Joseph Ean Comstock (born 19 August 1951) is a British Labour politician who currently holds the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He has been the leader of the Labour Party since November 30 2005 and became Prime Minister on 10 May 2010, heading the Comstock I Cabinet. Comstock is the only Manx member of the government, the third Manx member to enter the House of Commons in history and the first Manx member of the European Parliament. He is also the first Labour Prime Minister since Malcolm Basilone in 1987.
Comstock is the son of two Manx tailors. He was born in Onchan and when he was one year old, his father died in a car crash and his illiterate Presbyterian mother had to care for him and his three sisters.
Early political career
Comstock came in contact with the socialist movement for the first time during his studies at Cambridge, where he first obtained a master's degree and afterwards a doctorate in chemistry. He then went to the University of Geneva, where he worked in 1977–1978.
He started his political career as an attache at the cabinet of John Waddington in 1980 to 1981 and his first political mandate came in 1982, when he was a Councillor of Douglas (until 1985, and again from 1988 until 2000). In 1986, he was Mayor of Health, Urban Renewal and Social Affairs. Professionally, Comstock was at the same time Vice Finance Minister of the Isle of Man and consequently Vice Energy and Pollution Control Minister.
Member of Parliament
He successfully campaigned to become MP of Port Erin in 1987 for the Socialist Party and has served there ever since, briefly becoming mayor of Laxey when the Socialist Party took over the council there in the Winter of 1989. He then had a brief time serving in the European Parliament.
In November 1991, he was elected to become Shadow Secretary of State for Education in the House of Commons to replace Eric Studwick after the split of the Socialist Party into the Labour Party and the British Communist Party. In 1995 Comstock became Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and subsequently became Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister.
In 1996 he was made Shadow Secretary of State for Transport but his political career nearly ended when Sarah Denzil, a prostitute, alleged that Comstock paid her for sex while Denzil was still a minor. Comstock denied the accusations and a close investigation showed that he was completely innocent.
In the 2001 elections, the Conservatives lost many of their votes and Comstock negotiated with the Green Party to create a Green Labour movement. He was then made Secretary of State for Manx Affairs in the new Shadow Cabinet of John Wash. When Wash resigned in 2003 amidst accusations of money laundering and tax evasion, Keith Tasker became Leader of the Labour Party.
Leader of the Labour Party
In the 2005 General Election, Tasker retired and Comstock took his place as Leader of the Labour Party. As new leader of the party, Comstock was forced to do a generation change within the party and also forced to go a new way using the Green Labour Movement to his advantage.
In 2006 and 2007, Comstock and his party appeared unsuccessful in trying to clean out corruption. This was probably instrumental in the party's losing its first place amongst the North-East England, Scotland and Manx communities. Comstock then decided to take a firmer stance against corruption in Bristol: he virtually took control of the city's Labour Party and ordered the Labour mayor and aldermen to resign.
Following the 2010 British general election, in which the Labour Party emerged as the largest of the Gaelophone parties and the second largest political party in Britain, speculation emerged as to whether Comstock could be the Prime Minister in a new government. The Conservative Party raised questions, however, about whether Comstock's less-than-native fluency in English would be a stumbling block in seeking that office; every prime minister since 1966 had been an Anglophone. In December 2010, Comstock was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Comstock describes himself as a "rational, atheist Brit". He is fluent in three languages: Manx, English and French. He is taking classes to improve his Scottish due to it being Britain's second-most widely spoken language.