Dawn Butler

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Dawn Butler : biography

3 November 1969 –

Dawn Petula Butler (born 3 November 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Brent South from 2005 to 2010, and was Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement in the Cabinet Office. After her seat was abolished in boundary changes she went on to fight the new Brent Central constituency which she lost to Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather polling 18,681 votes to Teather’s 20,026.

Parliamentary career

Butler’s first attempt at entering Parliament was in Hackney South where she featured on a Labour All Women Shortlist but was unsuccessful Butler put herself forward for selection for West-Ham but was not selected. 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 won the subsequent election with a majority of 11,326. She is the third black woman to become a British MP, the others being Diane Abbott and Oona King.

Butler made her maiden speech on 24 May 2005 in which she described her constituency as a "shining example of integration at its best", highlighted the importance of the Warwick Agreement with the Trade Unions, paid tribute to other sitting and former black MPs and said she would be a voice for youth.

Interest in youth services has 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, on 27 June 2007, Butler was made one of the Labour Party’s six Vice Chairs, with particular responsibility for Youth issues.

She was appointed to the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons shortly after her election, and has also served on standing committees (notably on the Violent Crime Reduction Bill 2006). 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.

On 6 November 2007, Butler was chosen to second the Queen’s Speech. Her voting record shows she has largely been loyal to the government. She was promoted to Assistant Whip on 12 September 2008.

Butler was named female MP of the year at the 2009 Women in Public Life awards, beating fellow Labour MPs Margaret Moran and Sharon Hodgson. 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 during question time on 9 December 2009.

Expenses Controversy

In March 2009 she came under criticism for claiming almost the full £23,000 annual second home allowance, despite her other home in Stratford being the same distance from Parliament as her Brent South home. – The Evening Standard 24 March 2009 – The Times 24 March 2009

Boundary changes

Butler’s constituency of Brent South was abolished at the 2010 general election. Its territory was mostly divided between two new constituencies: Brent Central and Brent North. Butler was selected as the Labour candidate in Brent Central but lost to Sarah Teather (Liberal Democrats) who was the MP for Brent East which was also abolished at the general election.

It has been rumoured that Butler is seeking re-selection as the Labour candidate for Brent Central but it has also been rumoured that she will stand for Hampstead and Kilburn. In 2011, after the death of Alan Keen it was rumoured that Butler would seek the Labour candidacy for the Feltham and Heston by-election.

Early life

Butler was born in Forest Gate in East London, to Jamaican immigrant parents into a large family with a sister and four brothers. She worked as an officer of the GMB Union, including time as a national race and equality officer. She was also an adviser to the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone on employment and social issues.