Hilary Armstrong, Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top

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This article is about the British politician. For the scholar of neoplatonism, see A.H. Armstrong.
The Right Honourable
The Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top
PC
Hilary armstrong a.jpg
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Hutton
Succeeded by Ed Miliband
Minister for Social Exclusion
In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Phil Woolas
Succeeded by Position abolished
Chief Whip of the Labour Party
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
8 June 2001 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ann Taylor
Succeeded by Jacqui Smith
Member of Parliament
for Durham North West
In office
11 June 1987 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Ernest Armstrong
Succeeded by Pat Glass
Personal details
Born (1945-11-30) 30 November 1945 (age 68)
Sunderland, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Paul Corrigan
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Website Official website

Hilary Jane Armstrong, Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (born 30 November 1945) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for North West Durham from 1987 to 2010.

Early life[edit]

Armstrong was educated at Monkwearmouth Grammar School, the West Ham Technical Institute (now the University of East London) (BSc) and the University of Birmingham (Diploma in Social Work). A former social worker and university lecturer, Armstrong worked for VSO in Kenya before entering politics. She was first elected as Durham County Councillor for Crook North Division in 1985.

The daughter of Labour MP Ernest Armstrong, she was shortlisted for the vacant Sedgefield constituency in 1983, only to lose out to Tony Blair. Four years later, at the 1987 general election, she was elected to her father's North West Durham seat on his retirement, increasing his majority by 3,806 to 10,162.[1]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Armstrong was parliamentary private secretary to John Smith during his time as Labour leader, and played a large part in his successful fight to institute One member, one vote at Labour's party conference.

Armstrong was seen as a politician on the far-right of the Labour Party, and was close politically to her near neighbour Tony Blair and the New Labour agenda. However, she is also a member of the Amicus trades union (formerly MSF), and her trades union links were useful when she helped to shore up support for the rewriting of Clause IV.[citation needed]

In government[edit]

Armstrong spent four years as Minister for Local Government in the DETR and then the DTLR, before being promoted into the Cabinet of the United Kingdom as Chief Whip after the 2001 election. This was the high point of a political career which was low-key but generally successful; though she endured controversies over select committee membership and over allegations of strong arm tactics with Labour dissenters over military action in Afghanistan.[2]

Armstrong also faced criticism after government defeats in the Commons over the length of time suspected terrorists could be detained without charge, and incitement to religious hatred provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Press commentators speculated that in losing these votes through miscalculating government support, and in one instance letting the Prime Minister off the "Whip" because she believed the vote was won, Armstrong's position had become vulnerable.[3] However the rumours that she would resign the post[4] proved unfounded.

Afterwards Conservative leader David Cameron mocked Armstrong during an exchange with Tony Blair, saying “She must be the first Chief Whip in history to put the Prime Minister in the frame for losing a key vote — which is an interesting career move, to say the least.”[5] This was the second time David Cameron had attacked her during Prime minister's questions; on his debut as Leader of the Opposition on 7 December 2005 she was singled out by Cameron when he said "That's the problem with these exchanges - the chief whip on the Labour side shouting like a child. Is she finished? Are you finished?"[6]

On 5 May 2006 Armstrong was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Minister for Social Exclusion. In 2006 Armstrong launched a petition on behalf of the Bethnal Green and Bow Labour Party against Respect MP George Galloway's participation in Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother. She criticised Galloway for being paid as an MP during the time he was in the Big Brother house. Galloway responded by saying he planned to refund the taxpayer after his exit from the show as he would not know how much to refund until then.[7]

She formally resigned from the government on 27 June 2007 when Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister. On becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced Armstrong's appointment as Chair of a Parliamentary Labour Party Manifesto Committee drawing up policy ideas covering children.[citation needed]

Post-Government[edit]

On 4 July 2009, Armstrong announced her intention to stand down at the 2010 general election.[8]

On 18 June 2010, she was created a life peer as Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, of Crook in the County of Durham, and was introduced in the House of Lords on 6 July 2010.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Armstrong is married to Paul Corrigan.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Armstrong
Member of Parliament for North West Durham
19872010
Succeeded by
Pat Glass
Political offices
Preceded by
Ann Taylor
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
2001–2006
Succeeded by
Jacqui Smith
Chief Whip of the Labour Party
2001–2006
Preceded by
John Hutton
Minister for the Cabinet Office
2006–2007
Succeeded by
Ed Miliband
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2006–2007
Preceded by
Phil Woolas
Minister for Social Exclusion
2006–2007
Position abolished
Preceded by
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
1997-1999
Succeeded by
Nick Raynsford