John Spellar

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The Right Honourable
John Spellar
Official portrait of John Spellar crop 2.jpg
Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
8 October 2010 – 18 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman
Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Chris Bryant
Succeeded by Catherine West
Comptroller of the Household
In office
5 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Tommy McAvoy
Succeeded by Alistair Carmichael
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
13 June 2003 – 10 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Jane Kennedy
Succeeded by David Hanson
Minister of State for Transport
In office
8 June 2001 – 13 June 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
Succeeded by Kim Howells
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
29 July 1999 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Doug Henderson
Succeeded by Adam Ingram
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence
In office
6 May 1997 – 28 July 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Earl Howe
Succeeded by Peter Kilfoyle
Member of Parliament
for Warley
Warley West (1992–1997)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Peter Archer
Majority 16,483 (41.0%)
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Northfield
In office
28 October 1982 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Jocelyn Cadbury
Succeeded by Roger King
Personal details
Born (1947-08-05) 5 August 1947 (age 71)
Bromley, Kent, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Website Party website

John Francis Spellar (born 5 August 1947) is a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Warley. He served as a Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office and returned to the backbenches in 2005. Spellar was Comptroller of the Household and the third most senior whip in the Whips' Office between October 2008 and May 2010.

Early life[edit]

Spellar was born in Bromley and educated at Dulwich College and St Edmund Hall, Oxford and worked as a trade union official. He was the Political Officer of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EETPU) from 1969 to 1992.[1] As a young union officer he attended, along with John Golding and Roger Godsiff, the St Ermins group of senior trade union leaders who organised to prevent the Bennite left taking over the party in the years 1981-1987.[2]

He was a councillor in the London Borough of Bromley between 1970 and 1974.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Spellar stood for the constituency of Bromley at the 1970 general election and came second.

He was first elected to the House of Commons in the Birmingham Northfield by-election, 1982 but lost at the 1983 General Election. At the 1987 general election he stood again for the same seat but was again unsuccessful. Spellar returned to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election becoming the MP for Warley West and was appointed an opposition whip. Following a period as opposition spokesman for Northern Ireland in 1994, he was moved to shadow Defence ministers in 1995.

When Tony Blair formed his government in 1997, Spellar was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, being promoted to become Minister of State for the Armed Forces in 1999. He was appointed to the Privy Council, as Minister of State for Transport in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions[1] with rights to attend Cabinet. After the 2002 reshuffle, he became Minister of State at the Department for Transport, and moved to the Northern Ireland Office in 2003. He was banned from the offices of both the Mayor of Londonderry and the Mayor of Belfast during that year, because he supported the reinstatement to the British Army of convicted murderers Mark Wright and James Fisher of the Scots Guards.[3] He left the front benches in 2005, but in 2008, he rejoined the government as a whip (Comptroller of the Household) and served until Labour entered opposition in May 2010.

In November 2015, he suggested on BBC Radio 5 Live that his party leader Jeremy Corbyn should resign over the question of whether to conduct air strikes on ISIL in Syria: 'What we’re seeing here is an attempted coup by Jeremy Corbyn and the people around him in the bunker trying to take over the party. It’s unacceptable. What we're seeing here is an attempted coup by a group to try and over-ride and over-run others. It is unacceptable. How does Jeremy Corbyn and his tiny band of Trots in the bunker think they've got the unique view on it all? If anyone should resign after this incident, it should be Jeremy Corbyn'.[4] Speller is a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and has served as vice-chair.[5]

In June 2016 Spellar raised a formal objection to a parliamentary order creating the West Midlands Combined Authority, delaying its creation, because its size had been increased since its proposal and Spellar believed its funding was not clear.[6]

Spellar supported continued membership of the European Union in the 2016 referendum.[7]

Outside interests[edit]

Spellar is a member of the Henry Jackson Society Advisory Council.[8]
Spellar is a Director of Labour First[9]


  1. ^ a b Clark, Phil (2001). "John Spellar". Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  2. ^ Hayter, Dianne. "St Ermins group (act. 1981-1987)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. ^ Greenslade, Roy (10 September 2003). "Remember Peter McBride?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  4. ^ Jonathan Walker (27 November 2015). "Black Country Labour MP suggests Jeremy Corbyn should resign over Syria". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  5. ^ "MPs flock to support Labour Israel group". The Jewish Chronicle. 22 September 2016.
  6. ^ Elkes, Neil (9 June 2016). "MP Spellar throws spanner into launch of West Midlands Combined Authority". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Contacts". Labour Against Brexit. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Advisory Council". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Labour First Ltd Company Data". Companies House, UK. Retrieved 27 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jocelyn Cadbury
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Northfield

Succeeded by
Roger King
Preceded by
Peter Archer
Member of Parliament
for Warley West

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Warley

Political offices
Preceded by
Doug Henderson
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Adam Ingram
Preceded by
Gus Macdonald
Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Kim Howells
Preceded by
Tommy McAvoy
Comptroller of the Household
Succeeded by
Alistair Carmichael