Bob Ainsworth
Robert William Ainsworth (born 19 June 1952) is a British Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician who has been the Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) for Coventry North East since 1992
United Kingdom general election, 1992
The United Kingdom general election of 1992 was held on 9 April 1992, and was the fourth consecutive victory for the Conservative Party. This election result was one of the biggest surprises in 20th Century politics, as polling leading up to the day of the election showed Labour under leader Neil...

, and was the Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Defence, popularly known as the Defence Secretary, is the senior Government of the United Kingdom minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position...

 from 2009 to 2010. Following the general election in 2010 he was the Shadow Defence Secretary, but was replaced by Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy
James Francis "Jim" Murphy is a British Labour Party politician and is the Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire....

 following the election of new Labour leader Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband
Edward Samuel Miliband is a British Labour Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition...


Early life

Ainsworth was born in Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

 and attended the local Foxford Comprehensive School
Foxford School and Community Arts College
Foxford School and Community Arts College is a comprehensive school in Longford, Coventry, England. The school has been awarded specialist status as an Arts College. It is a coeducational school with a catchment area of north-east Coventry, stretching from Broad Heath to Longford and Holbrooks to...

. He first became active in politics as a trade unionist at the Jaguar Cars plant in Coventry where he worked and served in many union capacities, including as Branch President (in what was later to become part of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance
Manufacturing, Science and Finance
Manufacturing, Science and Finance was a trade union in Britain...

 union). At this time he attended "a couple" of International Marxist Group
International Marxist Group
The International Marxist Group was a Trotskyist group in Britain between 1968 and 1982. It was the British Section of the Fourth International. It and its youth organisation had had around 1,000 members and supporters in the late 1970s...

 meetings but did not pursue an interest in the group. In 1984, he was elected to Coventry City Council, became Chair of the Finance Committee, and was deputy leader of the ruling Labour group. He was also Constituency Labour Party Chairman.

Parliamentary career

Ainsworth tried to become Labour candidate for Coventry North East in the run-up to the 1987 general election, after George Park
George Park
George Maclean Park was a British Labour Party politician.Park worked in the motor industry in Coventry he was the Union Convenor at the Ryton Plant of the Rootes Group...

 MP announced his retirement, but only came third at the selection meeting, behind John Hughes
John Hughes (English politician)
John Hughes was Labour Member of Parliament for Coventry North East in the United Kingdom from 1987 to 1992....

 and Ted Knight. In the run-up to the 1992 general election Hughes was de-selected by the Constituency Labour Party
Constituency Labour Party
A Constituency Labour Party is an organisation of members of the British Labour Party who live in a particular UK parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales. The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has, since February 2009, been organised as a province-wide Constituency Labour Party...

, and Ainsworth became the candidate. He was elected with a 11,676 majority, and stepped down from the city council the following year. At the 1997 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1997
The United Kingdom general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997, more than five years after the previous election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party ended its 18 years in opposition under the leadership of Tony Blair, and won the general...

 his majority rose sharply to 22,569, falling back to 15,751 at the 2001 election
United Kingdom general election, 2001
The United Kingdom general election, 2001 was held on Thursday 7 June 2001 to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. It was dubbed "the quiet landslide" by the media, as the Labour Party was re-elected with another landslide result and only suffered a net loss of 6 seats...

, and 14,222 at the 2005 election
United Kingdom general election, 2005
The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 to elect 646 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party under Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, but with a majority of 66, reduced from 160....


In Government

Ainsworth was appointed a Labour whip
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

 in 1995 and served in government until January 2001 when he was promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the former Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions. After the 2001 general election, Ainsworth was moved to the Home Office
Home Office
The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
-Non-permanent and parliamentary under-secretaries, 1782-present:*April 1782: Evan Nepean*April 1782: Thomas Orde*July 1782: Henry Strachey*April 1783: George North*February 1784: Hon. John Townshend*June 1789: Scrope Bernard*July 1794: The Hon...

 with responsibility for Drugs and Organised Crime, where he remained until 2003, when he became the Deputy Chief Whip (also known as the Treasurer of the Household
Treasurer of the Household
The position of Treasurer of the Household is theoretically held by a household official of the British monarch, under control of the Lord Steward's Department, but is, in fact, a political office held by one of the government's Deputy Chief Whips in the House of Commons...

). He was appointed to the Privy Council in February 2005. On 29 June 2007, he moved to become the Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces is a middle-ranking ministerial position, subordinate only to the Secretary of State for Defence, at the Ministry of Defence in Her Majesty's Government....


Defence Secretary

On 5 June 2009, he was appointed to the cabinet by Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 as Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Defence, popularly known as the Defence Secretary, is the senior Government of the United Kingdom minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position...

, in what was considered by some to be "a surprise choice". As Defence Secretary, Ainsworth declared in July 2009 that "the government should have offered more support to British troops at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," a comment that provoked former Chief of Defence Staff General Lord Guthrie
Charles Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank
General Charles Ronald Llewelyn Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank, was Chief of the Defence Staff between 1997 and 2001 and Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, between 1994 and 1997.-Army career:...

 to accuse Ainsworth of not understanding "leadership in war". At the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in 2009, Ainsworth stated that sending reinforcements to Afghanistan may not be possible because of a lack of necessary military resources. He said, "Before I agree to any increase in troop numbers I must be sure that the balance of risk is acceptable by evaluating the capacity of the supply chain to properly equip the increased force."

In December 2009, Ainsworth announced that he would have been more circumspect about supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 had he known that Saddam Hussein did not in fact have weapons of mass destruction at his disposal.


In the 2009 Parliamentary expenses scandal
United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal
The United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal was a major political scandal triggered by the leak and subsequent publication by the Telegraph Group in 2009 of expense claims made by members of the United Kingdom Parliament over several years...

, in which a number of MPs were criticised for their expense
In common usage, an expense or expenditure is an outflow of money to another person or group to pay for an item or service, or for a category of costs. For a tenant, rent is an expense. For students or parents, tuition is an expense. Buying food, clothing, furniture or an automobile is often...

 claims, it was revealed that, in 2007-08, Ainsworth had claimed the maximum permissible amount of £23,083 for second-home allowances, making him the joint highest claimant that year with 142 other MPs. For 2008-09, he claimed £20,304, 269th out of 647 MPs.

Legalisation of drugs

In December 2010, Ainsworth called for the legalisation and regulation of drugs
Drug liberalization
Drug liberalization is the process of eliminating or reducing drug prohibition laws. Variations of drug liberalization include drug relegalization, drug legalization, and drug decriminalization -Policies:...

, arguing it is better for addicts to receive their fixes on prescription rather than relying for their supply on the international criminal gangs that make billions of pounds from the trade. As a Home Office minister, Ainsworth was responsible for drugs policy.

External links


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