Helen Goodman

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Helen Goodman
Ms Helen Goodman MP.jpg
Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform
Assumed office
3 December 2014
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Chris Bryant
Shadow Minister for Culture and Media
In office
7 October 2011 – 3 December 2014
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Gloria De Piero
Succeeded by Chris Bryant
Shadow Minister for Justice
In office
7 October 2010 – 7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Helen Jones
Succeeded by Jenny Chapman
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Kitty Ussher
Succeeded by Maria Miller
Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
28 June 2007 – 9 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Leader Harriet Harman
Preceded by Paddy Tipping
Succeeded by Chris Bryant
Member of Parliament
for Bishop Auckland
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Derek Foster
Majority 3,508 (8.9%)
Personal details
Born (1958-01-02) 2 January 1958 (age 57)
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Charles Seaford
Children 2
Alma mater Somerville College, Oxford
Religion Christianity

Helen Catherine Goodman (born 2 January 1958) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishop Auckland since 2005, and was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for in the Department for Work and Pensions until 2010 with responsibility for child poverty and childcare.

Early life[edit]

Goodman is the daughter of a Danish immigrant mother and architect father. She grew up in Derbyshire and was educated at her village school and the comprehensive Lady Manners School, in Bakewell, Derbyshire. She studied PPE at Somerville College, Oxford.

Career before Parliament[edit]

On leaving Oxford she worked as a researcher for the Labour MP Phillip Whitehead. She worked in HM Treasury as a fast stream administrator holding many posts including on the Energy Desk, the Exchange Rate Desk, Central Budget Unit, Overseas Finance and finally she was the head of strategy. In 1990-1 she was seconded to the Office of the Czechoslovak Prime Minister to advise on their economic transition after the Velvet Revolution.

From 1997 she was the director of the Commission on the Future for Multi Ethnic Britain (sponsored by the Runnymede Trust). She was appointed the Head of Strategy at The Children's Society in 1998, where she was involved in lobbying on policies to cut child poverty. From 2002 until her election she was the chief executive of the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries which supported 1,000 projects across Britain. She is a member of the GMB Union and the Christian Socialist Movement, Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth.

She published numerous articles including in the Political Quarterly.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Goodman was selected as the Labour candidate for the County Durham seat of Bishop Auckland at the 2005 General Election through an All-Women Shortlist[1] following the retirement of the veteran Labour MP Derek Foster. Goodman held the seat with a majority of 10,047 and made her maiden speech on 25 May 2005.[2] She was re-elected in 2010, and again in 2015 with a significantly reduced majority of 3,508.

She was a member of the Public Accounts Committee from May 2005 to April 2007 before becoming a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Justice. In June 2007 she was appointed Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, before being made a whip in October 2008. She left this role in June 2009 to become a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions. In this role she steered the Child Poverty Act onto the statute book, alongside Stephen Timms.

After the 2010 General Election, Goodman nominated Ed Miliband to be the leader of the Labour Party. After his victory she was appointed as opposition spokesman in Labour's Justice team with special responsibility for Prisons and Sentencing policy. In October 2011 she became Shadow Minister for Media. In this role she has campaigned for better child protection online. In October 2013 she was also given responsibility for Labour's Arts policy.

In 2010 she ran a successful campaign in conjunction with The Northern Echo Newspaper to save the Zurbaran paintings at Auckland Castle when the Commissioners of the Church of England threatened to sell them.

In February 2013, appalled at the impact of the "bedroom tax" on her constituents, she tried to live for a week on £18.[3]

She is a long-standing supporter of Women's ordination and is a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee and the Procedure Committee.

On 3 December 2014, she became Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform as part of a small reshuffle by Ed Miliband.[4]


In May 2009 the Daily Telegraph revealed that Goodman had claimed £519.31 for use of a cottage in her own constituency on her expenses, and had submitted hotel bills dated two months prior to her becoming an MP.[5] Goodman argued that she was carrying out Parliamentary business when using the cottage and thus her claim was accepted, and the claim for the hotel stay - which was rejected - was a mistake.[5] She also claimed a £600 fee for advice from her management consultant husband.[6] Goodman pointed out MPs the independent Legg inquiry into MPs expenses had given her "an entirely clean bill of health and concluded that none of my claims required further explanation or clarification.”[6]


In June 2014, Goodman was invited to give a speech at the opening of a village fair at Ingleton, County Durham in the parliamentary constituency which she had represented for nine years.[7] During her speech, she praised the village for the beauty of its waterfalls and caves and for its connection with Arthur Conan Doyle. None of these features applied to the County Durham village, but were in fact references to the village of Ingleton, situated seventy miles away in North Yorkshire.[8] The speech reportedly "baffled" the audience and after five minutes she was called away from the microphone and informed of her mistake.[7]

Twitter controversy[edit]

In October 2015 Goodman attracted criticism from fellow MPs over a tweet mentioning Jeremy Hunt's wife. Hunt had mentioned his wife in a speech on Asian economies' work culture, and Goodman's tweet asked "if China is so great, why did Jeremy Hunt's wife come to England". She later deleted the tweet and issued an apology.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Goodman is married to Charles Seaford[6] who works for the New Economics Foundation. The couple have two children.


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Derek Foster
Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland