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Jim Cunningham (politician)

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James Dolan Cunningham (born 4 February 1941) is a Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Coventry South from 1992 to 2019. He announced his retirement in September 2019.[1]

Jim Cunningham
Official portrait of Mr Jim Cunningham crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Coventry South
Coventry South East (1992-1997)
In office
9 April 1992 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byDave Nellist
Personal details
Born (1941-02-04) 4 February 1941 (age 78)
Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Marion Douglas Podmore
ResidenceCoventry, West Midlands, England
Alma materTrade Union College in Tillicoultry

Early lifeEdit

Cunningham was born in Coatbridge, Scotland and educated locally at Columba High School before attending the Trade Union College in Tillicoultry.[2] In 1964, he became an engineer for Rolls-Royce in Ansty, joining the Labour Party in 1966 he became a shop steward with the predecessors of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union in the Rolls-Royce plant from 1968 throughout his service as a councillor and later Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council.[2]

Local governmentEdit

Cunningham began his political career as a Coventry councillor in 1972 and became the Chair of the Council's Consumer Services Committee from 1975 until 1977. He was also the Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee for three terms, 1975 until 1977, 1979 until 1982 and from 1985 until 1988. He also served as the Vice-Chair of the Leisure Committee from 1975 until 1977, serving as the Chair from 1979 until 1982. He next served as the Vice-Chair of the Transport and Highways Committee from 1983 until 1985 when he became the Chief Whip of the Labour Group on the Council from 1985 until 1987 when he became the Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council.[3] Cunningham left Rolls-Royce as an engineer and shop steward in 1988 upon his appointment as Leader of the City Council which he served until his election to Parliament in 1992.[4]


Cunningham was selected to contest the Coventry South East constituency at the 1992 general election following the expulsion of the sitting Labour MP Dave Nellist, a member of the Trotskyist Militant group, who had thus become ineligible to be selected as the Labour candidate. Cunningham emerged as the victor with a majority of 1,311 votes over the Conservative candidate Martine Hyams; Nellist finished third but only by a further 40 votes.[5]

Cunningham made his maiden speech on 12 May 1992 in which he spoke of the social and economic problems of Coventry and criticised the then level of central government resources allocated to the city.[6]

Following reports from the previous year that the Queen was to agree to pay income tax, which Buckingham Palace and the Prime Minister denied, he called for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to begin paying income tax in his letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1992.[7]

He became a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee from 1993 until 1997. He then served on the Trade and Industry Select Committee from 1997 as well as serving upon the House of Commons Panel of Chairs from 1998 leaving both upon the 2001 general election. Cunningham then served on the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee from 2003 until 2005.[8]

In 2004, he led a parliamentary campaign to prevent Jaguar Cars closing its Browns Lane assembly plant.[9] This campaign included organising a meeting between several workers of the plant and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer[10] as well as Cunningham joining factory workers when they lobbied the Ford managers at the Paris Motor Show.[11]

Cunningham briefly served on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Select Committee in 2005 until the general election.[8]

After the election, he served on the House of Commons Procedures Select Committee until 2006[12] and served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Solicitor General Mike O'Brien until 2007. Cunningham remained O'Brien's PPS as O'Brien became a Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions from 2007 until 2008, then a Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2008 until 2009 and as a Minister of State at the Department of Health from 2009 until 2010. Cunningham served on the Standards and Privileges Select Committee in 2010.[12]

He served as the Treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Funerals and Bereavement from 2005 until 2010 and is currently the Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Chinese Development.[8]

During the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal, Cunningham was praised[13] by The Telegraph, which cited his consistently low expenses that made him the 27th lowest claiming MP out of 645 MPs.[14]

In 2011, Cunningham arranged a meeting with the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff, as a response to the Rolls-Royce announcement that it would lay off one quarter of its staff at its Ansty plant by 2012 due to the UK defence cuts and the plant's reliance upon repairing and servicing RAF jet engines. As well as these planned redundancies, Rolls-Royce also plans temporary redundancies during periods of low activity and having staff work longer without being paid extra. Cunningham questioned what the government's plans were to secure more work for the plant and met with union officials and management in order to find a solution to safeguard the plant and its work force.[15]

He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[16]


He has been married to Marion Douglas Podmore since 1985; each has children from previous marriages.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham to resign after 27 years of service". The Boar. 11 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Jim Cunningham". Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "WPR - Jim Cunningham MP". Archived from the original on 11 December 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  5. ^ "UK General Election results: April 1992 [Archive]". 9 April 1992. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  6. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 12 May 1992". Retrieved 24 November 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Custom byline text:  From the archive (4 November 1992). "Anger as tax on Queen is ruled out". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "WPR - Jim Cunningham MP". Archived from the original on 11 December 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  9. ^ "UK | England | Coventry/Warwickshire | Appeal to ministers over Jaguar". BBC News. 25 August 2004. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Jaguar workers backed at highest level". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  11. ^ Terry Macalister (21 September 2004). "Jaguar staff to lobby Ford at motor show | Business". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  12. ^ a b [2] Archived 11 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "MPs' expenses: The saints (Part iii)". London: Telegraph. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  14. ^ "MP Jim Cunningham reveals claims - including George Foreman grill". Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  15. ^ "MP takes up plight of Rolls-Royce workers - Coventry Times - News". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.

External linksEdit

News itemsEdit