Ian Lavery

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Ian Lavery

Official portrait of Ian Lavery crop 2.jpg
Chairman of the Labour Party
Assumed office
14 June 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byTom Watson
Labour Party Co-National Campaign Coordinator
Assumed office
14 June 2017
Serving with Andrew Gwynne
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byPosition established
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
Assumed office
9 February 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byAndrew Gwynne
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
In office
7 October 2016 – 9 February 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byTom Watson
Succeeded byJon Trickett
Member of Parliament
for Wansbeck
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byDenis Murphy
Majority10,435 (24.8%)
President of the National Union of Mineworkers
In office
Preceded byArthur Scargill
Succeeded byNicky Wilson
Personal details
Born (1963-01-06) 6 January 1963 (age 56)
Ashington, Northumberland, England
Political partyLabour
Hilary Baird (m. 1986)
WebsiteOfficial website

Ian Lavery (born 6 January 1963) is a British Labour Party politician and former trade union leader from Northumberland who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wansbeck since the 2010 general election. Born and raised in Ashington, Lavery began work in the construction industry after leaving school before becoming a mining apprentice.[1] Noted for being the sole apprentice to refuse to work during the miners' strike of 1984-1985, he gradually rose up the ranks of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and was chosen to succeed Arthur Scargill as NUM President in 2002.[2][3]

Once elected to parliament in 2010, Lavery quickly established himself as a leading voice on the Left of the Labour Party,[4] and has been a frequent critic of the policies espoused by members of the party's New Labour faction.[5] He served for a time as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Deputy Leader Harriet Harman before resigning in protest of the party's position to raise the pension age.[6] Lavery supported the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn in both the 2015 and 2016 leadership elections, and was appointed by Corbyn to replace Tom Watson as Chairman of the Labour Party.

Early life[edit]

Lavery has lived in Ashington in Northumberland for most of his life. After leaving old East School school, Lavery began a youth training scheme, before working in the construction industry. Following a recruitment campaign by the National Coal Board, he commenced work at Lynemouth Colliery in January 1980.[1] In July 1980, Lavery started a mining craft apprenticeship, transferring to Ellington Colliery in 1981 and attended New College Durham, receiving an HNC in Mining.

Miners' strike 1984–85 and Presidency of the NUM[edit]

During the 1984–85 miners' strike Lavery was the only apprentice in the North East area who refused to go to work.

In 1986, Lavery was elected onto the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) committee at Ellington Colliery as Compensation Secretary. Later, he was voted on to the Northumberland Executive Committee, and then on to the North East Area Executive Committee. He has said that because of his union activity, he was barred by management from completing his HND qualification:

I was the only one in the whole of the North East Area who had completed the HNC who wasn't given that opportunity. I went to see the manager, not that I would have gone by the way, and he said that they didn't think I would be interested. I asked him if he had thought to ask me, and he said no, not really, and he was smiling as he said it.[2]

Lavery became more active in the Labour Party and Trade Union movement. He rose through the ranks to become the first cabinet Chairman of the Wansbeck District Council. Following this appointment, Lavery would then be appointed General Secretary of the Northumberland area through the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).[3] In 1992, Lavery stood for the National Executive Committee of the NUM. In the subsequent ballot, he was elected in the first round having gained more than 50% of the vote. When Arthur Scargill stepped down as NUM President in August 2002, Lavery was elected through the normal balloting procedures, although he stood unopposed. He was perceived by many in the NUM as "the natural successor to Arthur Scargill".[7]

Member of Parliament[edit]

In February 2010 Lavery became the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party for Wansbeck[4][8] and was duly elected Member of Parliament (MP) on 6 May 2010 with a reduced majority of 7,031.

On 8 May 2015, Lavery was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Wansbeck with 19,276 votes. Despite his party suffering nationally, Lavery's majority increased to 10,881 (28.2%) from 7,031 in 2010. Chris Galley of the Conservative Party came a distant second with 8,336 votes.[9]

Lavery has been critical of New Labour figures, particularly those who have enjoyed lucrative work in the private sector, who prominently voice resistance to any attempt by the Labour Party to shift away from Blairite policies.[10] Lavery has spoken in the commons on matters such as local regeneration, employment, energy, climate change, poverty, internationalism and sport.[8] Lavery also chairs the trade union group.[11]

Lavery attempted to bring forward a Ten Minute Rule bill on the Government's introduction of the Bedroom Tax.[12] The Bill passed its first reading with a vote of 226 to 1, with Conservative Party whips reportedly instructing their MPs not to vote.[13] The bill failed to pass in its second reading, with a vote of 253 in favour, and 304 against.[14]

From 2010–11 Lavery was part of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, and since 2010 has been a member of the Regulatory Reform Committee. Lavery was also a member of Draft Deregulation Bill Committee during 2013,[8] and a member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee since 2010.[15]

Lavery speaking at a TULO reception in 2014

In 2011 during Prime Minister's Question Time Lavery asked Cameron whether he intended to sack health policy advisor Mark Britnell. Britnell, then head of health at KPMG and previously an advisor to Labour on private healthcare had predicted a ‘big opportunity’ for private companies with the NHS being eventually relegated to the role of an insurance provider. Cameron affected surprise claiming to have only recently heard of Britnell.[16]

He was appointed as PPS to Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman, but was forced to resign in 2012 after going against the party whip to increase the pension age.[6]

He was one of 16 signatories of an open letter to Ed Miliband in January 2015 calling on the party to commit to oppose further austerity, take rail franchises back into public ownership and strengthen collective bargaining arrangements.[17]

During Prime Minister's Questions on 19 March 2015 Lavery invited the Prime Minister to apologise to the North East after cutting thousands of public sector jobs and adding to the highest unemployment levels in the UK.[18] The Prime Minister replied that in the Wansbeck constituency unemployment benefit count had fallen 28% and the youth claimant count had fallen by 32% during the last Parliament.[19] In a blog to the trade unions, following the July budget, Lavery described the Coalition government as "sanctioning claimants for the most minor technicalities ... controlling the employment statistics."[20]

Lavery has urged people to donate to food banks especially during school holidays when children from poor families are not receiving free school meals.[21][better source needed]

In September 2015, Lavery became shadow minister for trade unions and civil society after Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party..


Lavery was arrested on numerous occasions during the miners' strike and in 1985 was also convicted of a charge of football hooliganism. Lavery accused the police of fabricating the hooliganism charges due to his trade union activity, saying in 2005 "In court they told lie after lie, and I was fined . . . That is why I have absolutely no respect for the police."[22]

In 2014, Lavery posed for a photograph with his son who had blackened his face to look like Michael Jackson. According to the Daily Mail, the photograph caused an outcry among some of Lavery's constituents who said they found it offensive.[23]

In March and April 2016 The Sunday Times and BBC Newsnight reported that it appeared Lavery had received £72,500 from a benevolent fund set up by sick miners. [24][25]. On 19 October 2017, in an edition of Newsnight, it was reported that Lavery had received £165,000 from a 10-member trade union, the Northumberland area of the National Union of Mineworkers, of which he was formerly general secretary. Lavery has denied anything improper occurred.[26]

An inquiry by the official regulator, the Trade Union Certification Officer, concluded that, amongst other things:[27]

  • "Spending on political objects appears to have been made from the Union’s General Fund in breach of section 71 of the 1992 Act."
  • "Firstly, the Union was not adequately able to explain why they should have taken full responsibility for the under-performance of the endowment policy taken out by Mr and Mrs Lavery."
  • "Secondly it is far from clear why the Union should have made an arrangement with the Provident and Benevolent Fund to write off the whole of Mr and Mrs Lavery’s £72,500 debt to them. This despite the fact that the endowment policy did have a value, it was later redeemed for a figure around £18,000. It would appear that Mr and Mrs Lavery may have been over-compensated for the underperformance of the endowment policy." (According to the Financial Times, "the regulator found that Mr Lavery kept that money as well.")[28]
  • "the idea of a trade union purchasing in effect a share in its General Secretary’s home is a novel one and not one that I have previously come across"

Although the Certification Officer chose not to investigate further[29][26] it did so as the union told it that it was “mindful of the expense of taking legal action” and “left with little choice but to accept.”[28]

It was reported in the Financial Times that:[28]

  • With regards to the £89,887 he received in “termination payments” when he left the union, "the union confirmed that it had no documentary evidence of any redundancy process or the decision to make the post redundant".
  • The union later decided it had overpaid the redundancy by £30,000 and asked for its return. Lavery said that he would only repay £15,000, saying that part of the payment was for a car allowance.
  • Lavery made a notional profit of £8,500 by selling a 15 per cent stake in his house to the union in 2005 for £36,000 then buying it back in 2013 for £27,500. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards forced Lavery to apologise to the House of Commons for failing to declare the fact that the union had owned 15 per cent of his property. The team relied on discreet cash support from a development corporation owned by the local Labour-led council.[30]

In February 2018 Ashington F.C., a local football club which Lavery had chaired, was found to have used taxpayer money on staff wages, utility bills and entertaining.[30]

In May 2018 Lavery was forced to apologise again to the House of Commons after the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards ruled that he had breached House of Commons rules in using House of Commons stationery to write legal letters to constituents.[31]

In July 2018, Lavery was found to have sponsored a parliamentary pass for a representative of trade union Unite, which had donated £10,000 to his 2017 election campaign.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Lavery married his wife Hilary in 1986, they have two sons, Ian and Liam. Liam is a town councillor for the college ward of Ashington.[33]

Lavery is a trustee of: CISWO in the North East area, Northumberland Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association and Woodhorn Colliery Museum; he is a patron of Headway for South East Northumberland and Wansbeck Disability Forum. He is chair of Ashington Community Football Club and the Hirst Welfare Centre and chairman and trustee of Pitman Painters.[3]


  1. ^ a b "The Great Debate Contributors: Ian Lavery". thegreatdebate.org.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b "An Interview with Ian Lavery, Lavery, president of the National Union of Mineworkers". Capital and Class. 29 (3): 29–42. Autumn 2005. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Ian Lavery Labour Party MP in Wansbeck – about me". Ian Lavery. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Labour Win". Labour Win. Archived from the original on 14 June 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. ^ Society, People’s Printing Press. "Miner Lavery tipped for leaders' race". Archived from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b Pearson, Adrian (7 December 2012). "Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery resigns as aide over pensions battle". journallive. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ Lavery as potential successor to Arthur Scargill,
  8. ^ a b c "Ian Lavery MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  9. ^ David Sedgwick (8 May 2015). "Labour's Ian Lavery 'honoured' to be re-elected as Wansbeck MP". Northumberland Gazette. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  10. ^ Lavery, Ian (7 February 2015). "We Will Not Be Their Fools". morningstaronline.co.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Trade Union Group". Trade Union Group. Archived from the original on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  12. ^ Lavery, Ian. "Ian Lavery MP on bedroom tax: Parliament must axe charge on being poor". The Mirror. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Bid to scrap bedroom tax to get second Commons reading". 24dash.com. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  14. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Feb 2014 (pt 0002)". www.publications.parliament.uk.
  15. ^ "Energy and Climate Change Committee – membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  16. ^ "David Cameron 'had never heard' of adviser who warned on NHS reforms". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  17. ^ Eaton, George (26 January 2015). "The Labour left demand a change of direction – why their intervention matters". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Engagements". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Engagements: 18 Mar 2015: House of Commons debates – TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou.
  20. ^ Ian Lavery (8 July 2015). "The budget from the butcher's block". www.tradeuniongroup.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  21. ^ Darin Hutson (3 July 2015). "MP backing appeal by food banks". News Post. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  22. ^ Wray, Capital & Class, No. 87, Autumn 2005
  23. ^ "Anti-racism MP under fire after posing with son blacked up to look like Michael Jackson". The Telegraph. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Labour trade union's spokesman Ian Lavery under fire for union subsidised mortgage". 14 April 2016.
  25. ^ Sweeney, John; Brown, Ed (14 April 2016). "MP denies wrongdoing over NUM mortgage" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  26. ^ a b Sweeney, John; Brown, Ed (20 October 2017). "Ian Lavery MP received £165,000 from trade union". BBC News. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  27. ^ Walker, Gerard. "Allegations of financial irregularities - National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland Area)" (PDF). gov.uk. Trade Union Certification Officer. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  28. ^ a b c Pickard, Jim (20 October 2017). "UK Labour party chairman received £165,000 from former union". Financial Times. The Nikkei. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  29. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (20 October 2017). "Labour party chairman Ian Lavery MP received £165,000 from trade union". The Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  30. ^ a b Patrick Maguire, Dominic Kennedy, Sam Joiner, Basile Simon (3 February 2018). "Taxpayers fund Ashington, Labour chief Ian Lavery's football club | News". The Times. Retrieved 31 January 2019.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ https://www.parliament.uk/documents/pcfs/rectifications/Mr%20Ian%20Lavery%20MP.pdf
  32. ^ Edward Malnick (7 July 2018). "Labour 'cash for access' scandal: The 8 MPs who gave Commons passes to union officials who bankrolled their election campaigns". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  33. ^ "Liam Lavery – College Ward – Councillors". Ashington Town Council. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Arthur Scargill
President of the National Union of Mineworkers
Succeeded by
Nicky Wilson
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Denis Murphy
Member of Parliament
for Wansbeck

Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Watson
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Succeeded by
Jon Trickett
Preceded by
Andrew Gwynne
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Watson
Labour Party Chair