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Barry John Sheerman (born 17 August 1940) is a British Labour Co-operative politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Huddersfield since the 1979 general election.

Barry Sheerman
Official portrait of Mr Barry Sheerman crop 2.jpg
Chair of the Education Select Committee
In office
16 July 2001 – 19 June 2010
Preceded byMalcolm Wicks
Succeeded byGraham Stuart
Shadow Minister of State for Social Security
In office
8 July 1992 – 12 May 1994
LeaderJohn Smith
Succeeded byTom Clarke (1995)
Member of Parliament
for Huddersfield
Huddersfield East (1979–1983)
In office
4 May 1979 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byJoseph Mallalieu
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority12,005 (27.4%)
Personal details
Born (1940-08-17) 17 August 1940 (age 79)
Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex, England
Political partyLabour Co-operative
Pamela Brenchley (m. 1965)
Alma materLondon School of Economics, University of London

Early lifeEdit

Sheerman was born on 17 August 1940 in Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex and went to Hampton Grammar School (which became the independent Hampton School in 1975) on Hanworth Road in Hampton, then on to Kingston Technical College.

He graduated from the London School of Economics (BSc Economics 1965) and from the University of London (MSc 1967). He became a lecturer at the University of Wales, Swansea in 1966 and remained there until his election to parliament in 1979.

Parliamentary careerEdit

Sheerman unsuccessfully contested Taunton in the October 1974 election, and became the MP for Huddersfield East from 1979 to 1983 and for Huddersfield since the 1983 general election. Sheerman has held the Huddersfield seats since, with his majority as low as 3,955 in 1983 and as high as 15,848 in the 1997 general election. In the most recent general election in 2017, Sheerman's majority was increased to 12,005 with a swing of 4.7% to Labour.

From 1983 to 1988, Sheerman was the Labour spokesperson on education and employment; for Home Affairs (as Shadow Deputy Home Secretary) from 1988 to 1992; and for Disabled People's Rights from 1992 to 1994. He was Chair of the House of Commons Education and Skills select committee from 2001 to 2010, renamed the Children, Schools and Families Committee in 2007.

Under his chairmanship, the Committee was often critical of government policy. Sheerman warned the government not to "lose their nerve" over reforming secondary education exam system back in 2005,[1] and in 2006 said it was "naive" to allocate local school places through parental choice, with lottery selection being the best way to avoid "bloody awful" schools existing as a side effect of parents pushing for their children to study elsewhere.[2] During Sheerman's chairmanship, the select committee produced reports on subjects such as home education, education outside the classroom, and young people not in education employment or training (NEETs).

Sheerman consistently voted for the Iraq war,[3] and has nearly always voted to block subsequent independent investigations into the war, with the most recent such vote in 2016.[citation needed] He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[4]

He is Chair of the Labour Forum for Criminal Justice and of the Cross-Party Advisory Group on Preparation for European Monetary Union. Outside parliament, he is Chair of the National Educational Research and Development Trust, and a trustee of the National Children's Centre. His political interests are listed as trade, industry, finance, further education, education, economy, the European Union, South America and the United States.

In June 2009, Sheerman called for a secret ballot of the Parliamentary Labour Party on whether Gordon Brown should continue in office as prime minister. This followed widespread criticism of Brown's performance and the resignation of Cabinet member James Purnell. Sheerman later reassured his local party chairman that he had not directly called for Brown's resignation.[5]

Sheerman called for a London catering company to employ "English workers" in a Twitter exchange on 23 April 2012.[6] The comments reached the national press. In response Sheerman said the objection to him speaking out was "pernicious political correctness".[7]

He is founder and chairman of Policy Connect, a cross-party, not-for-profit based in London, where he regularly chairs seminar events and research inquiries. He is also chair and co-chair of a number of official All-Party Parliamentary Groups, including the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, and the Bullying All-Party Group. Since 2012, Sheerman has led the Schools to Work Commission, the Labour Party's policy review on the transition from education to employment.[8]

In June 2015, Sheerman caused controversy when he argued that lowering the voting age to 16, by reducing childhood, might raise the risk of sexual abuse.[9]

He supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[10]

Sheerman voted for the triggering of Article 50 (the trigger for leaving the EU). Kirklees, which his constituency falls within, saw 55% of its residents vote in the 2016 EU referendum to leave the EU. In October 2017, Sheerman appeared on television and announced that he believed that remain vote came mostly from the better educated people in the country.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Barry Sheerman married Pamela Elizabeth Brenchley in 1965 in north Surrey, with whom he has one son (born in 1978) and three daughters (born in 1970, 1972 and 1981). He lives in a flat in Almondbury, Huddersfield.[12] His recreations include walking, biography and films.

In 1993, Sheerman co-wrote, with Isaac Kramnick, a biography of the Labour intellectual Harold Laski.


  1. ^ "End A-level 'obsession', says MP". BBC. 21 February 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Parental school choice 'naive'". BBC. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Barry Sheerman MP, Huddersfield".
  4. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  5. ^ Gibson, Barry (6 June 2009). "Huddersfield MP Sheerman called to account by local party members". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  6. ^ Barry Gibson "Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman demands British jobs for British workers after disappointing bacon buttie", Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 25 April 2012
  7. ^ "MP accused of 'xenophobia after complaining that Polish cannot make decent bacon sandwich", Daily Telegraph, 25 April 2012
  8. ^ University of Warwick, 'The Schools to Work Commission'[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Votes at 16 raises abuse risk, says MP". BBC News. 18 June 2015.
  10. ^ Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Labour MP: "Better Educated" Voted Remain - Guido Fawkes". 29 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Barry John Sheerman at Check company". Retrieved 11 May 2015.

External linksEdit

News itemsEdit

Video clipsEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joseph Mallalieu
Member of Parliament for Huddersfield East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Huddersfield
Succeeded by
Election in progress
Political offices
Preceded by
Shadow Minister of State for Social Security
(Shadow Minister for Disabled People)

Title next held by
Tom Clarke
Preceded by
Malcolm Wicks
Chairman, Education & Skills Select Committee
Committee abolished
New title Chairman, Children, Schools and Families Select Committee
Succeeded by
Graham Stuart