Our series on key politicians in the coalition government continues with a look at the financial secretary to the Treasury
Hoban describes his first month under the coalition banner as a "baptism of fire" as both sides overcame teething problems to forge a united front on tackling the defi cit. After recently criticising the US for its fiscal policies, No 10 received a phone call from a concerned White House so Hoban has certainly been making an impact. He also faced criticism for comparing a financial advisory qualifi cation to a diploma in shift management from McDonald's. As financial secretary to the Treasury, Hoban has played a central role in the decisions on departmental spending. He appreciates that the government's strategy will be an unwelcome measure among some of the public, but maintains that shying away from the financial problems now will only end in bigger bills in the future. Hoban has said he believes that "adversity forges strong relationships". Paired with Danny Alexander, he will hope that his working relationship with the chief secretary to the Treasury will have the strength to fend off opposition to the cuts proposed in October's comprehensive spending review.
Hoban grew up in the north-east of England and attended St Leonard's Roman Catholic Comprehensive School in Durham. He continued his studies in London and graduated with a BSc in economics from the LSE.
Before entering politics, Hoban qualified as a chartered accountant. He worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and its predecessor firms between 1985 and 2001 as a senior manager. His knowledge of private sector finances is evident in the articles he has since written. Although unknown at the time, this fiscal experience would prove advantageous in Hoban's future political career.
Hoban's political affiliation to the Conservative Party began in 1980. He was general election campaign manager for Christopher Chope MP in 1987 and 1992. Hoban's 1987 campaign was a success as Chope became MP for Southampton Itchen with a clear majority. But Chope lost his seat by a margin of one per cent in 1992 to Labour's John Denham. During Chope's defeat, Hoban sat as vice-chair for the Southampton Itchen Conservative Association.
Having had mixed fortunes on the campaign trail, Hoban stood as the Conservative candidate for South Shields in the 1997 general election. He suffered a massive defeat at the hands of Labour MP David Clark who received an overwhelming 71.4 per cent of the vote. South Shields would later become the constituency seat for David Miliband.
Hoban returned to the south coast for the 2001 general election, standing as the Conservative candidate for Fareham. He was successfully elected and retained his seat in 2005. Hoban held the opposition whip between 2002-03 before becoming shadow minister for public services, health and education in 2003-04.
Following his re-election in 2005, Hoban was appointed shadow fi nancial secretary to the Treasury, a position he occupied for five years. During this period, he rebelled against the party line when in 2007 he voted to introduce an elected House of Lords, and in 2008 he voted to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 weeks to 16 weeks.
In the 2010 general election, Hoban again kept his seat with a majority of over 17,000 votes. Fareham has been a safe Conservative seat since the constituency was created in 1885.
The view inside WestminsterHaving spent five years as shadow financial secretary before gaining the role in government, it is unsurprising Hoban has an image as a "safe pair of hands" in one colleague's summary. However, don't underestimate him.No one works under George Osborne without possessing signifi cant amounts of political nous. "Hoban is no pushover. He's pretty hard-nosed and he's definitely not a coaster," says the MP.
This article was first published in Total Politics magazine.