Before entering politics, Iain was in the Scots Guards, where he saw active service in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and served in Canada and Germany. Iain later worked for GEC-Marconi, a defence company, and Bellwinch, a property company. He has also been on the board of Jane’s Information Group, a publishing company. Iain married Betsy in 1982 and they have four children.
Iain was elected Member of Parliament for Chingford in 1992, and he was re-elected in 1997 as Member of Parliament for the re-drawn constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green. Iain was promoted to William Hague’s Shadow Cabinet in 1997. As Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security, Iain exposed Labour’s hypocrisy and failure on welfare reform. When he was promoted to Shadow Defence Secretary, he exposed the Government’s failure to give British forces sufficient funding and equipment.
In 2001, Iain was elected Leader of the Conservative Party. After stepping down in 2003, he set up the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an independent think tank committed to tackling poverty and social breakdown. Iain worked tirelessly as Chairman of the CSJ, putting welfare reform and social justice at the heart of the British political debate, until the 2010 General Election when he was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a role he filled for almost 6 years. As Secretary of State, Iain launched the most far-reaching reform of Britain's welfare system ever seen, with the guiding principle that work will always pay more than living on benefits.
Iain has always been a campaigner and advocate of the constituency. He has fought to save Whipps Cross from closure and he has stood up to save several local schools, from closure. He has also been involved in several campaigns to protect local businesses and services, such as the campaign to save Derby Road car park and campaigns to prevent redundancies at local businesses. Iain also backs residents over planning issues, helping to protect the local area from garden-grabbing and over-development.