Daniel Zeichner

Daniel Stephen Zeichner (born 9 November 1956) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge since 2015. A member of the Labour Party, he defeated Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert before retaining his seat in the 2017 and 2019 general elections. Prior to his parliamentary career, Zeichner was a councillor for eight years.[1]

Daniel Zeichner

Shadow Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries
Farming and Agriculture (2020-2020)
Assumed office
14 January 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Sir Keir Starmer
Preceded byDavid Drew (Farming and Rural Affairs)
Ruth Jones (Fisheries)
Shadow Minister of State for Transport
In office
18 September 2015  29 June 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byJulian Huppert
Majority9,639 (18.0%)
Member of South Norfolk District Council
for Long Row
In office
4 May 1995  1 May 2003
Preceded byD. Mitchell
Succeeded byKeith Weeks (Bressingham & Burston)
Personal details
Daniel Stephen Zeichner

(1956-11-09) 9 November 1956 (age 64)
Beckenham, England
Political partyLabour
Domestic partnerBarbara Ziolkowska
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life

Daniel Zeichner was born in Beckenham in 1956. His father was an Austrian political refugee whose family fled Vienna in 1938:[2] his mother was the descendant of agricultural workers from Cambridgeshire. As a teenager, Zeichner was a middle-distance runner.[3] He attended Trinity School of John Whitgift, a former grammar school, turned independent school.

In 1976, Zeichner enrolled at the University of Cambridge to read history at King's College. He joined the Labour Party in 1979.[3]

Zeichner's first job after graduation was as a trainee computer programmer, working for Cambridgeshire County Council at the register office next to Shire Hall on Castle Hill, Cambridge. He later worked in IT for a number of companies, including Norwich Union in Norfolk, Philips in East Chesterton and Perkins Engines in Peterborough.[3]

In 1992 Zeichner was hired by Norwich South MP John Garrett, working as press officer and parliamentary assistant for Garrett between 1992 and 1997.[4][5] He subsequently worked for Garrett's successor, Charles Clarke, until 1999.[3] In 2002 Zeichner began working for the public sector trade union UNISON as a political officer, a post he held until he was elected as MP for Cambridge in 2015.

Political career

Zeichner has served several terms on Labour's National Policy Forum, the Labour Party's top policy-making body. He was first elected to represent the East of England on the body shortly after it was first established by Tony Blair as part of the "Partnership in Power" process.[3]

He was elected as a councillor in Burston, Norfolk, in 1995, a position in which he served until 2003.[6] During this time Zeichner became leader of the Labour group on South Norfolk District Council.

Zeichner stood unsuccessfully for Parliament four times. He contested Mid Norfolk in 1997, losing by fewer than 1,400 votes. He stood again in 2001 and 2005, being defeated by larger margins. In 2006 he was selected as the official Labour candidate for the Cambridge constituency, which had been lost to the Liberal Democrats at the previous year's election. At the 2010 general election, Zeichner finished in third place, polling 24% of the vote.

He contested the Cambridge seat five years later, and increased his vote by more than 11 percentage points, defeating the sitting Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert by 599 votes.[7] Zeichner was appointed as a Shadow Transport Minister (with responsibility for buses, bikes and walking) on 18 September 2015.[8] At the snap 2017 general election Zeichner retained his seat with a greatly increased majority, again over Julian Huppert, of 12,661 votes.[9]

He contested again in Cambridge in the 2019 general election, and retained his seat, with a majority of 9,639 over runner-up Lib-Dem candidate Rod Cantrill.[10]

In January 2020, Zeichner was appointed as a Shadow Farming and Agriculture Minister in the Shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) team.[11][12] He took on the renamed brief from former Stroud MP David Drew, previously Shadow Farming and Rural Affairs Minister, who lost his seat in the 2019 General Election.[13]

Zeichner remained in the Shadow DEFRA team following Keir Starmer's first reshuffle as Labour leader, but gained the fisheries brief from Ruth Jones MP, as Shadow Food, Farming and Fisheries Minister.[14]

In June 2020, Parliament's Standards and Privileges Committee censured Zeichner for misusing public funds relating to stationery and pre-paid House of Commons envelopes during the 2019 general election campaign.[15]

Political positions

Zeichner describes his politics as "socialist in a modern context".[16] He supported Tony Benn in the 1981 deputy leadership election.[3] In the 2010 Labour leadership election Zeichner supported Ed Miliband. In the 2015 Labour leadership election he supported Yvette Cooper. Zeichner supported Owen Smith in the September 2016 Labour Party leadership election,[17] and in the 2020 leadership election he supported Keir Starmer.[18] Zeichner opposes renewal of Trident.[19]

In June 2017 Zeichner resigned as a Shadow Transport Minister in order to vote in favour of an amendment to the government's 2017 Queen's Speech supporting the UK's membership of the single market, in defiance of the party whip. The amendment, which was defeated by 322 votes to 101, was tabled by former Shadow Cabinet Minister Chuka Umunna. In justifying his decision Zeichner explained:

My position on Europe has always been clear. I am a passionate pro-European and a straightforward politician. ... I promised the people of Cambridge I would stick to my principles and I would do right by our city – that means voting with my conscience and doing all I can to oppose the Tories' extreme Brexit which would, in my opinion, damage our economy, our security and our society as a whole.[20]

Zeichner is an Executive Member of SERA – Labour's Environment Campaign[21] and the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations.[22] He is a proponent of proportional representation and a supporter of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.[23]

Personal life

Zeichner met Barbara "Budge" Ziolkowska, his life partner, when he was a student at King's College, Cambridge, in 1976. They lived in Comberton, a village six miles (ten kilometres) southwest of the city of Cambridge.[3]


  1. "Cambridge general election 2015 results: Daniel Zeichner wins the seat from Julian Huppert". Cambridge News. 8 May 2015. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015.
  2. Gabriel Rath (6 June 2017). ""Es reicht mit dem Brexit": Wahlkampf in Cambridge". Die Presse, Vienna. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  3. Johnson, Richard; Walsh, Ashley (2012). Camaraderie: One hundred years of the Cambridge Labour Party, 1912–2012. Cambridge: Cambridge Labour Party. pp. 240–3. ISBN 978-0-86117-498-0.
  4. "Daniel Zeichner". Vote2001: Candidates. BBC. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  5. Matt Green (compiler). "Daniel Zeichner, The Labour party". Meet the Candidates. Tab Media Ltd., London. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  6. "South Norfolk Council Election Results 1973-2011" (PDF).
  7. "Election results for Cambridge Borough, 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015.
  8. "Cambridge News – News, Sport and Events from around Cambridge". www.cambridge-news.co.uk.
  9. "Cambridge Parliamentary constituency". BBC. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  10. "Cambridge parliamentary constituency - Election 2019 - BBC News". 13 December 2019.
  11. "Luke announces new Shadow DEFRA Team". Luke Pollard MP. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  12. "Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner appointed to the shadow front bench". 15 January 2020.
  13. Boobyer, Leigh (13 December 2019). "Tories oust Labour in Stroud as winner says 'no more faffing'". GloucestershireLive. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  14. Rodgers, Sienna. "Shadow ministers appointed as Starmer completes frontbench". LabourList. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  15. "Committee on Standards Publishes Report on Daniel Zeichner" (PDF). parliament.uk. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  16. Capel, Grace (27 October 2006). "The lighter touch of Cantab politics". Varsity.
  17. Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  18. Brackley, Paul (9 January 2020). "Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner backs Sir Keir Starmer to be the next Labour leader". Cambridge Independent. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  19. Rampen, Julia (19 July 2016). "How Labour MPs voted on Trident". New Statesman. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  20. Pilgrim, Tom (29 June 2017). "Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner resigns as Shadow Minister". Cambridgeshire Live. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  21. "SERA's 2016/17 Executive Committee". SERA – Labour's Environment Campaign. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  22. "House of Commons – Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups as at 2 January 2019: Future Generations". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  23. Gregory, Andrew (3 July 2018). "MPs unite to demand Britain's 'unjust' first past the post voting system is scrapped". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 6 August 2020. Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, chair of the cross party group and MP for Cambridge, said: 'In swathes of the country, Labour voters currently go unrepresented on local councils.'