John Healey (politician)

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John Healey

Official portrait of Rt Hon John Healey MP crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Assumed office
6 April 2020
LeaderKeir Starmer
Preceded byNia Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Housing
In office
7 October 2016 – 6 April 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byThangam Debbonaire
Shadow Minister of State for Housing
In office
13 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byRoberta Blackman-Woods
Succeeded byAndy Slaughter
In office
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded byGrant Shapps
Succeeded byAlison Seabeck
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
In office
8 October 2010 – 6 October 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byAndy Burnham
Succeeded byAndy Burnham
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byMargaret Beckett
Succeeded byGrant Shapps
Minister of State for Local Government
In office
28 June 2007 – 5 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPhil Woolas
Succeeded byRosie Winterton
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
6 May 2005 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byStephen Timms
Succeeded byJane Kennedy
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
15 December 2002 – 6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byRuth Kelly
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Member of Parliament
for Wentworth and Dearne
Wentworth (1997–2010)
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byPeter Hardy
Majority2,165 (5.2%)
Personal details
Born (1960-02-13) 13 February 1960 (age 60)
Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Jackie Bate
EducationSt Peter's School, York
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge
WebsiteOfficial website

John Healey (born 13 February 1960) is a British Labour Party politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Wentworth and Dearne since 1997 and Shadow Secretary of State for Defence since 2020.

Following the 2010 general election, he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Health. He stood down from the role in October 2011 and was succeeded by Andy Burnham. He also served as Shadow Secretary of State for Housing from 2016 to 2020 under Jeremy Corbyn, and worked alongside Andrew Gwynne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Early life[edit]

John Healey was born in Wakefield, the son of Aidan Healey OBE. He was educated at the Lady Lumley's School in Pickering before attending the independent St Peter's School, York sixth form college. Healey studied Social and Political Science at Christ's College, Cambridge[1] where he received a BA in 1982. He worked as a journalist and the deputy editor of the internal magazine of the Palace of Westminster, The House Magazine for a year in 1983. In 1984 he became a full-time disability rights campaigner for several national charities.

Healey joined Issues Communications in 1990 as a campaign manager before becoming the head of communications at the Manufacturing, Science and Finance trade union in 1992. He was appointed as the campaign director with the Trades Union Congress in 1994 in which capacity he remained until his election to the House of Commons. He was also a tutor at the Open University Business School.

Healey's first venture into Parliamentary politics was an unsuccessful attempt to gain the Ryedale seat at the 1992 general election. As the Labour candidate, Healey finished in third place, some 30,076 votes behind the sitting Conservative John Greenway.

Member of Parliament[edit]


Although John Healey had not been the first choice as the Labour candidate in Wentworth for the 1997 general election he won by a convincing margin after a long campaign. It was rumoured that the Labour leadership had tried to insert the former Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, Alan Howarth, who had crossed the floor and joined the Labour Party in 1995.

The other prospective candidates were journalist Yvette Cooper who went on to be selected for Pontefract and Castleford and Rotherham Cllrs. Ken Wyatt and Cllr. Roger Stone. Finally Healey was chosen for this very safe Labour seat.

At the 1997 general election, Healey successfully contested the seat of Wentworth, which had become available following the retirement of the Labour MP Peter Hardy. Healey held the seat with a majority of 23,959 and has remained the MP to date, being re-elected in the 2019 General Election with a majority of 2,165.[2]

In government[edit]

Healey served as a member of the education and employment select committee from 1997 until he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in 1999. He was given an executive position following the 2001 general election in an appointment as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Skills.

Healey was promoted in 2002 to the position of Economic Secretary to the Treasury and nominally again following the 2005 general election when he took the role of Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Healey's responsibilities included government statistics, (including the Office for National Statistics which is to become an independent body after passage of the current bill he has been steering through parliament), along with implementation of the government's 10 year strategy for science and innovation, which directs spending of around £5 billion a year. Inter alia, this has led to the controversial abolition of the Research Assessment Exercise. However, he has never made a speech on this area of responsibility and did not answer questions about it.

On 29 June 2007, he was moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government as a result of a government reshuffle. His position as Financial Secretary was filled by Jane Kennedy. Shortly after his appointment he was announced as the Floods Recovery Minister, with responsibility for assisting the recovery from recent widespread flooding across the United Kingdom. It was announced he would be appointed to the Privy Council in October 2008.

In a Cabinet reshuffle on 5 June 2009, he was appointed Minister of State (Housing), replacing Margaret Beckett who had resigned. While Minister of State for Housing and Planning he was criticised for suggesting that more people are renting rather than buying their own homes was a good thing.[3]

Healey has held the following positions:

As of 6th April 2020, Healey is currently serving as the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.

In opposition[edit]

Healey came second in the election for the shadow cabinet in 2010, and was appointed shadow Health Secretary.[4] Healey took the decision to stand down from the Shadow Cabinet in 2011 in order to spend more time with his family.[5]

He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election.[6]

Political views[edit]

Healey maintains affordable housing should be a right, not a privilege. Healey wrote, "The housing market is broken, and, after eight long years it is clear that current Conservative housing policy is failing to fix it. Ministers talk big about housebuilding targets to be reached some time in the next decade. But what new homes we build, and who they’re for, matter just as much as how many we build. To make housing more affordable, we need to build more affordable homes, and to hardwire housing affordability through the system, from planning to funding to delivery. The public know this: eight in 10 people think ministers should be doing more to get affordable housing built. (...) We will build for those who need it, including the very poorest and most vulnerable, with a big boost to new social rented homes. And we will also build Labour’s new affordable homes for those in work on ordinary incomes who are priced out of the housing market and being failed by housing policy. This is the “just coping” class in Britain today, who do the jobs we all rely on – IT workers, HGV drivers, joiners, warehouse managers, lab technicians, nurses, teaching assistants, call centre supervisors, shop staff."[7]

Healey also said, "Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate with Labour but, after eight years of the Tories, it is shameful that 131,000 children will be without a home this Christmas [Christmas 2018]. It’s no surprise that homelessness is rising rapidly when the Conservatives have slashed investment in new affordable homes, refused to help private renters and made huge cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services."[8]

He opposes the minimum wage being set at a different level for young people and he campaigns for medals to be awarded to Suez Canal Zone veterans.

Personal life[edit]

Healey married Jackie Bate on 25 October 1993 in Lambeth and they have one son. He is a member of Amnesty International.


  1. ^ Hetherington, Peter (24 July 2007). "More power to the regions". The Guardian. London.
  2. ^ "Wentworth & Dearne Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  3. ^ "John Healey, housing minister, attacked for lauding fall in ownership". The Daily Telegraph. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet". BBC News. 8 October 2013 – via
  5. ^ Stratton, Allegra (7 October 2011). "Ed Miliband to bring former ministers into shadow cabinet in reshuffle". the Guardian.
  6. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  7. ^ Britain’s housing market is broken. Here’s how Labour will fix it The Guardian
  8. ^ 130,000 homeless children to be in temporary lodgings over Christmas The Guardian

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Hardy
Member of Parliament
for Wentworth

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Wentworth and Dearne

Political offices
Preceded by
Ruth Kelly
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Ivan Lewis
Preceded by
Stephen Timms
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Jane Kennedy
Preceded by
Phil Woolas
Minister of State for Local Government
Succeeded by
Rosie Winterton
Preceded by
Margaret Beckett
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Succeeded by
Grant Shapps
Preceded by
Grant Shapps
Shadow Minister for Housing and Local Government
Succeeded by
Alison Seabeck
Preceded by
Andy Burnham
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Succeeded by
Andy Burnham
Preceded by
Roberta Blackman-Woods
Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning
New office Shadow Secretary of State for Housing