David Howarth

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For the historian and author, see David Armine Howarth.
David Howarth
David Howarth 02.jpg
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
In office
18 December 2007 – 6 May 2010
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by David Heath
Succeeded by Vacant
Liberal Democrat Shadow Solicitor General
In office
2 March 2006 – 18 December 2007
Leader Nick Clegg
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Anne Campbell
Succeeded by Julian Huppert
Personal details
Born (1958-11-10) 10 November 1958 (age 55)
Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Alma mater University of Cambridge

Yale University Yale Law School

Website David Howarth MP

David Ross Howarth (born 10 November 1958) is a British academic and Liberal Democrat politician who was Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge from 2005 to 2010. He is currently an Electoral Commissioner.

Education and academic career[edit]

David Howarth grew up on Mossley Estate, a council estate in Bloxwich in Staffordshire, going to Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall. Attending Clare College, Cambridge, he was President of Union of Clare Students, and was on the committee of Cambridge University Liberal Club.[1] He gained a BA in Law in 1981. He then won a scholarship to Yale Law School, gaining an LLM in 1983. In 1985, he gained an MPhil from Yale University in Sociology. While at Yale, he was involved in Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign.

He was a Lecturer in Land Economy, Law and Economics at the University of Cambridge between 1988 and 2005, where he has been a Fellow of Clare College since 1985. He specialised in constitutional law and tort law. He stood for the Cambridgeshire seat of Peterborough in 1997 (where he came third), and had stood for the Cambridge seat in 1992 (coming third) and 2001 (coming second), before finally winning it in 2005.

Political career[edit]

Howarth was a member of Cambridge City Council from 1987 to 2004, becoming leader of the Lib Dem group in 1990 when it was in third place, and then leading it to become the principal opposition on the council, eventually becoming Leader of the Council when the Liberal Democrats took control in 2000. He stood down as Council Leader in 2003, and did not seek re-election to the council in 2004, so as to concentrate on winning the Cambridge parliamentary seat. In the 2005 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge, defeating Labour MP Anne Campbell with a majority of 4,339 votes (and winning 44% of the votes cast). He was the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat to win Cambridge since the 1906 general election.

Howarth served on the Liberal Democrats' Federal Executive and Federal Policy Committees during the 1990s. He was a leading opponent within the Lib Dems of closer links to the Labour Party after the 1997 General Election, bringing him into conflict with Paddy Ashdown.

In the Liberal Democrat leadership election following Charles Kennedy's resignation in early 2006, Howarth was active in supporting Chris Huhne's campaign.

His performances in the British parliament were recognised in 2006 when he was shortlisted for The House Magazine's 'Backbencher of the Year award'. The citation read "Brought MPs’ attention to the ‘hidden’ effects of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill". This was after he highlighted the side-effects of the original bill, which as originally drafted, would "give ministers power to alter any law passed by Parliament". Since "the Bill, bizarrely, even applies to itself, so that ministers could propose orders to remove the limitations" that were in the original bill, it would have effectively given unlimited power to ministers, and made parliament redundant. Howarth described the original bill as an "Abolition of Parliament Bill", and successfully lobbied for significant changes before it was passed into law. [2]

After his election, he became a Liberal Democrat spokesperson on local government and then energy, before specialising in shadowing the Ministry of Justice, as the Liberal Democrat Shadow Solicitor General between 2007 and 2009. Between January 2009 and May 2010, he was the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice.

He was one of the relatively few MPs not implicated in the 2009 expenses scandal, being singled out by The Guardian as one of the "Angels" for having " not claimed a penny in second home allowances" and commuting the 60 miles from Cambridge to Westminster.[3]

On 5 November 2009, he announced that he would be standing down as MP for Cambridge at the next election, citing a desire to return to academia, which he did so after the General Election of June 2010. He was subsequently reinstated in his old job, as a Reader in Law and Land Economy at Cambridge University.[4]

Since 1 October 2010, he has been an Electoral Commissioner, as the Liberal Democrats' party nominee.

Interests and membership[edit]

Howarth is a member of Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International. In 1995 he won the Butterworth's Prize for best new legal textbook. He is a casual supporter of Aston Villa FC.

Personal life[edit]

David Howarth has two children and is married to Edna Howarth. Edna Howarth is a magistrate in Cambridge Magistrates' Court who was involved in the sentencing of Stephen Fry for a speeding offence.[5][6]


  1. ^ "About us". Keynes Society. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  2. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article733022.ece
  3. ^ Gaby Hinsliff, Caroline Davies and Toby Helm (2009-05-17). "The week Britain turned its anger on politicians | Politics | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  4. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Lib Dem MP Howarth to stand down". BBC News. 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  5. ^ House of Commons (2008). Hansard, May 6, 2008, Column 586
  6. ^ BBC News (2002). "Comic Fry keeps licence", December 23, 2002. Accessed May 7, 2008.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Anne Campbell
Member of Parliament for Cambridge
Succeeded by
Julian Huppert