Miriam Cates was born in Sheffield in 1982 and was first elected as an MP for Stocksbridge and Penistone in 2019 with a majority of 7,210. She has a degree in genetics and spent her early career in Sheffield as a science teacher at Tapton School. She currently sits on the education select committee and the ecclesiastical committee. She was elected to the 1922 committee in July 2022.
More recently, she worked as a finance director for a software company called Redemption Media for which she is still listed as a director, alongside her husband, Dave Cates.
Cates is described by the Guardian as “the new Tory darling and rising star of the right”. She delivered the keynote address at the National Conservatism conference, “tasked with firing up hundreds of activists at the event that pushed a socially conservative agenda and piled pressure on the Tory party to take a stricter stance on everything from immigration to family values”.
The National Conservatism conference speech
At the NatCon conference held in May 2023, Cates commented:
“Hope is sadly diminishing in so many of our young people today, because liberal individualism has proven to be completely powerless to resist the cultural Marxism that is systematically destroying our children’s souls.
“When culture, schools and universities openly teach that our country is racist, our heroes are villains, humanity is killing the Earth, you are what you desire, diversity is theology, boundaries are tyranny and self-restraint is oppression, is it any wonder that mental health conditions, self-harm and suicide, and epidemic levels of anxiety and confusion characterise the emerging generation?”
In other parts of the speech she suggested that the UK’s low birthrate was “the most pressing policy issue of the generation” blaming a lack of family friendly tax policy, a shortage of housing, too many young people attending university, the devaluing of motherhood, and “the mass indoctrination of young minds”.
The speech was widely reported and drew criticism from Lord Mann, the government’s independent advisor on antisemitism, who deemed the ‘cultural Marxism’ reference “just not appropriate”.
New Social Covenant Unit
In 2021, she founded the New Social Covenant Unit with fellow evangelical Christian Conservative MP, Danny Kruger. He outlines their basic beliefs and ambitions in Unherd, where he writes that “Left entirely to ourselves, individuals will exploit, slack off, rent-seek, and cheat…”
The unit’s website goes into more detail, with 12 proposals for governance:
- The purpose of politics is to create the conditions for virtue.
- The state should safeguard the customs of the country.
- A leaner, more capable state, and greater security in food, energy and technology.
- Environmental nationalism: a deal between Left and Right to save the planet and reduce mass migration into Europe.
- A new constitutional settlement that includes the recognition of England within the Union.
- A new “economics of place” instead of the “failed doctrine of economic mobility”.
- A more social economy: “private capital should serve the public good”.
- Public services [should provide] … “quality in abundance, not equity in scarcity”.
- A new principle of “community power” to let people “take back control” of their neighbourhoods.
- A principle that people are naturally skilled for the work of the future: “the vocations of care and creativity”.
- The household is an economic institution, sustained by a better work-life balance.
- Marriage is a public institution and essential to society.
Cate’s voting record thus far has been summarised by The Public Whip, a website that reviews how MPs vote in parliament on the issues people care about. The summary for Cates paints an interesting picture of National Conservatism, in favour of increasing government control over individuals in terms of fertility (anti-abortion), halting devolution, reducing rights for refugees, curtailing the right to protest, and restricting trade unionism.
Christian Concern has thanked Cates for her attempts in parliament to curtail sex education in schools that refer to LGBTQ+ matters, and for her support for pro-life charities.
Cates’s support for anti-vaxxer groups was covered by Nafeez Ahmed and Karam Bales in Byline Times in 2021, who commented in the article ‘Inside the radicalised anti-vaxxer network’ that despite pressure group ‘UsforThem’ having a “consistent tendency toward anti-vaccine pseudoscience” and its “founder Michelle (Molly) Kingsley writing an article completely rejecting vaccination for all children of all age groups” that Cates told parliament “I want to pay tribute to ‘UsForThem’ who are working tirelessly to stand up for children and campaign for their lives to be allowed to return to normal”.
In June 2021, Cates wrote in Unherd: “[the government has] focused far too narrowly on the short term impact of Covid on the longevity of older people … We do not live just to avoid death … Death, especially in old age, is a normal part of life.”
In March this year in Byline Times, Bales further commented that Cates and Kruger’s New Social Covenant “Combines nationalism and conservative Christianity … merg[ing] Christian ‘virtues’ with patriotism … [proposing that] the role of government should shrink to as it was before the mid-1900s, [and that] the state [should] increase its role in promoting culture, traditions and patriotism”.
The article further reports that the financial backing for the National Conservatism conference came from Peter Thiel, “one of the main financial backers of Republican politics [who] … last year funded campaigns to replace Republican candidates who didn’t support accusations questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election”.
It concludes that the instigation of the conference “provides evidence of the growing influence of US Christian Nationalism in the UK”.
Directorships and business connections
In 2022, Matthew Dapper proposed that he was subjected to a type of ‘exorcism’ ceremony after he came out as gay at St Thomas Philadelphia church in Sheffield, in 2014. Cates was the Philadelphia Network’s operations director between 2016 and 2018. It is important to note that she has denied any knowledge of gay conversion practices taking place at the church, and proposes that she severed contact with the church in 2018 for ‘family reasons’.
In 2019, Cates denied that an app she set up with her husband was ‘cashing in on foodbanks’, commenting that they developed the app for S6 foodbank in Sheffield, located in St Thomas Philadelphia church ‘for free’.
iNews reports that the app charges foodbanks around the country £180 to register and subscribe, enabling the centres to highlight items in short supply, and that it was launched in 2014 through Redemption Media, but that its copyright holder is listed as Donate Technologies, a company solely owned by Dave Cates.
Initially, the app charged food banks a £360 subscription fee for two years, which later changed to a one-off set-up fee of £180.
Cates has claimed that the £180 set-up fee covers administration costs and makes no profit for either herself or her husband.
In 2021, Cates again found herself mired in controversy when Labour raised concerns about a levelling up scheme in Stocksbridge, when they discovered that decisions about how the associated £24mn was spent was led by a group that included Cates, her husband and his business partner. The Guardian reported “Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow communities secretary, said the public would be ‘alarmed to find that important regional development funding schemes are potentially open to serious abuse’”.
A controversial candidate for 2024
Whether the people of Stocksbridge and Penistone knew that they were getting an MP with such strong opinions and such controversial business and personal links when they voted for Cates in 2019 is an interesting question. Her majority is small, and her constituency will be strongly fought over during the run-up to the next general election.
It is not Juvenal’s place to pass opinion on Cates’s associations and beliefs, but to make the people of Stocksbridge and Penistone fully aware of these, so that they can make an informed selection when they are called upon to do so in 2024.
Miriam Cates MP has been approached for comment and Yorkshire Bylines has yet to receive a response.