Ian Christopher Austin (born 6 March 1965) is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dudley North since the 2005 general election. Formerly a member of the Labour Party, he resigned from the party on 22 February 2019 to sit as an independent. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2009 to 2010.
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for |
Communities and Local Government
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Iain Wright|
|Succeeded by||Bob Neill|
|Minister for the West Midlands|
6 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Liam Byrne|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Assistant Government Whip|
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Chief Whip||Nick Brown|
|Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister|
27 June 2007 – 4 October 2008
Serving with Angela Smith
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Keith Hill|
|Succeeded by||Jon Trickett|
|Member of Parliament |
for Dudley North
|Assumed office |
5 May 2005
|Preceded by||Ross Cranston|
Ian Christopher Austin
6 March 1965
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
|Political party||Independent (2019–)|
|Alma mater||University of Essex|
Austin was born on 6 March 1965 and was adopted as a baby by Dudley school teachers Fred and Margaret Austin. Having failed the eleven-plus to attend King Edward's School, Birmingham, he was educated at the Dudley School from 1977 to 1983. He studied government and politics at the University of Essex.
His adoptive father, Fred (a Czech Jew who was adopted by an English family on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia), was head of the Dudley School from its formation in 1975 until his retirement in 1985. Fred Austin, born Fredi Stiller, was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours List for 2006 in recognition of his service to the communities of Dudley.
Austin was keen to obtain a National Union of Journalists card and took a job with Black Country Publishing in Netherton where his personal interest in sport, especially cycling (he is now chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) and football, led him to work as a journalist on Midland Sport Magazine.
Austin was elected as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in 1991, and served until 1995. He then moved to become press officer for the West Midlands Labour Party until 1998, when he spent a year as deputy director of communications for the Scottish Labour Party.
He was appointed a political advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (later Prime Minister), Gordon Brown, in 1999. He held the position until his election in 2005, and was known as one of Brown's closest lieutenants.
Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling during Prime Minister's Questions on 18 October 2006, and he was subsequently described by David Cameron as one of Gordon Brown's "boot boys". The following week he was rebuked again by the Speaker for comments made towards the Conservative benches.
After Gordon Brown became prime minister in June 2007, Austin was tipped for a post in Brown's inner political circle. The following day he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown, with a special provision to attend cabinet meetings. He was moved to a new position in the 2008 reshuffle, becoming an Assistant Whip for the Government. In the June 2009 reshuffle he entered Government as a minister for the first time, becoming Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Minister for the West Midlands.
Austin was re-elected at the 2010 general election, ahead of Conservative Party candidate Graeme Brown. While his own seat was a marginal in this parliamentary term, the other three Labour MPs for the borough of Dudley lost their seats. He nominated Ed Balls, who came third, for the Labour leadership election of 2010. Under Ed Miliband Austin served as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport between 2010 and 2011 and Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions between 2011 and 2013.
On 1 June 2012, he apologised after claiming falsely that a Palestinian human rights group, Friends of Al-Aqsa, had denied the Holocaust happened in an article he wrote on the Labour Uncut website in 2011. He accepted that the material of which he complained had been produced by an unconnected individual.
In October 2014, and again in December 2016, he called for greater action to limit immigration, and proposed a range of measures to achieve this, including tighter border controls, fingerprinting immigrants, deporting foreign criminals, reducing benefits entitlement, charging foreigners for NHS care, putting immigrants at the bottom of the housing list and measures to discourage the employment of immigrants rather than British citizens.
In the 2015 Parliament, Austin joined the Education Select Committee, and was appointed as chair of the Labour Party's education committee. Regarded as on the right of the party, he was critical of party leader Jeremy Corbyn's approach, calling for him to stop acting like a "student union president". In 2013, Austin had proposed that the government should share costs with parents who in areas of poor educational attainment wished to send their children to independent schools.
In July 2016, Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by shouting "sit down and shut up" and "you're a disgrace", as Corbyn criticised the 2003 invasion of Iraq in his response to the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.
In July 2018, Austin was put under investigation by the Labour Party for allegedly using abusive language towards the Party Chairman, Ian Lavery. General Secretary Jennie Formby dropped the inquiry in November, although Austin did receive a reprimand from the Chief Whip.
In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Austin had tried to split a claim for stamp duty on buying his second home in London into two payments and tried to claim the cost back over two financial years. This allowed him to claim the majority of the money (£21,559, just £75 short of the maximum) under his second-home allowance in the 2005/06 financial year. He then claimed for the remaining £1,344 stamp duty cost in 2006–2007, together with his legal fees. In all, he went on to claim £22,076 (£34 short of the maximum) in the next financial year.
It also reported that Austin "flipped" his second-home designation weeks before buying a £270,000 London flat, and that he had claimed £467 for a stereo system for his constituency home, shortly before he changed his second-home designation to London. He then spent a further £2,800 furnishing the new London flat.
In 2013, Austin became one of the first Labour MPs to call for an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
On 15 January 2019, Austin was one of only three Labour MPs to vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal in the Meaningful vote (along with Kevin Barron and John Mann). In the same series of votes, Austin was one of 14 Labour MPs who voted against his colleague Yvette Cooper's amendment, which was designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit by extending the article 50 negotiating period.
As an independent MPEdit
On 22 February 2019, Austin resigned from the Labour Party and became an independent MP—although he did not join The Independent Group which had been formed the same week by former Labour and Conservative MPs, owing to his disagreement with its members' desire for another referendum on Brexit.
On 19 March, MPs passed a motion put forward by Labour to remove Austin, as well as Independent Group MP Mike Gapes, from the seats on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee they held as part of the Labour Party's allocation. Austin said that Jeremy Corbyn wanted "to boot me off this committee because I stood up against racism", while Labour said that it was right that the party filled its allocation of seats on the committees.
- "Ian Austin - Biography". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Claughton, John (28 November 2013). "Getting rid of the grammar schools destroyed opportunities for so many". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- "My escape from the clutches of Nazis – Stourbridge pupils hear incredible story". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "New Year Honours awards for all". BBC News. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Register Of All-Party Groups: Cycling". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Q1. ". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 18 October 2006. col. 867–868. Archived from the original on 31 October 2006.
- Assinder, Nick (24 October 2007). "Fireworks in the Commons". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- Assinder, Nick (28 June 2007). "Who's who: Brown's inner circle". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Labour remains hold of Dudley North". Dudley News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Ian Austin". Parliament UK. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- "Dudley North MP Ian Austin sorry for Holocaust claim". BBC News. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Deputy Speaker tells Labour MP: Stand up. Say sorry". BBC News. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Dudley MP Ian Austin: How we can curb rise in immigration". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- Walker, Jonathan (6 December 2016). "Home Secretary told to act now to cut immigration". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- Wintour, Patrick (5 November 2015). "Labour moderates flex muscles by capturing key backbench offices". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- Walker, Jonathan (8 November 2013). "Labour MP calls for state sponsorship of public school places". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
- "A Labour MP told Jeremy Corbyn to 'sit down and shut up' while he was criticising the Iraq War". The Independent. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- Jonathan Walker (7 July 2016). "Labour MP Ian Austin defends himself after heckling Jeremy Corbyn over Iraq War". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- "Ian Austin: England should consider boycotting the World Cup in Russia". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
- Maguire, Kevin (25 July 2018). "Commons Confidential: On Raab's first trip to Brussels, even the Eurostar wasn't without mishap". New Statesman. London. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "Ian Austin: No action against Labour MP over anti-Semitism policy row". BBC News. London. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "Labour drops investigation into MP Ian Austin". LabourList. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
- "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 16 July 2019.
- Radice, Orlando (22 February 2019). "MP Ian Austin leaves Labour, citing 'culture of extremism and antisemitism'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- Watt, Holly (19 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Ian Austin tried to split the stamp duty on sunsets in Waterloo". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Ian Austin MP speaks out over his expenses claims". Dudley News. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
- "Miliband must not lose control of Labour's EU referendum policy". www.newstatesman.com.
- Elgot, Jessica (30 November 2018). "Labour should back May's Brexit deal, says MP Ian Austin". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Austin, Ian (17 January 2019). "Why I voted for the Government's Brexit deal". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Sabbagh, Dan (29 January 2019). "Labour MPs rebel to vote down Cooper's no-deal amendment". The Guardian.
- "Ian Austin quits Labour blaming Jeremy Corbyn's leadership". BBC News. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- "Ex-Labour MPs 'booted' off Foreign Affairs Committee". BBC News Online. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- "Ex-Labour MP Ian Austin appointed trade envoy to Israel by PM". Jewish News. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
- Ian Austin MP official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Contributions in Parliament during 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 at Hansard Archives
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Dudley North