Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

Infobox Minister
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = Hazel Blears
honorific-suffix = MP

office = Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
term_start =27 June 2007
term_end =
primeminister=Gordon Brown
predecessor =Ruth Kelly
successor =Incumbent
office2 = Labour Party Chair
term_start2 = 5 May 2006
term_end2 = 27 June 2007
primeminister2 = Tony Blair
predecessor2 = Ian McCartney
successor2 = Harriet Harman
constituency_MP3 = Salford
majority3 = 7,945 (35.2%)
term_start3 = 1 May 1997
term_end3 =
predecessor3 = Stanley Orme
successor3 = Incumbent
birth_date = Birth date and age|1956|05|14|df=yes
birth_place = Salford, UK
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse = Michael Halsall
party = Labour
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater = Nottingham Trent University
occupation =
profession = Solicitor
religion = Christian Methodist

website = [http://www.hazelblears.co.uk www.hazelblears.co.uk]
footnotes =

Hazel Anne Blears, MP (born 14 May 1956) is a British politician and is the Labour Member of Parliament for Salford. She was Minister without Portfolio and Labour Party Chair between 5 May 2006 and 24 June 2007. Since 27 June 2007 she has served as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Early life and education

Hazel Blears was born in Salford in 1956, the daughter of a maintenance fitter. She grew up in Salford and as a young child, Hazel and her brother Stephen both played street urchins in the film "A Taste of Honey" which was filmed in Salford in 1961, when Blears was aged five. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2296845.ece 'Street socialist' Blears joins battle to replace Prescott - UK Politics, UK - Independent.co.uk ] ]

Blears was educated at the Wardley High School (became part of Salford College, then closed) on "Mardale Avenue" in Swinton then The Eccles (Sixth Form) College on "Chatsworth Road" in Eccles, although her parents had tried to get her into a private school. She went to Trent Polytechnic, graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Law, and later, the Chester College of Law, where she completed a law conversion course in 1977.

Career outside Parliament

Hazel Blears started her career in Salford as a trainee solicitor with Salford City Council in 1978. After two years, went into private practice for a year, before joining Rossendale Borough Council as a solicitor in 1981 and in the same year was elected as a Branch Secretary in NALGO. In 1983 she became a solicitor for Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council and later became Manchester City Council's education solicitor. In the following year, 1984 she was elected as a councillor to Salford City Council and she served on the council until 1992. She was Chair of the Salford Community Health Council for several years.

Parliamentary career

She stood in Tatton in 1987 against Neil Hamilton and in 1992 in Bury South where she lost by 800 votes. At the 1997 general election she was elected as the Labour MP for Salford, her home seat.

After the election she became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State at the Department of Health Alan Milburn until 1998. She spent ten months in 1999 as PPS to then Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith.

In the run-up to the 2001 General Election, Blears was a member and later deputy head of the Labour Party campaign team, a group of backbenchers tasked with campaigning around the country. This raised her national profile. Blears has been a supporter of the Lowry theatre and art gallery in her constituency.

Ministerial career

After the 2001 General Election, Blears entered Tony Blair's government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, responsible for Public Health. In this job she launched the Government's "5-a-day" campaign to get people to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Blears was promoted in 2003 to Minister of State at the Home Office and was responsible for policing, crime reduction and counter terrorism. She was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party in 2003. After the 2005 General Election, on 7 June 2005 she became a Member of the Privy Council. In a cabinet reshuffle following Council Elections on 4 May 2006, Tony Blair appointed her Party Chair replacing Ian McCartney.

ecretary of State for Communities

On 28 June 2007, Gordon Brown appointed Blears as the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Ruth Kelly. [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/jun/28/publicservices.politics|title=Brown appoints first female home secretary|last=Summers|first=Deborah|date=28 June 2007|work=guardian.co.uk|publisher=Guardian News & Media|accessdate=2008-10-11] In April 2008 it was rumoured that Brown was planning a summer reshuffle in which Blears would be demoted. [cite news|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/1895666/Gordon-Brown-planning-summer-reshuffle-to-halt-Labour-slump.html|title=Gordon Brown planning summer reshuffle to halt Labour slump|last=Porter|first=Andrew|date=23 April 2008|work=Telegraph.co.uk|publisher=Telegraph Media Group|accessdate=2008-10-11] However, when the reshuffle did occur in the autumn, she was confirmed as retaining her position as Secretary of State. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7651229.stm|title=In full: Reshuffle changes|date=6 October 2008|work=BBC News|publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation|accessdate=2008-10-11]

Deputy Leadership candidate

On 24 February 2007 she announced her candidacy for the election for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, making her one of six candidates for the job formerly held by John Prescott. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/deputyleader/story/0,,2019516,00.html Blears to run for Labour deputy and admits party 'disengaged'] ] However, Harriet Harman won the election.

In her announcement, she said Labour must remain the party of "success and aspiration". Calling on the party not to distance itself from Tony Blair, she called for the renewal of the "big tent" coalition which brought Labour victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Blears' supporters included Cabinet Ministers Ruth Kelly, Tessa Jowell, Hilary Armstrong and John Reid; Health Ministers Caroline Flint and Andy Burnham; European Parliament Labour leader Gary Titley; and other MPs such as Stephen Pound, John Heppell and Kali Mountford.

Throughout her campaign, Blears has stressed the importance of a full-time Deputy Leader who acts as its campaigner-in-chief. Responding to media labelling of the candidates she has stated, "No more Blairites, no more Brownites, we are all Labour. Granita is shut."

On 12 June 2007, part of a building in Dean Farrar Street in Central London which houses the Blears campaign office collapsed. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6746017.stm] [http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Dean+Farrar+Street,+London&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=38.502405,81.738281&ie=UTF8&z=16&om=1]

On 24 June, it was announced that Blears had been placed in last place in the election for Deputy Leader. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6234692.stm Harman wins deputy leader contest] BBC News | June 24, 2007 (retrieved 2007-06-24)]

Voting record

Hazel Blears has voted on key issues since 2001 as follows [ [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/hazel_blears/salford They Work For You] ] :

* Has never voted on a transparent Parliament.
* Voted for introducing a smoking ban.
* Voted for introducing ID cards.
* Voted for introducing foundation hospitals.
* Voted for introducing student top-up fees.
* Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
* Voted for the Iraq war.
* Voted against investigating the Iraq war.
* Voted for replacing Trident.
* Voted for the hunting ban.
* Voted for equal gay rights.

Private life

She married Michael Halsall, a solicitor, on 21 October 1989 in Salford. They have no children. Halsall is a biker and introduced Blears to motorcycling; she is now a biker in her own right.

Along with several other Labour women MPs, Blears is a member of a tap-dancing troupe known as the Division Belles. Other members include Caroline Flint, Beverley Hughes, Laura Moffatt, Meg Munn, Joan Ryan and Dari Taylor. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,9061,1542999,00.html The Guardian profile: Hazel Blears MP | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics ] ]

Although brought up as a Methodist, she attends the Catholic SS Peter & Paul Church in Pendleton, as her husband is Catholic.


In March 2005, while Home Office minister, Blears implied that section 44 of the terrorism act would disproportionally affect the Muslim community.

In August 2005, Blears, while standing in for Home Secretary Charles Clarke (who was on holiday), suggested the 'rebranding' of ethnic minorities in favour of adopting US-style hyphenated titles such as Asian-British-Canadian. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4135022.stm The UK's ethnic name game] , BBC, 9 August 2005] This proposal was quickly withdrawn by the Home Office, as the government moved to distance itself from the idea. Nevertheless this inspired Private Eye magazine to 'rebrand' Blears as 'That stupid woman who Charles Clarke left in charge while he was sunning himself on holiday'. [Private Eye Magazine, August 2005]

In 2006, Blears was accused of "hypocrisy" after joining protests against the closure of hospital departments in her constituency, even though these closures were consistent with the policies of the government of which she was a senior member. Health Emergency's head of campaigns Geoff Martin said: cquote|Here we have Cabinet ministers, totally bound up in the Government's hospital cuts and closure programme, riding on the backs of anti-cuts campaigns in their own constituencies in a bid to save their own political skins. Frankly, it stinks.

There are 29 hospitals up and down the country facing the immediate threat of cuts and closure to key services in 2007. Will Hazel Blears be joining demonstrators on the streets in each of those areas or is this just a classic case of 'not in my back yard'? [ [http://www.24dash.com/centralgovernment/14727.htm Blears rejects hypocrisy claims over NHS protest » Central Government » 24dash.com ] ]

In May 2008, Blears was criticised for a statement on BBC's Question time where she informed the panel and its viewers that there were 3 million people unemployed in the United Kingdom when Labour came to power in 1997 (the official figure was 1,602,500). [ [http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/business_money/factcheck+hazels+claim+in+shreds/2243847?intcmp=news_fc_blearsshreds ] ]

In June 2008, a personal computer holding sensitive documents was stolen from Hazel Blears' constituency office in Salford. The machine contained information which should not have been held on it, potentially breaking rules on the handling of restricted government information - the first breach of such rules by a minister.

Political Prospects

Blears has held the safe labour seat of Salford since 1997 which is due for a boundary change before the next election; it is highly unlikely Blears will lose her seat. She will continue to contest it after she defeated another MP, Ian Stewart, in the internal Labour Party selection.


* Miss Hazel Blears (1956–1997)
* Hazel Blears MP (1997–2005)
* The Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears MP (2005–)


External links

* [http://www.hazelblears.com Hazel for Deputy] Official Deputy leadership campaign site
* [http://www.hazelblears.co.uk Hazel Blears MP] Official parliamentary site
* [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/organisation/ministers/hazel-blears/?version=1 Home Office - Hazel Blears MP] Official biography
* [http://www.communities.gov.uk/profiles/corporate/hazelblears Communities Department profile]
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1857088.ece "Times" May 2007 article]
* [http://www.newstatesman.com/200703120012 "New Statesman" 2007 article]
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-468,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Hazel Blears MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/hazel_blears/salford TheyWorkForYou.com - Hazel Blears MP]

Audio clips

* [http://www.wpradio.co.uk/mp3s/HazelBlearsInterview.mp3 "WPRadio"] Online interview on Women's Parliamentary Radio just before taking over role as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

NAME= Blears, Hazel Anne
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British politician and Cabinet minister
DATE OF BIRTH= 14 May 1956
PLACE OF BIRTH= Salford, United Kingdom

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