By Connor Steel
GOSPORT MP Caroline Dinenage has been rewarded for public and political service as she was named as a Dame in the New Year Honours, with a separate list of political honours released on Friday evening by Downing Street.
The honour, which is equivalent to a knighthood, was awarded to Dinenage as she approaches twenty-five years in UK politics at various levels, first being elected as the youngest member in Winchester District Council in 1998.
Her first attempt at becoming a Westminster Member of Parliament fell short, contesting in the Portsmouth South Constituency and losing to the Liberal Democrats candidate Mike Hancock at the General Election of 2005.
But Dinenage recovered and was elected to represent Gosport five years later, replacing retired Sir Peter Viggers with an increased majority of 14,413 votes in May 2010; the Conservatives coming to power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
In the three elections since Dinenage has held her seat as Gosport MP with relative ease and has gradually increased her majority, which stood at 23,278 at the last national vote held in December 2019 as the Tories swept to a landslide victory overall.
Under her leadership in Gosport, the town has seen campaign victories such as securing ‘Enterprise Zone’ status for the disused Daedalus site in 2010 and the Government indefinitely delaying the proposed closure of HMS Sultan two years ago.
Dinenage has served under three Prime Ministers during her tenure as Gosport MP, becoming a member of many departments in Government. This included roles as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Government Equalities Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions.
In January 2018 Dinenage received a promotion to become Minister of State for Social Care under Theresa May’s minority Government, a role she held for two years. During this time she launched the Carers Action Plan and introduced plans for learning disability / autism training mandatory for all social care professionals.
Boris Johnson moved Dinenage across to become a Minister for Digital and Culture in the post-Brexit reshuffle of February 2020, the MP being thrown straight in action as she helped secure the £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund following the Covid-19 outbreak. She then fulfilled ministerial responsibility for the Online Safety Bill published in 2021 as a draft form.
Losing her job in the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport in mid-September, Dinenage has returned to the backbenchers where she has made several contributions on a range on varying local and national matters. In Gosport she has held surgeries and regular events including her annual ‘Best Independent Shop’ competition.
And she has now been rewarded for this high level of public service in becoming a Dame; Her Majesty the Queen signalling intent ‘of conferring the following Honour of DBE’ upon the Gosport MP. This will be finalised in a ceremony to be held later this year.
Dinenage was chuffed when the news was confirmed by her husband Mark Lancaster, a member of the House of Lords, and told Portsmouth News in a quick statement over the Bank Holiday weekend: “I feel humbled and very chuffed. 2022 certainly kicked off in an unexpected way”.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have represented my lovely Gosport constituency for 11 years and to have served as a minister for so long in six government departments. I’ve worked alongside brilliant and dedicated people locally and across government, who deserve most of the credit for this”.
At the time of writing Dinenage has not made any further comment about her damehood on her website or social media, but she has joined fellow reshuffle victim Robert Buckland as he received a Knighthood for his own service to public service. This confirmation is available on the linked press release from 10 Downing Street.
PICTURED BY MARK KERRISON (ALARMY STOCK IMAGE): Caroline Dinenage MP leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care during the reshuffle of junior ministers by Prime Minister Theresa May.