Barbara Roche
Minister for Social Exclusion
In office
29 May 2002 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byPhil Woolas
Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration
In office
29 July 1999 – 11 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byThe Lord Rooker
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
4 January 1999 – 29 July 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDawn Primarolo
Succeeded byStephen Timms
Member of Parliament
for Hornsey and Wood Green
In office
9 April 1992 – 11 April 2005
Preceded byHugh Rossi
Succeeded byLynne Featherstone
Personal details
Barbara Maureen Margolis

(1954-04-13) 13 April 1954 (age 69)
Bethnal Green, London, England
Political partyLabour
Patrick Roche
(m. 1977)
Alma materLady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Barbara Maureen Roche (née Margolis; born 13 April 1954)[1] is a British Labour politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hornsey and Wood Green from 1992 until 2005, when she lost her seat to the Liberal Democrats, despite having enjoyed a majority of over 10,000 in the prior, 2001, general election.[2][3]

Early life and education

Born to Polish-Ashkenazi father and a Sephardi Jewish mother,[4] the daughter of Barnet and Hanna Margolis,[5] Roche was educated at the Jews Free School, Camden Town and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).[6] She trained to be a barrister and was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1977.[1]

Political career

She first stood for Parliament in the 1984 Surrey South-West by-election, a Conservative-held seat, in which Roche came a distant third as the Labour candidate.[7] This was followed by an unsuccessful candidacy for the marginal seat of Hornsey and Wood Green at the 1987 general election, when she failed to unset the incumbent MP Hugh Rossi.[8][9][10]

Roche ran again in Hornsey and Wood Green at the 1992 general election. Rossi was not standing for Parliament, and had been replaced by Andrew Boff as the Conservative candidate. This time, Roche gained the seat for Labour, despite her party losing nationally.[11] She saw her majority soar to 20,500 in 1997, when she polled 25,000 votes more than the Liberal Democrats' candidate, Lynne Featherstone.[12]

However, by 2001, Roche's majority had almost halved to 10,500, with a substantial swing to the Liberal Democrats, who had again selected Featherstone as their candidate.[3] A local newspaper described Roche in January 2005 as "a fiercely loyal Labour MP, who has only rebelled against the Government in four out of 1,570 votes."[13]

During her time in Government, she held several ministerial offices; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry, 1997–1998; Financial Secretary to the Treasury, 1999; Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration, Home Office, 1999–2001; Cabinet Office, 2001–2002; Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2002–2003.[1]

At the 2005 general election, Roche unexpectedly lost her seat on another large 14.6% swing (14.6%) to the Liberal Democrats, with Featherstone succeeding her as the constituency's MP.[3][14]

Views on immigration

"I wanted to be the first immigration minister to say immigration is a good thing (...) We have a multiracial, multicultural society; we are a stronger country for it."

Barbara Roche interviewed by the New Statesman, 2000[15]

Roche was a strong supporter of a liberal immigration policy to the United Kingdom,[16] and advocated for increased immigration during her time as Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration. Among her reasons for this, she included using migration to free up skills shortages, respond to the country's ageing demography and for economic growth.[17]

In September 2000, she gave a speech outlining her desires to liberalize the United Kingdom's immigration policy, calling for what the government termed as 'managed migration'.[18][17][19] She believed that the benefits of migration should be shown by emphasizing the ethnic diversity of the United Kingdom and migrants' contribution to the country, in similar ways to countries like the United States, Australia and Canada, for example.[20][21] She also advocated for a "US style citizenship ceremony to ensure immigrants attached symbolic importance to their acceptance into British society."[4]

Similarly, Roche was also a supporter of multiculturalism,[15] and attached this to her Jewishness and immigrant parents,[22][20][4][15] stating; "My being Jewish informs me totally, informs my politics. I understand the otherness of ethnic groups. The Americans are ahead of us on things like multiple identity. I'm Jewish but I'm also a Londoner; I'm English but also British."[4]

After she quit parliamentary politics, she became chair of the Migration Museum Project,[22] co-founded the Migration Matters Trust and several other organizations in the migration field.

After Parliament

After her defeat in 2005, and prior to the 2010 general election, Roche attempted to re-enter the Commons, seeking the Labour Party nomination (and being shortlisted) in the 'safe' Labour seats of Stockton North,[23] Houghton & Sunderland South,[24] Wigan,[25] and Stalybridge & Hyde,[26] but was not selected for any of them, despite the support of the Labour-affiliated Unite union.[26]

Personal life

Margolis married Patrick Roche in 1977, and the couple have a daughter. Outside politics, she lists her recreations as theatre and detective fiction.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Roche, Barbara Maureen, (born 13 April 1954), Chairman: Migration Matters Trust, since 2012; Praxis, since 2013". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u32947. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  2. ^ "What happens to ex-MPs?". The Guardian. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "VOTE 2001 | RESULTS & CONSTITUENCIES | Hornsey & Wood Green". BBC News. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Waugh, Paul (23 June 2003). "Roche urges Labour to promote the benefits of legal migration". The Independent. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2022. The child of a Polish-Russian Ashkenazi father and a Sephardic Spanish-Portuguese mother, Ms Roche has reason for her feelings on immigration. "My being Jewish informs me totally, informs my politics. I understand the otherness of ethnic groups. The Americans are ahead of us on things like multiple identity. I'm Jewish but I'm also a Londoner; I'm English but also British."
  5. ^ Dodd's Parliamentary Companion 2005, 173rd edition, London 2004, p.291.
  6. ^ "LMH, Oxford - Prominent Alumni". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Surrey SW 1984". British Parliamentary by-elections. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Dale, Iain; Smith, Jacqui (2018). The Honourable Ladies : Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1996. La Vergne: Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78590-449-3. OCLC 1066199914.
  9. ^ "Election 87: The Nominations". The Guardian. 29 May 1987. p. 17. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  10. ^ "Election 87: Final Results". The Guardian. 13 June 1987. p. 19. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  11. ^ "The Fourth Term - Results". The Guardian. 11 April 1992. p. 14. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  12. ^ "How London voted". Evening Standard. London. 2 May 1997. p. 361. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  13. ^ Martyn Kent (19 January 2005). "Majority rules (From Times Series)". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  14. ^ "General Election 2005". Haringey Council. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  15. ^ a b c Ashley, Jackie (23 October 2000). "The New Statesman Interview - Barbara Roche". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  16. ^ Somerville, Will (26 September 2007). Immigration Under New Labour. Policy Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-86134-967-5. Barbara Roche (as Minister for Immigration) and Alan Johnson (as Minister for Competitiveness) stand out as strong supporters of the liberal immigration regime.
  17. ^ a b "BBC News | UK POLITICS | Call for immigration rethink". BBC News. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  18. ^ Somerville, Will (26 September 2007). Immigration Under New Labour. Policy Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-86134-967-5.
  19. ^ "Draft Speech by Barbara Roche MP, Immigration Minister: London, 11 September 2000". Archived from the original on 6 January 2022. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b TEDxEastEnd - Barbara Roche - the British story of migration, retrieved 6 January 2022
  21. ^ "Barbara Roche: The vital history of immigration - and our failure to". The Independent. 19 November 2003. Archived from the original on 6 January 2022. Retrieved 6 January 2022. Our history as a nation is fundamentally entwined with migration. Yet whereas the United States and Canada have grasped that reality and celebrate it as part of their history, there is no equivalent in Britain. We talk about dates and battles, kings and queens, but rarely does immigration through the ages merit a mention in our popular history.
  22. ^ a b "Barbara Roche: Why I founded the Migration Museum". Migration Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  23. ^ Passant, Andy (14 January 2008). "Veteran Stockton MP loses selection battle". Gazette Live. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Bridget Phillipson set to become one of Britain's youngest MPs - The Journal". 20 April 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  25. ^ "Labour unveils its election candidate". Wigan Today. 4 February 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Powerbrokers fight for heart and soul of Labour Party as union row escalates". The Times. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2016.