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The Right Honourable
 Alan Milburn 

In office
8 September 2004 – 6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Douglas Alexander
Succeeded by John Hutton

In office
11 October 1999 – 13 June 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Frank Dobson
Succeeded by John Reid

In office
23 December 1998 – 11 October 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Stephen Byers
Succeeded by Andrew Smith

Member of Parliament
for Darlington
Assumed office 
9 April 1992
Preceded by Michael Fallon
Majority 10,404 (26.4%)

Born 27 January 1958 (1958-01-27) (age 51)
Tow Law, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Alma mater Lancaster University

Alan Milburn (born 27 January 1958) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Darlington since 1992, and served in the Cabinet, firstly as Secretary of State for Health from 1999 until 2003, when he resigned, citing lack of balance with his family life, before rejoined it as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in order to manage Labour's 2005 re-election campaign. On 26 June 2009, he told his local party that he would not be standing at the 2010 general election. He stated, "Standing down as an MP will give me the chance to balance my work and my family life with the time to pursue challenges other than politics."[1]


Early life

Milburn was born in the village of Tow Law in County Durham, England and grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He is from a working class background.

He was educated at John Marley School, Newcastle and Stokesley Comprehensive School. He went on to Lancaster University. After leaving university, he returned to Newcastle where, with Martin Spence, he operated a small radical bookshop in the Westgate Road, called Days of Hope (the shop was given the spoonerised nickname Haze of Dope).[2] From there he worked as a co-ordinator at the Trade Union Studies Information Unit. During this period, he married future Labour MEP Mo O'Toole, but the couple split up in the late 1980s.[3]

From 1988, Milburn co-ordinated a campaign to defend shipbuilding in Sunderland, and was elected as Chairman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central Constituency Labour Party. In 1990 he was appointed as a Business Development Officer for North Tyneside Borough Council and elected as President of the North East Region of the Manufacturing Science and Finance (MSF) Trade Union. Meanwhile, he won the seat of Darlington in the 1992 general election.

He is a supporter of Newcastle United Football Club.

Member of Parliament

In Parliament, Milburn allied himself with the Blairite modernisers in the Labour Party, becoming close to Tony Blair who sat for the next-door constituency of Sedgefield. This led to his appointment as Minister of State at the Department of Health when Labour came into government in 1997, an important post in which he had responsibility for driving through Private Finance Initiative deals on hospitals. In the reshuffle caused by Peter Mandelson's resignation on 23 December 1998, Milburn was promoted to the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.


In government

He became Secretary of State for Health in October 1999, with responsibility for continuing the reduction in waiting times and delivering modernisation in the National Health Service (NHS). The government increased expenditure on the NHS, although the public was sceptical over claims of improved performance. Milburn was thought to be a candidate for promotion within the Government, but on the day of a reshuffle (12 June 2003) he announced his resignation. He cited the difficulties combining family life in North-East England with a demanding job in London as his reason for quitting.


While on the backbenches he continued to be a strong supporter of Tony Blair's policies, especially his continued policy of increased private involvement in public service provision. He returned to government in September 2004, with the title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was brought back to lead the Labour Party's campaign in the 2005 general election, but the unsuccessful start to the campaign led to Alan Milburn taking a back seat, with Gordon Brown returning to take a very prominent role. On election night he announced he would be leaving the Cabinet for a second time, although rumours persisted that he would challenge Brown for the succession. On 10 April 2006, The Sun newspaper reported that Alan Milburn was still unsure whether to enter the leadership election when Tony Blair left office, which eventually occurred on 27 June the following year, with Brown subsequently assuming the prime ministerial role unopposed. He is the honorary president of the political organisation Progress, which is often described as a Blairite faction of the Labour Party.

Post government

Following his resignation as Secretary of State for Health (to spend more time with his family), Alan Milburn took a post for £30,000 a year as an adviser to Bridgepoint Capital, a venture capital firm heavily involved in financing private health care firms moving into the NHS, including Alliance Medical, Match Group, Medica and Robina Care roup.[4] He has been Member of Advisory Board of Pepsico since April 2007.[5]

Possible leadership contender

On 8 September 2006, after Tony Blair had announced his intention to step down within a year, Charles Clarke suggested Milburn as leader in place of Gordon Brown.

On 28 February 2007, he and Charles Clarke launched The 2020 Vision, a website intended to promote policy debate in the Labour Party.

In 2007 Alan Milburn worked as an advisor to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.[6]

Alan Milburn now also holds a place on the board of PepsiCo as an advisor.[7]

Chair of Social Mobility Commission

Between January and July 2009, Alan Milburn chaired a commission on social mobility, the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions [1]. The Panel reported in July 2009 with recommendations to improve social mobility by acting at every life stage - including through schools, universities, internship practices and recruitment processes.


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Fallon
Member of Parliament for Darlington
Political offices
Preceded by
Stephen Byers
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Andrew Smith
Preceded by
Frank Dobson
Secretary of State for Health
Succeeded by
John Reid
Preceded by
Douglas Alexander
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Succeeded by
John Hutton
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster


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