Roberta Blackman-Woods

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Roberta Blackman-Woods
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods.jpg
Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning
Assumed office
12 January 2018
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byMelanie Onn
In office
9 October 2016 – 3 July 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Succeeded byMelanie Onn
Shadow Minister for International Development
In office
3 July 2017 – 12 January 2018
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byImran Hussain
Succeeded byDan Carden
Preet Gill
Member of Parliament
for City of Durham
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byGerry Steinberg
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority11,439 (25.0%)
Personal details
Roberta Carol Woods

(1957-08-16) 16 August 1957 (age 62)
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Ulster
WebsiteOfficial website
Commons website

Roberta Blackman-Woods (born Roberta Carol Woods; 16 August 1957) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the City of Durham from 2005 to 2019.


Blackman-Woods is from Northern Ireland and was educated at the University of Ulster, graduating with a BSc degree and later a PhD in Social Science. Following this she was employed as a welfare rights officer for Newcastle City Council, before going on to pursue a career in academia.[citation needed]

As a sociologist with expertise in housing, she served as Professor of Social Policy and an Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Northumbria prior to her election, and had previously been Dean of Social and Labour studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and head of policy at the Local Government Information Unit. Blackman-Woods had previously been Chair of the City of Durham Constituency Labour Party and before that in Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend. She has also served as a Councillor on Oxford and Newcastle City Councils.[1]

Roberta's brother in law is former Wokingham Borough Council Conservative Council Leader David Lee. David Lee was also Chairman of the Wokingham Conservative Association between 2017-2019.

Parliamentary career[edit]

In 2004, Blackman-Woods was selected as the Labour candidate for the City of Durham constituency through a controversial All-Women Shortlist.[2] In her previous work she had been known by her maiden name, Roberta Woods. She added her husband's surname, Blackman, after selection by the constituency Labour Party, to avoid confusion with Liberal Democrat candidate Carol Woods.[3]

Elected with a majority of 3,274, Blackman-Woods made her maiden speech to the House of Commons on 24 May 2005, in which she referred to the work of her predecessor Gerry Steinberg, as well as referring at length to the importance to Durham of Durham Cathedral, the University of Durham and the historic legacy of mining within the area. She also quoted Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island: "Why, it's wonderful - a perfect little city... If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful."

Blackman-Woods was a member of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments from 2005–2010 and has also been a member of the Education and Skills Select Committee and the Business, Innovation, Science and Skills Select Committee. In 2006 she became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Hilary Armstrong. This post lasted until Armstrong returned to the backbenches when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, but Blackman-Woods was then appointed PPS to the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, in 2007. Following Des Brown's retirement to the backbenches she served as PPS to David Lammy MP as Minister of State for Higher Education.[citation needed]

In 2005, she became Chair of the All Party Afghanistan Group and in 2007 she also became Chair of the All Party Balanced and Sustainable Communities Group. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Business in June 2010, before being moved to shadow the Civil Society Minister by new Labour Leader Ed Miliband in October 2010. In the October 2011 shadow cabinet re-shuffle, Blackman-Woods was moved to Shadow Minister in Communities and Local Government covering planning policy and procurement.[citation needed] In May 2015, she was confirmed as the shadow housing minister.[4] She resigned from the front bench in June 2016 claiming loss of confidence in the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, supporting Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[5] However, she subsequently rejoined when Corbyn was reelected.[6]

On 3 July 2017 she was appointed as a Shadow International Development Minister by Corbyn.[7]

On 16 July 2019 she announced that she would not be standing at the next general election.[8]


  1. ^ Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, a brief biography Archived 24 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed 9 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Candidate considers changing her name". Northern Echo. 30 January 2004.
  4. ^[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Labour shadow cabinet and ministers resignations - the letters in full". The Daily Telegraph. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Reshuffle 2: The Maintenance of the Malcontents". New Socialist. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ Blackman-Woods, Roberta (16 July 2019). "Tweet". Retrieved 16 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerry Steinberg
Member of Parliament
for City of Durham

Succeeded by
To be elected
Political offices
Preceded by
Teresa Pearce
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
Andrew Gwynne