John Denham (politician)
John Yorke Denham FRSA (born 15 July 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Southampton Itchen from 1992 to 2015. He served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills from 2007 to 2009 and as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from 2009 to 2010.
He was the Shadow Business Secretary in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet from 2010 to 2011, when he announced that he would be standing down as an MP at the next election, and retired from the front-bench in order to become Miliband's Parliamentary Private Secretary.
John Denham was born in Seaton, Devon and attended the Woodroffe Comprehensive School on Uplyme Road in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and the University of Southampton, where he took a BSc in Chemistry, and was President of the Students' Union in the academic year 1976-77.
After leaving education in 1977 he became an advice worker at the Energy Advice Agency in Durham, before becoming a transport campaigner with Friends of the Earth in 1978. He was Head of Youth Affairs at the British Council from 1979 until 1983, and was responsible for public education and advocacy for War on Want from 1984 to 1988. He subsequently worked for Christian Aid, Oxfam and other development agencies until his election to Westminster.
Prior to being elected as an MP, John Denham served as a local Councillor, initially as a member of the Hampshire County Council in 1981, where he remained until 1989 when he was elected as a councillor on Southampton City Council, on which he served until 1993 and was the Chairman of the City's Housing Committee. He was selected to contest the Southampton Itchen seat at the 1983 general election following the defection to the Social Democratic Party of the sitting Labour MP Bob Mitchell. The election proved to be a close run affair with Denham coming in third place, Mitchell in second, and the victor was the Conservative Christopher Chope who gained the seat with a majority of 5,290.
Denham again contested the seat at the 1987 general election, he overtook Mitchell into second place but was still behind Chope who held his seat with a majority of 6,716.
Member of Parliament
It proved third time lucky, as Denham finally took the seat at the 1992 general election, when he defeated Chope by just 551 votes and has remained an MP since (since 1997 Chope has been MP for the safe Tory seat of Christchurch, Dorset.) Mitchell did not fight the election. Denham made his maiden speech on 20 May 1992, reminding people that the Pilgrim Fathers left from Southampton, and not Plymouth as is widely thought, on their historic voyage to North America.
John Denham has held the following positions:
- 1995–1997: Opposition Spokesman for Social Security
- 1997–1998: Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security
- 1998–1999: Minister of State at the Department of Social Security
- 1999–2001: Minister of State for Health Services
- 2001–2003: Minister of State for Policing
- 2003–2007: Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee
- 2007–2009: Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
- 2009–2010: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
- 2010–2011: Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
- 2011–2013: Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition
In Parliament John Denham became a member of the Environment Select Committee in 1993, and was promoted to the frontbench by Tony Blair in 1995 as a spokesman on social security. After the 1997 general election he entered the Blair government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security, being promoted within the department to the rank of Minister of State in 1998. Following the promotion to the cabinet of Alan Milburn, Denham moved to the Department of Health in 1999. He became a Member of the Privy Council in 2000.
Resignation over Iraq War
Following the 2001 general election he became a Minister of State at the Home Office, until he resigned in March 2003 over the Iraq War. He had allegedly been promised, along with Peter Hain, that he would be one of the next people to be promoted to the cabinet by Blair.
After his resignation, Denham was appointed in July 2003 as chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee. Despite speculation following the 2005 general election that he would return as a member of the Government, he did not do so, although in the post-election reshuffle there were reports that he was offered – and accepted – the cabinet post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury, before being told that the post had been assigned instead to Des Browne.
Though regarded as a Blairite, Denham was a regular critic of the Blair administration as chair of the Home Affairs committee.
Return to Government
Following Brown's installation as Prime Minister in June 2007, Denham was named to take over the new post of Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills. In September 2007, he announced funding for students taking second degrees would be re-allocated to allow more students to take first degrees: adult and continuing education institutions such as the Open University, Birkbeck, University of London, and lifelong learning departments throughout the country, have voiced angry protest at the proposals.
During Denham's tenure as Secretary of State, he also announced an extension of maintenance grants to students from households earning up to £60,000 a year. The changes mean that an additional 50,000 students would be entitled to a full grant and an additional 100,000 students would be entitled to a partial grant.
As part of the Cabinet reshuffle on 5 June 2009, Denham was appointed to the role of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He replaced Hazel Blears who had resigned from the post on 3 June 2009.
In June 2012 Denham publicly admitted that Labour knew immigration was causing huge problems for working-class people in England as early as 2005.
John Denham has also been a member of the Executive Committee of the Fabian Society for several years, participating in many events and co-authoring a pamphlet on pensions as well as making several speeches and publishing articles in this forum. He is also a member of the 'Parliamentarian Fellows' scheme at the London School of Economics' Institute of Public Affairs.
He was seen as a government loyalist and University of Southampton Students' Union had revoked his lifetime membership for his support of tuition fees. He married Ruth Eleanor Dixon and they have a son, Edward, and a daughter, Rosie (now a Labour councillor in Exeter); they have now divorced. He has another child, born in 2005. He is a keen follower of cricket, and was a strong athlete in his youth. He is also a Saints fan, watching them whenever possible.
- Beckford, Martin (19 October 2009). "Communities Minister John Denham says he is a ‘secular humanist’". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Minister resigns over Iraq crisis". BBC News Online. 18 March 2003.
- "Brown unveils huge Cabinet revamp". BBC News Online. 28 June 2007.
- Lipsett, Anthea (13 September 2007). "Universities attack minister for cutting degree funding". The Guardian (London).
- Shepherd, Jessica (18 September 2007). "Shocked, puzzled and annoyed". The Guardian (London).
- MacLeod, Donald (12 October 2007). "Universities attack degree funding cuts". The Guardian (London).
- "John Denham announces more help for university students". John Denham.
- "Denham to stand down as MP". Southern Daily Echo. 7 October 2011.
- Kirkup, James (22 June 2012). "Labour knew immigration was out of control seven years ago, says former minister". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "John Denham MP - The Fabian Society". Fabian Society.
- "John Denham MP - Parliamentarian Fellow at LSE IPA". LSE.
- John Denham MP official site
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament
for Southampton Itchen
as Secretary of State for Education and Skills
|Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
The Lord Mandelson
as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
|Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
|Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
|Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
|Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition