Lynne Featherstone
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Lynne Featherstone

The Baroness Featherstone

Official portrait of Baroness Featherstone crop 2.jpg
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change

29 July 2015 - 7 February 2019
LeaderTim Farron
Vince Cable
Ed Davey
Wera Hobhouse
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs

7 January 2015 - 16 July 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Chris Huhne[a]
Alistair Carmichael
Minister of State for Home Affairs

4 November 2014 - 8 May 2015
David Cameron
Norman Baker
The Lord Bates
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

4 September 2012 - 4 November 2014
David Cameron
Stephen O'Brien
The Baroness Northover
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities

13 May 2010 - 4 September 2012
David Cameron
Maria Eagle (Minister of State)
Helen Grant[1]
Spokesman for Youth and Equality Issues

2 July 2007 - 13 May 2010
LeaderNick Clegg
Susan Kramer
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal

20 October 2015
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Hornsey and Wood Green

5 May 2005 - 30 March 2015
Barbara Roche
Catherine West
Majority7,875 (12.5%)
Member of the London Assembly
as the 4th Additional Member

4 May 2000 - 6 June 2005
Constituency created
Geoff Pope
Personal details
Lynne Choona Ryness

(1951-12-20) 20 December 1951 (age 68)
Highgate, Middlesex, UK
Nationality United Kingdom
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Spouse(s)Stephen Featherstone
1982-96 (divorced)
ResidenceHighgate, N6
Alma materOxford Polytechnic
a. ^ Office vacant from 12 May 2010 to 7 January 2015.

Lynne Choona Featherstone, Baroness Featherstone, (née Ryness; born 20 December 1951)[2] is a British Liberal Democrat parliamentarian and member of the House of Lords.[3]

A Member of the London Assembly (MLA) from 2000 to 2005, she was Member of Parliament (MP) for Hornsey and Wood Green between 2005 and 2015, before being nominated for a peerage in the Dissolution Peerages List 2015.[3] She was created Baroness Featherstone, of Highgate in the London Borough of Haringey, on 20 October.[4]

Under the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010 she was appointed as a Home Office Minister with responsibility for criminal information and equalities,[5] before being promoted, in 2012, Minister with responsibility for International Development.[6] Previously she was Liberal Democrat spokesman for Youth and Equality issues, and chair of the Liberal Democrats technology board.[7] As originator and architect of the same sex marriage law during the coalition, Featherstone launched the consultation by the UK Government on introducing same-sex marriage and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign,[8] and returned to the Home Office as Minister of State in November 2014.[9]

Featherstone lost her parliamentary seat to Catherine West, the Labour candidate, in 2015, subsequently being nominated by former Deputy PM, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg for a Life Peerage in the Dissolution Honours 2015.[10] Featherstone took her seat as a member of the House of Lords on the Opposition benches on 26 November 2015.

Early life

Featherstone was born and brought up in North London,[11] and educated at Highgate Primary School, the independent South Hampstead High School (then a direct grant grammar school) and gained a Diploma in Communication and Design at Oxford Polytechnic.[12][13] Her family business started by her parents was the Ryness chain of lighting and electrical shops in London.The business was sold over a decade ago.[when?][14]

Councillor for London Borough of Haringey 1998-2006

In 1998, Featherstone was elected a Councillor for the London Borough of Haringey representing Muswell Hill Ward. She and her two colleagues (June Andersen and Julia Glenn) were the first three Liberal Democrats to be elected borough councillors. She became Leader of Liberal Democrat Group (and thereby Opposition Leader) on the Council 1998-2003.

Although she stood down from Haringey Council before the May 2006 elections, Featherstone influenced the 2006 local elections in Haringey where Labour's majority was cut from 25 to 3, with 30 Labour Councillors elected to 27 Liberal Democrats.

Member of the London Assembly 2000-2005

From 2000 until 2005, Featherstone was a Member of the London Assembly; during this time, she was Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee.[15] She was also a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority for all five years she was on the London Assembly. She was replaced as MLA by Geoff Pope.

Featherstone was promoted by some as a potential Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in the 2008 election. In response to a poll on the Liberal Democrat Voice website,[16] she ruled herself out, stating that, of the other people in the poll, she would back Brian Paddick.[17]

Member of Parliament

A 2015 LibDem election stakeboard for Lynne Featherstone

Featherstone first contested the Hornsey and Wood Green seat at the 1997 general election where she finished in third place some 25,998 votes behind the winner Barbara Roche. She again fought Hornsey and Wood Green at the 2001 general election, moving into second place and reducing Roche's majority to 10,614. In one of the largest swings at the 2005 general election, Featherstone defeated Roche with a majority of 2,395 votes.

She made her maiden speech in Parliament on 24 May 2005.[18] She was appointed as a LibDem junior Home Affairs spokesperson by Charles Kennedy in 2005, and to the environment audit select committee.

She was co-chair of Chris Huhne's unsuccessful campaign to be leader of the Liberal Democrats following the resignation of Kennedy in January 2006. In March, following the election of Menzies Campbell as party leader, she was promoted to number two in the Liberal Democrat home affairs team and made London spokesperson. In December 2006, she succeeded Susan Kramer as the Liberal Democrat Shadow International Development Secretary, and two months later was succeeded by Tom Brake as London spokesperson.

In 2007, following the resignation of Sir Menzies Campbell, she again chaired Chris Huhne's leadership election campaign. On 20 December 2007 the new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who defeated Chris Huhne, made her Youth and Equalities spokesperson.

On 5 February 2013, Featherstone voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote[19] on same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom,[20] the bill which she spearhead as Minister of State at the Home Office and got passed through the Commons despite Conservative backbench MP resistance. She was given a score of 93% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.[21]

In the 2015 general election, she lost her seat to Labour's Catherine West MP.

Aftermath of death of Peter Connelly

Following the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly, Haringey Council initiated an internal audit Serious Case Review (SCR).[22] Although the actual report was completed months earlier, the Executive Summary of the report was released immediately after the resulting court case had completed. The full details of the report have been kept confidential. Featherstone had been particularly critical of Haringey Council, writing "I personally met with George Meehan and Ita O'Donovan - Haringey Council's Leader and Chief Executive - to raise with them three different cases, where the pattern was in each case Haringey seeming to want to blame anyone who complained rather than to look at the complaint seriously. I was promised action - but despite repeated subsequent requests for news on progress - I was just stonewalled."[23]

In November 2008, at Prime Minister's Questions, Featherstone asked the Prime Minister to order an enquiry into the Connelly Case.[24] She was Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on Haringey Council at the time of the murder of Victoria Climbié.

Media attention

In April 2006, one of Featherstone's researchers received a hoax email warning about an apparent date rape drug called Progesterex.[25] Featherstone submitted a question to the Labour Government Minister enquiring as to "what assessment he has made of the use of Progesterex in cases of date rape". Paul Goggins pronounced to the House of Commons that Progesterex did not exist: "It has been the subject of a hoax e-mail", he said.[26][27] The hoax first originated in 1999.[28] Featherstone criticised the Minister's response, stating "they need to do more to discover the unearthly monster who sends them out" and that "their cavalier attitude will not do".[29] However, critics such as fellow Liberal Democrat James Graham[30] castigated Featherstone's conduct in "criticising the Home Office for not having a response to made up drugs and made up crimes", stating "trivialising rape in this way without bothering to do basic research first doesn't help anybody".[31]

She came to the attention of the national media in 2008 when she was criticised by Conservative Member of the London Assembly Brian Coleman for calling 999 (the UK's emergency number) when her boiler began making noises and sparking. Coleman referred to her as a "dizzy airhead", Featherstone responded by calling his comments "sexist" and "political" in nature.[32][33] A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman told BBC News: "If it's obvious that there has been an ongoing problem with the boiler, then you can call a plumber. But if your boiler suddenly starts making strange noises in the middle of the night, call the fire brigade."

In January 2013, she tweeted that John Mulholland, editor of The Observer, should have been sacked for publishing a "rant against the transgender community" in Julie Burchill's column which she described as "bigoted vomit", receiving a backlash as a result.[34][35]

Featherstone has expressed intentions to ban topless models from appearing on The Sun newspaper's Page 3, stating "I would love to take on Page 3".[36][37][38]


In April 2007, Featherstone was required to return large quantities of parliamentary stationery after her House of Commons office ordered £22,000 worth in the previous month in an attempt to beat new rules on stationery allowances. Featherstone blamed a staff member for the incident, declaring that she "knew nothing". In a leaked email, parliamentary official Cliff Harris reportedly stated "it's quite alarming when you see that Lynne Featherstone spent over £22,000 in one month, the equivalent to three years' of the new-capped rate".[39] Featherstone subsequently said she would be putting in place "better office procedures".[40]

In May 2009, Featherstone was listed among the "saints" by The Daily Telegraph in the expenses scandal.[41]

In Government

Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP launches 16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women with the Minister of Gender and Child Development, Inonge Wina MP, in Zambia in November 2012.

Under the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010 she was appointed as a Minister in the Home Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Criminal Information and Equalities. Equalities.[5] Featherstone caused waves by pre-announcing her appointment prior to the official announcement in the expectation of forcing compromises from the Tories regarding her policy "aims", despite Home Secretary Theresa May being noted for not favouring homosexual equality.[42]

In December 2010, Featherstone introduced a move that would allow positive discrimination which is primarily aimed at addressing female under-representation in the workforce. It will also mean that a manager will be able lawfully to hire a black man over a white man, a homosexual man over a heterosexual man, if they have the same skill set. Featherstone, denied the plans were about "political correctness, or red tape, or quotas" and would "help make the workplace fairer".[43]

In September 2011, Featherstone caused controversy by claiming men make "terrible decisions" when they are in charge. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference Featherstone blamed men for the mess the world was in, and commentators drew parallels with similar comments by one of Featherstone's predecessors, Harriet Harman. Her comments attracted criticism from across the political spectrum and were considered particularly inappropriate given her role as a minister in charge of ending sexism. Conservative MP Priti Patel said: "these comments are really ill-thought out. As Equalities Minister she has got to be unbiased about the value that both men and women bring to decision-making."[44]Elizabeth Day of The Observer newspaper was equally troubled by the remarks, writing "the notion that women are not as aggressive as men, that we would all just sit around a table eating red velvet cupcakes and talking out the world's problems rather than firing off phallic-shaped nuclear weapons is a complete fallacy".[45]

On 5 September 2012 she was confirmed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow in September 2013, she supported Liberal Democrat policy to prosecute those responsible for cases where girls are sent abroad to have female genital mutilation carried out, or where it is carried out in the UK.[46] In November 2014, she was promoted to Minister of State for Crime Prevention going back to the Home office.[9]

After Government

Featherstone wrote a book, Equal Ever After, describing the details of work to establish legal same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom and her role in the process.[47]


In 2006, Featherstone was shortlisted in the "Rising Stars" category of the Channel 4 political awards, but did not win. She has also been nominated for the prestigious "Woman of the Year" award.[]

Featherstone was nominated for the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in both 2009 and 2012 for her work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Lynne was awarded Stonewall Politician of the Year (jointly), Attitude Magazine Politician of the Year and PinkNews Ally of the Year for her initiative on same-sex marriage and work on LGBT rights.[]

Personal life

Her nephew was a haemophiliac and victim of the Tainted Blood Scandal.[48]

She married Stephen Featherstone in Haringey in 1982, but divorced in 1996; they have two children.[49]

Featherstone lives in Highgate, London.[50] She is Jewish.[11] She is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[51]

See also


  1. ^ Roberts, Scott. "Lynne Featherstone moved from equalities role in UK Government reshuffle". Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Dissolution Peerages 2015 - GOV.UK". Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "No. 61390". The London Gazette. 26 October 2015. p. 20046.
  5. ^ a b Ashton, Emily; Hughes, David (14 May 2010). "Equality Job for Lib Dem MP". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development - Inside Government". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 20 July 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ "Clegg reshuffles top Lib Dem team". BBC News. BBC. 8 January 2009. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  8. ^ "Lynne Featherstone's honeycomb surprise". 16 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Ministerial appointments: November 2014". Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ a b Jessica Elgot (14 May 2010). "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 22 September 2018. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ "Highgate pupils reveal designs for Lynne Featherstone's Christmas card competition - News". Hornsey Journal. 12 November 2010. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  13. ^ "WPR - Lynne Featherstone MP". Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ "Light Bulbs - Lightbulbs - Cheap Light Bulbs - LED Lamps". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ "Former London Assembly Member Lynne Featherstone". Greater London Authority. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  16. ^ "New poll: who do you want to be the Lib Dems' London mayoral candidate?". 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  17. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary - Don't vote for me!". 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  18. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (24 May 2005). "Hansard - 24 May 2005 col 650". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ "Second reading (Commons)". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 05 Feb 2013 (pt 0004)". Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Haringey Council Internal Audit - Serious Case Review" (PDF). Haringey Council. 12 November 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2008.
  23. ^ "A litany of failure by Haringey". Lynne Featherstone MP. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  24. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (12 November 2008). "Prime minister's questions - live". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary - Delivery, canvassing, stuffing". 2 May 2006. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 2013.
  26. ^ "Old Domain for the Sunday Tribune Ireland". 8 March 2016. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  27. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "Hansard 18 Apr 2006 col 288W". Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ "Progesterex Rape". Snopes. Retrieved 2013.
  29. ^ Adams, Stephen (25 July 2010). " Christmas". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012.
  30. ^ "An interview with James Graham, writer of Coalition - Channel 4 - Info - Press". Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  31. ^ MatGB. "Quaequam Blog! " Cook'd and Bomb'd". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  32. ^ "MP criticised for 999 boiler call". BBC News. 13 December 2008. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  33. ^ John Bingham (13 December 2008). "MP Lynne Featherstone branded 'dizzy airhead' for calling fire brigade to tackle boiler". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  34. ^ Philipson, Alice (13 January 2013). "Lynne Featherstone calls for Observer's Julie Burchill to be sacked following 'disgusting rant' against transsexuals". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  35. ^ "Ouch - Lynne Featherstone gets a put-down after Julie Burchill". 21 January 2013. Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  36. ^ O'Doherty, Ian (30 April 2010). "Ian O'Doherty: What a pair of boobies!". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  37. ^ Jamie Pandaram (25 June 2013). "I'll ban Sun's Page 3 models, says deputy UK Labour leader Harriet Harman". Retrieved 2013.
  38. ^ "UK's Labour party sparks new spat with paper over famous topless models". 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 21 March 2014.
  39. ^ "Crackdown on free postage as Labour MP claims £50,000 on stationery". Daily Mail. London. 28 April 2007. Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  40. ^ "Lynne's Parliament and Haringey diary - Mail on Sunday". 28 April 2007. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  41. ^ "MPs' Expenses: the saints". The Telegraph. London. 18 May 2009. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  42. ^ Geen, Jessica. "Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone appointed junior equality minister". Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  43. ^ Hope, Christopher; Peacock, Louisa (2 December 2010). "Bosses can lawfully hire a woman over a man with same qualifications for first time". London: Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  44. ^ Anne McElvoy (20 September 2011). "The feminist fantasies of a loopy Lib-Dem". Archived from the original on 28 December 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  45. ^ Day, Elizabeth (25 September 2011). "Having ovaries doesn't make you a better person - Elizabeth Day". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  46. ^ "Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem Minister, Says FGM Would 'Not Last If Boys' Willies Were Being Cut Off'". Huffington Post. 17 September 2013. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  47. ^ "Lynne Featherstone on writing a book to set the record straight". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 11 November 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ "Baroness Lynne Featherstone writes...The State killed my nephew". Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  49. ^ "Vote 2001 - Lynne Featherstone". BBC News. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  50. ^ Womack, Sarah (13 October 2005). "A council seat will buy you child care, says MP". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  51. ^ "Honorary Associates". Retrieved 2020.

External links

Video clips
  • Featherstone's video diaries from the 2007 Liberal Democrats conference: Sun · Mon · Tues · Wed · Thurs
News articles

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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