Alan Howarth

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Person.png Alan Howarth  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Official portrait of Lord Howarth of Newport crop 2.jpg
Marylebone, England
Alma materRugby School, King's College (Cambridge)
SpouseGillian Chance
Member ofGeorgetown Leadership Seminar/1983
PartyLabour, (1995 - present)
a British Labour Party and formerly Conservative Party politician

Alan Thomas Howarth, Baron Howarth of Newport is a British Labour Party and formerly Conservative Party politician who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1983 until 2005. He is one of few politicians in recent years to have was a minister in both Labour and Conservative governments, and is now a Labour life peer in the House of Lords.

Early life

He is the son of Major Thomas Howarth MC (Chief Master of King Edward's School, Birmingham, Second Master of Winchester College and High Master of St. Paul's School) and Margaret Teakle (who was a Wren in the Second World War). He was educated at Rugby School and gained a BA in History from King's College, Cambridge in 1965.

Howarth subsequently worked in the Conservative Party Chairman's office in Conservative Central Office under Willie Whitelaw and Peter Thorneycroft, before becoming director of the Conservative Research Department and party vice-chairman.[1]

Parliamentary career

Having been awarded a CBE in the 1982 New Year's Honours[2] for political service, Howarth was Conservative Party MP for Stratford-on-Avon, first elected in 1983. He was a founder member of the Thatcherite No Turning Back group. He was a whip, and was subsequently Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1989 to 1992, becoming the architect of the polytechnics' transition to university status.[1]


On Saturday 7 October 1995, he announced his resignation from the Conservative Party and defected to the Labour Party, the first MP to defect directly from the Conservatives to Labour, and the first former Conservative MP to sit as a Labour MP since Sir Oswald Mosley. He wanted a new seat to contest as a Labour candidate and, after failing to win the seats of Wentworth and Wythenshawe and Sale East, he was selected for the safe Labour seat of Newport East in Wales. The National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill stood against him under the Socialist Labour Party banner, but he easily held the seat for Labour.

After the election victory of 1997 he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, becoming Minister for the Arts at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport the following year. He is also a member of the Privy Council. He was dropped from the government after the 2001 general election. He stood down from the House of Commons at the 2005 general election. Jessica Morden was selected to replace him as candidate by the Constituency Labour Party. By the time he stood down, he had spent only 18 months of his 22-year career as an MP on the opposition benches (October 1995 to May 1997).

On 15 June 2005 he was created a life peer as Baron Howarth of Newport, of Newport in the County of Gwent.[3] In a House of Lords debate on the Outcome of the European Union Referendum on 5 July 2016 Lord Howarth announced his support for Britain's departure from the European Union.[4]

Personal life

Howarth married Gillian Chance in 1967. They have two daughters (born 1974 and 1975) and two sons (born 1977 and April 1985). They divorced in 1996.

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