The Lord Coaker
Official portrait, 2017
Shadow Spokesperson for Home Affairs
Assumed office
18 May 2021
LeaderThe Baroness Smith of Basildon
Preceded byThe Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Shadow Spokesperson for Defence
Assumed office
18 May 2021
LeaderThe Baroness Smith of Basildon
Preceded byThe Lord Touhig
Minister of State for Schools and Learners
In office
8 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJim Knight
Succeeded byNick Gibb
Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security
In office
3 October 2008 – 8 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byTony McNulty
Succeeded byDavid Hanson
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
10 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byAlan Campbell
Shadow cabinet portfolios
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
13 September 2015 – 26 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byIvan Lewis
Succeeded byDave Anderson
In office
7 October 2011 – 7 October 2013
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byShaun Woodward
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
7 October 2013 – 13 September 2015
Leader
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byMaria Eagle
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
22 March 2021
Member of Parliament
for Gedling
In office
1 May 1997 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byAndrew Mitchell
Succeeded byTom Randall
Personal details
Born
Vernon Rodney Coaker

(1953-06-17) 17 June 1953 (age 70)
London, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse
Jacqueline Heaton
(m. 1978)
Children2
Alma materUniversity of Warwick
Nottingham Trent University
Awards Life peer

Vernon Rodney Coaker, Baron Coaker (born 17 June 1953) is a British politician and life peer serving as Shadow Spokesperson for Home Affairs and Defence since 2021. A member of the Labour Party, he was Member of Parliament (MP) for Gedling from 1997 to 2019.

Coaker served in government as Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security from 2008 to 2009, and Minister of State for Schools and Learning from 2009 to 2010. In opposition, he was Shadow Secretary of State for Defence from 2013 to 2015 and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2011 to 2013, and again from 2015 to 2016. Coaker lost his seat at the 2019 general election.

Early life

Born in Westminster, London, Coaker attended Drayton Manor Grammar School in London.[1] He studied for an Economics and Politics BA (Hons) degree at the University of Warwick, then obtained a PGCE at Trent Polytechnic (Clifton College of Education).[1]

Coaker worked as a teacher, becoming a History teacher at Manvers Pierrepont School (now the Carlton Road Centre of Castle College Nottingham) from 1976 to 1982, then Head of Department at Arnold Hill School from 1982 to 1988.[1] From 1989 to 1995, he was a senior teacher at Bramcote Park School and thence until 1997 he was Deputy Headmaster at Big Wood School in Bestwood, Nottingham.[1] He is a member of the NUT.

Political career

Coaker served as a district councillor for the Cotgrave Ward in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire from 1983 to 1997 and was leader of the Labour group on the council between 1987 and 1997.[1] He stood for the Rushcliffe constituency seat in 1983. He contested Gedling in 1987 and 1992, before defeating Andrew Mitchell at the 1997 election, becoming the first Labour MP to win the Gedling seat.

After a number of Parliamentary Private Secretary roles, Coaker became a government whip in May 2005, having been an assistant whip since June 2003.[1] He served as a Minister of State at the Home Office between 2008 and 2009 before being moved to take up the role of Minister of State for Schools and Learning between 2009 and 2010.[1]

Following the Labour defeat at the 2010 General Election, Coaker was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in October 2011.[1] Coaker joined dozens of shadow ministers in resigning from his position on 26 June 2016 in Labour's parliamentary disquiet over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[2] He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[3] He lost his seat in the 2019 general election.

In December 2020, it was announced he would be conferred a life peerage after a nomination by Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer.[4] On 22 March 2021, he was introduced to the House of Lords as Baron Coaker, of Gedling in the County of Nottinghamshire.[5] He made his maiden speech on 17 May 2021 during the Queen's Speech debate, and was later appointed to the front bench as a Home Affairs and Defence spokesperson.

Expenses scandal

Coaker was found to have claimed large sums every month in cash for his second home without submitting any receipts.[6] Over the course of four years, he claimed £3,425 for cleaning, £6,320 for services and maintenance and £5,205 for repairs. This was initially for his semi-detached home in Cotgrave, and then for his one-bedroom flat in Kennington in London.

A spokesman for Coaker subsequently stated that expenses were claimed in accordance with the rules administered by Commons fees office at the time.[6]

Political positions

Coaker supports the modernisation of the UK Trident missile system, and Britain's membership of NATO. He supports the multilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons.[7] Coaker belongs to the Labour Friends of Israel lobby group.[8]

Shortly after being appointed Minister for Drugs and Crime Reduction in the May 2006 reshuffle, he revealed to the Coventry Evening Telegraph that he had had "one or two puffs" of cannabis as a student but did not enjoy it.[9] His admission was made during a nationwide tour to evaluate the effectiveness of the government's drugs strategy.

He also supports people taking part in shooting sports and angling.[10]

In January 2010, Coaker apologised for remarks that misled MPs. He had earlier told MPs that 70 police officers were hurt as a result of a global warming protest at Kingsnorth power station. In fact there were only 12 injuries that were legally reportable with just four of those involving contact with another person.[11] The remaining eight injuries included "wasp sting", an injury while "sitting in a car", and an officer succumbing "to sun and heat". There were 68 injuries in total with the rest being treated by first-aiders at the scene. The whole operation had involved more than 1,000 officers.[11]

Personal life

He married Jacqueline Heaton on 23 December 1978 in Basford; the couple have a daughter and a son.[1] He supports Tottenham Hotspur. His wife, who is a teacher, was a town councillor in Cotgrave, where they live in the district of Rushcliffe.[12]

Honours

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i ‘COAKER, Vernon Rodney’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 9 Jan 2013
  2. ^ Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances; Slawson, Nicola (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Political Peerages 2020". Gov.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Watch the moment former Gedling MP Vernon Coaker is introduced to House of Lords". Gedling Eye. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b Watt, Holly (16 February 2015). "A dozen MPs in Labour's shadow cabinet claimed thousands without submitting a single receipt". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Vernon Coaker: 'I've had disagreements with Jeremy Corbyn's policies'". Belfast Telegraph. 28 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  8. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 23 March 2018. Archived from the original on 16 January 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Drugs minister 'smoked marijuana'". BBC News. 16 May 2006. Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Vernon Coaker backs lawful Shots". Shooting Times. 6 April 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2022.
  11. ^ a b "Apology over policing 'injuries'". BBC News. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  12. ^ Parish Council Election Results 2003 Archived 22 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Vernon Coaker appointed Honorary Professor in the University of Nottingham's Rights Lab". The University of Nottingham. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  14. ^ "School of Politics and International Relations Honorary Professors". The University of Nottingham. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  15. ^ "Former MP Vernon Coaker granted freedom of Gedling borough in ceremony". The Gedling Eye. 17 June 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byAndrew Mitchell Member of Parliamentfor Gedling 1997–2019 Succeeded byTom Randall Political offices Preceded byJim Murphy Lord Commissioner of the Treasury 2005–2006 Succeeded byAlan Campbell Preceded byTony McNultyas Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security 2008–2009 Succeeded byDavid Hansonas Minister of State for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing Preceded byJim Knight Minister of State for Schools and Learners 2009–2010 Succeeded byNick Gibb Preceded byShaun Woodward Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2011–2013 Succeeded byIvan Lewis Preceded byJim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 2013–2015 Succeeded byMaria Eagle Preceded byIvan Lewis Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2015–2016 Succeeded byDave Anderson Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Preceded byThe Lord Kamall GentlemenBaron Coaker Followed byThe Lord Khan of Burnley