Who is Lee Anderson? Tory deputy chairman apologises to doctor falsely accused of striking

Who is Lee Anderson? Tory deputy chairman apologises to doctor falsely accused of striking

Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, has apologised to a doctor who was accused of being on strike when he was actually covering a shift.

The MP for Ashfield on Monday retweeted a link to a MailOnline article: Militant union leader at the heart of doctors strikes is a Labour activist who boasted of charging the NHS for a strike cover shift.

It is thought Mr Anderson added his own feelings to the Mail’s headline, although his original tweet has now been removed.

Mr Anderson has now said he accepted his tweet aimed at Dr James Dolphin was misleading and offered his apologies for “any distress caused”. He has posted a new message where he pledged a donation.

His second tweet read: “I accept that my words were misleading as the subject in question, Dr Tom Dolphin, was not on strike on the date of the shift in question but was simply covering a shift as a consultant for junior doctors who were on strike on August 11.

“I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to Dr Dolphin for any distress, upset caused.

“I will also like to add that I understand that Dr Dolphin actually donated his pay for the covered shift which I believe was £1,870 to the BMA strike fund and, whilst I do not agree with the strikes, I want to go on the record to say that I think it is a very unselfish act on the part of Dr Dolphin to put his money into something he strongly believes in.

“I will make the same contribution to compensate for the upset I may have caused Dr Dolphin”

Dr Dolphin has thanked Mr Anderson for his apology and donation, as has the BMA – the union that has been leading action against the government over pay and conditions this year.

Mr Anderson’s divisive outspokenness has helped him rise to the position of deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and won him a show on GB News, but has also got him in trouble along the way.

Who is Lee Anderson?

Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield since 2019, is the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. The so-called red wall Nottinghamshire seat had been a Labour stronghold since 1979.

He won the Conservative Home site's backbencher of the year award in 2022 and, on winning the award, was praised for his blunt views on Brexit, Travellers and poverty.

Mr Anderson worked as a coal miner for 10 years and then volunteered for Citizens Advice for another decade.

The 56-year-old is married to Sinead – a Tory councillor in Mansfield – and has two children from a previous marriage.

“From the Pits to Parliament,” he tweeted, after learning he had been made party chairman. “Feeling very proud.”

But it has not been plain sailing for the MP, who has previously been criticised for questioned the need for food banks and suggesting some people were using them out of choice rather than necessity.

Here are some of his antics and comments that made the headlines.

‘Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed’

A few days before his unexpected appointment, Mr Anderson stated his support for the reinstatement of the death penalty in an interview with The Spectator magazine, on the basis that capital punishment prevented people from committing further crimes.

Suspension from the council for blocking Travellers

After entering politics in 2015, Mr Anderson became a ward councillor for Labour on Ashfield District Council. However, he was suspended by the group in 2018 after using boulders to deter Travellers from setting up camp.

He defected to the Conservative Party soon after.

Asking a friend to pose as swing voter for photo call, then winning election

After Gloria De Piero stepped down, Ashfield needed a new MP. The Tories pinned their hopes on lifelong Nottinghamshire man Mr Anderson to win the seat.

He was joined on the campaign trail by Daily Mail commentator Michael Crick. Before completing an apparently random door knock, Mr Anderson was overheard and caught on microphone saying to his friend on the phone: “Make out you know who I am… you know I’m the candidate, but not a friend, all right?”

Nonetheless, 19,231 people voted to elect Mr Anderson as the seat's first Tory MP since the 1970s, one of several formerly safe Labour seats to go blue in 2019.

Antisemitism allegations

Later, in 2019, the new MP was among three Tories investigated over allegations of antisemitism.

The results of the probe were not made public but Mr Anderson did voluntarily taken part in training sessions on recognising antisemitism.

He was an active member of Ashfield Backs Boris, a Facebook group where Soros conspiracy theories have been promoted and which includes supporters of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

‘Let’s have them in a tent in the middle of a field’

Mr Anderson quickly established himself as a man with an opinion. He criticised Gary Lineker for “virtue signalling” when the football presenter hosted a refugee in his home and said meals could be made from scratch “for about 30 pence a day” – earning him the nickname “30p Lee”.

“Generation after generation” of people “cannot budget” or make meals properly, he told the Commons, as food prices rose to their highest level in 30 years.

In the run-up to the 2019 election, he said he wanted “nuisance tenants” to be living in a tent in the middle of a field. He also wanted them to be forced to pick potatoes from 6am every morning.

Using his case worker to make a political point

Continuing on from his 30p Lee rhetoric, Mr Anderson used the example of one of his staff to prove his point.

He wrote on Twitter: “Katy works for me. She is single and earns less than 30k, rents a room for £775pcm in central London, has student debt, £120 a month on travelling to work, saves money every month, goes on foreign holidays and does not need to use a food bank. Katy makes my point really well.”

Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone accused him of using his staff as a “political football”, while others pointed out the woman concerned did not have children.

One-man protest against England team kneeling before games

Mr Anderson said he would refuse to watch any of the England men’s football team’s games at Euro 2020 because of the players kneeling to support black rights causes.

Forgetting who is prime minister

At the Conservative Party conference in 2022, Mr Anderson had an unfortunate foot-in-mouth moment when he mistakenly said the Tories’ leader was Theresa May.

“We had Brexit, we had Boris, we had Jeremy Corbyn, that was three years ago, now it is a different ball game under Theresa May.” He was, of course, referring to Liz Truss rather than Mrs May, who was prime minister between 2016 and 2019.

Mr Anderson had been a loyal Boris Johnson supporter but said, “I feel like I’m dumping on my own family” upon calling for him to go last year.

Squaring up to Steve ‘stop Brexit’ Bray

As a long-time Eurosceptic, it seemed unlikely that Mr Anderson would be friendly to a man who perpetually campaigned for Brexit to be reversed.

However, when confronted in Westminster in January, Mr Anderson stepped things up. He pointed at Mr Bray and called him a “parasite” and a “delinquent” before swiping his hat.

A video shared on Twitter showed the scuffle as Mr Bray took his hat back, calling Mr Anderson “a piece of s***”, before smoking a cigarette as the MP was ushered inside a building.

Later on, Mr Anderson said he would be prepared to enter the ring with Mr Bray for a charity boxing match.

‘I wouldn’t follow Eddie Izzard into the toilets’

Mr Anderson courted further controversy in October 2022, after he misgendered trans comedian and prospective Labour candidate Eddie Izzard.

“Is that what’s coming to Parliament?” he told Talk TV. “I think it opens a whole new debate, mate. I’m going to be honest now, controversial as always, if [she] does get elected and I’m still here, I shouldn’t be following [her] into the toilets.”

Lee Anderson holds forth with his opinions in Parliament (UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / PA Wire)
Lee Anderson holds forth with his opinions in Parliament (UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / PA Wire)

Mocking man for ‘one Twitter follower’ then watching as his own count is beaten

In January, careworker Chris Delaney disagreed online with Mr Anderson’s post, to which the MP responded: “[You are] hardly an influencer are you when even your friends refuse to follow you. Assuming you have friends.”

A few days and a lot of exposure later, Mr Delaney had 44,217 Twitter followers compared with Mr Anderson’s 44,203.

Claiming people are using food banks as a ‘free weekly shop’

He said at a Westminster debate: “We have got this culture now in some of these deprived areas where people are so dependent on food banks it is like a weekly shop for them.

“One particular family I was helping, really helping, and they were going to the food bank two or three times a week to get their groceries and then, you know, I see them in McDonald’s two or three times a week.”

Clash with Sir Mark Rowley

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley clashed with Lee Anderson and called the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party “personally offensive”.

The pair debated what the Met can do to stop disruptive eco-protests at a session of Parliament’s home affairs committee in April.

Sir Mark claimed his questioner had only a “partial understanding of the law”.

‘F*** off back to France’

In an expletive rant, Mr Anderson shared his frustration when 20 asylum seekers had received a last-minute reprieve from joining the Bibby Stockholm housing vessel in August.

“If they don’t like barges then they should f** off back to France,” he said.

Apology over comment aimed at doctor

In November, Anderson shared a MailOnline story along with his own message that criticised a doctor for striking when in fact he had been covering a colleague.

He deleted the post and apologised, adding that he would help pay towards a fund for doctors who have lost out in strike action.