John Mann (British politician)

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John Mann

Official portrait of John Mann crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Bassetlaw
Assumed office
8 June 2001
Preceded byJoe Ashton
Majority4,852 (9.3%)
Personal details
Born (1960-01-10) 10 January 1960 (age 59)
Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England[1]
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Joanna White[2]
Children2 daughters and 1 son
Alma materUniversity of Manchester

John Mann (born 10 January 1960) is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bassetlaw since the 2001 general election.[3] He sat as a Labour MP until September 2019 when he resigned from the Party to take up his role as the Government's Antisemitism Tsar.[4]

Mann has served on the Treasury Select Committee. He had previously been the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Tessa Jowell and Richard Caborn.

On 7 September 2019, Mann announced that he would not stand as an MP at the next general election, in order to take up a full-time role as the government's anti-semitism "tsar".[5]

On 9 September 2019, Mann was appointed as a crossbench Peer to the House of Lords by former Prime Minister Theresa May in her resignation honours list despite the independent watchdog on Lords appointments warned that it would set a dangerous precedent and could be seen as a bribe".[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Mann is the son of Brenda (née Cleavin) and James Mann.[7] He attended Waterloo Infants school and Pudsey Waterloo Junior school in Pudsey, Yorkshire, then won a County Council scholarship to the private Bradford Grammar School.[1] He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Manchester and a Diploma in Training Management.

Active in the Labour Party from his youth (Pudsey South Labour Party), he was formerly a councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth. He was chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students in 1983 and 1984, and as a consequence a member of Labour's National Executive Committee. He subsequently co-authored a Fabian Society tract on the organisation of Labour's youth wing,[8] which formed the basis of the later reorganisation of the youth wing by Tom Sawyer to reduce the influence of Militant tendency.[9]

Before entering Parliament he worked for the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union as Head of Research and Education and as the National Training Officer at the TUC National Education Centre in North London (now defunct). Mann was national trade union officer for the 1997 general election.[10] He also was involved in running a family business organising international conferences, interpretation, translation, microphone hire and sound systems, alongside his trades union work.[1]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Mann sought and failed to be selected as Labour candidate in a by-election for the Yorkshire South constituency for the European Parliament in 1998, losing out to Linda McAvan who went on to win the by-election. Mann was first elected as MP for Bassetlaw at the 2001 general election after the previous MP Joe Ashton retired, and has retained his seat at each election since then.

Mann served on the Treasury Select Committee twice, 2003–2005, and 2009–2015, during which time he raised issues around debt, financial misselling (with particular reference to Credit Cards) and claims handlers.[citation needed] Some commentators have noted Mann's reputation for asking brusque questions, particularly of senior bank executives[11] and George Osborne.[12]

Mann was the first Labour MP to call for Gordon Brown to resign after the 2010 general election.[13] Some months earlier, when Brown was Prime Minister, Mann had written an open letter demanding a number of changes to the Labour party structures.

Mann was vocal in criticising other MPs over the expenses scandal, arguing that they could not be trusted to self-regulate.[14] He criticised the shredding of documents related to expenses before 2010, saying "it looks like MPs trying to protect MPs again".[15] He was also responsible for lodging the complaint that resulted in an inquiry into Maria Miller's expense claims.[14]

Mann has been from the outset an opponent of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.[16] During the 2015 leadership campaign he wrote an open letter to Corbyn saying that it would be "inappropriate" for him to become leader due to allegations that he had failed to act over allegations of child abuse in his constituency.[17] Just over two months after Corbyn had won the leadership campaign, Mann continued to refuse to back him in an interview with the BBC, indicating he had no confidence in him. Instead, he said that he had confidence in the then shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.[18] He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour leadership election.[19]

Drug policy[edit]

One of Mann's earliest campaigns in his constituency was his inquiry into heroin use in the area. In September 2002, Mann called for more treatment for heroin users in North Nottinghamshire.[20] The inquiry he instigated called for heroin addicts to be given the choice between treatment or prison. At the same time more local GPs were trained to help heroin addicts get their lives back under control.[21] Following the reforms the number of addicts in treatment in Bassetlaw rose from 2 to 400, and acquisitive crime fell by 75%.[22]

Following a local newspaper story in October 2005,[23] Mann raised an Early Day Motion calling for Salvia divinorum to be banned in the UK (EDM796).[23] The motion only received 11 signatures.[24] It was later reported that John Mann had written to the Home Secretary in October 2008, urging her to take action with regard to salvia's legal status. The same report said that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had met to discuss salvia, among other substances, in April 2009, and that there would be a follow-up meeting in May.[25] The Observer newspaper gave the content of Mann's letter to Jacqui Smith. "Sadly the issue has come to light again as our young people are using the internet and sites like YouTube to broadcast their friends taking the drug and witnessing the hallucinogenic effects. Our young people are at risk and a wider cultural attachment to this drug seems to be developing that I am sure you agree - regardless of its legal status - needs nipping in the bud".[26]

Local campaigns[edit]

Mann is an active campaigner in his constituency Bassetlaw and an advocate of using campaigning strategies he refers to as "organising to win" elsewhere.[27] He has organised numerous campaigns in his constituency, examples of which include, during 2003 and 2004, campaigning to save Bassetlaw Hospital Accident and Emergency Department,[28][29] helping former coal miners fight double charging solicitors to get their compensation back,[30] and fighting Bassetlaw District Council's policy of "topple testing" headstones in local cemeteries.[31] Mann keeps a weekly column in the Worksop Guardian and – along with other local figures – writes occasional pieces for the Retford Times.

Operation Midland[edit]

In December 2014, Mann gave a dossier, compiled by him and containing child sexual abuse allegations against 22 high profile individuals, to the Metropolitan Police, which as part of Operation Midland was pursuing investigations into homicide and child abuse allegedly committed some decades previously at the Dolphin Square apartment building in Pimlico, London. Mann said that he had made a detailed examination of hundreds of pieces of evidence from members of the public and that he believed some of the twelve former ministers named were "definitely child abusers". He said that evidence against half of those on the list was "very compelling" and that some could "definitely be prosecuted".[32] Operation Midland was closed in 2016 when the allegations were found to be false.[33][34]


Mann has described antisemitism as "the worst of racisms",[35] and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism during 2004-2019.[36][37] In May 2009, Mann received the American Jewish Committee's Jan Karski Award in recognition of his commitment to fighting antisemitism in all of its forms.[38] As chair of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, Mann has overseen three landmark conferences – in the UK, Canada and Germany.[citation needed]

On 28 April 2016, Mann confronted Ken Livingstone in a public stairwell in front of a news camera crew, calling him a "Nazi apologist" and a "fucking disgrace"[39] over Livingstone's remarks in a radio interview that Adolf Hitler, on comping to power, supported Jewish emigration to Palestine.[40] Labour's chief whip Rosie Winterton, told Mann it was "completely inappropriate for Labour members of Parliament to be involved in very public rows on the television".[41]

In July 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Mann as a government advisor on antisemitism.[42] In September 2019, Mann announced that he would not stand as an MP at the next general election, in order to take up a full-time role as the government's anti-semitism "tsar".[5]


Mann announced he would vote to leave the EU in the June 2016 referendum, saying he believed Labour voters "fundamentally disagree" with Labour's official stance.[43][44] His own constituency voted to leave by a margin of 68% to 32%.[45]

Mann was one of only three Labour MPs along with Ian Austin and Kevin Barron, to defy a three-line whip and to vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal in the 15 January 2019 Meaningful vote. On 29 January 2019, Mann was one of seven Labour MPs to vote with the Conservative Government supporting Graham Brady's amendment mandating Theresa May to renegotiate the Irish backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement. The other six MPs were Austin, Barron, Jim Fitzpatrick, Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer.[46] On 3 April 2019, Mann was one of twelve Labour and ex-Labour MPs to vote alongside the Conservatives against the Cooper Bill, which had been supported by the Labour Party. Nonetheless, the bill passed the House of Commons with a difference of one vote. On 3 September 2019, Mann and Hoey were the only Labour MPs to vote with the Government in an attempt to prevent MPs from taking control of the house to block a potential no-deal Brexit, saying "I didn't vote with the government. I voted against an amendment that is deliberately calculated to block Brexit".[47]

House of Lords[edit]

On 7 September 2019, Mann announced that he would not stand as a MP at the next general election to take up a full-time role as the government’s anti-semitism tsar, citing his belief that Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to become Prime Minister for his mishandling of allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.[5]

On 9 September 2019, it was reported in The Times that "Theresa May’s resignation honours list was held up by a row over her decision to give the Labour MP John Mann a peerage. The independent watchdog on Lords appointments warned that it would set a dangerous precedent and could be seen as a bribe, The Times understands."[48]

Personal life[edit]

He married Joanna White in July 1986 in Leeds. His wife is a Labour councillor and deputy leader of Bassetlaw District Council,[49] and is also employed by John Mann as a part-time office manager, remunerated through his parliamentary expenses.[50][51] The couple have two adult daughters and a son.[52] He supports Leeds United.[53]


  1. ^ a b c Simon Round (12 February 2009). "Interview: John Mann MP". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. ^ "House of Commons - The Register of Members' Financial Interests - Part 2: Part 2".
  3. ^ "John Mann". UK Parliament Website. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  4. ^ Somerville, Ewan (8 September 2019). "Labour MP John Mann quits to become government anti-Semitism adviser as he heavily criticises Jeremy Corbyn". i. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Wheeler, Caroline (7 September 2019). "Labour MP John Mann quits to become government anti-semitism tsar". The Times. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Peerage for John Mann, Labour MP who supported Brexit deal, could be seen as bribe". The Times. 9 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  8. ^ John Mann, Phil Woolas (1986). Labour and the Youth Vote: The Missing Generation. Fabian Society. ISBN 9780716305156. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ Richard Heffernan, Mike Marqusee (1992). Defeat from the Jaws of Victory. Verso. pp. 173–74. ISBN 9780860915614. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  10. ^ "John Mann". BBC News. 21 October 2002. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  11. ^ Letts, Quentin (12 January 2011). "Eyes Burned into Bonus Bob with wild contempt". Daily Mail. London.
  12. ^ "Bungling George Osborne reveals he has no idea how much cash Treasury makes from fuel tax rise". Daily Mirror. London. 30 March 2011. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Labour loyalist John Mann urges Brown to step down". BBC News. 8 May 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  14. ^ a b "Maria Miller's expenses threats 'pretty shocking', says ex-head of watchdog". The Guardian. London. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  15. ^ Holehouse, Matthew (2 November 2014). "MPs to escape expenses investigations after paperwork destroyed by Parliament". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  16. ^ John Mann (12 September 2015). "More positions than the Kama Sutra - and not up to the job". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  17. ^ Swinford, Steven (23 July 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn accused of inaction over paedophile scandal". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Labour MP John Mann refuses to back Jeremy Corbyn". BBC News. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  20. ^ BBC 23 September 2003 (News).
  21. ^ Mann, John (2002). "Heroin in Bassetlaw".
  22. ^ Townsend, Mark (23 July 2006). "Anti-heroin project transforms towns". The Guardian. London.
  23. ^ a b "Legal, but this is no party drug says net". Worksop Guardian. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  24. ^ Early day motion 796. Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Salvia: more powerful than LSD, and legal". The Telegraph. London. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  26. ^ Doward, Jamie; Shah, Oliver (26 April 2009). "There are many drugs that help people get out of their minds yet stay within the law - they're called 'legal highs'". The Observer. London. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  27. ^ Sue Hamilton, John Mann (September 2010). Organising to win (PDF). Progress (Report). Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  28. ^ "'I'll fight it tooth and nail'". Worksop Guardian. 31 January 2003. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  29. ^ "'More unrest' at Bassetlaw A&E following controversy". Worksop Guardian. 14 March 2003. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  30. ^ "Don't swindle our miners says MP". Worksop Guardian. 16 January 2004. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  31. ^ "MP John Mann wins grave topple test campaign". Worksop Guardian. 20 January 2009. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  32. ^ Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla May (21 December 2014). "Child abuse inquiry: Three MPs and three peers named in paedophile dossier handed to Scotland Yard". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  33. ^ Rajeev Syal, Sandra Laville (21 March 2016). "Operation Midland: how the Met lost its way". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  34. ^ Dodd, Kikram; Taylor, Matthew (8 November 2016). "Operation Midland police fell for 'false claims' of VIP abuse, report says". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  35. ^ Sugarman, Daniel (30 June 2017). "Jacobson accuses Corbyn of a show of contempt". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  36. ^ "PCAA Foundation". Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  37. ^ Frazer, Jenni (27 July 2019). "New UK anti-Semitism adviser: Jews are the canary in the coal mine for humanity". Times of Israel.
  38. ^ John Mann (7 May 2009). "British MP, John Mann, accepts Jan Karski Award". American Jewish Committee. Retrieved 5 February 2010. (speech transcript)
  39. ^ "Critical Thinking". Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  40. ^ Withnall, Adam (28 April 2016). "Ken Livingstone accused of being 'Nazi apologist' by Labour MP John Mann". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  41. ^ Reed, James (28 April 2016). "Livingstone suspended as Bradford MP's anti-Semitism row triggers Labour meltdown". Yorkshire Post. Leeds. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  42. ^ "Labour anti-Semitism: Corbyn's plan to go to ruling body". BBC News. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  43. ^ "EU referendum: Labour MP John Mann to vote for Brexit". BBC News. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  44. ^ "Why I'm Voting Out on June 23rd" - John Mann MP official website, 10 June 2016
  45. ^ Morrow, Daniel (22 August 2018). "Has there been a shift in opinion over Brexit?". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  46. ^ "Calls for Labour MPs to face disciplinary action". BBC News. 31 January 2019 – via
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Peerage for John Mann, Labour MP who supported Brexit deal, could be seen as bribe". The Times. 9 September 2019.
  49. ^ Jo White – About Me – Bassetlaw District Council, retrieved 25 June 2016
  50. ^ "The Register of Members' Financial Interests: As at 2nd February 2015" – House of Commons, retrieved 25 June 2016
  51. ^ Bassetlaw: John Mann defends staff expenses Worksop Guardian, 18 September 2003
  52. ^ Mann, Heather (22 April 2018). "My family and I have endured so much abuse". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 April 2018. (subscription required)
  53. ^ Select Committee on Treasury – Minutes of Evidence, 2 December 2003 –, retrieved 25 June 2016

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joe Ashton
Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw