Graham Allen (politician)

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Graham Allen
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
27 July 1998 – 8 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJanet Anderson
Succeeded byGerry Sutcliffe
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
8 May 1997 – 27 July 1998
Prime MinisterTony Blair
ChancellorGordon Brown
Preceded byGyles Brandreth
Succeeded byClive Betts
Member of Parliament
for Nottingham North
In office
11 June 1987 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byRichard Ottaway
Succeeded byAlex Norris
Personal details
Born (1953-01-11) 11 January 1953 (age 69)
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Allyson Stewart
Alma materUniversity of Leeds, London Guildhall University

Graham William Allen (born 11 January 1953) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nottingham North from 1987 to 2017. He stood down at the 2017 general election.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1953 in Aspley, Nottingham, he was educated at the local Robert Shaw Primary School and Forest Fields Grammar School in Forest Fields.[2] He graduated from City of London Polytechnic, and received an MA[citation needed] from the University of Leeds.[2]

He joined the Labour Party in 1971 whilst working as a warehouse worker. He worked from 1978 to 1983 as a Research Officer with the Labour Party.[2] In 1982 he was elected as a councillor to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which he served until 1986. He was a local government officer at the Greater London Council between 1983 and 1984, before working for the trade union movement, running the first political fund ballots, and then with the GMB until his election in 1987.[2]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Allen was elected as the Labour MP for the Nottingham North constituency at the 1987 general election, gaining the seat from the Conservative's Richard Ottaway with a majority of 1,665 votes.[3] His majority at the 2010 general election was 8,138.[4]

After helping to organise Tony Blair's leadership campaign, Allen was given a series of shadow portfolios, including social security, transport and the environment.[2][5] After the Labour Party came to power at the 1997 general election Allen became a government whip until after the 2001 general election, when he returned to the backbenches.

Allen was liberated by his move to the backbenches, which freed him to speak out publicly on the few elements of government policy he opposed. Allen took a stand against the Iraq War, and with his Constituency Agent Ian Murphy, he stood at the forefront of a successful campaign to recall Parliament in September 2002, attempting to organise an unofficial recall if the House would not formally sit.[6]

Allen sat on a number of parliamentary select committees, and was the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee in the House of Commons from 2010 to 2015.[7] He is also a member of the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.[5]

Allen is a patron of Humanists UK (formerly British Humanist Association) and has campaigned against faith schools in the United Kingdom.[8] He is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[9]

Allen announced he would stand down at the 2017 general election due to ill health.[10]

Democratic Reform[edit]

Allen was a proponent of democratic reform[5] and supported independent local government, some proportional representation and a fully elected House of Lords.[citation needed] He introduced a bill calling for a written constitution in the UK.[when?][citation needed]

In 1995, he wrote "Reinventing Democracy"[2] and in November 2002 he published The Last Prime Minister: Being Honest About the UK Presidency,[2] claiming that the UK effectively had a presidency. He argued that the Prime Minister (or 'President', as he referred to the office throughout the book) should be directly and separately elected in order for a better separation of powers. This new arrangement, he argued, would be best spelled out "in plain English" in a written constitution. Allen argues that a codified constitution would institutionalise the informal powers that the British prime minister has obtained, subsequently creating a system of checks and balances that act to limit the power of the prime minister.

Allen expanded on this in 2019, when he launched plans for a Citizens Convention on UK Democracy with cross-party support from MPs including Vince Cable, David Davis, Dominic Grieve, Caroline Lucas and Tom Watson. The Convention aims to involve millions of people in a process of recommending changes to improve democracy including a review of the Parliamentary "Second Chamber", the House of Lords, devolution and the regions, paying for politics, the voting system and a written constitution to enshrine in law things done by convention that do not currently exist in a statute.

The Convention is planned to convene in 2020 and run through to the end of 2021.[11]

Early Intervention[edit]

Allen was a strong advocate of early intervention in social issues. He wrote "Early Intervention, good parents, great kids, better citizens" with Iain Duncan Smith in 2009.[5] He wrote two reports for the government on the topic in 2011.


In October 2005, Allen became the first MP to Chair a Local Strategic Partnership, which was subsequently renamed One Nottingham.[12] Allen set it the mission of making Nottingham an "Early Intervention City".


  1. ^ "Nottingham North MP Graham Allen to stand down". ITV News. 22 April 2017. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 'ALLEN, Graham William', Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 3 Jan 2013
  3. ^ "UK General Election results: June 1987 [Archive]". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  4. ^ "BBC News – Election 2010 – Constituency – Nottingham North". Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Graham Allen Archived 2 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Politics - MP steps up Parliament 'recall' bid". 10 September 2002. Archived from the original on 26 June 2004. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 18 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  8. ^ "GRAHAM ALLEN". Humanists UK. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  9. ^ "National Secular Society Honorary Associates". National Secular Society. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  10. ^ Stone, Jon (22 April 2017). "Eric Pickles announces he will stand down as an MP at the general election". The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Opinion: We are trying to renew British politics and strike a blow for democracy – now we need your help". 30 July 2019. Archived from the original on 19 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  12. ^ "One Nottingham: The Board".[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Nottingham North
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
Succeeded by