Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (UK)

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Deputy Leader of the
Labour Party
Harriet Harman, 2014.jpg
Rt Hon. Harriet Harman MP

since 24 June 2007
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer Labour Party
Inaugural holder John Robert Clynes
Formation 1922
Website Harriet Harman MP
Labour Deputy Leader

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is a senior politician in the British Labour Party. The post is currently held by Harriet Harman, who was elected deputy on 24 June 2007.

Unlike other political party leaders, the Labour leader does not have the power to appoint or dismiss his or her deputy. The post is instead elected using the party's electoral college system; it was elected by Labour MPs before 1981.

Recently, the office of Deputy Prime Minister has been revived and held by senior politicians in the governing party. The previous Labour deputy leader, John Prescott, held this post from 1997 to 2007. However, the deputy leader is essentially a party official and there is no constitutional link between the two roles. The former Labour British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced on his formal election as Labour leader that the newly elected deputy leader, Harriet Harman, would instead become Party Chair. Brown subsequently appointed her Leader of the House of Commons in his first cabinet.

In the event of a vacancy in the office of leader when the Labour Party is in opposition, the deputy leader automatically becomes temporary leader of the Party until a new leader is elected. If a vacancy in the leadership occurs while the Labour Party is in government, then the Cabinet, in consultation with the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, chooses a new leader, who serves until a new leader is elected.[1]

To date, the only Deputy Leaders who have gone on to become the elected leader of the Labour Party are Clement Attlee and Michael Foot. Margaret Beckett briefly served as Labour leader following the unexpected death of John Smith in 1994. Harriet Harman was leader after Gordon Brown resigned in 2010 and after Ed Miliband resigned in 2015. Conversely, John Robert Clynes served as leader prior to becoming Deputy Leader.

List of Deputy Leaders of the Labour Party[edit]

Portrait Term began Term ended Born Death Office
1 John Robert Clynes Jrclynes.jpg 22 November 1922 25 October 1932 27 March 1869 23 October 1949 Home Secretary
2 William Graham
(jointly with Clynes)
No image.png 1931 8 January 1932 29 July 1887 8 January 1932 President of the Board of Trade
3 Clement Attlee Attlee BW cropped.jpg 25 October 1932 26 November 1935
Elected Leader
3 January 1883 8 October 1967 None
4 Arthur Greenwood ArthurGreenwood2.jpg 26 November 1935 26 July 1945 8 February 1880 9 June 1954 Minister without portfolio
5 Herbert Morrison HerbertMorrison2.jpg 26 July 1945 2 February 1956 3 January 1888 6 March 1965 Deputy Prime Minister
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Leader of the House of Commons
6 Jim Griffiths Jim Griffiths Secretary of State for Wales.jpeg 14 December 1955 4 May 1959 19 September 1890 7 August 1975 None
7 Aneurin Bevan 4 May 1959 6 July 1960
Died in office
15 November 1897 6 July 1960 None
8 George Brown George Brown, 1967.jpg 15 July 1960 18 June 1970
Lost seat
2 September 1914 2 June 1985 First Secretary of State
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
9 Roy Jenkins Roy Jenkins 1977.jpg 8 July 1970 10 April 1972 11 November 1920 5 January 2003 Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
10 Edward Short No image.png 25 April 1972 21 October 1976 17 December 1912 4 May 2012 Leader of the House of Commons
11 Michael Foot Michael Foot (1981).jpg 21 October 1976 4 November 1980
Elected Leader
23 July 1913 3 March 2010 Leader of the House of Commons
12 Denis Healey Denis Healey.jpg 4 November 1980 2 October 1983 30 August 1917 Shadow Foreign Secretary
13 Roy Hattersley Roy Hattersley 2012 cropped 2.jpg 2 October 1983 18 July 1992 28 December 1932 Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Shadow Home Secretary
14 Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett May 2007.jpg 18 July 1992 21 July 1994 15 January 1943 Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
15 John Prescott John Prescott on his last day as Deputy Prime Minister, June 2007.jpg 21 July 1994 24 June 2007 31 May 1938 Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
First Secretary of State
Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
16 Harriet Harman Harriet Harman, 2014.jpg 24 June 2007 Incumbent 30 July 1950 Leader of the House of Commons
Minister for Women and Equalities
Labour Party Chair
Shadow International Development Secretary
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister
Shadow Culture Secretary
Leader of the Opposition


  1. ^ Labour Party Rule Book 2013, Chapter 4, clause II.2.E.i and iv.