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The Right Honourable
 Caroline Flint 
MP

In office
3 October 2008 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Jim Murphy
Succeeded by Glenys Kinnock

In office
24 January 2008 – 3 October 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Yvette Cooper
Succeeded by Margaret Beckett

Member of Parliament
for Don Valley
Incumbent
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by Martin Redmond
Majority 8,598 (23.3%)

Born 20 September 1961 (1961-09-20) (age 48)
Twickenham, London, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Phil Cole
Alma mater University of East Anglia
Website www.carolineflint.co.uk

Caroline Louise Flint (born 20 September 1961) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Don Valley since 1997, and previously served in the Cabinet as the Minister of State for Europe, before resigning, citing the leadership of Gordon Brown as a reason.

Contents

Early life

Flint was educated at Twickenham Girls School (the school transferred to Waldegrave School for Girls in 1977) in Clifden Road Twickenham and Richmond Tertiary College before earning her BA (Hons) in American Literature and History combined with Film Studies from the University of East Anglia. She joined the Labour Party when 17. She was the Women's Officer of the National Organisation of Labour Students for 1982-84.

She began her career with the Inner London Education Authority, as a management trainee from 1984–85 and a Policy Officer from 1985-87. She was head of the Women's Unit at the NUS from 1988–89, before joining Lambeth Council as an Equal Opportunities Officer from 1989–91, and then Welfare and Staff Development Officer from 1991-93. From 1994-97 she was the Senior Researcher and Political Officer for the GMB Union.[citation needed]

Member of Parliament

Flint is a member of the Fabian Society and has been an MP since 1997. Along with several other Labour women MPs, she is a member of a tap dancing troupe known as the Division Belles. Other members include Hazel Blears, Laura Moffatt, Meg Munn, Joan Ryan and Dari Taylor.[citation needed]

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In Government

In 1999, she became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Peter Hain while he was Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before in 2002 becoming Parliamentary Private Secretary to Dr John Reid, in his capacity as Leader of the House of Commons and Minister without portfolio.

Whilst working as Hain's PPS she was criticised by the Government of Gibraltar for allegedly having falsely accused the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar on Sky News of being engaged in "smuggling on a massive scale".[1]

She joined the Government in June 2003 as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, before moving in May 2005 to the Department of Health, with responsibility for Public Health first as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and from May 2006 as Minister of State in the same role.

As Public Health minister she was responsible for managing government programmes concerning radiation exposure, the potential bird flu epidemic, sex education, and the prevention of communicable diseases such as TB and HIV, and oversaw campaigns to tackle obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. She was also due to take charge of the enforcement of the Labour government's ban on smoking in all public places, but was moved just a couple of days before it came into force.

In February 2007, it was announced that she would be Hazel Blears' campaign manager in Blears' campaign for the Deputy Leadership election of the Labour Party following John Prescott's resignation. Blears did not win, finishing sixth in the Deputy Leadership election, but her conduct during the campaign was rewarded with the Cabinet Post of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

In the Cabinet reshuffle of 29 June 2007 Caroline Flint moved to the Department for Work and Pensions where she served as the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform. Flint was also appointed to the new position of Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber. On 24 January 2008, Flint was promoted to Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and as a result would now attend Cabinet meetings. She was also appointed a member of the Privy Council and she relinquished her role as regional minister.

In February 2008, she suggested unemployed council tenants should 'actively seek work', as a condition of their occupancy.[2] In May 2008 she inadvertently revealed grim forecasts for the future of house prices when she was photographed walking into Downing Street with her briefing papers visible. Close inspection revealed that her document read: "We can't tell how bad it will get."[3]

Later in 2008 she drew further criticism after stating in a TV interview that it had been 'obvious all over the media for several years that property is overvalued'.

She was moved to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the October 2008 reshuffle, to become Minister of State for Europe. On 31 March 2009 she admitted that she had not read the Lisbon Treaty, the controversial document which codifies the rules of the European Union. Critics described her admission as "extraordinary" and "unbelievable," particularly given that the minister's responsibilities include overseeing the introduction of the Treaty.[4]

Resignation

Flint resigned after the Cabinet reshuffle of 5 June 2009. She resigned claiming Gordon Brown was running a "two-tier government", and that she felt that she had been treated as "female window dressing". An article published by the Daily Mail characterised this position as in conflict with Flint's decision to pose for Observer Woman Magazine. After the photoshoot Flint commented that her looks were a double edged sword and that male colleagues would not be judged in the same way.[5] Only the day before her resignation she had professed her loyalty to the Prime Minister.[6] Flint renewed her attack on Gordon Brown in a newspaper article on 7 June 2009, she told The Observer that she was not ashamed of the glamorous photoshoot which had upset Downing Street. She launched a broadside against the Prime Minister, complaining of "this constant pressure, this negative bullying".[7]

Expenses

In 2005, Flint claimed her constituency home in Sprotbrough as her second home, and a house in outer London as her main home. In the same year sold her outer London home to buy a flat in Victoria, London in 2006. To buy the flat, Flint claimed £1,000 solicitors fees and £12,750 in stamp duty on allowances; the Fees Office paid £7,700 of the claim. The Victoria flat became her second home and her constituency became her main residence.[8][9]

Personal life

In July 2001 she married her longtime boyfriend, Phil Cole, a former Labour Party regional officer and public relations professional. They have one child and live in Flint's South Yorkshire constituency.[citation needed] She also has a son and daughter from her first marriage to Saief Zammel, a Tunisian stockbroker.[10]

References

  1. ^ "Gibraltar Government reacts to remarks made by Mr Peter Hain, Minister for Europe". Government of Gibraltar Press Office. 17 April 2002. http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/latest_news/press_releases/2002/64-2002.htm. 
  2. ^ Patrick Wintour "Labour: if you want a council house, find a job", The Guardian, 5 February 2009
  3. ^ . Patrick Wintour (14 May 2008). "Minister reveals housing fears in briefing gaffe". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/may/14/houseprices.property. 
  4. ^ Rosa Prince (31 March 2009). "Caroline Flint, Europe minister, hasn't read Lisbon Treaty". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/5084584/Caroline-Flint-Europe-minister-hasnt-read-Lisbon-Treaty.html. 
  5. ^ "revenge of a woman scorned". mailonline. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1190834/Revenge-woman-scorned-As-Brown-defies-plots-bitter-minister-refused-promote-exits-spitting-venom.html. Retrieved 6 June 2009. 
  6. ^ "'Just female window dressing' - Full text of Caroline Flint's resignation letter". news.scotsman.com. http://news.scotsman.com/politics/39Just-female-window-dressing39-.5340489.jp. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  7. ^ ""Angry Flint in fresh attack on Brown" The Observer". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jun/07/caroline-flint-gordon-brown-resignation. Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  8. ^ Prince, Rosa (8 May 2009). "Caroline Flint claimed £14,000 for fees for new flat: MPs' expenses". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5293149/Caroline-Flint-claimed-14000-for-fees-for-new-flat-MPs-expenses.html. Retrieved 6 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Caroline-Flints-response-over-MPs-expenses". telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5293213/Caroline-Flints-response-over-MPs-expenses.html. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  10. ^ "Sexism, motherhood, ambition – and looking good". Guardian interview

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Martin Redmond
Member of Parliament for Don Valley
1997–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Yvette Cooper
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
2008
Succeeded by
Margaret Beckett
Preceded by
Jim Murphy
Minister of State for Europe
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Glenys Kinnock

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