Blair Babe

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Blair Babes or Blair's Babes are the 101 female Members of Parliament from the Labour Party elected to the British House of Commons in Labour's landslide general election victory in 1997.[1]

The 1997 general election saw more women elected to the House of Commons than ever - 120, exactly double the 60 elected at the 1992 general election. 101 of these women MPs were Labour Party politicians. There were also 13 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, and three from other parties (including Speaker Betty Boothroyd, previously a Labour politician).

Images of the new Prime Minister Tony Blair with 96[2] female Labour MPs on the steps of Church House in Westminster, were widely publicised,[3] giving rise to the term Blair Babes.

Expectations were high that the substantial increase in female representation in the House of Commons would lead to changes in the style and conduct of legislative business. However, many of the new female MPs grew disillusioned with the lifestyle of an MP, and nine "Blair Babes" either chose not to stand or lost their seats in the 2001 general election. Despite two female MPs winning by-elections between 1997 and 2001, and other women being elected, the total number of female MPs fell to 118 at the 2001 general election. A further 22 "Blair Babes" stood down or lost their seats at the 2005 general election, although the number of female MPs increased again to a new record of 127.

The term Blair Babe has been condemned by Polly Toynbee as a "casual, misogynist tag."[4]

List of Blair babes[edit]

# Name Constituency Elected Lost seat/
Stood down
Notes
1. Diane Abbott Hackney North and Stoke Newington 1987 First black female MP
2. Irene Adams Paisley North 1990 2005 Replaced husband Allen Adams as MP after his death. Stood down and seat abolished. Life peer (2005).
3. Janet Anderson Rossendale and Darwen 1992 2010 Government whip (1997-1998), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (1998–2001). Partner of MP Jim Dowd (politician). Lost seat to Conservative Jake Berry
4. Hilary Armstrong North West Durham 1987 2010 Minister for Local Government (1997–2001), Government Chief Whip (2001-6), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Social Exclusion (2006-2007). Stood down.
5. Candy Atherton Falmouth and Camborne 1997 2005 Lost seat to Liberal Democrat Julia Goldsworthy.
6. Charlotte Atkins Staffordshire Moorlands 1997 2010 PPS in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2001–2004), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (2004-2005). Lost seat to Conservative Karen Bradley
7. Margaret Beckett Derby South 1983 Previously MP for Lincoln (1974–1979). President of the Board of Trade (1997–1998), Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1998–2001), Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2001–2006), Foreign Secretary (2006–2007), Minister for Housing (2008-2009)
8. Anne Begg Aberdeen South 1997 Uses a wheelchair due to Gaucher's disease.
9. Liz Blackman Erewash 1997 2010 PPS to Geoff Hoon (2000–2006). Assistant government whip (2006-2008). Stood down, seat lost to the Conservative.
10. Hazel Blears Salford (1997-2010)
Salford and Eccles
1997 PPS to Alan Milburn (1997-1998), then to Andrew Smith (1998-9). Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health (2001-2003), Minister of State at the Home Office (2003-2006). Minister without portfolio and Labour party chair (2006-2007), Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2007-2009).
11. Helen Brinton Peterborough 1997 2005 Avoided deselection in 2003. Lost seat to Conservative Stewart Jackson. Convicted of using threatening words and behaviour in 2009.
12. Karen Buck Regent's Park and Kensington North 1997 Publicly declined position as whip in 2001. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (2005-2010).
13. Christine Butler Castle Point 1997 2001 Lost seat to Conservative Bob Spink.
14. Anne Campbell Cambridge 1992 2005 PPS to Patricia Hewitt (-2003). Lost seat to Liberal Democrat David Howarth.
15. Judith Church Dagenham 1994 2001 Stood down and replaced by Jon Cruddas.
16. Lynda Clark Edinburgh Pentlands 1997 2005 Advocate General for Scotland (1999–2006). Stood down and seat abolished. Life peer (2005). Lord of Session (since 2006).
17. Ann Clwyd Cynon Valley 1984 Vice Chair (2001-2005) and Chair (2005-2006) of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
18. Ann Coffey Stockport 1992 PPS to Tony Blair (1997-1998) then to Alistair Darling (1998-2010).
19. Yvette Cooper Pontefract and Castleford 1997 Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health (1999–2003) and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2003-2005). Minister of State at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Department of Communities and Local Government (2005-2007), Minister of State for Housing and Planning (2007-2008), Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2008-2009), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2009-2010). Married to MP Ed Balls. First serving minister to take maternity leave.
20. Jean Corston Bristol East 1992 2005 PPS at the Department for Education and Skills (1997–2001). First woman to chair the Parliamentary Labour Party (2001-2005). Stood down and replaced by Kerry McCarthy. Life peer (2005).
21. Ann Cryer Keighley 1997 2010 Mother to John Cryer, MP for Hornchurch (1997-2005). Stood down, seat lost to the Conservative.
22. Claire Curtis-Thomas Crosby 1997 2010 Seat abolished.
23. Valerie Davey Bristol West 1997 2005 Lost seat to Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams.
24. Janet Dean Burton 1997 2010 Lost seat to Conservative Andrew Griffiths.
25. Julia Drown South Swindon 1997 2005 Stood down and replaced by Anne Snelgrove.
26. Gwyneth Dunwoody Crewe/Crewe and Nantwich 1974 2008 Previously MP for Exeter (1966–1970). Died in office.
27. Angela Eagle Wallasey 1992 Twin sister of MP Maria Eagle. First sitting MP to come out as lesbian (1997). Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1997–1998), then Department of Social Security (1998–2001), junior minister at the Home Office (2001–2002).
28. Maria Eagle Liverpool Garston 1997 Twin sister of Angela Eagle MP. PPS to John Hutton (1999–2001), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (2001-2005), first Minister for Children (2005-2006), Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office (2006-2007) and Ministry of Justice (2007-2010).
29. Louise Ellman Liverpool Riverside 1997
30. Lorna Fitzsimons Rochdale 1997 2005 Lost seat to Liberal Democrat Paul Rowen.
31. Caroline Flint Don Valley 1997 PPS to Peter Hain (1999–2002) and John Reid (2002-3). Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office (2003-2005) then the Department of Health (2005-2006). Minister of State in the Department for Health (2006-2007), Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions (2007-2008), Minister for Europe (2008-2009).
32. Barbara Follett Stevenage 1997 2010 PPS to Tessa Jowell and Ruth Kelly. Married to novelist Ken Follett. Stood down, seat lost to the Conservatives.
33. Maria Fyfe Glasgow Maryhill 1987 2001 Stood down and replaced by Ann McKechin.
34. Linda Gilroy Plymouth Sutton 1997 2010 PPS to Nick Raynsford (2001-2005). Lost seat to Conservative Oliver Colvile.
35. Llin Golding Newcastle-under-Lyme 1986 2001 Daughter of MP Ness Edwards. Replaced husband John Golding as MP after his resignation. Stood down and replaced by Paul Farrelly. Life peer (2001).
36. Eileen Gordon Romford 1997 2001 Lost seat to Conservative Andrew Rosindell.
37. Jane Griffiths Reading East 1997 2005 Deselected in 2004 in favour of Tony Page. Seat lost to Conservative Rob Wilson. Bankrupt in 2005.
38 Harriet Harman Camberwell and Peckham 1981 Secretary of State for Social Security (1997-1998). First woman Solicitor General (2001–2005). Minister of State at the Department of Constitutional Affairs (2005-2006), Minister for Women and Equality (2007-2010). Married to Labour Party Treasurer Jack Dromey.
39. Sylvia Heal Halesowen and Rowley Regis 1997 2010 Previously MP for Mid Staffordshire (1990-1992). PPS to George Robertson (1997-9) and then Geoff Hoon (1999–2000). Deputy Speaker (2000-2010). Sister of MP Ann Keen. Stood down, seat lost to the Conservative.
40. Patricia Hewitt Leicester West 1997 2010 Economic Secretary to the Treasury (1998–1999), Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry (1999–2001), Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (2001–2005), Secretary of State for Health (2005-2007).
41. Margaret Hodge Barking 1994 Minister (1998), Minister in the Department for Education and Skills (2001-3), Minister for Children (2003-2006), Minister of State in the Department of Trade and Industry (since 2006). Married to High Court judge Sir Henry Hodge.
42. Kate Hoey Vauxhall 1989 PPS to Frank Field (1997-8), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (1998-1999), Minister for Sport in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (1999–2001). Chairman of the Countryside Alliance (since 2005)
43. Beverley Hughes Stretford and Urmston 1997 2010 PPS to Hilary Armstrong (1998-1999). Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1999–2001), then the Home Office (2001-2002). Minister of State at the Home Office (2002-4). Resigned. Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills (since 2005).
44. Joan Humble Blackpool North and Fleetwood 1997 2010 Seat abolished
45. Glenda Jackson Hampstead and Highgate 1992 Minister in the Department for Transport (1997-9). Resigned to seek Labour nomination as Mayor of London.
46. Helen Jackson Sheffield Hillsborough 1992 2005 PPS in the Northern Ireland Office (-2005). Stood down and replaced by Angela Smith.
47. Melanie Johnson Welwyn Hatfield 1997 2005 Economic Secretary to the Treasury (1999–2001), then minister in the Department of Trade and Industry and then the Department for Health. Lost seat to Conservative Grant Shapps.
48. Fiona Jones Newark 1997 2001 Conviction for election fraud overturned on appeal in 1999. Lost seat to Conservative Patrick Mercer. Died in January 2007.
49. Helen Jones Warrington North 1997
50. Jenny Jones Wolverhampton South West 1997 2001 Stood down and replaced by Rob Marris.
51. Lynne Jones Birmingham Selly Oak 1992 2010
52. Tessa Jowell Dulwich and West Norwood 1992 Minister at the Department of Health (1997-9) and then Department for Education and Employment (1999–2001). Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (since 2001), Minister for the Olympics (since 2005).
53. Sally Keeble Northampton North 1997 2010 Minister in the Department for Transport, Local Government and Regions then the Department for International Development (-2003). Lost seat to Conservative Michael Ellis 2010.
54. Ann Keen Brentford and Isleworth 1997 2010 PPS to Gordon Brown (since 2001). Married to MP Alan Keen; sister of MP Sylvia Heal. Lost seat to Conservative Mary Macleod 2010.
55. Ruth Kelly Bolton West 1997 2010 PPS to Nick Brown (1998–2001), Economic Secretary to the Treasury (2001–2), Financial Secretary to the Treasury (2002—2004), Minister for the Cabinet Office (2004), Secretary of State for Education and Skills (2004—2006), Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women and Equality (2006-2007), Secretary of State for Transport (2007–2008). Member of Opus Dei. Four children while in office.
56. Jane Kennedy Liverpool Broadgreen/Liverpool, Wavertree 1992 2010 Government whip (1997-1999), Minister in the Lord Chancellor's Department (1999–2001); Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office (2001-4) then the Department of Work and Pensions (2004-5) then the Department of Health (2005-2006). Resigned 2006.
57. Oona King Bethnal Green and Bow 1997 2005 Second black woman MP, after Diane Abbott. Lost seat to George Galloway (Respect).
58. Tess Kingham Gloucester 1997 2001 Stood down and replaced by Parmjit Dhanda.
59. Jackie Lawrence Preseli Pembrokeshire 1997 2005 PPS to Jacqui Smith. Stood down and seat lost to Conservative Stephen Crabb.
60. Helen Liddell Monklands East/Airdrie and Shotts 1994 2005 Economic Secretary to the Treasury (1997–1998), Minister in the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. Secretary of State for Scotland (2001-2003). British High Commissioner in Australia (since 2005).
61. Fiona Mactaggart Slough 1997 Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (2003-2006).
62. Alice Mahon Halifax 1987 2005 Stood down and replaced by Linda Riordan. Resigned from Labour Party and supported No2EU in European Elections 2009.
63. Judy Mallaber Amber Valley 1997 2010 Lost seat to Conservative Nigel Mills
64. Christine McCafferty Calder Valley 1997 2010 Stood down and seat won by Conservative's 2010.
65. Siobhain McDonagh Mitcham and Morden 1997 PPS to John Reid.
66. Anne McGuire Stirling 1997 Parliamentary Under-secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.
67. Shona McIsaac Cleethorpes 1997 2010 PPS in the Northern Ireland Office, Home Office and Department of Trade and Industry. PPS to Caroline Flint. Lost seat to Conservative Martin Vickers.
68. Rosemary McKenna Cumbernauld and Kilsyth/Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East 1997 2010
69. Gillian Merron Lincoln 1997 2010 Government whip (2002-6). Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department of Transport (since 2006). Lost seat to Conservative Karl McCartney
70. Laura Moffatt Crawley 1997 2010 PPS to Lord Irvine, then Lord Falconer, and then Alan Johnson. Majority of just 37 in 2005. Stood down and seat won by Conservative's 2010.
71. Margaret Moran Luton South 1997 2010 PPS to Mo Mowlam (-2001). Government whip (2001-5). Suspended from the Labour Party.
72. Julie Morgan Cardiff North 1997 2010 Married to Rhodri Morgan, MP for Cardiff West (1987–2001), Assembly Member for Cardiff West (1999-) and First Minister of Wales (2000-). Lost seat to Conservative Jonathan Evans.
73. Estelle Morris Birmingham Yardley 1992 2005 Minister in the Department for Education and Employment (1997–2001). Secretary of State for Education and Skills (2001-2). Resigned. Minister of State for the Arts (2003–5). Life peer (2005). President of the National Children's Bureau (2005-).
74. Kali Mountford Colne Valley 1997 2010 Suspended from the House of Commons for five days in 1988 for leaking a Select Committee report. PPS to Des Browne. Stood down and seat won by Conservative's 2010.
75. Mo Mowlam Redcar 1987 2001 Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1997–9), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1999–2001). Stood down and replaced by Vera Baird. Died in August 2005.
76. Diana Organ Forest of Dean 1997 2005 Stood down and seat lost to Conservative Mark Harper.
77. Sandra Osborne Ayr/Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock 1997 PPS to Brian Wilson, then George Foulkes, then Helen Liddell (2002-3). Resigned.
78. Linda Perham Ilford North 1997 2005 Lost seat to Conservative Lee Scott.
79. Bridget Prentice Lewisham East 1992 2010 Whip (1997). PPS to Brian Wilson and then Lord Irvine. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and then Ministry of Justice (2005-2010). Formerly married to MP Gordon Prentice.
80. Dawn Primarolo Bristol South 1987 Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1997–9), Paymaster General (1999–2007)
81. Joyce Quin Gateshead East/Gateshead East and Washington West 1987 2005 Junior minister at the Home Office, Minister of State for Europe (1998-9), agriculture minister (-2001). Stood down in 2005 and replaced by Sharon Hodgson. Life peer (2006).
82. Barbara Roche Hornsey and Wood Green 1992 2005 Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry (1997-8), Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1999), Minister of State at the Home Office (1999–2001) then the Cabinet Office (2001-2) then the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2002-3). Lost seat to Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone.
83. Joan Ruddock Lewisham Deptford 1987 Minister for Women (1997-8). Partner of MP Frank Doran.
84. Christine Russell City of Chester 1997 2010 PPS to Beverley Hughes. Lost seat to Conservative Stephen Mosley
85. Joan Ryan Enfield North 1997 2010 PPS to Andrew Smith. Whip. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office (2006-). Lost seat to Conservative Nick de Bois
86. Debra Shipley Stourbridge 1997 2005 Stood down and replaced by Lynda Waltho.
87. Clare Short Birmingham Ladywood 1983 2010 Married to Alex Lyon (MP from 1966–83) until his death in 1993. Secretary of State for International Development (1997–2003). Resigned from office. Resigned the Labour whip in 2006.
88. Angela Smith Basildon 1997 2010 Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Northern Ireland Office (2002-6) and then at the Department for Communities and Local Government (2006-). Lost seat to Conservative Stephen Metcalfe
89. Geraldine Smith Morecambe and Lunesdale 1997 2010 Lost seat to Conservative David Morris
90. Jacqui Smith Redditch 1997 2010 Deputy Minister for Women and Equality (2003–2005), Minister of State in the Department for Education and Skills (2005-6), Government Chief Whip (2006-7), Home Secretary (2007-9). Lost seat to Conservative Karen Lumley
91. Helen Southworth Warrington South 1997 2010 Stood down and seat won by the Conservative's 2010.
92. Rachel Squire Dunfermline West 1992 2006 PPS to Stephen Byers and Estelle Morris (1997–2001). Died in January 2006 and seat lost to Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie.
93. Phyllis Starkey Milton Keynes 1997 2010 Lost to Conservative Iain Stewart
94. Gisela Stuart Birmingham Edgbaston 1997 Minister in the Department for Health (-2001).
95. Ann Taylor Dewsbury 1987 2005 Previously MP for Bolton West (1974–83), and government whip (1977-9). Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1997-8), Government Chief Whip (1998–2001). Stood down and replaced by Shahid Malik. Life peer (2005).
96. Dari Taylor Stockton South 1997 2010 Daughter of Dan Jones, former MP for Burnley. Former PPS to Hazel Blears. Lost seat to Conservative James Wharton.
97. Joan Walley Stoke-on-Trent North 1987
98. Claire Ward Watford 1997 2010 Elected aged 24, only 50 days younger than Baby of the House Chris Leslie. PPS to John Hutton (2001-5). Assistant government whip (2005-6) and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice (2009-2010). Lost seat to Conservative Richard Harrington and came 3rd 2010.
99. Betty Williams Conwy 1997 2010 Stood down and seat won by Conservative's 2010.
100. Rosie Winterton Doncaster Central 1997 Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Lord Chancellor's Department (2001-3), Minister of State at the Department for Health (2003-)
101. Audrey Wise Preston 1987 2000 Previously MP for Coventry South West (1974–9). Died in office in September 2000 and replaced by Mark Hendrick.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A headline in The Sun punningly referred to "Blair's backwenchers": Drink, deception and the death of an MP, The Guardian, 6 February 2007.
  2. ^ The five absent female Labour MPs were Kate Hoey, Clare Short, Glenda Jackson, Lynne Jones and Julie Morgan.
  3. ^ All-women shortlists clear new hurdle, BBC News, 21 December 2001 (including iconic photograph of Blair Babes)
  4. ^ Better than men, The Guardian, 16 March 2001.


See also[edit]

References[edit]