Bob Ainsworth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
Bob Ainsworth
Bob Ainsworth cropped.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
Leader Harriet Harman
Ed Miliband
Preceded by Liam Fox
Succeeded by Jim Murphy
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Hutton
Succeeded by Liam Fox
Minister for the Armed Forces
In office
29 June 2007 – 5 May 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Adam Ingram
Succeeded by Bill Rammell
Government Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Treasurer of the Household
In office
13 June 2003 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Keith Hill
Succeeded by Nick Brown
Member of Parliament
for Coventry North East
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by John Hughes
Succeeded by TBD
Majority 11,775 (27.1%)
Personal details
Born (1952-06-19) 19 June 1952 (age 62)
Coventry, Warwickshire, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Gloria Ainsworth

Robert William Ainsworth (born 19 June 1952) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Coventry North East since 1992, and was the Secretary of State for Defence from 2009 to 2010. Following the general election in 2010 he was the Shadow Defence Secretary, but was replaced by Jim Murphy following the election of new Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Early life[edit]

Ainsworth was born in Coventry on 19 June 1952, and attended the local Foxford Comprehensive School.[1] He first became active in politics as a trade unionist at the Jaguar Cars plant in Coventry[1] where he worked and served in many union capacities, including as Branch President (in what was later to become part of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union). At this time he attended "a couple" of International Marxist Group meetings but did not pursue an interest in the group.[2] In 1984, he was elected to Coventry City Council, became Chair of the Finance Committee,[3] and was deputy leader of the ruling Labour group. He was also Constituency Labour Party chairman.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Ainsworth tried to become Labour candidate for Coventry North East in the run-up to the 1987 general election, after George Park MP announced his retirement, but only came third at the selection meeting, behind John Hughes and Ted Knight. In the run-up to the 1992 general election Hughes was de-selected by the Constituency Labour Party, and Ainsworth became the candidate. He was elected with an 11,676 majority, and stepped down from the city council the following year. At the 1997 general election his majority rose sharply to 22,569, falling back to 15,751 at the 2001 election, and 14,222 at the 2005 election.

On 7 December 2012 Ainsworth announced his intention not to stand at the next general election.[4]

In Government[edit]

Ainsworth was appointed a Labour whip in 1995[3] and served in government until January 2001 when he was promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the former Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions. After the 2001 general election, Ainsworth was moved to the Home Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary with responsibility for Drugs and Organised Crime,[3] where he remained until 2003, when he became the Deputy Chief Whip (also known as the Treasurer of the Household). He was appointed to the Privy Council in February 2005.[5] On 29 June 2007, he moved to become the Minister of State for the Armed Forces.[3]

Defence Secretary[edit]

On 5 June 2009, he was appointed to the cabinet by Gordon Brown as Secretary of State for Defence,[6] in what was considered by some to be "a surprise choice".[7][8] As Defence Secretary, Ainsworth declared in July 2009 that "the government should have offered more support to British troops at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,"[9] a comment that provoked former Chief of Defence staff General Lord Guthrie to accuse Ainsworth of not understanding "leadership in war".[10] At the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in 2009, Ainsworth stated that sending reinforcements to Afghanistan may not be possible because of a lack of necessary military resources. He said, "Before I agree to any increase in troop numbers I must be sure that the balance of risk is acceptable by evaluating the capacity of the supply chain to properly equip the increased force."[11]

In December 2009, Ainsworth announced that he would have been more circumspect about supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq had he known that Saddam Hussein did not in fact have weapons of mass destruction at his disposal.[12]


In the 2009 Parliamentary expenses scandal, in which a number of MPs were criticised for their expense claims, it was revealed that, in 2007–08, Ainsworth had claimed the maximum permissible amount of £23,083 for second-home allowances, making him the joint highest claimant that year with 142 other MPs.[13][14] For 2008–09, he claimed £20,304, 269th out of 647 MPs.[14]

Legalisation of drugs[edit]

Ainsworth launched the Home Office's "Safer Clubbing" guide in 2002[15] which provided guidance to nightclub owners on harm reduction relating to recreational drug use.

In December 2010, Ainsworth called for the legalisation and regulation of drugs, arguing it is better for addicts to receive their fixes on prescription rather than relying for their supply on the international criminal gangs that make billions of pounds from the trade.[16] As a Home Office minister, Ainsworth was responsible for drugs policy.


  1. ^ a b Robert Waller, Byron Criddle (1999), Almanac of British Politics, "Bob Ainsworth", p190
  2. ^ Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday blog, 19 July 2009, The Defence Secretary and the International Marxist Group. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Ministry of Defence, Secretary of State for Defence. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
  4. ^ "Bob Ainsworth to step down as Coventry North East MP". BBC News (BBC). 7 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Number 10 – Privy Council Appointment (Robert Ainsworth)
  6. ^ BBC, 5 June 2009, I won't walk away, insists Brown
  7. ^ The Times, 14 July 2009, Twists that made Bob Ainsworth the least worst choice for the job
  8. ^ The Times, 17 August 2009, General Sir David Richards backs Bob Ainsworth on Afghanistan time frame
  9. ^ New Statesman, 31 July 2009, Armed forces lacked support, says defence secretary
  10. ^ Shipman, Tim; Walker, Kirsty (14 August 2009). "Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth 'unfit to lead war". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Bob Ainsworth warns shortage of equipment to limit troop numbers in Afghanistan Telegraph
  12. ^ "Bob Ainsworth: I only backed Tony Blair's war because of the weapons of mass destruction - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. 
  13. ^ Gammell, Caroline (2 June 2009). "MPs' expenses: Bob Ainsworth's repairs cost the taxpayer £5,925". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  14. ^ a b "Bob Ainsworth MP, Coventry North East". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Government publishes guide to safe clubbing". The Guardian (London). 
  16. ^ Morris, Nigel (28 January 2008). "All drugs should be legalised to beat dealers, says former minister". The Independent (London). Retrieved 16 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Hughes
Member of Parliament
for Coventry North East

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Hill
Government Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Nick Brown
Treasurer of the Household
Preceded by
Adam Ingram
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Bill Rammell
Preceded by
John Hutton
Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Liam Fox
Preceded by
Liam Fox
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Jim Murphy