Daniel Zeichner

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Daniel Zeichner

Official portrait of Daniel Zeichner crop 2.jpg
Shadow Minister for Transport
In office
18 September 2015 – 29 June 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byJohn Woodcock
Succeeded byRachael Maskell
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded byJulian Huppert
Majority12,661 (22.6%)
Personal details
Born (1956-11-09) 9 November 1956 (age 62)
Beckenham, England
Political partyLabour
Domestic partnerBarbara Ziolkowska
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge

Daniel Stephen Zeichner (born 9 November 1956) is a British Labour Party politician. He was elected at the 2015 general election as the Member of Parliament for Cambridge, replacing the Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert. Before entering Parliament, Zeichner was a councillor for eight years.[1]

Early life[edit]

Daniel Zeichner was born in Beckenham in 1956. His father was an Austrian immigrant and his mother was the descendant of agricultural workers from Cambridgeshire. As a teenager, Zeichner was a middle-distance runner.[2] He attended Trinity School of John Whitgift, a former grammar school, turned independent school.

In 1976, Zeichner came to the University of Cambridge to read history at King's College. At King's, Zeichner met Barbara 'Budge' Ziolkowska who would become his life partner. They lived in Comberton, a village 6 miles (10 km) south-west of the city of Cambridge and joined the Labour Party in 1979.[2]

Zeichner’s first job after graduation was as a trainee computer programmer, working for Cambridgeshire County Council at the registry office next to Shire Hall on Castle Hill, Cambridge. He would later work in IT for a number of companies, including Norwich Union in Norfolk, Philips in East Chesterton and at Perkins Engines in Peterborough.[2]

In 1992, Zeichner was hired to work for Norwich South MP John Garrett, working for Garrett and his successor Charles Clarke until 1999.[2] In 2002, Zeichner began working for UNISON, the public sector trade union where he served as a political officer until his election as Member of Parliament for Cambridge in 2015.

Political career[edit]

Zeichner has served several terms on Labour's National Policy Forum, the Labour Party’s top policy-making body. He was first elected to represent the East of England on the body shortly after it was first established by Tony Blair as part of the "Partnership in Power" process.[2]

Zeichner was elected as a councillor in Burston, Norfolk, in 1995, a position in which he would serve until 2003. During this time, Zeichner became leader of the Labour group on South Norfolk District Council.

Zeichner stood unsuccessfully for Parliament four times. He contested Mid Norfolk in 1997, losing by fewer than 1,400 votes. He stood again in 2001 and 2005, being defeated by larger margins. In 2006, he was selected as the official Labour candidate for the Cambridge constituency; which had been lost to the Liberal Democrats at the previous year's election.

At the 2010 general election, Zeichner finished in third place, polling 24% of the vote. He caused controversy during the general election campaign after he criticised the Conservative Party for allying with "fascists" in the European Parliament. Referring to the Polish Law and Justice Party which sits with the Conservatives in the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, Zeichner performed a Nazi salute during a debate at the Cambridge Union Society. The incident received national press coverage. Local rabbi Reuven Leigh said at the time, "To make light of the Nazi salute and to accuse these parties, who are not anti-Semitic is absolutely disgusting."[3]

He contested the Cambridge seat five years later, and increased his vote by more than 11 percentage points; defeating the sitting Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert by 599 votes.[4] Zeichner was appointed as a Shadow Transport Minister (with responsibility for buses, bikes and walking) on 18 September 2015.[5] At the snap 2017 general election Zeichner retained his seat with an increased majority, again over Julian Huppert, of 12,661 votes.[6]

Political positions[edit]

Zeichner describes his politics as 'socialist in a modern context'.[7] He supported Tony Benn in the 1981 deputy leadership election.[2] In the 2010 Labour leadership election, Zeichner supported Ed Miliband. In the 2015 Labour leadership election he supported Yvette Cooper. Zeichner supported Owen Smith at the September 2016 Labour Party leadership election. Zeichner opposes renewal of Trident.

In June 2017, Zeichner resigned as a Shadow Transport Minister, in order to vote in favour of an amendment to the government's 2017 Queen's Speech supporting the UK's membership of the single market, in defiance of the party whip. The amendment, which was defeated by 322 votes to 101, was tabled by former Shadow Cabinet Minister Chuka Umunna. In justifying his decision, Zeichner explained:

My position on Europe has always been clear. I am a passionate pro-European and a straight-forward politician ... I promised the people of Cambridge I would stick to my principles and I would do right by our city - that means voting with my conscience and doing all I can to oppose the Tories' extreme Brexit which would, in my opinion, damage our economy, our security and our society as a whole[8]

Zeichner is an Executive Member of SERA - Labour's Environment Campaign.[9]

Zeichner is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations.[10]


  1. ^ "Cambridge general election 2015 results: Daniel Zeichner wins the seat from Julian Huppert". Cambridge News. 8 May 2015. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Johnson, Richard; Walsh, Ashley (2012). Camaraderie: One hundred years of the Cambridge Labour Party, 1912-2012. Cambridge: Cambridge Labour Party. pp. 240–3. ISBN 978-0-86117-498-0.
  3. ^ Emily Andrews (24 April 2010). "Labour candidate under fire for performing Nazi salute at Cambridge University debate". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Election results for Cambridge Borough, 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Cambridge News - News, Sport and Events from around Cambridge". www.cambridge-news.co.uk.
  6. ^ "Cambridge Parliamentary constituency". BBC. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  7. ^ Capel, Grace (27 October 2006). "The lighter touch of Cantab politics". Varsity.
  8. ^ "Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner resigns as Shadow Minister". Cambridge News. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  9. ^ "SERA's 2016/17 Executive Committee". SERA - Labour's Environment Campaign. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  10. ^ "House of Commons - Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups as at 2 January 2019: Future Generations". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2019.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Julian Huppert
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge