Audrey Wise

Audrey Wise (née Brown; 4 January 1932[note 1] – 2 September 2000)[1] was a British Labour politician and Member of Parliament.

Audrey Wise

Member of Parliament
for Preston
In office
11 June 1987 – 2 September 2000
Preceded byStan Thorne
Succeeded byMark Hendrick
Member of Parliament
for Coventry South West
In office
28 February 1974 – 7 April 1979
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byJohn Butcher
Personal details
Audrey Brown

(1932-01-04)4 January 1932
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died2 September 2000(2000-09-02) (aged 68)
Political partyLabour
John Wise
(m. 1953)
Children2 (including Valerie)


Audrey Wise was born Audrey Brown in Newcastle upon Tyne, the daughter of a former Labour councillor. She married her husband John, a dispensing optician, in 1953.

At the age of 21 she became a Tottenham borough councillor. She served as MP for Coventry South West from February 1974-79, a period of tenuous Labour Government with marginal or no majorities. Despite Labour being in power, "at Westminster in the 1970s she was regarded as something of a left-wing nuisance, a state of affairs that she viewed as necessary and desirable."[1] During the 1970s she was a leading member of the Institute for Workers' Control.[2]

She visited Portugal in 1974 to report on and participate in the Carnation Revolution that overthrew the fascist dictatorship, recording her experiences and analysis in Eyewitness in Revolutionary Portugal.[3] She was famously arrested on the picket line during the Grunwick dispute where Asian women workers were striking for union recognition.[4]

With Jeff Rooker, she co-authored the Rooker-Wise Amendment to Denis Healey's 1977 budget which sought to freeze many annual fiscal changes to mitigate global inflation; this amendment introduced retrospective inflation-proofing on personal tax allowances (the tax-free portion of individuals' earnings), and resulted in £450 million being returned to taxpayers.[1]

Losing her seat in the 1979 general election, she stood unsuccessfully in Woolwich in 1983. She was then elected as MP for Preston in 1987, which she held until her death in 2000. Wise was a member of the left-wing Campaign Group of Labour MPs. She was president of the shop staff union USDAW between 1991 and 1997.[2]

As a member of the health select committee, she persuaded the committee to hold an inquiry into maternity services. The report,[5] endorsed by the Conservative government, called for services to become more woman-centred, and recommended increased access to home births and water births.[citation needed]

She died on 2 September 2000 from a brain tumour, which had been diagnosed some five months earlier. Her family described her death as "one fight she did not win".[6]

The conflict between Audrey Wise and the Labour Whips was highlighted in the National Theatre play This House by James Graham in 2012.[citation needed]

She was survived by her two children: Valerie, who is also a political activist, and Ian.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wise gave her age as thirty-nine when nominated for the Coventry parliamentary seat, though she had just turned forty-two when she was elected in February 1974. Her date of birth was routinely reported as 1935 after this date, which often caused her "enormous difficulty" when asked in later years. See Jeuda, Diana (2004). "Wise, Audrey (1932–2000)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/74643. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) and Chris Mullin in A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin (Profile Books, 2009, p127)


  1. ^ a b c Langdon, Julia; Wainwright, Hilary (5 September 2000). "Obituary: Audrey Wise". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b Macfarlane, Alison. "Obituary: Audrey Wise". Radstats Journal (75). Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  3. ^ Wise, Audrey (1975). Eyewitness in Revolutionary Portugal. Nottingham: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation for Spokesman Books. ISBN 0851241336.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Audrey Wise". The Daily Telegraph. 5 September 2000. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  5. ^ House of Commons Health Committee (1992) Second Report on the Maternity Services (Winterton report). HMSO: London
  6. ^ Langdon, Julia (5 September 2000). "Obituary: Audrey Wise". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Coventry South West
February 19741979
Succeeded by
John Butcher
Preceded by
Stan Thorne
Member of Parliament for Preston
Succeeded by
Mark Hendrick
Political offices
Preceded by
Sydney Tierney
President of USDAW
Succeeded by
Marge Carey