Jacqui Smith

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For the American professional footballer, see Jackie Smith.
The Right Honourable
Jacqui Smith
Smith, Jacqui (crop).jpg
Home Secretary
In office
28 June 2007 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Reid
Succeeded by Alan Johnson
Government Chief Whip in the Commons
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
5 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Hilary Armstrong
Succeeded by Geoff Hoon
Member of Parliament
for Redditch
In office
1 May 1997 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Karen Lumley
Personal details
Born (1962-11-03) 3 November 1962 (age 51)
Malvern, Worcestershire, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater Hertford College, Oxford

Jacqueline Jill Smith (born 3 November 1962) is a member of the British Labour Party. She was the Member of Parliament for Redditch from 1997 until 2010, the first female Home Secretary and the third woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State, after Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister) and Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary).

Smith was one of the MPs investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards over a variety of inappropriate expense claims[1] Smith, whose case was arguably among the most significant of the MPs' expenses cases, was never prosecuted, and was asked to pay back less than average after investigation by Sir Thomas Legg;[2] but she was found to have "clearly" broken the rules on expenses and ordered to apologise.[3] On 5 June 2009, she ceased to be Home Secretary in the Cabinet reshuffle, and then lost her seat as Member of Parliament for Redditch in the 2010 General Election.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born in Malvern, Worcestershire, Smith attended Dyson Perrins High School in Malvern. Her parents were teachers, and both Labour councillors; although her mother briefly joined the SDP. Her local MP, Conservative backbencher Sir Michael Spicer, recalled in Parliament in 2003 how he had first met her when he was addressing the sixth form at The Chase School, where Smith's mother was a teacher:[5] "So great was my eloquence that she immediately rushed off and joined the Labour Party."[6] Smith read PPE at Hertford College, Oxford and gained a PGCE from Worcester College of Higher Education.[citation needed]

Working as a school teacher, Smith taught Economics at Arrow Vale High School in Redditch from 1986 to 1988[7] and at Worcester Sixth Form College, before becoming Head of Economics and GNVQ Co-ordinator at Haybridge High School, Hagley in 1990.

Smith also worked as secretary of the National Organisation of Labour Students[8] and describes herself as having a "feminist background".[9]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Having failed to be elected as a Labour MP for the safe Conservative seat of Mid Worcestershire in 1992, Smith was selected through an all-women shortlist in the 1997 general election as the Labour candidate for Redditch.[10]

She won the seat as part of a (then) record number of female MPs elected to the House of Commons who were dubbed "Blair Babes". Smith was re-elected in 2001 and 2005; following the 2005 election she had a majority of just 1,948 (4.6% of the vote), owing to boundary changes.[11][12]

Smith entered the Government in July 1999 as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Employment, working with the Minister for School Standards Estelle Morris.[13] She then became a Minister of State at the Department of Health following the 2001 general election. She was appointed as the Government's deputy Minister for Women in 2003, working alongside Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt. In this role she published the Government's proposals for Civil Partnerships, a system designed to offer same-sex couples an opportunity to gain legal recognition for their relationship with an associated set of rights and responsibilities.

Minister for Schools[edit]

Following the 2005 general election, Smith was appointed to serve as the Minister of State for Schools in the Department for Education and Skills, replacing Stephen Twigg who had lost his seat.[14] Teacher trade union sources stated that Smith "talked to us on our level".[15]

Government Chief Whip[edit]

In the 2006 reshuffle she was appointed as the Government's Chief Whip. In a period when supporters of Gordon Brown were pushing Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign, she was successfully able to calm the situation down.[15] The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson described her as being effective at "making peace between the warring Blair and Brown factions".[16]

Smith was regarded as a loyal Blairite during Tony Blair's premiership, a position reflected in her voting record,[17] and she was brought to tears by Blair's farewell appearance in the House of Commons.[15]

Home Secretary[edit]

Smith was appointed Home Secretary in Gordon Brown's first Cabinet reshuffle of 28 June 2007. Just one day into her new job bombs were found in London and a terrorist attack took place in Glasgow the following day.[18]

On 24 January 2008, she announced new powers for the police, including the proposal to permit law enforcement services to hold terrorist suspects or those linked to terrorism for up to 42 days without charging them.[19] In the same month Smith said that she would not feel safe on the streets of London at night. Critics suggested her statements were an admission that the government had failed to tackle crime effectively.[20] Smith also introduced legislation to toughen the prostitution laws of England and Wales, making it a criminal offence to pay for sex with a prostitute controlled by a pimp, with the possibility that anyone caught paying for sex with an illegally trafficked woman could face criminal charges.[21]

Smith introduced a crime mapping scheme to allow citizens of England and Wales to access local crime information and how to combat crime.[22] As Home Secretary, she was able to announce that minor crime dropped year-on-year under the Labour government, and continued to do so in 2008.[23]

Smith managed to pass the 42-day detention law plans in the House of Commons, despite heavy opposition.[24] The House of Lords voted overwhelmingly against the law, with some of the Lords reportedly characterising it as "fatally flawed, ill-thought-through and unnecessary", stating that "it seeks to further erode fundamental legal and civil rights".[25] In March 2009, Smith published the first ever public Counter Terror Strategy.[citation needed]

When conservative MP Damian Green was arrested in his commons office, Smith stated that she was not informed of the impending arrest. The Metropolitan Police said that Green was "arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office". A junior Home Office official, Christopher Galley, was later arrested regarding the same alleged offences as Green, and was released on bail. He was not charged, but he was suspended from his Home Office job while the investigation continued. He was later sacked from his position for gross misconduct. Green did not dispute having dealings with the Home Office official.[26][27]

In March 2009, at the height of the expenses furore, a leaked poll of Labour Party members revealed that Smith was considered to be the worst performing member of the cabinet, with only 56% of her party believing she was doing a good job.[28][29]

National identity legislation[edit]

In May 2009, Smith announced that the cost of introducing the National Identity Card project (a scheme abandoned by the incoming Liberal-Conservative coalition government in May 2010), had risen to an estimated £5.3 billion, and that it would first become compulsory for foreign students and airport staff. It was planned that the cards would be made available from high-street shops at an estimated cost of £60.[30] Smith defended her decision to use high-street shops, and stated that the hope was to make enrolment in the scheme a less intimidating experience and to make the cards easier to access.[31] She claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that the majority of the population was in favour of the scheme.[30][32] In another privacy-related issue, Smith said she was disappointed at the European Court of Human Rights' decision to strike down a law allowing the government to store the DNA and fingerprints of people with no criminal record; in December 2008 an estimated 850,000 such DNA samples were being held in England and Wales.[33] Her compromise was to scale down the length of time that data could be kept, with a maximum limit of 12 years. A number of commentators felt that this went against the spirit of the Court's decision.[34][35]

Drug policy[edit]

On 19 July 2007 Smith admitted to smoking cannabis a few times in Oxford in the 1980s. "I did break the law... I was wrong... drugs are wrong", she said. Asked why students today should listen when she urged them not to try the drug, she said that the dangers of cannabis use had become clearer, including mental health issues and the increasing strength of the drug over the past 25 years. Smith's admission was made public the day after Gordon Brown appointed her head of a new government review of the UK Drugs strategy.[36]

In May 2008, against the recommendations of her own scientific advisers,[37] Smith reversed the government's 2004 decision to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug, returning it to the status of class B, with the law change taking effect on 26 January 2009.[38] According to her most senior expert drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, the following exchange took place between Smith and himself:

Smith: "You cannot compare the harms of an illegal activity with a legal one."
Nutt then asked whether one shouldn't compare the harms to see if something should be illegal.
Smith (after a long pause): "You can't compare the harms of an illegal activity with a legal one."[39]

In February 2009 Smith was accused by Nutt of making a political decision in rejecting the scientific advice to downgrade ecstasy from a class A drug. The advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD) report on ecstasy, based on a 12-month study of 4,000 academic papers, concluded that it is nowhere near as dangerous as other class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, and should be downgraded to class B alongside amphetamines and cannabis. The advice was not followed; the government saying that it was "not prepared to send a message to young people that we take ecstasy less seriously".[40] Smith was also widely criticised by the scientific community for bullying Professor Nutt into apologising for his factual comments that, in the course of a normal year, more people died from falling off horses than died from taking ecstasy.[41]

Expenses controversies[edit]

Smith was investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards over accusations that she had inappropriately designated her sister's home in London as her main residence.[1] The arrangement had allowed Smith to claim over £116,000 on her family's Redditch home since becoming an MP.[42] Smith contended that she had done nothing wrong.

On 8 February 2009, it was revealed in the press that Smith had designated a house in London owned by her sister as her main residence in order to claim a parliamentary allowance for her house in Redditch as a secondary home, despite explicitly stating on her website that she "lives in Redditch".[43] When asked whether it was fair that she made claims believed to have been made for items such as a flat-screen TV and scatter cushions, she said that analyses of her receipts had been very particular. In response to criticisms over her housing allowances, she said it was the "nature of the job" that MPs had to furnish and run two properties.[44]

It was also reported that Smith had claimed expenses for a telecoms bill that contained two pornographic films and two other pay-per-view films. Smith said it was a mistake, and she would repay the amount.[45] This and other cases prompted calls for reform of the additional costs allowance and a new system of payments to be introduced.[46] Gordon Brown supported her and said she had done nothing wrong.[47]

In October 2009, it was reported that the Standards Commissioner, John Lyon, had looked into complaints over her expense claims. He concluded that, although her London home was a genuine home and she had spent more nights there than in her Redditch home, her constituency home was in fact her main home, and that she was in breach of Commons rules, despite "significant mitigating circumstances". The claims for pay-per-view films were also found to be in breach. Ms Smith was not asked to repay any money, but was told to "apologise to the House by means of a personal statement." Ms Smith reacted by saying that she was "disappointed that this process has not led to a fairer set of conclusions, based on objective and consistent application of the rules as they were at the time.".[48]

In an interview with Radio Times published in February 2011, Smith claimed that her expenses had been scrutinised because she was a woman, saying: "[I] know that it was my expenses people looked at first because I was a woman and should have been at home looking after my husband and children." Smith said that she had felt "frozen rather than angry" on learning that her husband had entered a parliamentary expenses claim for two pornographic films.[49]

Exclusion list[edit]

On 5 May 2009, Smith named 16 'undesirable individuals', including convicted murderers and advocates of violence, who were to be banned from entering the United Kingdom over their alleged threat to public order.[50] Controversially, the exclusion list included outspoken American talk radio host Michael Savage, who instructed London lawyers to sue Smith for 'serious and damaging defamatory allegations'.[51][52] A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The home secretary has made it clear that if such a case was brought that any legal proceedings would be robustly defended."[53] Smith defended the choice of individuals by declaring, 'If you can't live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country and, what's more, now we will make public those people that we have excluded.'[54] The Guardian[55] criticised Smith's actions.

After the Home Office[edit]

On 2 June 2009, Smith confirmed that she would leave the Cabinet in the next reshuffle, expected after the local and European Elections.[56] She left office on 5 June and returned to the back benches. She was replaced by Alan Johnson. In a subsequent interview with Total Politics magazine regarding her time as Home Secretary, Smith described how she felt under-qualified for her Ministerial roles, adding "when I became home secretary, I'd never run a major organisation. I hope I did a good job. But if I did, it was more by luck than by any kind of development of skills. I think we should have been better trained. I think there should have been more induction.".[57] Smith's major achievements as Home Secretary were introduction of tougher prostitution laws,[21] a reduction in crime rates[22] and promotion of Police Community Support Officers

In the General Election on 6 May 2010, Jacqui Smith lost her seat as Member of Parliament for Redditch to Karen Lumley of the Conservative Party, who won the seat with a majority of 5,821 votes. Smith said that she had been "immensely honoured" to serve Redditch.[58] Smith wrote an open letter to the new Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May, advising her that the post was often seen as a "poisoned chalice".[59] In 2010, she began working as a consultant for KPMG and as an adviser to Sarina Russo Job Access.[citation needed] She applied to be vice-chairman of the BBC Trust.[citation needed] Smith presented a documentary on pornography, for BBC Radio 5 Live, called Porn Again which was broadcast on 3 March 2011. It was followed by a special edition of the Tony Livesey show, discussing pornography.[60] She has regularly been on This Week and also Question Time. She also contributed to The Purple Book in 2011, putting forward new ideas on crime and policing.

Since March 2012, she has co-hosted a weekly show on talk radio station LBC 97.3 alongside former Conservative cabinet minister David Mellor – she took over from Ken Livingstone after he left to contest the London Mayoral Race of 2012.[61]

She was to take over as Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust in December 2013.[62]

Personal life[edit]

Smith married Richard Timney (born 1963 in Ealing, London) in October 1987 in Malvern, Worcestershire, and they have two sons. In June 2008 the Independent newspaper reported that she was a season-ticket holder at Aston Villa Football Club.[63]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith asked to explain expenses, BBC News, 18 February 2009
  2. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8493634.stm|publisher=BBC
  3. ^ http://www.metro.co.uk/news/750898-jacqui-smith-ordered-to-say-sorry-for-expenses-breach
  4. ^ "Former home secretary Jacqui Smith loses seat to Tories". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Minister visits high school, This is Worcestershire, 8 June 2001.
  6. ^ House of Commons Hansard, 1 April 2003, column 876: Michael Spicer on Jacqui Smith.
  7. ^ New Minister of State for Health, UK Transplant Bulletin, Autumn 2001.
  8. ^ Castle, Stephen; Birnberg, Ariadne (9 February 1997). "The Cabinet of Tomorrow?". The Independent (London). 
  9. ^ "Jacqui Smith 'quit over porn row'". BBC News. 12 July 2009. 
  10. ^ "All women shortlists". House of commons library. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Redditch, UKPollingReport
  12. ^ Coates, Sam; Jenkins, Russell (13 October 2009). "Jacqui Smiths career facing ruin after devastating expenses verdict". The Times (London). Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Education ministers change in reshuffle". BBC News (London). 29 July 1999. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  14. ^ "Adviser Adonis made a minister". BBC News (London). 10 May 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c Morris, Nigel (29 June 2007). "First woman at the Home Office: Jacqui Smith". The Independent (London). Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  16. ^ "Profile: Jacqui Smith". BBC News (London). 19 July 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  17. ^ Public Whip: Voting Record – Jacqui Smith MP
  18. ^ Baptism of fire for new Home Secretary Smith, Daily Telegraph, 2 July 2007
  19. ^ "smith plans 42-day terror limit". London: bbc online. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  20. ^ Home secretary Jacqui Smith scared of walking London alone, The Times, 20 January 2008
  21. ^ a b "Prostitute users face clampdown". London: BBC News. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  22. ^ a b Crime maps online 'by end 2008', BBC News, 28 July 2008
  23. ^ Recorded crime figures show fall, BBC News, 17 July 2008
  24. ^ Brown wins crunch vote on 42 days, BBC News, 11 June 2008
  25. ^ Jacqui Smith creates 'emergency bill' after 42-day detention defeat, Telegraph, 14 October 2008
  26. ^ Philippe Naughton "MPs' fresh fury as Jacqui Smith defends Home Office over leaks", The Times, 4 December 2008
  27. ^ Summers, Deborah (24 April 2009). "damian-green-civil-servant-sacked". London: guardian online. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  28. ^ http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/1968
  29. ^ Hennessy, Patrick (7 March 2009). "Harriet Harman less popular than Peter Mandelson among Labour members". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  30. ^ a b "Smith ID comments 'beggar belief'", BBC News, 7 November 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008
  31. ^ Russell Jenkins "Jacqui Smith says ID cards could be available from high street shops", The Times, 6 May 2009
  32. ^ "People 'can't wait for ID cards'", BBC News, 7 November 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008
  33. ^ Paisley Dodds / Associated Press (4 December 2008). "European court in landmark ruling says Britain can't store DNA, fingerprint data of non-criminals". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 
  34. ^ Mark Thomas (7 May 2009). "Smith's DNA database by stealth". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  35. ^ Jennifer Gold (10 May 2009). "Church leaders condemn Government decision to retain DNA". Christian Today. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  36. ^ "Home Secretary: I smoked cannabis". London: BBC News. 19 July 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 
  37. ^ Travis, Alan (May 2008). "Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification". London: The Guardian. 
  38. ^ Hope, Christopher (8 May 2008). "Cannabis to be upgraded to class B drug". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  39. ^ Decca Aitkenhead, "David Nutt: 'The government cannot think logically about drugs'", guardian.co.uk, 6 December 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  40. ^ Travis, Alan (February 2009). "Government criticised over refusal to downgrade ecstasy". London: The Guardian. 
  41. ^ Kmietowicz, Zosia (February 2009). "Home secretary accused of bullying drugs adviser over comments about ecstasy". The British Medical Journal. 
  42. ^ Smith faces expenses probe call, BBC News, 19 February 2009
  43. ^ Jacqui Smith MP biography, Labour
  44. ^ "Smith defends use of allowances". London: BBC News. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  45. ^ "Smith 'sorry' for expenses claim". BBC News (London). 29 March 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  46. ^ "Scrap second home allowance – PM". London: BBC News. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 
  47. ^ "Brown backs Smith in expenses row". BBC News (London). 30 March 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  48. ^ Woodcock, Andrew (12 October 2009). "Smith ordered to apologise". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 October 2009. 
  49. ^ "Smith 'frozen rather than angry' about porn expenses". BBC News (London). 22 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  50. ^ "Home Office name hate promoters excluded from the UK". Press Release. UK Home Office. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  51. ^ Jacqui Smith sued over shock jock accusations Telegraph.co.uk (31 May 2009)
  52. ^ Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to fight shock-jock Michael Savage's lawsuit, Times Online, 1 June 2009
  53. ^ "Banned 'shock jock' fights back". London: the BBC. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  54. ^ "US 'hate list' DJ to sue Britain". London: BBC News. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  55. ^ Catherine Bennett "Yes Jacqui, let's keep out those dangerous homeopaths", The Guardian, 10 May 2009
  56. ^ "Home Secretary Smith to step down". London: BBC News. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  57. ^ "Smith regrets lack of training". London: BBC News. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  58. ^ Britten, Nick (7 May 2010). "General Election 2010: Jacqui Smith defeated in Redditch". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  59. ^ "The handover: An open letter from Jacqui Smith to Theresa May". London: The Independent. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  60. ^ "Jacqui Smith to investigate porn trade for the BBC". London: BBC News. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  61. ^ "Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has joined the LBC line-up". London: LBC 97.3. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  62. ^ Jacqui, Smith. "Former MP Jacqui Smith gets top job at QE Hospital". Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  63. ^ profile in The Independent, 7 June 2008

External links[edit]

Offices held[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Redditch
19972010
Succeeded by
Karen Lumley
Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Roche
Deputy Minister for Women
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Meg Munn
Preceded by
Stephen Twigg
Minister of State for Schools
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Jim Knight
as Minister of State for Schools and Learners
Preceded by
Hilary Armstrong
Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons
2006–2007
Succeeded by
Geoff Hoon
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
2006–2007
Preceded by
John Reid
Home Secretary
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Alan Johnson