Lynne Featherstone

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The Right Honourable
Lynne Featherstone
MP
Lynne Featherstone - under secretary for equalities and criminal information.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
Incumbent
Assumed office
4 September 2012
Preceded by Stephen O'Brien
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Equalities
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Maria Eagle (Minister of State)
Succeeded by Helen Grant[1]
Spokesman for Youth and Equality Issues
In office
2 July 2007 – 13 May 2010
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by Susan Kramer
Member of Parliament
for Hornsey and Wood Green
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Barbara Roche
Majority 7,875 (12.5%)
Member of the London Assembly
for the Liberal Democrats (London-wide)
In office
4 May 2000 – 6 June 2005
Preceded by New constituency
Succeeded by Geoff Pope
Personal details
Born (1951-12-20) 20 December 1951 (age 62)
Highgate, Middlesex, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s) Stephen Featherstone 1982–96 (divorced)
Children 2
Residence Highgate
Alma mater Oxford Polytechnic
Profession Politician
Religion Judaism[2]

Lynne Choona Featherstone PC (born Lynne Choona Ryness, 20 December 1951[3]), is a British Liberal Democrat politician, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hornsey and Wood Green.

Under the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010 she was appointed as a junior Home Office minister with responsibility for equality.[4] In 2012, she became a junior minister with responsibility for international development.[5] Previously she was Liberal Democrat spokesman for Youth and Equality issues, and chair of the Liberal Democrats technology board.[6] Featherstone launched the consultation by the UK government on introducing same-sex marriage and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign.[7]

Early life[edit]

Featherstone was born and brought up in North London in a British Jewish family,[8] and educated at the Highgate Primary School, the independent South Hampstead High School (then a direct grant grammar school) and gained a Diploma in Communication and Design at Oxford Polytechnic.[9][10] Her family's wealth is generated from a family business started by her parents – the Ryness chain of hardware and electrical shops in London.

Councillor of London Borough of Haringey 1998–2006[edit]

She was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Haringey in 1998 for Muswell Hill ward. She and her two colleagues (June Andersen and Julia Glenn) were the first three Liberal Democrat councillors to be elected in the borough. She was leader of Liberal Democrat Group (and thereby Leader of the Opposition) on the council 1998–2002.

She stood down from Haringey Council at the May 2006 elections. She played a substantial role in the May 2006 election campaign in Haringey where Labour's majority was cut from 25 to 3, with 30 Labour councillors elected to 27 Liberal Democrats.

Member of the London Assembly 2000–2005[edit]

From 2000 until 2005, when she stood down, Featherstone was a member of the London Assembly. During this time, she was chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee.[11] She was replaced as a member of the London Assembly by Geoff Pope.

Featherstone was promoted by some as a potential Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in the 2008 election. In response to a poll on the Liberal Democrat Voice website,[12] she ruled herself out, stating that, of the other people in the poll, she would back Brian Paddick.[13]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Lynne Featherstone first contested the Hornsey and Wood Green seat at the 1997 general election where she finished in third place some 25,998 votes behind the winner Barbara Roche. She again fought Hornsey and Wood Green at the 2001 general election, moving into second place and reducing Roche's majority to 10,614. In one of the largest swings at the 2005 general election, Featherstone defeated Roche with a majority of 2,395 votes.

She made her maiden speech in Parliament on 24 May 2005.[14] She was appointed as a junior home affairs spokesperson by Charles Kennedy in 2005, and to the environment audit select committee.

She was co-chair of Chris Huhne's unsuccessful campaign to be leader of the Liberal Democrats following the resignation of Kennedy in January 2006. In March, following the election of Menzies Campbell as party leader, she was promoted to number two in the Liberal Democrat home affairs team and made London spokesperson. In December 2006, she succeeded Susan Kramer as the Liberal Democrat Shadow International Development Secretary, and two months later was succeeded by Tom Brake as London spokesperson.

In 2007, following the resignation of Menzies Campbell, she again chaired Chris Huhne's leadership election campaign. On 20 December 2007 the new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who defeated Chris Huhne, made her Youth and Equalities spokesperson.

On 5 February 2013 Featherstone voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.[15] She was given a score of 93% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.[16]

Aftermath of death of Peter Connelly[edit]

Following the death of 17-month old Peter Connelly, Haringey Council initiated an internal audit Serious Case Review (SCR).[17] Although the actual report was completed months earlier, the Executive Summary of the report was released immediately after the resulting court case had completed. The full details of the report have been kept confidential. Featherstone had been particularly critical of Haringey Council, writing "I personally met with George Meehan and Ita O'Donovan – Haringey Council's leader and chief executive – to raise with them three different cases, where the pattern was in each case Haringey seeming to want to blame anyone who complained rather than to look at the complaint seriously. I was promised action – but despite repeated subsequent requests for news on progress – I was just stonewalled."[18]

In November 2008, at Prime minister's questions, Featherstone asked the Prime Minister to order an inquiry into the Connelly case.[19] She was leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Haringey Council at the time of the murder of Victoria Climbié.

Media attention[edit]

In April 2006 one of Featherstone's researchers received a hoax email warning about an apparent date rape drug called Progesterex.[20] Featherstone submitted a question to a government minister inquiring as to "what assessment he has made of the use of progesterex in cases of date rape". Paul Goggins replied in the House of Commons that Progesterex did not exist: "It has been the subject of a hoax e-mail".[21][22] The hoax first originated in 1999.[23] Featherstone criticised the minister's response, stating "they need to do more to discover the unearthly monster who sends them out" and that "their cavalier attitude will not do".[24][25] However, critics such as fellow Liberal Democrat James Graham castigated Featherstone's conduct in "criticising the Home Office for not having a response to made up drugs and made up crimes", stating "trivialising rape in this way without bothering to do basic research first doesn't help anybody".[26]

In April 2007, Featherstone was forced to return large quantities of stationery after her office ordered £22,000 worth in the previous month in an attempt to beat new rules on stationery allowances. Featherstone blamed a staff member for the incident, stating she "knew nothing". In a leaked email, Parliamentary official Cliff Harris reportedly stated "it's quite alarming when you see that Lynne Featherstone spent over £22,000 in one month, the equivalent to three years of the new capped rate".[27] Featherstone subsequently said she would be putting in place better office procedures.[28]

She came to the attention of the national media in 2008 when she was criticised by Conservative Member of the London Assembly Brian Coleman for calling 999 (the UK's emergency number) when her boiler began making noises and sparking. Coleman referred to her as a "dizzy airhead", Featherstone responded by calling his comments "sexist" and "political" in nature.[29][30] A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman told BBC News: "If it's obvious that there has been an ongoing problem with the boiler, then you can call a plumber. But if your boiler suddenly starts making strange noises in the middle of the night, call the fire brigade."

In May 2009, she was listed by The Daily Telegraph as one of the "Saints" in the expenses scandal.[31]

She has indicated she would attempt to ban topless models from appearing on The Sun newspaper's Page 3, stating "I would love to take on Page 3".[32][33][34]

In January 2013, she called for the sacking of John Mulholland, editor of The Observer, for publishing an article by Julie Burchill.[35]

In government[edit]

Lynne Featherstone launches 16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women with the Minister of Gender and Child Development, Inonge Wina MP, in Zambia in November 2012.

Under the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010 she was appointed as a junior minister at the Home Office as Parliamentary Under secretary for equalities.[4] She announced her appointment herself ahead of the formal announcement and expected some compromise with the Tories on her previous aims; her senior minister Home Secretary Theresa May was noted as not voting to favour homosexual equality.[36]

In December 2010 Featherstone introduced a move that would allow positive discrimination which is primarily aimed at addressing female under-representation in the workforce. It will also mean that a manager will be able lawfully to hire a black man over a white man, a homosexual man over a heterosexual man, if they have the same skill set. Featherstone, denied the plans were about "political correctness, or red tape, or quotas" and would help make the workplace fairer.[37]

In September 2011 Featherstone caused controversy by claiming men make "terrible decisions" when they are in charge. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference Featherstone blamed men for the mess the world was in, and commentators drew parallels with similar comments by one of Featherstone's predecessors, Harriet Harman. Her comments attracted criticism from across the political spectrum and were considered particularly inappropriate given her role as a minister in charge of ending sexism. Conservative MP Priti Patel said: "These comments are really ill-thought out. As equalities minister she has got to be unbiased about the value that both men and women bring to decision-making."[38][39] Elizabeth Day of The Observer newspaper was equally troubled by the remarks, writing "the notion that women are not as aggressive as men, that we would all just sit around a table eating red velvet cupcakes and talking out the world's problems rather than firing off phallic-shaped nuclear weapons is a complete fallacy".[40]

On 5 September 2012 she was confirmed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow in September 2013, she supported Liberal Democrat policy to prosecute those responsible for cases where girls are sent abroad to have female genital mutilation carried out, or where it is carried out in the UK.[41]

Polls and awards[edit]

In 2006, she was shortlisted in the "Rising Stars" category of the Channel 4 political awards, but did not win. She has also been nominated for the prestigious "Woman of the Year" award.

At the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton in 2006, she was named by The Sun as one of four "Lib Dem lovelies",[42] and in a February 2010 Sky News poll she was named the most fanciable MP in the UK.[43]

Lynne Featherstone was nominated for the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in both 2009 and 2012 for her work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[44]

Personal life[edit]

She married Stephen Featherstone in Haringey in 1982, but divorced in 1996. They have two children.[45] She lives in Highgate, London.[46][47]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, Scott. "Lynne Featherstone moved from equalities role in UK Government reshuffle". PinkNews.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Jewish media round-up". www.somethingjewish.co.uk. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Ashton, Emily; Hughes, David (14.5.10). "Equality Job for Lib Dem MP". London: The Independent.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development – Inside Government". GOV.UK. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Clegg reshuffles top Lib Dem team". BBC News (BBC). 8.1.09.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "Lynne Featherstone's honeycomb surprise". Libdemvoice.org. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Jessica Elgot. "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle. 
  9. ^ "Highgate pupils reveal designs for Lynne Featherstone's Christmas card competition – News". Hornsey Journal. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "WPR – Lynne Featherstone MP". Parliamentaryrecord.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Former London Assembly Member Lynne Featherstone". Greater London Authority. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "New poll: who do you want to be the Lib Dems’ London mayoral candidate?". Libdemvoice.org. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary – Don't vote for me!". Lynnefeatherstone.org. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (24 May 2005). "Hansard – 24 May 2005 col 650". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  15. ^ {http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130205/debtext/130205-0004.htm} The House of Commons.2013.Marriage (Same Sex Couples)Bill 2012–2013.
  16. ^ {http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/stonewall_mp_voting_records_2010_1.pdf> Stonewall 2010
  17. ^ "Haringey Council Internal Audit – Serious Case Review" (PDF). Haringey Council. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ "A litany of failure by Haringey". Lynne Featherstone MP. Retrieved 26 November 2008. [dead link]
  19. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (12 November 2008). "Prime minister's questions – live". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary – Delivery, canvassing, stuffing". Lynnefeatherstone.org. 2 May 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Beaumont Hospital investigates fake email warning of rape drug[dead link]
  22. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "Hansard 18 Apr 2006 col 288W". Parliament.the-stationery-office.com. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Progesterex Rape". Snopes. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Bob Roberts (2 May 2006). "The Daily Mirror – Exclusive: Email on Date Drug is a Hoax". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Adams, Stephen (25 July 2010). " Christmas". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  26. ^ MatGB. "Quaequam Blog! " Cook'd and Bomb'd". Theliberati.net. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  27. ^ "Crackdown on free postage as Labour MP claims £50,000 on stationery". London: Daily Mail. 28 April 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary – Mail on Sunday". Lynnefeatherstone.org. 28 April 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "MP criticised for 999 boiler call". BBC News. 13 December 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  30. ^ John Bingham (13 December 2008). "MP Lynne Featherstone branded 'dizzy airhead' for calling fire brigade to tackle boiler". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  31. ^ "MPs' Expenses: the saints". London: The Telegraph. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  32. ^ O'Doherty, Ian (30 April 2010). "Ian O'Doherty: What a pair of boobies!". Irish Independent. 
  33. ^ Jamie Pandaram (25 June 2013). "I'll ban Sun's Page 3 models, says deputy UK Labour leader Harriet Harman | thetelegraph.com.au". Dailytelegraph.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "UK's Labour party sparks new spat with paper over famous topless models". 6 May 2010. 
  35. ^ Philipson, Alice (13 January 2013). "Lynne Featherstone calls for Observer's Julie Burchill to be sacked following 'disgusting rant' against transsexuals". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Geen, Jessica. "Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone appointed junior equality minister". PinkNews.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  37. ^ Hope, Christopher; Peacock, Louisa (2 December 2010). "Bosses can lawfully hire a woman over a man with same qualifications for first time". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  38. ^ Anne McElvoy (20 September 2011). "The feminist fantasies of a loopy Lib-Dem | News". Thisislondon.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  39. ^ Gerges, David (19 September 2011). "Men's 'terrible decisions' are to blame for the world's problems, claims equalities minister". Daily Mail (London). 
  40. ^ Day, Elizabeth (25 September 2011). "Having ovaries doesn't make you a better person – Elizabeth Day". The Guardian (London). 
  41. ^ "Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem Minister, Says FGM Would 'Not Last If Boys' Willies Were Being Cut Off'". Huffington Post. 17 September 2013. 
  42. ^ The Sun – Here are OUR Lib Dem Lovelies[dead link]
  43. ^ Press Association (12 February 2010). "''The Guardian'' – Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone tops 'most fanciable MP' survey". London: Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  44. ^ {http://www.lesbilicious.co.uk/} Stonewall 2012
  45. ^ "Vote 2001 – Lynne Featherstone". BBC News. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  46. ^ Womack, Sarah (13 October 2005). "A council seat will buy you child care, says MP". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  47. ^ Drury, Ian (12 December 2008). "'Dizzy' woman MP called out the fire brigade because her boiler was making noises". Daily Mail (London). 

External links[edit]

Video clips
  • Featherstone's video diaries from the 2007 Liberal Democrats conference: Sun · Mon · Tues · Wed · Thurs
News articles
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Barbara Roche
Member of Parliament for
Hornsey and Wood Green

2005
Incumbent