John Healey
Official portrait, 2020
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Assumed office
6 April 2020
LeaderKeir Starmer
Preceded byNia Griffith
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
10 May 2005 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byStephen Timms
Succeeded byJane Kennedy
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
30 May 2002 – 10 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byRuth Kelly
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Adult Skills
In office
11 June 2001 – 30 May 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
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%)
Further shadow portfolios
2010Shadow Minister for Housing
2010–2011Shadow Secretary of State for Health
2015–2016Shadow Minister for Housing
2016–2020Shadow Secretary of State for Housing
Personal details
Born (1960-02-13) 13 February 1960 (age 63)
Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Political partyLabour
SpouseJackie Bate
EducationSt Peter's School, York
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge
WebsiteOfficial website

John Healey (born 13 February 1960) is a British politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wentworth and Dearne, formerly Wentworth, since 1997. A member of the Labour Party, he has been Shadow Secretary of State for Defence since 2020.

Healey was Minister of State for Housing and Planning in the Brown Government.

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

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 for sixth form. 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 House, the internal magazine of the Palace of Westminster, 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


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

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 Adult Skills at 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), 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 assumed 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 for Housing and Planning, 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]

In opposition

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

In 2015 three Rotherham Labour MPs, Kevin Barron, Sarah Champion and Healey, started a defamation legal action against UKIP MEP Jane Collins after Collins falsely alleged in a UKIP conference speech that the three MPs knew about child exploitation in Rotherham but did not intervene, and in February 2017 the MPs were awarded £54,000 each in damages.[6]

Following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader, Healey was appointed Shadow Minister for Housing. He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election.[7] Following the leadership election, Healey was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Housing in October 2016.

Following the election of Keir Starmer, Healey was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Defence in April 2020, shadowing Ben Wallace.

Political views

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."[8]

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."[9]

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

Healey married Jackie Bate on 25 October 1993 in Lambeth and they have one son. Healey is a member of Amnesty International. He is not related to former Labour cabinet minister Denis Healey.


  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.
  5. ^ Stratton, Allegra (7 October 2011). "Ed Miliband to bring former ministers into shadow cabinet in reshuffle". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Jane Collins defamation case: Labour Rotherham MPs awarded £54,000". BBC News. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ Britain’s housing market is broken. Here’s how Labour will fix it The Guardian
  9. ^ 130,000 homeless children to be in temporary lodgings over Christmas The Guardian
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byPeter Hardy Member of Parliamentfor Wentworth 19972010 Constituency abolished New constituency Member of Parliamentfor Wentworth and Dearne 2010–present Incumbent Political offices Preceded byRuth Kelly Economic Secretary to the Treasury 2002–2005 Succeeded byIvan Lewis Preceded byStephen Timms Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2005–2007 Succeeded byJane Kennedy Preceded byPhil Woolas Minister of State for Local Government 2007–2009 Succeeded byRosie Winterton Preceded byMargaret Beckett Minister of State for Housing and Planning 2009–2010 Succeeded byGrant Shapps Preceded byGrant Shapps Shadow Minister for Housing and Local Government 2010 Succeeded byAlison Seabeck Preceded byAndy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health 2010–2011 Succeeded byAndy Burnham Preceded byRoberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning 2015–2016 Vacant New office Shadow Secretary of State for Housing 2016–2020 Succeeded byThangam Debbonaire Preceded byNia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 2020–present Incumbent