|Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government|
27 June 2007 – 5 June 2009
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Ruth Kelly|
|Succeeded by||John Denham|
|Minister without Portfolio|
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Ian McCartney|
|Succeeded by||The Baroness Warsi (2010)|
|Chairman of the Labour Party|
5 May 2006 – 24 June 2007
|Preceded by||Ian McCartney|
|Succeeded by||Harriet Harman|
|Minister of State for Policing|
13 June 2003 – 5 May 2006
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||John Denham|
|Succeeded by||Tony McNulty|
|Member of Parliament|
for Salford and Eccles
1 May 1997 – 7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Stanley Orme|
|Succeeded by||Rebecca Long-Bailey|
|Salford City Councillor for Eccles ward|
3 May 1984 – 7 May 1992
|Born||14 May 1956|
|Alma mater||Trent Polytechnic|
College of Law
Hazel Anne Blears (born 14 May 1956) is a former British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Salford and Eccles from 2010 to 2015. Prior to the creation of the Salford and Eccles constituency, she was the MP for Salford from 1997.
She served in the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and Chairman of the Labour Party between 2006 and 2007, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from 2007 to 2009, when she resigned.
Blears was educated at Worsley Wardley Grammar School in Wardley, Worsley and then Eccles College on Chatsworth Road in Ellesmere Park, Eccles. She went to Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham (now known as Nottingham Trent University), graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Law, and later, the Chester College of Law in 1977.
Hazel Blears started her career in Salford as a trainee solicitor with Salford City Council in 1978. After two years, she went into private practice for a year, before joining Rossendale Borough Council as a solicitor in 1981 and in the same year she was elected as a Branch Secretary in NALGO.
In 1983 she became a solicitor for Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council and later became Manchester City Council's education solicitor. In the following year, she was elected as a councillor to Salford City Council and she served on the council until 1992. She was Chair of the Salford Community Health Council for several years.
Described by journalist Michael White as a "ferociously effective networker", Blears stood in Tatton in 1987 against Neil Hamilton and in 1992 in Bury South where she lost by 788 votes. At the 1997 general election she was elected as the Labour MP for Salford, her home seat.
After the election she became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State at the Department of Health Alan Milburn until 1998. She spent ten months in 1999 as PPS to then Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith.
In the run-up to the 2001 General Election, Blears was a member and later deputy head of the Labour Party campaign team, a group of backbenchers tasked with campaigning around the country. This raised her national profile.
At the 2010 general election, parliamentary constituencies for Salford and Eccles were restructured, with Blears's constituency being abolished. She defeated Ian Stewart in the selection contest to be the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for the new parliamentary constituency of Salford and Eccles, and was elected.
During her parliamentary career, she has acquired the nickname "Chipmunk". Fraser Nelson, writing in The Spectator, has subsequently dubbed her "the Iron Chipmunk", a play on the phrase "Iron Lady", often used to describe Margaret Thatcher.
After the 2001 General Election, Blears entered Tony Blair's government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, responsible for Public Health. In this job she launched the Government's "5-a-day" campaign to get people to eat more fruit and vegetables.
Blears was promoted in 2003 to Minister of State at the Home Office, with responsibilities for policing, crime reduction and counter terrorism. She was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party in 2003. After the 2005 General Election, on 7 June 2005 she became a Member of the Privy Council. In a cabinet reshuffle following Council Elections on 4 May 2006 Tony Blair appointed her Party Chair replacing Ian McCartney.
On 28 June 2007 the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown appointed Blears as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Ruth Kelly. In April 2008 it was rumoured that Brown was planning a summer reshuffle in which Blears would be demoted. However, when the reshuffle occurred in the autumn, it was confirmed she was to retain her position.
In May 2008 Blears mistakenly commented on BBC's Question Time that there were 3 million people unemployed in the United Kingdom when Labour came to power in 1997 (the official figure was 1,602,500).
On 24 February 2007 she announced her candidacy for the election for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, making her one of six candidates for the job formerly held by John Prescott. She came last out of six candidates. Harriet Harman won the election on 24 June 2007.
On 3 June 2009, the day before the 2009 European and local elections, Blears announced she would resign from the cabinet at the next reshuffle. The media noted how, on the day her resignation was announced, she wore a brooch bearing the message "rocking the boat" On 12 June 2009, she expressed her regret at the manner and timing of her resignation in an interview with the Manchester Evening News. Her resignation was one of several from the Labour cabinet that summer, with the government's difficulties compounded by poor results in the European elections and poor opinion poll results which were largely blamed on the recession and rising unemployment.
In March 2005, while Home Office minister with responsibility for counter-terrorism, Blears implied that section 44 of the terrorism act would disproportionally affect Muslims. In response to this and to her seeming endorsement of it, Ray Powell, President of the National Black Police Association, described the minister's language as "intemperate and inconsiderate". "I think it is wrong of her to say they should accept it is used disproportionately. That comment would not be helpful and does not instill confidence within the Muslim community".
In August 2005 Blears said the 'rebranding' of ethnic minorities in favour of adopting US-style hyphenated titles such as Asian-British or Indian-British was "among a range of ideas" brought up in meetings with Muslim and other community groups. This proposal was quickly withdrawn by the Home Office, as the government moved to distance itself from the idea.
In 2006 Blears joined in protests against the closure of hospital departments in her constituency, even though these closures were consistent with the policies of the government of which she was a senior member. Health Emergency's head of campaigns Geoff Martin said, "there are 29 hospitals up and down the country facing the immediate threat of cuts and closure to key services in 2007. Will Hazel Blears be joining demonstrators on the streets in each of those areas or is this just a classic case of 'not in my back yard'"?
In May 2009, The Telegraph reported that Blears had claimed the maximum allowable expenses, within one pound, for three properties, as well as for stays in hotels. She had also claimed £4,874 on furniture, £899 on a new bed and £913 on a new TV, the second such TV in under a year, and the maximum £400 a month in groceries, and many were said to be outraged that she was not prosecuted. Further, Blears had not paid capital gains tax on profit from the sale of a London flat. The property was registered as her main residence with HM Revenue and Customs, but Blears had been claiming MPs' second home expenses relating to the flat. She had made a £45,000 profit on its sale without paying capital gains tax.
In Salford, her constituency, she was met by a number of angry protesters and stayed in a local hotel rather than at home.
Following an investigation by Sir Thomas Legg, Blears was told to repay £225 in expenses in relation to a glass shelving unit for her London flat.
Blears was a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament from September 2010 to March 2015. Blears presented the committee's report on privacy and security, carried out following Edward Snowden's revelations about global surveillance by the security agencies, to the media.
In 2013, Blears launched the Kids without Connections work experience programme. The programme aims to encourage local businesses across Salford and Eccles to offer work experience to young people aged between 16–24 years. The placements were not paid but were a way of providing experience to people unemployed or seeking work. As a direct result of the project 16 of the 42 initial young people on the programme found a full-time job or apprenticeship immediately after the scheme had ended.
In August 2014, Blears proposed an idea to tackle extremism before it is too late. She criticised the British Government for focusing on small threats rather than the big ones. She also said that targeting young Muslims and trying to save them before they turn into extremists should be the main key in fighting against terrorism.
In May 2015 Blears became a director of The Co-operative Group and is a member of the Risk and Audit Committee and Nominations Committee, for which she was paid £60,000 a year for which she was expected a minimum of one or two days' work per month. In 2016 Blears was appointed Chair of the Social Investment Business. She has also had roles as Chair of the Institute for Dementia at the University of Salford, as an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, and as a trustee of the Social Mobility Foundation.
She married Michael Halsall in the 1980s. They have no children.
In 2005 Blears was a member of a parliamentary tap-dancing troupe known as the Division Belles. Other members included Caroline Flint, Beverley Hughes, Laura Moffatt, Meg Munn, Joan Ryan and Dari Taylor.
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|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament
for Salford and Eccles
| Minister without Portfolio
Title next held byThe Baroness Warsi
| Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
|Party political offices|
| Labour Party Chair