Dawn Butler
Official portrait, 2020
Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities
In office
31 August 2017 – 6 April 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded bySarah Champion
Succeeded byMarsha de Cordova
Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities
In office
6 October 2016 – 31 August 2017[a]
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byNaz Shah
Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office
In office
3 November 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byTom Watson
Succeeded byMark Harper
Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement
In office
30 October 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byNick Hurd
Member of Parliament
for Brent Central
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded bySarah Teather
Majority20,870 (42.5%)
Member of Parliament
for Brent South
In office
5 May 2005 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byPaul Boateng
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born
Dawn Petula Butler[1]

(1969-11-03) 3 November 1969 (age 52)
Newham, London, England[2]
Political partyLabour
Other political
affiliations
Socialist Campaign Group
Websitewww.dawnbutler.org.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Dawn Petula Butler (born 3 November 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Brent Central since 2015.

Butler was elected as the MP for Brent South at the 2005 general election. She served in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government as Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office and Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement from 2009 to 2010. She lost her seat at the 2010 general election to Sarah Teather from the Liberal Democrats. She returned to Parliament as the MP for Brent Central at the 2015 general election.

In October 2016, she was appointed to the new role of Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities by Jeremy Corbyn after his re-election as Labour Leader, later becoming a close ally of him.[3] In February 2017, she resigned from the frontbench to vote against the triggering of Article 50, which formally launched the Brexit negotiations.

She returned as Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in June 2017, before being promoted to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities in August 2017. She stood in the 2020 Labour Party deputy leadership election and came last, in fifth place. She was removed from the Shadow Cabinet by new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in 2020 and returned to the backbenches.

Early life

Butler was born in Forest Gate in East London, to Jamaican immigrant parents Milo and Ambrozene Butler; she has one sister and four brothers.[4][5] She was educated at Tom Hood School in Leytonstone and Waltham Forest College, both in London.[4]

She worked as an officer of the GMB Union, including time as a national race and equality officer. Butler was also an adviser to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, on employment and social issues.[5]

Parliamentary career

First term (2005–2010)

Butler first sought selection to be a Labour parliamentary candidate in Hackney South and Shoreditch, where she featured on an all-women shortlist but was unsuccessful.[citation needed] Butler put herself forward for selection for West Ham in 2005 but was not selected.[6][7] Following the retirement of Paul Boateng to become British High Commissioner to South Africa, she was selected as the Labour candidate in Brent South and retained the seat for her party at the 2005 general election with a majority of 11,326.[8] She was the third[citation needed] black woman to become a British MP after Diane Abbott and Oona King.

Interest in youth services continued as one of her main interests in Parliament. On 24 October 2006, she was appointed chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs, and she is an honorary vice president of the British Youth Council. After Gordon Brown became prime minister in June 2007, Butler was made one of the Labour Party's six vice chairs, with particular responsibility for youth issues.[9][10]

In 2006, Butler voted against investigations into the Iraq War. She subsequently voted against investigations a further six times up until 2016.[11] She explained that this was because she believed that it would be wrong to hold investigations "while we still had troops in Iraq ... If you held an inquiry while the troops were still out there doing their best to fight for the country, it would have been soul-destroying for them."[12]

She was appointed to the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons shortly after her election, and served on standing committees. In November 2007 she was appointed to the Children & Families Select Committee. Earlier (in November 2005), she had been promoted to Parliamentary Private Secretary to the health minister Jane Kennedy, but decided to stand down from this post in early 2006.

She was promoted to Assistant Whip on 12 September 2008.[citation needed]

Butler was named female MP of the year at the 2009 Women in Public Life awards.[13][14] Following her appointment as Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement, Butler became the first black woman to speak from the despatch box in the House of Commons in December 2009.[15] She later said that Conservative MPs "tried to belittle me at that moment in history", specifying that one Tory MP "took great delight in telling me that ‘upskilling’ was not in the English dictionary".[12]

Boundary changes

Butler's constituency of Brent South was abolished at the 2010 general election. Its territory was mostly divided between two constituencies: a new Brent Central seat and a re-drawn Brent North. Butler was selected as the Labour candidate in Brent Central but lost to Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat candidate, who had been the MP for Brent East which had also been abolished at the general election.[citation needed]

During her time outside of Parliament, she worked creating learning programmes for companies.[12]

Second term (2015–present)

In 2013, Butler was selected as the Labour candidate for Brent Central at the general election in 2015.[16] Prior to the election, Teather had announced she would stand down from parliament, so she did not contest the seat. Butler was returned to parliament with a majority of more than 19,000 votes.[17]

Butler is a former chair of the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party. Following a vote in September 2016, she was succeeded by Jess Phillips.[18][19]

2015 leadership election

Butler supported Andy Burnham in the 2015 Labour Leadership Election.[20][21][22] However, she 'lent' her nomination to Jeremy Corbyn to ensure he was on the ballot.[21]

After Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader in 2016, Butler was appointed as Labour's Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in October 2016.[23]

Resignation from Jeremy Corbyn's frontbench

In February 2017, Butler resigned from Corbyn's frontbench before the vote on the second reading in the House of Commons of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017 which triggered Article 50.[24] The vote carried a three-line whip instructing Labour MPs to vote in favour.[25]

In March 2017, Butler used British Sign Language to ask a question in the House of Commons about giving this language legal recognition.[26] She was reappointed as Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in June 2017.[27] In the same month, she launched a new cross-party parliamentary group, the Parliamentary Black Caucus, concerned with ethnic minority issues.[28]

Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary

In August 2017, following the resignation of Sarah Champion, Butler was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.[29] In February 2018 she appointed businessman Anthony Watson as an LGBT+ advisor.[30]

In September 2018, she argued that the actions of the Militant-dominated Liverpool City Council in the early 1980s could be an inspiration for current Labour councils faced with public sector funding constraints.[31] In the same month, Butler was promoted to a Shadow Secretary of State title, as it was announced that Women and Equalities would be upgraded to a full government department under a Labour government.[32]

2020 deputy leadership election

Butler speaking at the deputy leadership hustings in Bristol
Butler speaking at the deputy leadership hustings in Bristol

Butler was reelected in the 2019 general election.[33] Butler became the first candidate to declare candidacy in the 2020 Labour Party deputy leadership election.[34][35] She has been described as one of Corbyn's "closest allies" and often sat by his side on the opposition frontbench in Parliament.[36] Butler ultimately received 50,255 (10.9%) of first preference ballots, the least of the five candidates, eliminating her from the contest and seeing her second preference votes redistributed to the remaining candidates, with Angela Rayner ultimately winning the contest.[37] In an interview in August 2020, she was critical of the large costs involved in campaigning in the deputy leadership election, stating she did not think that an internal election should mean a candidate should have to spend a lot of money.[12]

Return to the backbenches

Following the election of Keir Starmer as Leader of the Labour Party, Butler was not appointed to the new Shadow Cabinet and was succeeded by Marsha de Cordova.[38]

In July 2020, Butler was forced to close her constituency office due to increased costs of maintaining premises, and alleged escalating racist threats towards her and her staff, which increased following an article she wrote defending Black Lives Matter protests in the UK.[39][40]

In an interview with The Guardian published on 4 August 2020, Butler called for the resignation of the Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, and the end of Stop and Search powers in the UK, which she called "discriminatory".[12]

Butler accused the Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after she was in a car in Hackney which was stopped by police on 9 August 2020, as they wrongly believed the car was registered in North Yorkshire, saying "there's people who have been coming into the area". Butler then said that this experience shows the Metropolitan Police is institutionally racist. The police officers involved admitted they made a mistake and apologised.[41][42][43]

On 8 July 2021, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised Cheshire Police to charge a 70-year-old man from Warrington with sending an offensive message to Butler.[44] On 17 August 2021, he was handed a six-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.[45]

On 22 July 2021, Butler was ordered to leave the House of Commons by Acting Deputy Speaker Judith Cummins, after she made comments calling the Prime Minister Boris Johnson a liar. After being asked to reconsider her comments, she remarked "Madam Deputy Speaker, what would you rather: a weakened leg or a severed leg? At the end of the day, the Prime Minister has lied to this house time and time again."[46]

Political controversies

Obama endorsement

In January 2009, Butler received an endorsement from US President Barack Obama.[47] She initially denied that her office had written it but later corrected herself and clarified that the endorsement had been written by her staff with the consent of Obama's aides, then signed by Obama when they met.[48]

Expenses

Main article: United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal

In March 2009, Butler was criticised for claiming the second home allowance, despite her main home in Stratford being the same distance from Parliament as her Brent South home, however her office stressed that she moved into the Wembley house after being elected in 2005 to allow her to serve her constituents.[49][50] Following a number of errors in 2005–8, which resulted in a £2,600 overcharge,[51] and after discussion with the Parliamentary Fees Office, most of the overcharge was offset against later expenses; with the remainder repaid.

Other criticism

In October 2019, one of Corbyn's advisors accused Butler of homophobia after she said that "90 per cent of giraffes are gay", while arguing that homosexuality is not something that is taught, at the PinkNews awards.[52][53] On 29 October 2021 she repeated her assertion about giraffes engaging in homosexual acts on BBC1 panel show Have I Got News for You (episode 4 of series 62), despite her assertions being challenged by other participants.

In February 2020, Butler was criticised following an interview with Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain during which she stated that: "A child is born without sex".[54] She was taking part in a debate about reactions to updates to Gender Recognition Act 2004 which were proposed by the governing Conservative Party.[55] Butler later clarified that she was referencing gender neutrality, where people can identify as non-binary.[56]

In September 2020, Butler was criticised after she praised, in a tweet later deleted, Extinction Rebellion protestors who blocked the printworks of several major newspapers.[57][58]

Butler was criticised for her failure to sign on to the Board of Deputies of British Jews' "Ten pledges to end the antisemitism crisis"; she stated that "I haven't signed the 10 pledges because I want the EHRC report to be implemented in the party. And then we sit down with the Board of Deputies, JLM, the other Jewish groups, and we have a discussion about where we go next. I don’t want to rush this. It’s too important to rush it and we have to get it right".[59][60][61]

Notes

  1. ^ Office vacant from 1 February 2017 to 14 June 2017.

References

  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11776.
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler confirms plan to run for Labour deputy leadership". Politics Home. 25 February 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Butler, Dawn, (born 3 Nov. 1969), MP (Lab) Brent Central, since 2015 | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". www.ukwhoswho.com. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U45644. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Dawn Butler Biography". Dawn Butler (blog). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  6. ^ "Two more candidates named as general election looms". Stratford and Newham Express. 30 March 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Hugh Muir (21 March 2005). "All-black Labour shortlist in Brent | Politics". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  8. ^ "MPs welcome Commons moment of history". ePolitix. 9 December 2009. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  9. ^ "Dawn Butler appointed as youth minister". CYP Now. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  10. ^ "New Job for Dawn Butler MP". Dawn Butler (blog). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  11. ^ "Voting record - Dawn Butler MP, Brent Central". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e Williams, Zoe (4 August 2020). "Labour's Dawn Butler: 'People threatened to kill me. I've been attacked on the tube'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Shortlist – Women in Public Life Awards 2009". Women in public life awards. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Women in Public Life Awards Winners 2009". Women in public life awards. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Dawn Butler's Labour credentials as she prepares to stand for deputy". inews.co.uk. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Labour selects ex-MP who quit amid expenses scandal to fight for Brent Central". Evening Standard. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Brent Central". BBC News. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015.
  18. ^ Savage, Michael; Fisher, Lucy (14 September 2016). "Corbyn ally ousted in victory for rebel MPs". The Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016. (subscription required)
  19. ^ Proctor, Kate (13 September 2016). "Labour women in fight for top job". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  20. ^ "HuffPost is now part of Verizon Media". consent.yahoo.com. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Dawn Butler struggles with the new kinder politics". Coffee House. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  22. ^ McGrath, Hannah (23 July 2015). "Brent MP Dawn Butler becomes an internet sensation after asking Sky News presenter Kay Burley". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  23. ^ Bush, Stephen; Lewis, Helen; Rampen, Julia (7 October 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles the shadow cabinet – live!". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  24. ^ "Two Labour Shadow Cabinet members quit ahead of Article 50 vote". The Independent. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  25. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (1 February 2017). "Rachael Maskell and Dawn Butler resign from Labour's Shadow Cabinet ahead of Article 50 vote". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  26. ^ "MP Dawn Butler praised for using sign language in Commons". BBC News. 16 March 2017. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Parliamentary career for Dawn Butler". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  28. ^ "Dawn Butler MP launches a new cross-party group". The Voice. 22 June 2017. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  29. ^ Waugh, Paul (31 August 2017). "Butler Replaces Champion In Shadow Equalities Post". HuffPost UK. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Anthony Watson and Linda Riley to advise Labour on challenges facing LGBTQ community". Gay Times. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  31. ^ "DDawn Butler sparks Militant controversy at Labour conference". The Guardian. 22 September 2018. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  32. ^ Smith, Beckie (24 September 2018). "Labour unveils plans for Women and Equalities Department". Civil Service World. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Brent Central parliamentary constituency – Election 2019". Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  34. ^ Raffray, Nathalie (19 December 2019). "Dawn Butler MP to stand as deputy leader of the Labour Party". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  35. ^ PoliticsHome.com (7 November 2019). "Dawn Butler becomes first candidate to enter Labour deputy leadership race". PoliticsHome.com. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Dawn Butler to David Lammy: the MPs in contention for top spots in the Labour party". Voice Online. 23 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Leaderhip Elections 2020 Results". The Labour Party. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  38. ^ Langlois, André (7 April 2020). "'I'll work to make Labour more representative,' says Dawn Butler as she backs leadership". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  39. ^ Proctor, Kate (9 July 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler closes office after receiving racist threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  40. ^ Somerville, Ewan (8 July 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler closes constituency office as threats 'escalate'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  41. ^ Walker, Peter (9 August 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler stopped by police in London". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  42. ^ Rashid, Inzamam (9 August 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler accuses Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after being stopped by officers". Sky News. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  43. ^ O'Reilly, Luke (9 August 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler accuses Met Police of racially profiling her after car stop". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  44. ^ "Man charged with sending offensive communication to Labour MP Dawn Butler". The Crown Prosecution Service. 8 July 2021. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  45. ^ "Dawn Butler: Man sentenced for sending MP offensive message". BBC News. 17 August 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  46. ^ TV, Source: Parliament (22 July 2021). "'The prime minister has lied': Dawn Butler asked to leave Commons chamber – video". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  47. ^ "Obama gave two endorsements to MP". Kilburn Times. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  48. ^ Swaine, Jon (23 January 2009). "My staff wrote 'Barack Obama tribute', junior minister Dawn Butler admits". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  49. ^ Dominiczak, Peter; Moore-Bridger, Benedict. "MP with two homes minutes from Commons claims £37,000 expenses".Archived 28 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine, London Evening Standard, 24 March 2009.
  50. ^ "Another minister, Dawn Butler, attacked over second-home allowance". The Times. London. 24 March 2009.
  51. ^ Watt, Holly (19 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Dawn Butler doubles up on home charges". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  52. ^ "Senior Labour figures reportedly embroiled in row over whether giraffes are gay". PinkNews. 28 October 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  53. ^ Benedictus, Leo (29 October 2019). "Are 90% of giraffes gay – or have their loving looks been misunderstood?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  54. ^ McGuinness, Ross (18 February 2020). "'Surreal position' – Labour MP Dawn Butler criticised for comment that 'a child is born without sex'". Yahoo. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  55. ^ "'Surreal position' – Labour MP Dawn Butler criticised for comment that 'a child is born without sex'". uk.news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  56. ^ "Dawn Butler explains why only trans people can define transphobia in a way that's impossible to argue with". PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. 22 February 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  57. ^ "Extinction Rebellion sparks OUTRAGE as NHS ambulance blocked by demonstrators 'with glee'". The Daily Express. 5 September 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  58. ^ Horton, Helena (5 September 2020). "Labour MP Dawn Butler condemned after praising Extinction Rebellion for 'excellent work'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  59. ^ "Labour MP: 'It's appalling Burgon and Butler haven't signed up to pledges to end antisemitism'". www.thejc.com. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  60. ^ "Board of Deputies – Clive Lewis, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler absent from the list of those who have signed the #TenPledges to tackle antisemitism in Labour". www.bod.org.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  61. ^ Bloom, Dan (18 January 2020). "Richard Burgon 'has not signed and won't be signing' anti-Semitism pledge". mirror. Retrieved 14 February 2021.

Online interviews

Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byPaul Boateng Member of Parliamentfor Brent South 2005–2010 Constituency abolished Preceded bySarah Teather Member of Parliamentfor Brent Central 2015–present Incumbent Political offices New office Shadow Minister forBlack and Minority Ethnic Communities 2016–2017 Vacant Vacant Shadow Minister forBlack and Minority Ethnic Communities 2017 Succeeded byNaz Shah Preceded bySarah Champion Shadow Secretary of Statefor Women and Equalities 2017–2020 Succeeded byMarsha de Cordova