Edwina Currie

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Edwina Currie
Edwina currie nightingale house cropped.jpg
Currie in 2009
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
In office
10 September 1986 – 16 December 1988
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Sec. of StateNorman Fowler
John Moore
Kenneth Clarke
Preceded byJohn Major
Succeeded byRoger Freeman
Member of Parliament
for South Derbyshire
In office
9 June 1983 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byMark Todd
Personal details
Born
Edwina Cohen

(1946-10-13) 13 October 1946 (age 72)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Ray Currie (m. 1972–1997)
John Jones (m. 2001)
Children2
ResidenceWhaley Bridge, Derbyshire
Alma materSt. Anne's College, Oxford
London School of Economics

Edwina Currie (née Cohen; born 13 October 1946) is a British former politician, serving as Conservative Party Member of Parliament from 1983 until 1997. She was a Junior Health Minister for two years, resigning in 1988 during the salmonella in eggs controversy.

By the time Currie lost her seat as an MP in 1997, she had begun a new career as a novelist and broadcaster. She is the author of six novels, and has also written four works of non fiction. In September 2002, publication of Currie's Diaries (1987–92) caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with colleague (and later Prime Minister) John Major between 1984 and 1988.

Early life[edit]

Currie was born in south Liverpool to an Orthodox Jewish family, who "disowned her when she married a non-Jewish accountant."[1] She is however not particularly religious, stating in an February 2000 interview that she found "religious mumbo jumbo hard to swallow in any faith."[2] She went to the Liverpool Institute High School for Girls in Blackburne House, in the Canning area of Liverpool, where she was deputy Head Girl.

Currie studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she was taught by Gabriele Taylor. She lived next door to Mary Archer, Ann Widdecombe, and Gyles Brandreth's wife Michèle Brown.[3] Subsequently, she gained an MA in economic history from the London School of Economics.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[edit]

From 1975 until 1986, she was a Birmingham City Councillor for Northfield. In 1983, she stood for parliament as a Conservative Party candidate, and was elected as the member for South Derbyshire. Frequently outspoken, she was described as "a virtually permanent fixture on the nation's TV screen saying something outrageous about just about anything" and "the most outspoken and sexually interested woman of her political generation."[4]

In September 1986, she became a Junior Health Minister. Among her comments over the next two years were—despite her not being religious—that "good Christian people" don't get AIDS,[5] that old people who couldn't afford their heating bills should wrap up warm in winter and that northerners die of "ignorance and chips".[6]

In 1988, Currie appointed television personality Jimmy Savile to head up a task force to run the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital. Savile was given extraordinary power and a set of keys with complete access to every part of the hospital. He mingled repeatedly with the 800 or so patients, many teenage girls, some severely disturbed and medicated.[7]

Salmonella in eggs controversy[edit]

Currie was forced to resign in December 1988, after she issued a warning about salmonella in British eggs. The statement that "most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella"[8] sparked outrage among farmers and egg producers, and caused egg sales in the country to decline rapidly, by 60 percent. The controversy gained her the nickname "Eggwina".

The loss of revenue led to the slaughter of four million hens.[9][10] Although the statement was widely interpreted as referring to "most eggs produced", in fact it related to the egg production flock; there was indeed evidence that a mid-1980s regulation change had allowed salmonella to get a hold in flocks.[11] However, Currie failed to clarify this distinction.

There was particular anger in Northern Ireland where egg production is a significant part of the economy. At the Christmas party of the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland that year the featured dish was curried eggs. To make amends, in 1990, she began the National Egg Awareness Campaign.

Long after the furore died down, in 2001, it was revealed that a covered-up Whitehall report produced months after Currie's resignation found that there had been a "salmonella epidemic of considerable proportions."[12]

Post-ministerial career as an MP[edit]

In 1991, Currie became the first Conservative MP to appear on the BBC topical panel show Have I Got News for You. She appeared again two years later, in a special episode commemorating the release of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs, opposite fellow Liverpudlian (and Liverpool Institute alumnus) Derek Hatton.

During the 1992 General Election campaign, Currie poured a glass of orange juice over Labour's Peter Snape shortly after an edition of the Midlands based television debate show Central Weekend had finished airing.[13] Speaking about the incident later, Currie said "I just looked at my orange juice, and looked at this man from which this stream of abuse was emanating, and thought 'I know how to shut you up.'"[13]

After the 1992 General Election, she declined a request from Prime Minister John Major to take up a position as Minister of State for the Home Office.[14]

In February 1994, she tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to lower the age of consent for homosexual sexual acts to 16. This amendment was defeated by 307 votes to 280, although a subsequent amendment resulted in the reduction of the homosexual age of consent from 21 to 18; final equalisation was achieved in 2000. That same month, Currie voted against the death penalty for murder, having previously voted in favour of it in 1983.

In June 1994, she contested the European Parliament seat of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, but lost the seat to Labour's Eryl McNally by 94,837 votes to 61,628 votes. After fourteen years as a member of the House of Commons, Currie lost her parliamentary seat of South Derbyshire in the 1997 General Election. She attempted to be selected as a Conservative candidate for the European Parliament election of 1999, but was unsuccessful.[15]

Other work[edit]

Author[edit]

Currie is the author of six novels: A Parliamentary Affair (1994), A Woman's Place (1996) She's Leaving Home (1997), The Ambassador (1999), Chasing Men (2000) and This Honourable House (2001). She has also written four works of non-fiction: Life Lines (1989), What Women Want (1990), Three Line Quips (1992) and Diaries 1987–92 (2002). She remains an outspoken public figure, with a reputation for being "highly opinionated,"[9] and currently earns her living as an author and media personality.

Media[edit]

From the time she lost her seat in 1997, Currie has maintained a presence in the media. From 1998 to 2003, she hosted a late evening talk show on BBC Radio Five Live, Late Night Currie.[16] In 2002, she moved to HTV, presenting the television programme Currie Night until 2003. Since then, she has appeared in a string of reality television programmes, such as Wife Swap in which she and her second husband John swapped places with John McCririck and his wife, Jenny. Currie appeared on a charity edition of the television quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 17 September 2005, partnering Conservative speech-writer and lobbyist Derek Laud.[17] She has also appeared in the reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, and Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes, both in 2006.[18]

Currie was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory! She won Celebrity Mastermind on 23 June 2004, specialising in the life of Marie Curie. She also won All Star Family Fortunes on 3 January 2009. She appeared in Channel 4's Come Dine with Me in February 2009 where she finished third. She made a second appearance on the show during Channel 4's "Alternative Election Night" coverage, with Rod Liddle, Brian Paddick and Derek Hatton as her competitors. She also appeared in James May's Show James May's Toy Stories where she helped him build a bridge made entirely out of Meccano in Liverpool.

In September 2011, Currie took part in the ninth series of Strictly Come Dancing.[19] She was paired with professional dancer Vincent Simone. On 9 October, she and Simone were the first couple to be eliminated from the competition.

In November 2014, Currie took part in the fourteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! entering the jungle on Day 5 of the competition,[20] and finishing in fourth place.

Personal life[edit]

On 1 July 1972, Currie married accountant Ray Currie in Barnstaple, Devon; they had two children and divorced in 1997. During this marriage Edwina Currie had a four-year affair with John Major, later Prime Minister, which she revealed in September 2002. Edwina and Ray were the subject of an edition of the BBC's The Other Half documentary series, broadcast in March 1984.[citation needed]

On 24 May 2001, in Southwark, Currie married retired detective John Jones, whom she had met when he was a guest on her radio programme in 1999.[21] Currie lives in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.[22]

Affair with John Major[edit]

Currie's Diaries (1987–92), published in 2002, caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with John Major between 1984 and 1988, while both were married to other people. The affair started while she was a backbencher and Major was the government whip in Margaret Thatcher's government. After Major's promotion to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the relationship ended, but the two remained friends. Currie apparently ceased the affair when it became dangerous and impractical owing to the presence of bodyguards who had to be avoided.[14]

After publication, Major made a statement saying that he was ashamed of the affair and had privately revealed the matter to his wife. Currie said she had been in love with him for years after the end of the affair,[23] and that he had been "the love of her life".[24] However, only weeks after revealing the affair, she publicly criticised Major, accusing him of sexism and racism and of being "one of the less competent prime ministers".[25]

While having an affair with Major in October 1985, Currie said about Sara Keays, "I feel very sorry for Cecil and his family. Most of my thoughts on Sara Keays are unprintable. Perhaps the most polite thing to say is she's a right cow."[26][clarification needed]

The admission came after years of denial of any affair while in office and a successful libel action against playwright David Hare, who had said a sexually voracious murderer played by Charlotte Rampling in his film Paris by Night (1988) was an "Edwina Currie-like" figure. Currie had also produced several novels with explicitly erotic content – and political background – such as A Parliamentary Affair.[9] Following publication of her diaries, Express Newspapers lawyers re-examined documents in a libel case to see if there was anything in the diaries which would allow them to reopen the case and recoup damages.[27] In March 2000, Currie had been awarded £30,000 against them following a 1997 article entitled "How Edwina is now the vilest lady in Britain."[27][28]

Charity and other interests[edit]

In September 2004, Currie took part in a sponsored cycle ride across Poland, near to the area where ancestors of hers lived, for Marie Curie Cancer Care.[29]

In June 2005, in her role as a patron of the British Heart Foundation, Currie championed a campaign to raise awareness of the effect of heart disease on women.[30] In May 2007, the patient charity MRSA Action UK announced Currie as their patron.[31] Edwina Currie was quoted by the media championing the campaign against hospital superbugs.[32]

In October 2011, Currie took part in EuroVoice, an event supported by the European Youth Parliament.[33] In November 2011, Currie accepted the position of President of the Tideswell Male Voice Choir.[34]

In February 2013, Currie participated in an Oxford Union debate, saying she opposed feminism.[35]

Discography[edit]

As part of the 2009 TV Show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Currie teamed up with Declan Donnelly and two other celebrities to release a cover version of the Wham! hit song "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go." Her daughter, Debbie, had previously released a single.

Year Single Chart Positions Album
UK
2009 Wake Me Up Before You Go Go 64

References[edit]

  1. ^ William D. Rubinstein, Michael Jolles, Hilary L. Rubinstein, The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, Palgrave Macmillan (2011), p. 189
  2. ^ "Edwina Currie: You ask the questions". The Independent. London. 9 February 2000. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Have I Got News For You, Series 25 Episode 6 with Hugh Dennis, Gyles Brandreth & Martin Freeman".
  4. ^ "Westminster's odd couple", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002.
  5. ^ "Mrs Currie dishes up AIDS advice". Yorkshire Post. 13 February 1987. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  6. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY | 3 | 1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim". BBC News. 3 December 1984. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Broadmoor: Savile was 'a lunatic in charge of the asylum'". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  8. ^ "1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim", On this Day, BBC News Online, 3 December 1988.
  9. ^ a b c "Currie: From Parliament to print", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002.
  10. ^ "1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim", Why are we more scared of raw egg than reheated rice?, BBC News Online, 3 December 2013.
  11. ^ Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand Inc Code of Practice, 2002, Appendix C Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ The Telegraph newspaper: Currie 'was right' on salmonella
  13. ^ a b Whitney, Craig R. (29 March 1992). "Tories Say Party's Strategy Is Hurting Campaign". New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  14. ^ a b "Currie interview in full", BBC News Online, 2 October 2002.
  15. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=HTlaCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=Andrew+Pearce+pro-euro&source=bl&ots=0aNCUCe13D&sig=L3zEoCDrq5RqosDOihcuZi-q0ys&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjxvNqK6-jMAhWJLsAKHaswATsQ6AEIODAE#v=onepage&q=Andrew%20Pearce%20pro-euro&f=false
  16. ^ Broadcasting career, Edwina Currie's official website
  17. ^ "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". BFI. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  18. ^ General information, Edwina Currie's official website
  19. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing signs up Lulu and Edwina Currie". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie to join I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!". ITV. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  21. ^ Frequently asked questions, Edwina Currie's official website, 1 September 2004. Retrieved 11 March 2007.
  22. ^ "Whaley Bridge's Edwina sparks more controversy". Buxton Advertiser. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Major and Currie had four-year affair", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002
  24. ^ "The Major love story", The Scotsman, 30 September 2002
  25. ^ "Currie blasts Major's record in power", BBC News Online, 2 October 2002
  26. ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/'A+RIGHT+COW+'+EXCLUSIVE%3A+What+Edwina+called+Sara+Keays+for+kissing...-a092259742
  27. ^ a b Verkaik, Robert (7 October 2002). "'Express' re-examines Currie libel papers". London: Independent Newspapers. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  28. ^ "Currie wins "vilest lady" libel case". BBC News. 9 March 2000. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  29. ^ Edwina transforms herself into Marie Curie for Polish cycling challenge Archived 12 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Marie Curie Cancer Care
  30. ^ "Heart campaign targets UK women". BBC News. 6 June 2005.
  31. ^ mrsaactionuk.net
  32. ^ govtoday.co.uk Archived 13 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ eypuk.co.uk Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ News – Our New President Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Tideswell Male Voice Choir website, Retrieved 1 December 2011
  35. ^ OxfordUnion (1 May 2013). "We Are Not All Feminists | Edwina Currie | Oxford Union". YouTube. Google. Retrieved 15 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire
19831997
Succeeded by
Mark Todd