Edwina Currie

Edwina Currie (née Cohen; born 13 October 1946) is a British former politician, serving as Conservative Party Member of Parliament from 1983 until 1997. She was a Junior Health Minister for two years, resigning in 1988 during the salmonella in eggs controversy.

By the time Currie lost her seat as an MP in 1997, she had begun a new career as a novelist and broadcaster. She is the author of six novels, and has also written four works of non fiction. In September 2002, publication of Currie's Diaries (1987–92) caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with colleague (and later Prime Minister) John Major between 1984 and 1988.

Edwina Currie
Edwina currie nightingale house cropped
Currie in 2009
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
In office
10 September 1986 – 16 December 1988
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Sec. of StateNorman Fowler
John Moore
Kenneth Clarke
Preceded byJohn Major
Succeeded byRoger Freeman
Member of Parliament
for South Derbyshire
In office
9 June 1983 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byMark Todd
Personal details
Born
Edwina Cohen

13 October 1946 (age 72)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Ray Currie (m. 1972–1997)
John Jones (m. 2001)
Children2
ResidenceWhaley Bridge, Derbyshire
Alma materSt. Anne's College, Oxford
London School of Economics

Early life

Currie was born in south Liverpool to an Orthodox Jewish family, who "disowned her when she married a non-Jewish accountant."[1] She is however not particularly religious, stating in an February 2000 interview that she found "religious mumbo jumbo hard to swallow in any faith."[2] She went to the Liverpool Institute High School for Girls in Blackburne House, in the Canning area of Liverpool, where she was deputy Head Girl.

Currie studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she was taught by Gabriele Taylor. She lived next door to Mary Archer, Ann Widdecombe, and Gyles Brandreth's wife Michèle Brown.[3] Subsequently, she gained an MA in economic history from the London School of Economics.

Parliamentary career

From 1975 until 1986, she was a Birmingham City Councillor for Northfield. In 1983, she stood for parliament as a Conservative Party candidate, and was elected as the member for South Derbyshire. Frequently outspoken, she was described as "a virtually permanent fixture on the nation's TV screen saying something outrageous about just about anything" and "the most outspoken and sexually interested woman of her political generation."[4]

In September 1986, she became a Junior Health Minister. Among her comments over the next two years were—despite her not being religious—that "good Christian people" don't get AIDS,[5] that old people who couldn't afford their heating bills should wrap up warm in winter and that northerners die of "ignorance and chips".[6]

In 1988, Currie appointed television personality Jimmy Savile to head up a task force to run the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital. Savile was given extraordinary power and a set of keys with complete access to every part of the hospital. He mingled repeatedly with the 800 or so patients, many teenage girls, some severely disturbed and medicated.[7]

Salmonella in eggs controversy

Currie was forced to resign in December 1988, after she issued a warning about salmonella in British eggs. The statement that "most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella"[8] sparked outrage among farmers and egg producers, and caused egg sales in the country to decline rapidly, by 60 percent. The controversy gained her the nickname "Eggwina".

The loss of revenue led to the slaughter of four million hens.[9][10] Although the statement was widely interpreted as referring to "most eggs produced", in fact it related to the egg production flock; there was indeed evidence that a mid-1980s regulation change had allowed salmonella to get a hold in flocks.[11] However, Currie failed to clarify this distinction.

There was particular anger in Northern Ireland where egg production is a significant part of the economy. At the Christmas party of the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland that year the featured dish was curried eggs. To make amends, in 1990, she began the National Egg Awareness Campaign.

Long after the furore died down, in 2001, it was revealed that a covered-up Whitehall report produced months after Currie's resignation found that there had been a "salmonella epidemic of considerable proportions."[12]

Post-ministerial career as an MP

In 1991, Currie became the first Conservative MP to appear on the BBC topical panel show Have I Got News for You. She appeared again two years later, in a special episode commemorating the release of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs, opposite fellow Liverpudlian (and Liverpool Institute alumnus) Derek Hatton.

During the 1992 General Election campaign, Currie poured a glass of orange juice over Labour's Peter Snape shortly after an edition of the Midlands based television debate show Central Weekend had finished airing.[13] Speaking about the incident later, Currie said "I just looked at my orange juice, and looked at this man from which this stream of abuse was emanating, and thought 'I know how to shut you up.'"[13]

After the 1992 General Election, she declined a request from Prime Minister John Major to take up a position as Minister of State for the Home Office.[14]

In February 1994, she tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to lower the age of consent for homosexual sexual acts to 16. This amendment was defeated by 307 votes to 280, although a subsequent amendment resulted in the reduction of the homosexual age of consent from 21 to 18; final equalisation was achieved in 2000. That same month, Currie voted against the death penalty for murder, having previously voted in favour of it in 1983.

In June 1994, she contested the European Parliament seat of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, but lost the seat to Labour's Eryl McNally by 94,837 votes to 61,628 votes. After fourteen years as a member of the House of Commons, Currie lost her parliamentary seat of South Derbyshire in the 1997 General Election. She attempted to be selected as a Conservative candidate for the European Parliament election of 1999, but was unsuccessful.[15]

Other work

Author

Currie is the author of six novels: A Parliamentary Affair (1994), A Woman's Place (1996) She's Leaving Home (1997), The Ambassador (1999), Chasing Men (2000) and This Honourable House (2001). She has also written four works of non-fiction: Life Lines (1989), What Women Want (1990), Three Line Quips (1992) and Diaries 1987–92 (2002). She remains an outspoken public figure, with a reputation for being "highly opinionated,"[9] and currently earns her living as an author and media personality.

Media

From the time she lost her seat in 1997, Currie has maintained a presence in the media. From 1998 to 2003, she hosted a late evening talk show on BBC Radio Five Live, Late Night Currie.[16] In 2002, she moved to HTV, presenting the television programme Currie Night until 2003. Since then, she has appeared in a string of reality television programmes, such as Wife Swap in which she and her second husband John swapped places with John McCririck and his wife, Jenny. Currie appeared on a charity edition of the television quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 17 September 2005, partnering Conservative speech-writer and lobbyist Derek Laud.[17] She has also appeared in the reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, and Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes, both in 2006.[18]

Currie was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory! She won Celebrity Mastermind on 23 June 2004, specialising in the life of Marie Curie. She also won All Star Family Fortunes on 3 January 2009. She appeared in Channel 4's Come Dine with Me in February 2009 where she finished third. She made a second appearance on the show during Channel 4's "Alternative Election Night" coverage, with Rod Liddle, Brian Paddick and Derek Hatton as her competitors. She also appeared in James May's Show James May's Toy Stories where she helped him build a bridge made entirely out of Meccano in Liverpool.

In September 2011, Currie took part in the ninth series of Strictly Come Dancing.[19] She was paired with professional dancer Vincent Simone. On 9 October, she and Simone were the first couple to be eliminated from the competition.

In November 2014, Currie took part in the fourteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! entering the jungle on Day 5 of the competition,[20] and finishing in fourth place.

Personal life

On 1 July 1972, Edwina married accountant Ray Currie in Barnstaple, Devon; they had two children and divorced in 1997. During this marriage Edwina Currie had a four-year affair with John Major, later Prime Minister, which she revealed in September 2002. Edwina and Ray were the subject of an edition of the BBC's The Other Half documentary series, broadcast in March 1984.

On 24 May 2001, in Southwark, Currie married retired detective John Jones, whom she had met when he was a guest on her radio programme in 1999.[21] Currie lives in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.[22]

Affair with John Major

Currie's Diaries (1987–92), published in 2002, caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with John Major between 1984 and 1988, while both were married to other people. The affair started while she was a backbencher and Major was the government whip in Margaret Thatcher's government. After Major's promotion to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the relationship ended, but the two remained friends. Currie apparently ceased the affair when it became dangerous and impractical owing to the presence of bodyguards who had to be avoided.[14]

After publication, Major made a statement saying that he was ashamed of the affair and had privately revealed the matter to his wife. Currie said she had been in love with him for years after the end of the affair,[23] and that he had been "the love of her life".[24] However, only weeks after revealing the affair, she publicly criticised Major, accusing him of sexism and racism and of being "one of the less competent prime ministers".[25]

While having an affair with Major in October 1985, Currie said about Sara Keays, "I feel very sorry for Cecil and his family. Most of my thoughts on Sara Keays are unprintable. Perhaps the most polite thing to say is she's a right cow."[26]

The admission came after years of denial of any affair while in office and a successful libel action against playwright David Hare, who had said a sexually voracious murderer played by Charlotte Rampling in his film Paris by Night (1988) was an "Edwina Currie-like" figure. Currie had also produced several novels with explicitly erotic content – and political background – such as A Parliamentary Affair.[9] Following publication of her diaries, Express Newspapers lawyers re-examined documents in a libel case to see if there was anything in the diaries which would allow them to reopen the case and recoup damages.[27] In March 2000, Currie had been awarded £30,000 against them following a 1997 article entitled "How Edwina is now the vilest lady in Britain."[27][28]

Charity and other interests

In September 2004, Currie took part in a sponsored cycle ride across Poland, near to the area where ancestors of hers lived, for Marie Curie Cancer Care.[29]

In June 2005, in her role as a patron of the British Heart Foundation, Currie championed a campaign to raise awareness of the effect of heart disease on women.[30] In May 2007, the patient charity MRSA Action UK announced Currie as their patron.[31] Edwina Currie was quoted by the media championing the campaign against hospital superbugs.[32]

In October 2011, Currie took part in EuroVoice, an event supported by the European Youth Parliament.[33] In November 2011, Currie accepted the position of President of the Tideswell Male Voice Choir.[34]

In February 2013, Currie participated in an Oxford Union debate, saying she opposed feminism.[35]

Discography

As part of the 2009 TV Show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Currie teamed up with Declan Donnelly and two other celebrities to release a cover version of the Wham! hit song "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go." Her daughter, Debbie, had previously released a single.

Year Single Chart Positions Album
UK
2009 Wake Me Up Before You Go Go 64

References

  1. ^ William D. Rubinstein, Michael Jolles, Hilary L. Rubinstein, The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, Palgrave Macmillan (2011), p. 189
  2. ^ "Edwina Currie: You ask the questions". The Independent. London. 9 February 2000. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Have I Got News For You, Series 25 Episode 6 with Hugh Dennis, Gyles Brandreth & Martin Freeman".
  4. ^ "Westminster's odd couple", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002.
  5. ^ "Mrs Currie dishes up AIDS advice". Yorkshire Post. 13 February 1987. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  6. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY | 3 | 1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim". BBC News. 3 December 1984. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Broadmoor: Savile was 'a lunatic in charge of the asylum'". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  8. ^ "1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim", On this Day, BBC News Online, 3 December 1988.
  9. ^ a b c "Currie: From Parliament to print", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002.
  10. ^ "1988: Egg industry fury over salmonella claim", Why are we more scared of raw egg than reheated rice?, BBC News Online, 3 December 2013.
  11. ^ Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand Inc Code of Practice, 2002, Appendix C Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ The Telegraph newspaper: Currie 'was right' on salmonella
  13. ^ a b Whitney, Craig R. (29 March 1992). "Tories Say Party's Strategy Is Hurting Campaign". New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  14. ^ a b "Currie interview in full", BBC News Online, 2 October 2002.
  15. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=HTlaCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=Andrew+Pearce+pro-euro&source=bl&ots=0aNCUCe13D&sig=L3zEoCDrq5RqosDOihcuZi-q0ys&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjxvNqK6-jMAhWJLsAKHaswATsQ6AEIODAE#v=onepage&q=Andrew%20Pearce%20pro-euro&f=false
  16. ^ Broadcasting career, Edwina Currie's official website
  17. ^ "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". BFI. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  18. ^ General information, Edwina Currie's official website
  19. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing signs up Lulu and Edwina Currie". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie to join I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!". ITV. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  21. ^ Frequently asked questions, Edwina Currie's official website, 1 September 2004. Retrieved 11 March 2007.
  22. ^ "Whaley Bridge's Edwina sparks more controversy". Buxton Advertiser. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Major and Currie had four-year affair", BBC News Online, 28 September 2002
  24. ^ "The Major love story", The Scotsman, 30 September 2002
  25. ^ "Currie blasts Major's record in power", BBC News Online, 2 October 2002
  26. ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/'A+RIGHT+COW+'+EXCLUSIVE%3A+What+Edwina+called+Sara+Keays+for+kissing...-a092259742
  27. ^ a b Verkaik, Robert (7 October 2002). "'Express' re-examines Currie libel papers". London: Independent Newspapers. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  28. ^ "Currie wins "vilest lady" libel case". BBC News. 9 March 2000. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  29. ^ Edwina transforms herself into Marie Curie for Polish cycling challenge Archived 12 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Marie Curie Cancer Care
  30. ^ "Heart campaign targets UK women". BBC News. 6 June 2005.
  31. ^ mrsaactionuk.net
  32. ^ govtoday.co.uk Archived 13 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ eypuk.co.uk Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ News – Our New President Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Tideswell Male Voice Choir website, Retrieved 1 December 2011
  35. ^ OxfordUnion (1 May 2013). "We Are Not All Feminists | Edwina Currie | Oxford Union". YouTube. Google. Retrieved 15 May 2015.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire
19831997
Succeeded by
Mark Todd
1997 United Kingdom general election

The 1997 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 1 May 1997, five years after the previous general election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. Under the leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party ended its eighteen-year spell in opposition and won the general election with a landslide victory, winning 418 seats, the most seats the party has ever held to date, and the highest proportion of seats held by any party in the post-war era. For the first time since 1931, the outgoing government lost more than half its parliamentary seats in an election.

The election saw a 10.0% swing from Conservative to Labour on a national turnout of 71%, and would be the last national vote where turnout exceeded 70% until the 2016 EU referendum nineteen years later. As a result Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a position he held until his resignation on 27 June 2007.

Under Blair's leadership, the Labour Party had adopted a more centrist policy platform under the name 'New Labour'. This was seen as moving away from the traditionally more left-wing stance of the Labour Party. Labour made several campaign pledges such as the creation of a National Minimum Wage, devolution referendums for Scotland and Wales and promised greater economic competence than the Conservatives, who were unpopular following the events of Black Wednesday in 1992; from then until 1997, the party consistently trailed behind Labour in the opinion polls.

The Labour Party campaign was ultimately a success; the party returned an unprecedented 418 MPs, and began the first of three consecutive terms for Labour in government. However, 1997 was the last general election in which Labour had a net gain of seats until the snap 2017 general election 20 years later. A record number of women were elected to parliament, 120, of whom 101 were Labour MPs. This was in part thanks to Labour's policy of using all-women shortlists.

The Conservative Party was led by incumbent Prime Minister John Major and ran their campaign emphasising falling unemployment and a strong economic recovery following the early 1990s recession. However, a series of scandals, party division over the European Union, the events of Black Wednesday and a desire of the electorate for change after 18 years of Conservative rule all contributed to the Conservatives' worst defeat since 1906, with only 165 MPs elected to Westminster, as well as their lowest share of the vote since 1832.

The party was left with no seats whatsoever in Scotland or Wales, and many key Conservative politicians, including Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Trade Secretary Ian Lang, Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth and former ministers Edwina Currie, Norman Lamont, David Mellor and Neil Hamilton lost their parliamentary seats.

However, future Prime Minister Theresa May was elected to the safe Conservative seat of Maidenhead, and current Speaker John Bercow at Buckingham. Following the defeat, the Conservatives began their longest continuous spell in opposition in the history of the present day (post–Tamworth Manifesto) Conservative Party, and indeed the longest such spell for any incarnation of the Tories/Conservatives since the 1760s, lasting 13 years, including the whole of the 2000s. Throughout this period, their representation in the Commons remained consistently below 200 MPs.

The Liberal Democrats, under Paddy Ashdown, returned 46 MPs to parliament, the most for any third party since 1929 and more than double the number of seats it got in 1992, despite a drop in popular vote, in part due to tactical voting by anti-Conservative voters supporting it in lieu of Labour in areas where that party had little strength. The Scottish National Party (SNP) returned six MPs, double its total in 1992.

As with all general elections since the early 1950s, the results were broadcast live on the BBC; the presenters were David Dimbleby, Peter Snow and Jeremy Paxman.

Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes (European Parliament constituency)

Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes was a constituency of the European Parliament located in the United Kingdom, electing one Member of the European Parliament by the first-past-the-post electoral system. Created in 1994 from parts of Cambridge and Bedfordshire North and Suffolk, it was abolished in 1999 on the adoption of proportional representation for European elections in the United Kingdom. It was succeeded by the East of England region.

Beyond a Joke (2009 TV series)

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Biteback Publishing

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Gabriele Taylor

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Notable newcomers to the House of Commons included Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Michael Howard, Paddy Ashdown, Edwina Currie, Clare Short, Charles Kennedy, Peter Lilley, Jeremy Corbyn, Neil Hamilton, Colin Moynihan and Michael Fallon. Gerry Adams was also elected, but did not take his seat.

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Mark Todd (politician)

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Mark Todd became the Chairman of Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in January 2014.

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Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 (c.44) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It changed the age of consent for male homosexual sexual activities (including anal sex) from 18 (or for some activities, 21) to that for heterosexual and lesbian sexual activities at 16, or 17 in Northern Ireland. It also introduced the new offence of 'having sexual intercourse or engaging in any other sexual activity with a person under 18 if in a position of trust in relation to that person'.

Lowering the homosexual age of consent had last been addressed by Parliament in 1994, when the then Conservative MP Edwina Currie proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to lower the age of consent to sixteen years. Even though over forty Tory MPs joined Currie, the measure was lost by twenty-seven votes. Immediately afterwards, MPs agreed on division (427 to 162) to reduce the age of consent for homosexual sexual activities to eighteen. The election of a Labour Government in 1997 afforded Parliament a further opportunity to examine the issue.

In 1996, the European Court of Human Rights heard Morris v. The United Kingdom and Sutherland v. the United Kingdom, cases brought by Chris Morris and Euan Sutherland challenging the inequality inherent in divided ages of consent. The government stated its intention to legislate to negate the court cases, which were put on hold.

Ann Keen, a Labour MP, introduced an amendment to Crime and Disorder Bill in 1998, and this was carried by a majority of 207 in the House of Commons. The amendment was then removed by the House of Lords by a majority of 168. Not wishing to lose the whole bill, the government allowed the issue to be dropped.

Later in the year, the government reintroduced the measure in what eventually became this Act. It once again sailed through the House of Commons by a majority of 183 on 25 January 1999, but was again blocked in the House of Lords after a concerted campaign by Conservative peer Baroness Young. The government once again re-introduced the measure, this time threatening to invoke the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949.

After the bill once again sailed through the House of Commons before being rejected by the House of Lords, the government carried through its threat and on 30 November 2000, Speaker Michael Martin announced the passage of the Act. It received Royal Assent a few hours later.

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Critical reaction to The Luvvies was generally negative. Writing about the 2004 awards, Frances Traynor of the Daily Record summarised the ceremony as "the show viewers really don't want to watch" and noted that "even Rhona Cameron looked bored". TV critic Charlie Brooker was particularly scathing, writing that the awards had "enraged" him and that "harassing the heartbroken for funnies is disgraceful". Cameron argued that "the key to accepting a Luvvie is not to take yourself too seriously", and said that if she were presented with a Luvvie she would "welcome it with open arms – otherwise you might look a bit po-faced and silly".

Vincent Simone

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