Jonathan Ashworth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jonathan Ashworth

Official portrait of Jonathan Ashworth crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Assumed office
7 October 2016
Serving with Barbara Keeley (Social Care)
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byDiane Abbott
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
In office
14 September 2015 – 7 October 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byJon Trickett
Succeeded byAndrew Gwynne
Deputy Chairman of the National Executive Committee
In office
11 July 2013 – 7 October 2016
LeaderEd Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded byTom Watson
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of Parliament
for Leicester South
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded byPeter Soulsby
Majority22,675 (45.2%)
Personal details
Born (1978-10-14) 14 October 1978 (age 41)
Salford, England
Political partyLabour and Co-operative
Emilie Oldknow (m. 2010)
Alma materDurham University
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Jonathan Michael Graham Ashworth (born 14 October 1978) is a British Labour Party politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Leicester South since 2011, and has served as Shadow Secretary of State for Health in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet since 2016. Ashworth was first elected at a by-election in 2011, following the resignation of his predecessor Peter Soulsby, and was re-elected at the 2015, 2017, and 2019 general elections.

He previously worked as an adviser to Gordon Brown and head of party relations for Ed Miliband.[1]

He is currently Shadow Health Secretary, shadowing Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, having been appointed to the role by party leader Jeremy Corbyn in October 2016. Unlike Hancock, Ashworth does not hold responsibilities for Social care in England; which are held by Barbara Keeley as Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care.


Ashworth was born in Salford, brought up in north Manchester and educated at Philips High School in Bury and Bury College[2] before studying at the University of Durham.[3] In 2000 he served as National Secretary of Labour Students.[4]

Political career[edit]

Labour Party officer[edit]

Ashworth began working for the Labour Party as a Political Research Officer in 2001, and was the Economics and Welfare Policy Officer from 2002 to 2004.[5] In 2003, he was seconded to the Scottish Labour Party to work on the Scottish Parliament election campaign, where he worked closely with then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. Following the election, Scottish Labour remained the single-largest party at Holyrood and were re-elected, but the coalition with the Scottish Lib Dems remained in place.

Special adviser[edit]

From 2004, he was appointed as Special Adviser to Chief Secretaries to the Treasury Paul Boateng, Des Browne[6] and Stephen Timms, but in practice he worked for Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. His main job was liaising with the Labour movement and an Evening Standard profile said "his contact book was "stuffed with constituency officers and union organisers", and there was newspaper speculation that he would be Political Secretary at 10 Downing Street in a potential future Brown government.[7]

When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, Ashworth was appointed deputy Political Secretary with the role of linking the Government to the trade unions.[4] There was speculation later that year that Ashworth might be selected to replace John Prescott as the official Labour candidate for Kingston upon Hull East,[8] although it came to nothing. Ashworth spent most of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election campaign in the constituency.[9]

After the Labour Party were defeated at the 2010 general election, Ashworth became Political Secretary to the acting party leader Harriet Harman. He did not publicly support any candidate in the subsequent leadership election because of his role working for Harriet Harman but he was described as a "key member" of Ed Miliband's team on the day after Miliband won the Labour leadership election.[10] When Miliband was elected as Leader of the Labour Party, he asked Ashworth to join his office as Head of Party Relations.[1]

Parliamentary candidate[edit]

With a general election imminent, Ashworth was identified as someone who the Labour Party leadership wished to find a seat for. He was linked with a possible candidature in Mansfield should the sitting MP Alan Meale decide to stand down, but Meale decided to seek re-election despite widespread speculation he was to retire from Parliament. Ashworth was then identified as a potential candidate for Nottingham East when the sitting MP John Heppell retired,[11] but the selection went to former MP Chris Leslie when the Labour National Executive Committee chose to impose Leslie at the last minute.[12]

Ashworth sought selection in Leicester South in 2011 when the sitting MP Sir Peter Soulsby decided to resign to seek election as Mayor of Leicester. He was immediately identified as the front-runner for the selection and was backed by the major trade unions including his own Unite, GMB and UNISON.

Ashworth was also endorsed by the Co-Operative Party and is also a Co-Operative Party MP.[13] He was selected on the first ballot by the local party, and held the seat with an increased majority on 5 May 2011.[14]

Labour Party Selections[edit]

Following the row over alleged undue influence of trade unions in the Labour Party in the Falkirk Parliamentary Selection in 2013, Ashworth penned a piece for the Daily Telegraph claiming that it is ordinary people – not the unions – who choose Labour MPs.[15]

On 11 July 2013, Ashworth replaced Tom Watson on the National Executive Committee.[16]

Labour Opposition (2015–)[edit]

Ashworth speaking at the 2016 Labour Party Conference

Ashworth nominated Yvette Cooper to be Leader of the Labour Party following the resignation of Ed Miliband after the 2015 general election.[17] He nominated Tom Watson as Deputy Leader.[18]

Following his election as Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Ashworth to the Shadow Cabinet role of Shadow Minister without Portfolio.[19] Ashworth was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Health in October 2016. He has gone on record to say that a Labour government would not repeal the controversial Health and Social Care Act 2012 despite Labour's 2017 general election manifesto commitment to do so.[20]

In December 2015, Ashworth voted against the resolution to authorise RAF bombing of ISIL in Syria.[21]

During the 2019 general election campaign a recording of a conversation Ashworth had with a Conservative activist friend was leaked to the media, where Ashworth said he did not believe Labour would win the election due to Corbyn and the Brexit position not appealing to voters. Ashworth subsequently apologised to the Labour Party, stating he was just "joshing around".[22]


Ashworth is critical of problems in the NHS. Ashworth stated, "The 4.3 million patients on waiting lists and the nearly 27,000 patients who waited over 62 days for cancer treatment last year will feel sorely let down that reducing waiting lists and stamping out rationing isn’t the first priority of the new health secretary. Investment in technology is welcome but years of Tory austerity has seen hospitals build up a £5,000,000,000 repair backlog, resulting in clinicians nationwide using hundreds of pieces of equipment that are years out of date, as recently revealed by Labour. And commitments to prevention will ring hollow without reversing the substantial cuts to public health budgets, which are set to reach £800,000,000 by 2020/21."[23][24]

Ashworth is also concerned about closure of maternity units, Ashworth stated, "Expectant mothers deserve reassurance that the local maternity unit will be there for them when needed. It is a disgrace that almost half of maternity units in England had to close to new mothers at some point in 2017. The uncertainty for so many women just when they need the NHS most is unthinkable. Under this government, maternity units are understaffed and under pressure. Labour is committed to making child health an absolute priority with our ambition of the healthiest children in the world. That means giving every child the best start in life, including proper investment in maternity services."[25]

Ashworth fears cuts to public health services are causing cancellations of children's operations. Ashworth stated, "Behind each of these cancellations is a sick child and their loved ones facing unnecessary distress for entirely avoidable reasons. These cancelled operations risk harming children further in the long term and it’s shameful that cancellations have reached this level [18647 children's operations cancelled in 2017]. The fact that thousands of children’s operations – including for broken bones, removing rotten teeth, eye surgery and even breast cancer – have had to be cancelled on this scale reveals yet again an NHS pushed to the brink by the Tories.”[26]

Ashworth expressed concern over staff shortages in the NHS, projected to increase during the coming decade. Ashworth maintains this is due to government mismanagement and financial restrictions on the NHS since 2010.[27]

Ashworth maintained the NHS needed extra support from the government to prevent a crisis in the winter 2018/2019. Ashworth stated, "There was no extra cash for acute trusts in the recent budget for winter and we know many hospitals are facing intense pressures following this year’s ‘summer crisis’. It would be unforgivable if patients suffer another winter like last year. [winter 2017/2018 when many patients spent hours in ambulances or on hospital trolleys because there was no room in wards] Ministers urgently need to reassure us they have a plan and will make proper funds available."[28]

In December 2018 Ashworth was concerned about winter hospital provision and feared the government is unable to deal with the NHS due to pressure over Brexit. Ashworth stated, "This is a government dismally paralysed by the ongoing Tory civil war over the Brexit shambles. It will be an utterly embarrassing failure of leadership if the health secretary can’t get an NHS plan published because of the ongoing squabbling. A&Es are already overcrowded at unsafe levels this winter, waiting lists are getting longer and staff shortages across the NHS becoming more chronic. We need urgent action now. If the government can’t even get its proposals for the NHS agreed internally, then it should stand aside for a Labour government that will put patients first over this debilitating Tory civil war."[29]

In November 2019 Ashworth expressed concern that staff shortages in the NHS lead to staff doing unpaid overtime to care for patients. Ashworth said, "The NHS is in crisis after nearly a decade of Tory cuts and it’s a disgrace that its dedicated staff, who always put their patients first, are having to pick up the pieces to fill the gaps left by this crisis made in Downing Street."[30]

During the year to December 2019 4,668 patient deaths were linked to safety incidents at hospital, mental health and ambulance trusts. Ashworth said, "These figures are heartbreaking and our thoughts are with the families who have lost a loved one in these circumstances." He held, "years of Tory cutbacks" responsible for understaffing and for increasing pressures, which put patients at risk.[31]

On 10 December 2019, it emerged that Ashworth had told a friend that he did not believe Labour would win the general election due to be held two days later. He said that this was largely due to the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn and voters outside the cities blaming Labour for not delivering Brexit. His friend, who was a Conservative activist, leaked a recording of the conversation to Guido Fawkes. Ashworth later claimed that he was joking.

Personal life[edit]

Ashworth became engaged to Emilie Oldknow, the East Midlands Regional Director for the Labour Party, in 2008. She was the official Labour candidate for Sherwood at the 2010 general election, but was not elected.[32] Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah attended the couple's wedding on 3 July 2010 in Derbyshire.[33] They have a daughter, Gracie, born in May 2011 shortly after his by-election victory,[34] and a second daughter.


  1. ^ a b Troughton, Adrian (21 March 2011). "Labour candidate Ashworth promises to be a 'champion' for city if he wins by-election". Leicester Mercury. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Ashworth, Jonathan Michael Graham". Who's Who 2012 (online ed.). A & C Black. 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Your Strong Voice for Leicester South: Jon Ashworth: Standing to be your new MP". Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Bright young things beavering away for Team Brown". London Evening Standard. 27 June 2007.
  5. ^ "Jon Ashworth MP". BBC Democracy Live. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  6. ^ "The Times guide to the Government". The Times. London. 13 May 2005.
  7. ^ "Gordon gets his team prepared to take over No 10". London Evening Standard. 6 September 2006.
  8. ^ "Who's in the running to succeed Prescott?". Hull Daily Mail. 22 August 2007.
  9. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (25 May 2008). "Labour in Turmoil: Is this the beginning of the end for Brown?". The Observer. London.
  10. ^ Elliott, Francis; Smyth, Chris (27 September 2010). "Dallas and demand management: what really does it for Ed". The Times. London.
  11. ^ Walker, Charles (3 April 2010). "MP calls it a day after a royal time". Nottingham Evening Post.
  12. ^ Brady, Brian (11 April 2010). "Activists threaten rebellion as Brown helps secure seat for ally". Independent on Sunday. London. p. 10.
  13. ^ "Labour is to reveal MP candidates". Leicester Mercury. 17 March 2011.
  14. ^ Troughton, Adrian (7 May 2011). "Great day for Labour capped by victory in by-election". Leicester Mercury.
  15. ^ Ashworth, Jon (4 July 2013). "Labour's links to the trade unions? I'm proud of them". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  16. ^ Ferguson, Mark (11 July 2013). "Jonathan Ashworth to replace Tom Watson on Labour's NEC". LabourList. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  17. ^ Martin, Dan (9 June 2015). "Jon Ashworth backs Yvette Cooper over city neighbour Liz Kendall in Labour leadership race". Leicester Mercury. Archived from the original on 17 September 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  18. ^ "Who nominated who in the 2015 Labour deputy leadership election?". New Statesman. London. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  19. ^ Martin, Dan (14 September 2015). "Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth becomes Jeremy Corbyn's shadow minister without portfolio". Leicester Mercury. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Labour Will not Roll Back Health and Social Care Act – Healthcare Times". Archived from the original on 1 October 2017.
  21. ^ Martin, Dan (3 December 2015). "Jon Ashworth the only MP from Leicester and Leicestershire to vote against Syria air strikes". Leicester Mercury. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  22. ^ "General election 2019: Jonathan Ashworth apologises after Corbyn criticism leak". BBC News. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  23. ^ Siddique, Haroon (20 July 2018). "NHS to receive £487m technology boost". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Low NHS morale is 'heartbreaking' says Matt Hancock". BBC News. 20 July 2018. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018.
  25. ^ Walker, Peter (28 August 2018). "NHS maternity units were forced to close 287 times last year". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018.
  26. ^ Record number of children's operations cancelled last year Archived 27 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  27. ^ NHS ‘could be short of 350,000 staff by 2030’ Archived 15 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  28. ^ Most doctors fear hospitals won't cope this winter Archived 26 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  29. ^ Long-term plan for NHS funding delayed amid Brexit chaos Archived 15 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  30. ^ NHS staff working 1m hours a week of unpaid overtime, Labour says Archived 16 November 2019 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  31. ^ Deaths of 4,600 NHS patients linked to safety incidents Archived 9 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  32. ^ Parsons, Rob (8 May 2010). "Farmer Mark in a thriller at dawn". Nottingham Evening Post.
  33. ^ "Guest Appearance". The Sunday Telegraph. London. 4 July 2010.
  34. ^ "Oh baby! Joy for city's new MP as Gracie born". Leicester Mercury. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2016.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Soulsby
Member of Parliament
for Leicester South

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Watson
Deputy Chair of the Labour Party
Political offices
Preceded by
Jon Trickett
Shadow Minister without Portfolio
Succeeded by
Andrew Gwynne
Preceded by
Diane Abbott
Shadow Secretary of State for Health