Dawn Primarolo

The Right Honourable
Dawn Primarolo
Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means
Assumed office
9 June 2010
Preceded by Michael Lord
Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families
In office
5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Beverley Hughes
Succeeded by Sarah Teather (Children and Families)
Minister of State for Public Health
In office
29 June 2007 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Caroline Flint
Succeeded by Gillian Merron
Paymaster General
In office
4 January 1999 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Geoffrey Robinson
Succeeded by Tessa Jowell
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
2 May 1997 – 4 January 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Michael Jack
Succeeded by Barbara Roche
Member of Parliament
for Bristol South
Assumed office
11 June 1987
Preceded by Michael Cocks
Majority 4,734 (9.8%)
Personal details
Born 2 May 1954 (1954-05-02) (age 57)
London, England, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Ian Ducat
Alma mater Bristol Polytechnic
University of Bristol

Dawn Primarolo (born 2 May 1954) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol South since 1987. She was Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families at the Department for Children, Schools and Families from June 2009 to May 2010 and is now a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. In November 2011 she announced her intention to stand down from Parliament at the next General Election.[1]


Education and early political career

Primarolo was educated at Thomas Bennett comprehensive school in Crawley, before continuing her education at the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science.[2] She joined the Labour Party in 1973 and was first elected to Parliament at the 1987 general election, after the constituency party de-selected Michael Cocks, the sitting MP.

At the time of her election, she was regarded as a hard left-winger and is still often referred to by the media as "Red Dawn", but she is now a New Labour loyalist and "absolutely loyal to New Labour",[3] leading Andrew Roth of The Guardian newspaper to say she has "changed from 'Red Dawn' to 'Rosy Pink'";[4] as part of this change, she has moved from support of CND, the rise of which originally encouraged her into politics, to voting for the renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear defence.[5] She also unsuccessfully lobbied the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev to rehabilitate Leon Trotsky.[6] She is a former member of Avon County Council.


Dawn Primarolo has held the following positions:

  • 1992–1994: Opposition Spokesman for Health
  • 1994–1997: Opposition Spokesman for the Treasury
  • 1997–1999: Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • 1999–2007: Paymaster General
  • 2007–2009: Minister of State for Public Health
  • 2009–2010: Minister of State Children and Young People

Despite campaigning against the first Gulf War in 1991, she voted strongly in favour of the Iraq War in 2003, and against any investigation into the invasion after it had taken place.[3][7] On other 'key issues' (as described by TheyWorkForYou), she has voted in favour of ID cards and increased university tuition fees.[7]

As Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo was responsible for the administration of the Tax Credits system, intended to provide working families with financial support. However, the administration of this system has received significant criticism, including allegations that some families have been left less well off as a result.[8] In 2003, a Treasury select committee member accused her of "losing control of [her] department"[9] after it became known that Inland Revenue buildings under Primarolo's purview had been sold to tax-haven companies.[9] This came shortly after she had "insisted ... the Child tax credit scheme was a 'success'", despite Inland Revenue staff walking out in protest against the pressure they were being placed under.[9][10] She was also responsible for introducing the controversial IR35 tax rules. Primarolo was also the longest serving Paymaster General in the office's 200 year history.

In 2005, PM Tony Blair was forced to apologise after a report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman that Primarolo had failed to give Parliament accurate information. Primarolo admitted at the same time that she had been fully aware "about the extent of the problems".[11]

As Minister of State for Public Health she was responsible for health improvement and health protection issues including such areas as tobacco, obesity, drugs and sexual health, as well as international business, pharmacy and research and development.

On June 5, 2009, Primarolo was moved again, this time succeeding Beverley Hughes as Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families at the Department for Children, Schools and Families. This gave her the right to attend cabinet when her responsibilities were on the agenda.

Primarolo's abilities as a minister have been questioned, with former Prime Minister Tony Blair revealing in his autobiography A Journey that he did not think she was "right for government" but had to give her a job because she was one of Gordon Brown's key allies;[12] and political commentator Danny Finkelstein arguing that she was "contender no. 1" for title of "Labour's worst Minister".[13]

Primarolo joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Children when Labour entered opposition in May 2010.

Personal life

Primarolo married UNISON regional secretary Ian Ducat in Bristol in 1990.[14] On 13 May 2007, the Mail on Sunday published a story in which it is alleged that John Reid "sexually harassed" Primarolo during her early years in Parliament.[15]


  1. ^ "Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo to stand down in 2015". Bristol Evening Post. 11 November 2011. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Bristol-South-MP-Dawn-Primarolo-stand-2015/story-13818490-detail/story.html. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b "UK | Politics | Dawn Primarolo". BBC News. 2002-10-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2055944.stm. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  4. ^ "Dawn Primarolo: Electoral history and profile | Politics | guardian.co.uk". Politics.guardian.co.uk. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,,-4266,00.html. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  5. ^ Paul Barltrop (2007-03-09). "Programmes | Politics Show | Pursuit of a politician". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/6424499.stm. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  6. ^ Natalie Clarke (1999-01-06). "The rise and rise of Red Dawn". Daily Mail. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-109915549.html. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  7. ^ a b "Dawn Primarolo MP, Bristol South". TheyWorkForYou.com. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/dawn_primarolo/bristol_south. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ a b c "Business | Tax credit minister 'lost control'". BBC News. 2003-07-01. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3036006.stm. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  10. ^ Dawn Primarolo (2003-06-05). "Programmes | Working Lunch | Tax credits scandal". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/working_lunch/2966030.stm. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  11. ^ "Business | Blair apologises for tax blunders". BBC News. 2005-06-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4112480.stm. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  12. ^ "TONY Blair has admitted wife Cherie should not have tried to buy two flats in Bristol in a deal that engulfed the pair in scandal when it emerged a petty crook had been involved". Thisisbristol.co.uk. http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Blair-Cherie-shouldn-t-bought-city-flats/article-2597751-detail/article.html. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  13. ^ Finkelstein, Daniel (2010-06-16). "Labour's worst minister: contender no. 1 – Comment Central – Times Online – WBLG". Timesonline.typepad.com. http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2010/06/heres-a-candidate--the-search-for-labours-worst-minister-might-lead-one-to-look-only-among-those-forced-out-of-office-or-dro.html. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  14. ^ "Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005". Findmypast.com. http://www.findmypast.com. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  15. ^ Simon Walters "The day leadership rival John Reid propositioned the young Brown ally Dawn Primarolo – and never drank again", Mail on Sunday, 13 May 2007

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Cocks
Member of Parliament for Bristol South
Preceded by
Michael Lord
Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Jack
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Barbara Roche
Preceded by
Geoffrey Robinson
Paymaster General
Succeeded by
Tessa Jowell
Preceded by
Caroline Flint
Minister of State for Public Health
Succeeded by
Gillian Merron
Preceded by
Beverley Hughes
Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families
Succeeded by
Sarah Teather
as Minister of State for Children and Families

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