Debbie Abrahams

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Debbie Abrahams
Debbie Abrahams MP.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Assumed office
27 June 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Shadowing Stephen Crabb
Damian Green
Preceded by Owen Smith
Member of Parliament
for Oldham East and Saddleworth
In office
13 January 2011 – 3 May 2017
Preceded by Phil Woolas
Succeeded by Election in progress
Majority 6,002 (13.5%)
Personal details
Born (1960-09-15) 15 September 1960 (age 56)
Sheffield, England, UK
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) John Abrahams
Children 2
Alma mater University of Salford
University of Liverpool
Website Official website
Commons website

Deborah Angela Elspeth Abrahams (born 15 September 1960) is a British Labour Party politician,[1] who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency since a by-election in January 2011. Her previous career was as a public health consultant.

Early and professional life[edit]

Abrahams was born in Sheffield, the daughter of a dentist and his wife. She studied biochemistry and physiology at the University of Salford, and her early employment was as a community worker for a charity in Wythenshawe in south Manchester, where she set up job training programmes for teenagers.[2] She later studied for a master's degree at the University of Liverpool. Abrahams was head of healthy cities for Knowsley and served on the board of Bury and Rochdale Health Authority.[2]

In 2002 Abrahams was appointed chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust.[3] From 2006 to 2010 she was Director of the International Health Impact Assessment Consortium[4] at the University of Liverpool. She married John Abrahams, a former captain of Lancashire County cricket team, in the late 1980s. They have two daughters.[2]

Political career[edit]

She resigned from the Chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust in 2007 over the use of private health companies in the National Health Service, which she said was "destroying the NHS".[5] She then joined the Labour Party, declaring that she wanted "to challenge health policy at a local and national level to ensure that it reflects [the] core values" of the NHS. She was appointed by Simon Danczuk, then Labour candidate for Rochdale, as his advisor on health,[3] and she stood for Rochdale Borough Council in Milnrow and Newhey ward in the 2008 local elections.[6] She criticised the local council in Rochdale for failing to address health inequalities in Rochdale.[7]

At the 2010 general election, Abrahams was the Labour Party candidate for Colne Valley; she made a plea to Liberal Democrat voters to back her in order to stop the Conservatives winning power.[8] She was unsuccessful in her attempt to retain the seat, which had previously been held by Labour, and ended up in third place.[9]

The winning candidate, Conservative MP Jason McCartney, said after the election that Abrahams had run "a good, positive campaign" and that in the light of bad-tempered exchanges between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, he was not surprised that she was close to coming second.[10] Shortly after the general election, Abrahams was selected as the Labour candidate for the Lib-Dem-held Golcar ward of Kirklees council at the 2011 local elections. However, she stood down from the candidature when selected for the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

Oldham East and Saddleworth[edit]

In December 2010, Abrahams was placed on a shortlist of three to be the Labour Party candidate for the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election[9] She was selected as Labour's candidate and retained the seat for the Labour Party with a majority of 3,558 with 42.1% of the vote.[11]

Parliamentary career[edit]

She was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Andy Burnham and elected Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party's Health Committee. In 2014, she organised an Inquiry Into The Effectiveness Of International Health Systems[12] which she said demonstrated that "where there is competition, privatisation or marketisation in a health system, health equity worsens". She sought to reassure Clinical commissioning groups that the Labour Party's proposed health reforms would not amount to a top-down ‘big bang’ shake up of the NHS.[13]

She was elected as a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in July 2015.[14] In September 2015, Abrahams was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in recognition on her work with disabled people in the past.[15]


In January 2013, Abrahams was awarded the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award under the Business Driver category for her campaign to improve late payments affecting small businesses. Abrahams not only signed up to be a Champion of the Federation of Small Businesses Real-Life Entrepreneurs Campaign but she has been at the forefront of a campaign to improve the speed with which small businesses are paid by their customers.[16]


  1. ^ "Debbie Abrahams official website". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Macmillan, Ross (13 January 2011). "Oldham candidates standing in today's by-election". 
  3. ^ a b "Simon Danczuk announces new health advisor". Rochdale Online. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "About - Institute of Psychology Health and Society". University of Liverpool. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Health boss quits over private company use". Manchester Evening News. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Colin Rallings, Michael Thrasher, "Local Elections Handbook 2008", Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre, University of Plymouth, 2008, p. 47.
  7. ^ "Council must share responsibility for damning report". Rochdale Online. 22 March 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Jonathan Reed, "The Pennine region: Campaigners seeking a welcome in the hillsides as they focus on valleys", Yorkshire Post, 23 April 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Labour Picks Debbie Abrahams For By-Election". Saddleworth News. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  10. ^ "Debbie Abrahams: healthy development for Labour?". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Clegg faces questions over leadership after Lib Dems crash in Oldham by-election". Daily Mail. 14 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Abrahams, Debbie. "Inquiry Into The Effectiveness Of International Health Systems", Socialist Health Association. Accessed 26 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Labour seeks to mollify reorganisation fears". Local Government Chronicle. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Work and Pensions Committee - membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "Debbie Abrahams (@Debbie_abrahams)". Twitter. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  16. ^ "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Phil Woolas
Member of Parliament
for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Succeeded by
Election in progress
Political offices
Preceded by
Owen Smith
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions