1985. The following year he worked briefly in print sales with KallKwik Printers, before becoming a research assistant at the London Borough of Hounslow in 1987.

Politics before parliament

He was elected as a councillor for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to the Sutton Borough Council in 1986, and was its deputy leader from 1994 to 1997. Burstow remained a councillor for the Rosehill ward in Sutton until 2002, after his election to Parliament.

In 1988, he joined the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors as a campaigns officer; he then became its political secretary in 1996, where he remained until becoming an MP.

Election and parliamentary career

Burstow first contested the Sutton and Cheam Parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats at the 1992 General Election. He was defeated by the Conservative Lady Olga Maitland despite achieving one of the largest swings to the Liberal Democrats in London at that election.

He contested the seat again in 1997, this time being elected as its Liberal Democrat MP with a majority of 2,097. Burstow joined several other new Liberal Democrat MPs, for the party gained many other south-west London seats at that election.

He made his maiden speech on 16 May 1997, speaking passionately about the needs of blind and disabled people.[2] On his election, Burstow immediately became a party spokesman on the Environment under Paddy Ashdown. He became the spokesman on Social Security in 1999, on the election of Charles Kennedy as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

After the 2001 general election, Burstow became the Health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. He has been the parliamentary ambassador to the NSPCC since 2001. He was promoted to the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Health in 2003. He stepped down from the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet following the 2005 general election, but was appointed as the spokesman on London. On 22 March 2006, Liberal Democrat MPs elected him their Chief Whip.[3]

In 2003, The Guardian described Burstow as "One of the most knowledgeable and effective politicians on older people's issues".[4] He was voted by MPs as older people's champion in the epolitix Charity Champion awards[5] in December 2005.

Burstow introduced the Care of Older and Incapacitated People (Human Rights) Bill in January 2006. It provided proposals to increase the protection of vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect. In 2007, he introduced an Early Day Motion congratulating the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged on its 50th anniversary.[6]

Minister of State

At the 2010 general election Burstow was re-elected MP for Sutton and Cheam with a slim majority of 1,608 votes.[7] He was then appointed Minister of State in the Department of Health in the coalition government. He was responsible for care services and the elderly and mental health. He was responsible for developing the Government's mental health strategy and drafting the care provisions of the Care Act.[8]

In December 2010, he said he was "embarrassed" after being secretly taped by The Daily Telegraph saying voters should not trust David Cameron. Burstow told undercover reporters: "I don't want you to trust David Cameron... in the sense that you believe he's suddenly become a cuddly Liberal. Well, he hasn't. He's still a Conservative and he has values that I don't share."[9] He later told the BBC that he regretted the way his remarks had been construed, and that he had "full trust" in David Cameron.[9]

Burstow left the government in September 2012, and was replaced as Care Minister by Norman Lamb.[8] Burstow criticised plans to cut hospital services in London. Burstow said that a planned closure of a casualty and maternity unit in south-west London put patient safety at risk and warned that it was likely to lead to "more mothers giving birth in the back of their car".[10]

Subsequent career

He was appointed Chair of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust from November 2015, and was recently appointed for a second three year term. He is a Trustee of Action on Smoking and Health.

In 2016 he became a part-time professor of mental health policy at the University of Birmingham where he led a policy commission.[11]

Paul's interest in social care saw him appointed as Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence in July 2017 where he has worked to refresh the board of Trustees and develop the organisation's business strategy.[12]

Personal life

He married Mary Burstow, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Cheam,[13] in 1995; they have a son and two daughters. His interests include cooking, reading, and walking.[7]


  1. "Paul Burstow - Biography". Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  2. Paul Burstow's Maiden Speech Archived 6 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine - Hansard
  3. Lib Dems name Burstow chief whip - BBC News 22 March 2006
  4. The opposition Archived 31 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine - The Guardian 10 September 2003
  5. Paul Burstow Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine - 2005
  6. "National Benevolent Fund For The Aged". Early Day Motion number 878 in 2006-07, proposed by Paul Burstow. 8 February 2007. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  7. "Paul Burstow". Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  8. Prince, Rosa (7 September 2012). "Paul Burstow criticises 'dangerous and flawed' plans to close hospitals after being sacked as a health minister". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  9. "Lib Dem minister Paul Burstow 'embarrassed' over 'can't trust Cameron' comments". The Daily Telegraph. 23 December 2010. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  10. Cecil, Nicholas (7 September 2012). "'Dangerous and flawed': sacked minister Paul Burstow's verdict on hospital cuts". Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  11. "Birmingham University Policy Commissions". Archived from the original on 16 April 2019.
  12. "Paul Burstow announced as SCIE Chair". Social Care Institute for Excellence. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  13. "CLLR Mary Burstow". Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Olga Maitland
Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam
Succeeded by
Paul Scully
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Stunell
Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Alistair Carmichael
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