Ian Austin (politician)

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Ian Austin

Ian Austin Official Portrait.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byIain Wright
Succeeded byBob Neill
Minister for the West Midlands
In office
6 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byLiam Byrne
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Assistant Government Whip
In office
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Chief WhipNick Brown
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
In office
27 June 2007 – 4 October 2008
Serving with Angela Smith
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byKeith Hill
Succeeded byJon Trickett
Member of Parliament
for Dudley North
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byRoss Cranston
Majority22 (0.09%)
Personal details
Born (1965-03-06) 6 March 1965 (age 53)
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Essex

Ian Christopher Austin (born 6 March 1965) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dudley North since the 2005 general election. He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2009 to 2010.

Early life[edit]

Austin was born on 6 March 1965[1] and was adopted as a baby by Dudley school teachers Fred and Margaret Austin. Having failed the eleven-plus to attend King Edward's School, Birmingham,[2] he was educated at the Dudley School from 1977 to 1983. He studied government and politics at Essex University.[1]

His adoptive father, Fred (a Czech Jew who was adopted by an English family on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia), was head of the Dudley School from its formation in 1975 until his retirement in 1985.[3] Fred Austin, born Fredi Stiller, was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours List for 2006 in recognition of his service to the communities of Dudley.[4]

Austin was keen to obtain a National Union of Journalists card and took a job with Black Country Publishing in Netherton where his personal interest in sport, especially cycling (he is now chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group)[5] and football, led him to work as a journalist on Midland Sport Magazine.

Austin was elected as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in 1991, and served until 1995. He then moved to become press officer for the West Midlands Labour Party until 1998, when he spent a year as deputy director of communications for the Scottish Labour Party.

In 1999 he was appointed a political advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (later Prime Minister), Gordon Brown. He held the position until his election in 2005, and was known as one of Brown's closest lieutenants.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Austin was selected as the Labour candidate for Dudley North following the retirement of Ross Cranston, and was elected at the 2005 general election with a majority of 5,432.

Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling during Prime Minister's Questions on 18 October 2006, and he was subsequently described by David Cameron as one of Gordon Brown's "boot boys".[6] The following week he was rebuked again by the Speaker for comments made towards the Conservative benches.[7]

After Gordon Brown became prime minister in June 2007, Austin was tipped for a post in Brown's inner political circle.[8] The following day, he was appointed a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown with a special provision to attend cabinet meetings. He was moved to a new position in the 2008 reshuffle, becoming an Assistant Whip for the Government. In the June 2009 reshuffle he entered Government as a minister for the first time, becoming Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Minister for the West Midlands.

He was re-elected at the 2010 general election, ahead of Conservative Party candidate Graeme Brown. While his own seat was a marginal in this parliamentary term, the other three Labour MPs for the borough of Dudley lost their seats.[9] Austin nominated Ed Balls, who came third, for the Labour leadership election of 2010. Under Ed Miliband he served as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport between 2010 and 2011 and Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions between 2011 and 2013.[10]

Austin is associated with the Labour Friends of Israel.[11] On 1 June 2012, he apologised after claiming that a Palestinian human rights group had denied the Holocaust happened. Members of Friend of Al-Aqsa made reference to the fact that Austin had written about the group in an article written on the Labour Uncut website in 2011.[12]

In June 2014, Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo told Austin to apologise after he referred to Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood as an "idiot".[13]

In the 2015 Parliament, Austin joined the Education Select Committee, and was appointed as chair of the Labour Party's education committee. Regarded as to the right of the party, he has been critical of party leader Jeremy Corbyn's approach, calling for him to stop acting like a "student union president".[14] In 2013 Austin had proposed that the government should share costs with parents who in areas of poor educational attainment wished to send their children to independent schools.[15]

In July 2016, Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by shouting "sit down and shut up" and "you're a disgrace", as Corbyn criticised the 2003 invasion of Iraq in his response to the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.[16][17]

In March 2018, Austin branded Russia ‘a fascist, homophobic dictatorship’ and suggested the England team boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[18]

In July 2018 Austin was put under investigation for allegedly using abusive language towards the Labour Party Chairman, Ian Lavery.[19] In November General Secretary Jennie Formby dropped the inquiry, although Austin did receive a reprimand from the Chief Whip.[20][21]

Expenses controversy[edit]

In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Austin had tried to split a claim for stamp duty on buying his second home in London into two payments and tried to claim the cost back over two financial years. This allowed him to claim the majority of the money (£21,559, just £75 short of the maximum) under his second-home allowance in the 2005/06 financial year. He then claimed for the remaining £1,344 stamp duty cost in 2006–2007, together with his legal fees. In all, he went on to claim £22,076 (£34 short of the maximum) in the next financial year.[22]

It also reported that Austin "flipped" his second-home designation weeks before buying a £270,000 London flat, and that he had claimed £467 for a stereo system for his constituency home, shortly before he changed his second-home designation to London. He then spent a further £2,800 furnishing the new London flat.[22]

Austin denied any wrongdoing, and defended his actions in an interview with local newspaper Dudley News.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Austin is married, he has two sons and one daughter. His adoptive parents were Czech Jewish refugees[24] and his family live in Kingswinford in Dudley and the children attend local schools. His interests are cycling, football and literature.


  1. ^ a b "Ian Austin - Biography". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  2. ^ Claughton, John (28 November 2013). "Getting rid of the grammar schools destroyed opportunities for so many". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  3. ^ "My escape from the clutches of Nazis – Stourbridge pupils hear incredible story". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  4. ^ "New Year Honours awards for all". BBC News. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Register Of All-Party Groups: Cycling". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Q1. [94489]". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 18 October 2006. col. 867–868. Archived from the original on 31 October 2006.
  7. ^ Assinder, Nick (24 October 2007). "Fireworks in the Commons". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. ^ Assinder, Nick (28 June 2007). "Who's who: Brown's inner circle". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Labour remains hold of Dudley North". Dudley News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Ian Austin". Parliament UK. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Minister refuses to answer 'totally inappropriate question' about Priti Patel's Israel visit". Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Dudley North MP Ian Austin sorry for Holocaust claim". BBC News. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Deputy Speaker tells Labour MP: Stand up. Say sorry". BBC News. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  14. ^ Wintour, Patrick (5 November 2015). "Labour moderates flex muscles by capturing key backbench offices". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  15. ^ Walker, Jonathan (8 November 2013). "Labour MP calls for state sponsorship of public school places". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  16. ^ "A Labour MP told Jeremy Corbyn to 'sit down and shut up' while he was criticising the Iraq War". 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  17. ^ Jonathan Walker (7 July 2016). "Labour MP Ian Austin defends himself after heckling Jeremy Corbyn over Iraq War". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Ian Austin: England should consider boycotting the World Cup in Russia". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  19. ^ Maguire, Kevin (25 July 2018). "Commons Confidential: On Raab's first trip to Brussels, even the Eurostar wasn't without mishap". New Statesman. London. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Ian Austin: No action against Labour MP over anti-Semitism policy row". BBC News. London. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Labour drops investigation into MP Ian Austin". LabourList. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  22. ^ a b Watt, Holly (19 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Ian Austin tried to split the stamp duty on sunsets in Waterloo". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Ian Austin MP speaks out over his expenses claims". Dudley News. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Labour anti-semitism row: Ian Austin apologises for Hitler/Ken Livingstone 'joke'". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 30 April 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ross Cranston
Member of Parliament for Dudley North