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The Right Honourable
 Hilary Armstrong 

In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Jim Murphy
Succeeded by Ed Milliband

In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Phil Woolas
Succeeded by Position abolished

In office
8 June 2001 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ann Taylor
Succeeded by Jacqui Smith

Member of Parliament
for Durham North West
Assumed office 
11 June 1987
Preceded by Ernest Armstrong
Majority 13,443 (34%)

Born 30 November 1945 (1945-11-30) (age 64)
Sunderland, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Paul Corrigan
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Website Official website

Hilary Jane Armstrong (born 30 November 1945, Sunderland) is a British Labour Party politician. She is the Member of Parliament for North West Durham.


Early life

Armstrong was educated at Monkwearmouth Grammar School (her Who's Who entry lists Monkwearmouth School but Sunderland secondary schools were selective until the early 1970s), the West Ham College of Technology (BSc) and the University of Birmingham (Diploma in Social Work). A former social worker and university lecturer, Armstrong worked for VSO in Kenya before entering politics. She was first elected as Durham County Councillor for Crook North Division in 1985.

The daughter of Labour MP Ernest Armstrong, she was shortlisted for the vacant Sedgefield constituency in 1983, only to lose out to Tony Blair. Four years later, at the 1987 general election, she was elected to her father's North West Durham seat on his retirement, increasing his majority by 3,806 to 10,162.[1]

Parliamentary career

Armstrong was parliamentary private secretary to John Smith during his time as Labour leader, and played a large part in his successful fight to institute one member one vote at Labour's party conference.

Armstrong was seen as a politician on the centre-right of the Labour Party, and was close politically to her near neighbour Tony Blair and the New Labour agenda. However, she is also a member of the Amicus trades union (formerly MSF), and her trades union links were useful when she helped to shore up support for the rewriting of Clause IV.


In government

Armstrong spent four years as Minister for Local Government in the DETR and then the DTLR, before being promoted into the Cabinet of the United Kingdom as Chief Whip after the 2001 election. This was the high point of a political career which was low-key but generally successful; though she endured controversies over select committee membership and over allegations of strong arm tactics with Labour dissenters over military action in Afghanistan.[2]

Armstrong also faced criticism after government defeats in the Commons over the length of time suspected terrorists could be detained without charge, and incitement to religious hatred provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Press commentators speculated that in losing these votes through miscalculating government support, and in one instance letting the Prime Minister off the "Whip" because she believed the vote was won, Armstrong's position had become vulnerable.[3] However the rumours that she would resign the post[4] proved unfounded.

Afterwards Conservative leader David Cameron mocked Armstrong during an exchange with Tony Blair, saying “She must be the first Chief Whip in history to put the Prime Minister in the frame for losing a key vote — which is an interesting career move, to say the least.”[5] This was the second time David Cameron had attacked her during Prime Ministers Questions; on his debut as Leader of the Opposition on 7 December 2005 she was singled out by Cameron when he said "That's the problem with these exchanges - the chief whip on the Labour side shouting like a child. Is she finished? Are you finished?"[6]

On 5 May 2006 Armstrong was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Minister for the Cabinet Office) and Minister for Social Exclusion.

In 2006 Armstrong launched a petition on behalf of the Bethnal Green and Bow Labour Party against Respect MP George Galloway's participation in Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother. She criticised Galloway for being paid as an MP during the time he was in the Big Brother house. Galloway responded by saying he planned to refund the taxpayer after his exit from the show as he would not know how much to refund until then.[7]

Armstrong formally resigned from the government on 27 June 2007 when Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister. On becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced Armstrong's appointment as Chair of a Parliamentary Labour Party Manifesto Committee drawing up policy ideas covering children.

On 4 July 2009, Armstrong announced her intention to stand down at the 2010 general election.[8]

Personal life

Armstrong is married to Paul Corrigan. Prof Corrigan's enthusiastic championing of the role of the private sector in public service provision has long been a source of concern for some of Armstrong's trades union colleagues.[9]

Armstrong is a fan of Sunderland AFC and regularly attends games.


External links

voting record

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Armstrong
Member of Parliament for North West Durham
Political offices
Preceded by
Ann Taylor
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Jacqui Smith
Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Preceded by
Jim Murphy
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Succeeded by
Ed Milliband
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Preceded by
Phil Woolas
Minister for Social Exclusion
Position abolished


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