He was appointed a government whip in 2012 for the Conservative Party,  and was promoted to vice chamberlain of HM Household (senior whip) in October 2013. In July 2014, he was made a minister of state at the Department for International Development.
From 1980 to 1981 Swayne was a school teacher in Economics at Charterhouse, then at Wrekin College from 1982 to 1987. From 1988 to 1996, he was manager of risk management systems at the Royal Bank of Scotland. 
Swayne was educated at Drumley House Preparatory School at Mossblown in South Ayrshire and Bedford School. He studied Theology at St Marys College at the University of St Andrews. 
- Desmond Swayne Express, accessed 19 May 2015
- Rt Hon. Mr Desmond Swayne, www.parliament.uk, accessed 26 August 2013.
- Ministerial appointments: 7 October 2013, Prime Minister's Office, 7 October 2013.
- Ministerial appointments: July 2014, Prime Minister's Office, 15 July 2014.
- Desmond Swayne GOV.UK, accessed 10 October 2014