We sat down with Alex Clarkson for an exclusive interview after he was selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Stevenage. 

Family and childhood

Mr Clarkson was born in November 1981, shortly after his family had moved to Datchworth.

They had previously lived in Stevenage Old Town, after his mother first moved to Bedwell in 1958.

Mr Clarkson's parents were technical designers for ICI in Welwyn Garden City - and they were entrepreneurs too, starting small businesses including a shoe shop, a salon, and a sunbed rental company.

Mr Clarkson describes them as an inspiration, "very hardworking" people who gave him an "aspirational working class" upbringing.

He says that they "sacrificed everything" to give him "a perfect start" to life, including going without "carpet on the stairs" and foreign holidays.

After attending the fee-paying Sherrardswood School, he went to Richard Hale School in Hertford and then to Haileybury, an independent school, for sixth form.

The Comet: Mr Clarkson's parents lived in Stevenage old town before he was born.Mr Clarkson's parents lived in Stevenage old town before he was born. (Image: Alex Clarkson)

He received a scholarship covering half of the fees that his family "couldn't otherwise afford", and says that it was while at Haileybury - the school attended by Clement Attlee, the Labour prime minister who Clarkson describes as "a true inspiration" - that he became passionate about politics and acting.

After sixth form, he spent a year working for a small investment bank based in Hong Kong, before reading government and history at the LSE. He toyed with becoming a lawyer, but soon decided to go to drama school and become a professional actor instead.


Mr Clarkson made his theatre debut in 1991, when he took part in the Cub Scout Gang Show at the Gordon Craig Theatre - he has also performed there in shows including West Side Story, Peter Pan, and Big Girls Don't Cry.

Mr Clarkson says that he enjoys acting because he's "fascinated by people", and loves "telling their stories".

He particularly loves theatre, and picks out one role as his favourite - Arthur, in a production of Come Dancing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2008.

The play is about people leaving London and heading to the new towns in the 1950s, and Mr Clarkson describes Arthur as almost a replica of his own father - he even sung a song called 'Stevenage'.

The Comet: Mr Clarkson (left) on stage in a 2015 production of Flames at Waterloo East Theatre.Mr Clarkson (left) on stage in a 2015 production of Flames at Waterloo East Theatre. (Image: Waterloo East Theatre)

Mr Clarkson now works primarily as a theatrical agent, with his company based in Elstree.

Outside work and politics, he's a keen runner and gym-goer, as well as a churchgoing Anglican and "history buff".

He's also a director of Paws Playfield in Datchworth, and is involved in charity work, raising money for Cllr Margaret Notley's mayoral charities and serving as a trustee of Stevenage Community Trust.


Mr Clarkson says that, for him, "politics started with conversations around the table with mum and dad", and developed further when he became head of the politics society at Haileybury.

While there, he was inspired by a chance encounter with former prime minister Margaret Thatcher during a class tour of Parliament.

She asked whether he was interested in going into politics - even giving him some advice if he chose to do so - and he says that was the moment when he knew that he wanted to go into politics one day. A month later, he joined Stevenage Conservative Association (SCA).

Until then, Mr Clarkson was "inherently Conservative but didn't know it".

From there, he became active in local Conservative politics, with roles including SCA chairman, agent for Stephen McPartland, and area chairman for Hertfordshire Conservatives.

He was then elected to public office for the first time earlier this year as councillor for Borehamwood Hillside, where his company is located.

Standing for the candidacy

While Mr Clarkson has known for a long time that he wanted to be an MP, he "never thought" he'd be able to do so in Stevenage - until Mr McPartland announced that he would be standing down.

He says it's "a dream" to stand for his hometown, and thinks that being born in the area gives him an advantage: "Most candidates come in from somewhere else ... but when you're from there, born and bred, there's something else that's special ... being the local candidate really helps".

Kevin Bonavia, Labour's candidate, is not from Stevenage but moved to the town last year before the party selection process began.

Stephen McPartland

Mr Clarkson is seeking to replace Mr McPartland, who has been Stevenage's Conservative MP for 13 years.

Mr Clarkson describes himself as a "huge admirer" of the MP, and says that "Stevenage has really improved under the Conservatives [and] under Stephen".

He refers to Mr McPartland in the past tense, continuing: "I think Stephen was a great MP ... he did some incredible work for Stevenage.

"He stood up for the people of Stevenage and wasn't afraid to be a maverick, wasn't afraid to defy party lines."

Mr Clarkson says that he would be willing to do the same where he thought a policy "was against the wishes or interests of the people of Stevenage".

He thinks Mr McPartland "did some great work", mentioning his campaigns on cladding, leaseholders and asthma, as well as infrastructure investments at Lister Hospital and Stevenage railway station.

Like Mr Bonavia, he commits to holding regular advice surgeries and says "I will not have a second job ... it's a big enough job as it is".

He says he's "very optimistic" about his chances of winning and reckons that the polls, currently showing a Labour lead of 17 points nationally, "will inevitably narrow".


Mr Clarkson's family connections with Stevenage continue to this day - his mum, sister and niece all live in the constituency.

Mr Clarkson lives with his partner in Datchworth, and said in his statement after being selected that he has lived there his whole life.

However, his website - which has not been updated for several years - says that he is "now living in London".

Mr Clarkson explains that, in acting, "you have to say you're based in London" and, while he has rented London properties to stay in for a few days a week when working in the West End, he would spend the remainder of each week in Datchworth and it continued to be his home.

His favourite thing about Stevenage is its "pioneer spirit" - he thinks the town represents a "fresh start and new beginnings".

The Comet: Mr Clarkson says he would work with Stevenage Development Board and Labour-run Stevenage Borough Council if elected.Mr Clarkson says he would work with Stevenage Development Board and Labour-run Stevenage Borough Council if elected. (Image: Alex Clarkson)

If elected, he says that he would work with Stevenage Development Board and Labour-run Stevenage Borough Council, believing that "everyone cares for the town".

He likes the encouragement that the regeneration of the town centre has given for private investment, but worries that "things have slowed down ... we need to keep developers' confidence in their projects".

While supportive of the flats being built in the town centre, he adds that "we need family homes as well".

But he criticises the "sprawling" expansion of Stevenage through "bolt-on developments", and says he would have opposed the "short-sighted" decision to build homes on Forster Country and at Hazel Park.

Instead, he supports building new garden villages and garden cities in the Home Counties, suggesting there "may be scope" for one in East Herts.


Asked for the three Conservative achievements he's most proud of during their 13 years in government, he points to leaving the European Union (he backed Leave in 2016), the speed and scale of Covid-19 vaccinations, and the support for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

The Comet: Mr Clarkson (centre right) campaigned to leave the EU in 2016.Mr Clarkson (centre right) campaigned to leave the EU in 2016. (Image: Archant)

While he lauds Rishi Sunak's "pragmatism" and work during the pandemic, he voted for Liz Truss in last year's Conservative leadership election.

He says he "liked what she stood for - supply-side reforms, going for growth, and cutting taxes".

"Policies and ideas may be good, but delivering and communicating them is different ... she made some mistakes there."

As for the biggest problems facing the UK and Stevenage at the moment, he picks out the cost-of-living, the future of the NHS and immigration.

On cost-of-living, he is broadly supportive of pensioners and public sector workers receiving pay rises in-line with inflation, though adds "it can't always be done because it's not happening in the private sector" and could lead to inflation staying high.

And on the NHS, he welcomes the long-term workforce plan, and says the UK must “end the absurdity of having to rely on expensive agency staff or importing tens of thousands of doctors and nurses”.

He adds that he would continue the campaign for a Satellite Radiotherapy Unit at Lister.

Moving onto immigration, he says it is a common issue on the doorstep, with residents worried about the "eye-watering bills for the use of hotels" and “rightly concerned about the pressures on our housing and NHS, and also the wellbeing of asylum-seekers crossing the Channel illegally”.

He thinks asylum-seekers should be "moved to either disused military sites or the Bibby Stockholm barge".

"The strategy to stop the boats is working, with arrivals down more than 20 per cent on last year.

The Comet: Mr Clarkson says immigration is an issue that comes up time and time again on the doorsteps in Stevenage.Mr Clarkson says immigration is an issue that comes up time and time again on the doorsteps in Stevenage. (Image: Alex Clarkson)

“Nationally, the priority has to be through the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and the Rwanda partnership to dismantle the smuggling gangs’ criminal and inhumane business and stop the boats."

The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether to back the Court of Appeal's ruling that the Rwanda policy is unlawful.

"I worry about your homegrown Stevenage lad that's living on the street, and no one is doing anything for him, yet hotels are full of asylum-seekers - there's a disconnect there."

He thinks that discussion on immigration reflects "another challenge, and that is being able to have diversity of thought, without fear of being cancelled” on cultural issues such as transgender rights ("I'm not anti-trans, but I'm a feminist as well") and green issues.

He supports the goal of reaching net zero by 2050 and is "proud" that the Conservatives are continuing "to invest into renewable technology", but approved of the government's decision to grant hundreds of new oil and gas licenses earlier this year and is strongly critical of Just Stop Oil.

Quick-fire questions

Beer or wine? Beer

Question Time or Strictly? Question Time - but really Strictly

Lib Dems or Reform UK? Neither

NIMBY or YIMBY? Neither - build garden cities and villages instead

Who is your political idol? Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher

What’s in your supermarket meal deal? Chicken and bacon sandwich, salt and vinegar crisps, and a KitKat