Debbie Abrahams

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Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams MP.jpg
Abrahams in 2014
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
27 June 2016 – 8 May 2018
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byOwen Smith
Succeeded byMargaret Greenwood
Shadow Minister of State for Disabled People
In office
18 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byKate Green
Succeeded byMarie Rimmer
Member of Parliament
for Oldham East and Saddleworth
Assumed office
13 January 2011
Preceded byPhil Woolas
Majority1,503 (3.2%)
Personal details
Deborah Angela Elspeth Marie Morgan

(1960-09-15) 15 September 1960 (age 60)
Sheffield, England
Political partyLabour
(m. 1986)
Alma materUniversity of Salford
University of Liverpool
WebsiteOfficial website
Commons website

Deborah Angela Elspeth Marie Abrahams (née Morgan; born 15 September 1960)[1][2] is a British Labour Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Oldham East and Saddleworth since 2011.

Early and professional life[edit]

Abrahams was born in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire; her father was a dentist. She was privately educated, going on to study biochemistry and physiology at the University of Salford; 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.[3] 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.[3]

In 2002, Abrahams was appointed chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust.[4] She was Director of the International Health Impact Assessment Consortium at the University of Liverpool between 2006 and 2010.[5]

Early 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".[6] 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,[4] and she stood for Rochdale Borough Council in Milnrow and Newhey ward in the 2008 local elections.[7] She criticised the local council in Rochdale for failing to address health inequalities in the town.[8]

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.[9] She was unsuccessful in her attempt to retain the seat, which had previously been held by Labour, and ended up in third place.[10]

The winning candidate, Conservative Member of Parliament (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.[11] Shortly after the general election, Abrahams was selected as the Labour candidate for the Liberal Democrat-held Golcar ward of Kirklees Council at the 2011 local elections. However, she stood down from the candidature when selected for the forthcoming Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[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.[10] 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.

Abrahams 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] Abrahams was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in June 2016, following Owen Smith's resignation from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the EU Referendum result.[16]

In the general election of 8 June 2017 she retained the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat with an increased majority of 8,182.[16] Her majority narrowed to 1,503 in the 2019 United Kingdom general election.

2018 bullying claims[edit]

In March 2018, Abrahams was suspended from her position as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary whilst she was investigated by the Labour Party over a "workplace issue", reported by several media outlets to be related to claims that she bullied staff;[17] she has vehemently denied the claims, adding that she is the victim of a "bullying culture of the worst kind".[18][19] In May that year she was removed from the Shadow Cabinet. In a statement, Abrahams said: "I strongly refute the allegations of bullying made against me. I believe the investigation was not thorough, fair or independent." She said she would now go to the party's National Executive Committee disputes panel.[20][21]


In January 2013, Abrahams was awarded the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award in the Business Driver category, for her campaign to improve late payments affecting small businesses. She not only signed up to be a Champion of the Federation of Small Businesses Real-Life Entrepreneurs Campaign, but has been at the forefront of a campaign to improve the speed with which small businesses are paid by their customers.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Abrahams married John Abrahams, a former captain of Lancashire County cricket team, in the late 1980s. They have two daughters, Victoria and Dawn.[3]


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11776.
  3. ^ a b c Macmillan, Ross (13 January 2011). "Oldham candidates standing in today's by-election". 24dash. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Simon Danczuk announces new health advisor". Rochdale Online. 17 March 2008. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  5. ^ "About – Institute of Psychology Health and Society". University of Liverpool. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Health boss quits over private company use". Manchester Evening News. 13 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ Rallings, Colin; Thrasher, Michael, eds. (2008). "Rochdale" (PDF). Local elections handbook 2008: the 2008 local election results. Plymouth: Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre, University of Plymouth. p. 47. ISBN 9780948858437.
  8. ^ Staff writer (22 March 2008). "Council must share responsibility for damning report". Rochdale Online. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  9. ^ Reed, Jonathan (23 April 2010). "The Pennine region: Campaigners seeking a welcome in the hillsides as they focus on valleys". Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Labour picks Debbie Abrahams for by-election". Saddleworth News. 12 December 2010. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  11. ^ Staff writer. "Debbie Abrahams: healthy development for Labour?". Who knows who: showing where power really lies. Channel 4. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  12. ^ Abrahams, Debbie (22 May 2014). "Inquiry into the effectiveness of international health systems". Socialist Health Association. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  13. ^ Hazell, Will (16 October 2014). "Labour seeks to mollify reorganisation fears". Local Government Chronicle. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Work and Pensions Committee – membership". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  15. ^ Staff writer (18 September 2015). "DPAC Welcome Debbie Abrahams as the new Shadow Minister for Disabled People". Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  16. ^ a b Gaul, Phil (9 February 2015). "About Debbie". Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  17. ^ Walker, Peter (11 March 2018). "Labour's Debbie Abrahams investigated by party over workplace issue". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  18. ^ Staff writer (12 March 2018). "Row as Labour's Debbie Abrahams leaves front bench". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  19. ^ Demianyk, Graeme; Forrester, Kate (11 March 2018). "Labour's Debbie Abrahams forced to quit Shadow Cabinet over 'workplace issue'". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  20. ^ Staff writer (8 May 2018). "Debbie Abrahams MP has been sacked from Labour's shadow Cabinet". Granada Reports. ITV Granada. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  21. ^ Staff writer (8 May 2018). "Abrahams axed from shadow cabinet over bullying claims". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  22. ^ "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
Political offices
Preceded by
Owen Smith
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
Margaret Greenwood