Dawn Butler

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Dawn Butler
Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement
In office
30 October 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Office Vacant
Member of Parliament
for Brent South
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Paul Boateng
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Majority 11,326 (38.1%)
Personal details
Born (1969-11-03) 3 November 1969 (age 45)
Forest Gate, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Dawn Petula Butler (born 3 November 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Brent South from 2005 to 2010, and was Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement [1] in the Cabinet Office. After her seat was abolished in boundary changes she stood as a candidate for the new Brent Central constituency, which she lost to Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather, polling 18,681 votes to Teather's 20,026.

Early life[edit]

Butler was born in Forest Gate in East London, to Jamaican immigrant parents into a large family with a sister and four brothers.[2] She worked as an officer of the GMB Union, including time as a national race and equality officer. She was also an adviser to the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone on employment and social issues.[2]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Butler's first attempt at entering Parliament was in Hackney South where she featured on a Labour all-women shortlist but was unsuccessful[3] Butler put herself forward for selection for West-Ham but was not selected.[4][5] Following the retirement of Paul Boateng to become British High Commissioner to South Africa she was selected as the Labour candidate in Brent South[6] and won the subsequent election with a majority of 11,326. She is the third black woman to become a British MP after Diane Abbott and Oona King.

Butler made her maiden speech on 24 May 2005[7] in which she described her constituency as a "shining example of integration at its best", highlighted the importance of the Warwick Agreement with the Trade Unions, paid tribute to other sitting and former black MPs and said she would be a voice for youth.

Interest in youth services continued as one of her main interests in Parliament. On 24 October 2006 she was appointed Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs, and she is an Honorary Vice President of the British Youth Council. After Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, on 27 June 2007, Butler was made one of the Labour Party's six Vice Chairs, with particular responsibility for Youth issues.[8]

She was appointed to the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons shortly after her election, and served on standing committees (notably on the Violent Crime Reduction Bill 2006). In November 2007 she was appointed to the Children & Families Select Committee. Earlier (in November 2005), she had been promoted to Parliamentary Private Secretary to the health minister Jane Kennedy, but decided to stand down from this post in early 2006.

On 6 November 2007, Butler was chosen to second the Queen’s Speech.[9] Her voting record shows she that she was largely been loyal to the government. She was promoted to Assistant Whip on 12 September 2008.[10]

In January 2009 she faced criticism after it emerged that an endorsement by Barack Obama had actually been written by her own staff.[11] Butler was named female MP of the year at the 2009 Women in Public Life awards ahead of fellow Labour MPs Margaret Moran and Sharon Hodgson.[12][13] Following her appointment as Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement, Butler became the first black woman to speak from the Despatch Box in the House of Commons during question time on 9 December 2009.

Expenses Controversy[edit]

In March 2009 she came under criticism for claiming almost the full £23,000 annual second home allowance, despite her other home in Stratford being the same distance from Parliament as her Brent South home.[14][15] She was found to have acted in accordance with the rules as they stood by the subsequent official investigation.[16]

Boundary changes[edit]

Butler's constituency of Brent South was abolished at the 2010 general election. Its territory was mostly divided between two new constituencies: Brent Central and Brent North. Butler was selected as the Labour candidate in Brent Central but lost to Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrats candidate, who had been the MP for Brent East which had also been abolished at the general election.

Butler has been chosen by the Brent Central branch of the Labour Party to stand as their candidate in the general election in 2015.


  1. ^ "Cabinet Office homepage". Cabinetoffice.gov.uk. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Dawn Butler Biography". dawnbutlermp.com. 
  3. ^ "Dawn Butler, MP". Operation Black Vote. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Two more candidates named as general election looms". Stratford and Newham Express. 30 March 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Hugh Muir (21 March 2005). "All-black Labour shortlist in Brent | Politics". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "MPs welcome Commons moment of history". ePolitix.com. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "Dawn Butler in Parliament". parliament.uk. 
  8. ^ "New Job for Dawn Butler MP". dawnbutlermp.com. 
  9. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "Hansard - 6 November 2007". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Public Whip - Voting Record for Dawn Butler MP". 
  11. ^ Jon Swaine, "My staff wrote 'Barack Obama tribute', junior minister Dawn Butler admits", The Telegraph, 23 January 2009.
  12. ^ "Shortlist | Women in Public Life Awards 2009". Womeninpubliclifeawards.co.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2010. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Women in Public Life Awards Winners 2009". Womeninpubliclifeawards.co.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2010. [dead link]
  14. ^ Peter Dominiczak and Benedict Moore-Bridger, "MP with two homes minutes from Commons claims £37,000 expenses", The Evening Standard, 24 March 2009.
  15. ^ "Another minister, Dawn Butler, attacked over second-home allowance", The Times, 24 March 2009.
  16. ^ "First Report of Session 2009–10". House of Commons Members Estimate Committee – Review of past ACA payments.

External links[edit]

Online interviews[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Paul Boateng
Member of Parliament for Brent South
Constituency abolished