John Eugene Joseph Dromey (born 29 September 1948) is a British Labour Party politician and trade unionist serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Erdington since 2010, and the Shadow Paymaster General since 2021.
|Shadow Paymaster General|
|Assumed office |
7 January 2021
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Shadow Minister for Pensions|
12 January 2018 – 7 January 2021
|Preceded by||Alex Cunningham|
|Succeeded by||Matt Rodda|
|Shadow Minister for Labour|
10 October 2016 – 12 January 2018
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Laura Pidcock|
|Shadow Minister for Policing|
7 October 2013 – 27 June 2016
Harriet Harman (Acting)
|Preceded by||David Hanson|
|Succeeded by||Lyn Brown|
|Shadow Minister for Housing|
7 October 2010 – 7 October 2013
|Leader||Harriet Harman (Acting)|
|Preceded by||Lyn Brown|
|Succeeded by||Andy Sawford|
|Treasurer of the Labour Party|
30 September 2004 – 26 September 2010
|Preceded by||Jimmy Elsby|
|Succeeded by||Diana Holland|
|Member of Parliament |
for Birmingham Erdington
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Siôn Simon|
John Eugene Joseph Dromey
29 September 1948
Dromey joined the Labour frontbench under leader Ed Miliband as the Shadow Minister for Housing from 2010 until 2013, when he became the Shadow Minister for Policing. He remained in post after Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader until his resignation in June 2016, but returned to the frontbench as Shadow Minister for Labour in October 2016. He was appointed as the Shadow Minister for Pensions in 2018, and continued to serve in the role under Keir Starmer until 2021.
Prior to his election to Parliament, he was the Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and the Treasurer of the Labour Party. Dromey is married to Harriet Harman, former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and cabinet minister.
Early life and career as a trade unionist
In the early 1970s, while working at the Brent Law Centre, Dromey was elected as Chairman of his branch of the Transport and General Workers Union and as a delegate to the Brent Trades Council. In 1973 he took a leading role in planning the occupation of Centre Point, along with prominent Housing and Direct Action campaigners Jim Radford and Ron Bailey. This high-profile event was designed to highlight and publicise the perceived injustice of London's most prominent (and tallest) building development – which included a number of luxury flats – remaining empty year after year while tens of thousands of people languished on housing waiting lists across the capital. The event was postponed in 1973 but eventually carried out successfully in January the following year.
Jack Dromey built a reputation as an effective speaker and organiser in the Trade Union Movement and through his involvement with Brent Trades Council and the Greater London Association of Trades Councils, who sent him as a delegate to the South East Regional Council of the Trades Union Congress.
As an officer of the local Trades Council he also had a prominent role in supporting the strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratory which lasted from 1976 to 1978. The mostly-female Asian workforce at Grunwick went on strike to demand that company boss George Ward recognise their union; instead, Ward dismissed the strikers, leading to a two-year-long confrontation involving mass picketing and some violence. The strike was ultimately unsuccessful.
Dromey was appointed Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, having lost the 2003 election for General Secretary to Tony Woodley by a wide margin.
Links between NCCL and PIE
Dromey worked for executive committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL; now Liberty) in the 1970s during a period when it was allied to the Paedophile Information Exchange. Dromey denied supporting PIE or its aims, stating that he in fact actively opposed the links between the two groups.
Cash for peerages
On 15 March 2006, in the Cash for Peerages scandal, Dromey spoke of not being aware – despite his being party treasurer – of £3.5 million loaned to the Labour Party in 2005 by three persons who were subsequently nominated for life peerages (Chai Patel, Sir David Garrard, and Barry Townsley). Loans made on commercial terms, as was claimed to be the case here, are not subject to reporting requirements to the Electoral Commission.
Dromey stated publicly that neither he nor Labour's elected NEC chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham had knowledge of or involvement in the loans, and that he had only become aware of them when he read about it in the newspapers. Dromey stated that he was regularly consulted about conventional bank loans. As well as announcing his own investigation, he called on the Electoral Commission to investigate the issue of political parties taking out loans from non-commercial sources. His resulting report was discussed by the NEC on 21 March 2006.
Labour Party donations scandal
Dromey was caught up in a further financial scandal in 2007, as he was responsible for party finances, which included more than £630,000 in illegal donations from David Abrahams. Dromey again claimed to know nothing of the donations, with critics wondering why he had not examined the issue more closely. Harriet Harman, Dromey's wife, was also caught up in the affair, as her staff had solicited and accepted illegal donations totalling £5,000.
As a result of this incident, Mark McDonald challenged Dromey for the position at re-election, arguing that more transparency was needed: he was unsuccessful in his challenge.
Dromey again sought a safe seat in 2007, when there were plans for a general election to be called. Peter Watt, the then Labour General Secretary, later revealed that the trade union Unite had given £1 million in donations on the assumption of the nomination for the safe seat of Wolverhampton North East being given to Dromey.
In August 2009, it was revealed that senior Labour figures thought Dromey was likely to be selected in the Leyton and Wanstead constituency for the 2010 general election. The chair of Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Labour Party said he would be "somewhat aggrieved" were Dromey selected and Dromey's wife Harriet Harman had campaigned for all-women shortlists in safe seats. The party's candidates for the constituency were due to be announced in November 2009, though this was delayed for at least two months, with The Daily Telegraph alleging that the announcement was going to be made at the last possible minute so Dromey could be imposed as the candidate using emergency rules. It was revealed in January 2010 that the seat would not be subject to an all-woman shortlist, but the Constituency Labour Party subsequently selected former Hornchurch MP John Cryer as its candidate on 27 February.
In February 2010, Siôn Simon, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington since June 2001, announced his intention to stand down at the imminent general election. The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party swiftly announced that Birmingham Erdington would have an open shortlist. Dromey was confirmed to have made that shortlist. On 27 February 2010, it was confirmed that Dromey had been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Birmingham Erdington. He was elected on 6 May 2010.
In November 2011, John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards launched an investigation into allegations that Dromey had failed to declare thousands of pounds in salary. Dromey's entry in the register of Members' interests stated he had declined his salary from Unite since entering Parliament. However, in October 2011 he changed his entry to state "Between the General Election and 30 October 2010, I received £27,867 in salary." Dromey apologised to the House of Commons on 19 January 2012, in relation to this mistake.
Dromey retained his seat in the 2019 general election, but his majority decreased to 10%.
In January 2021, Dromey moved to the Shadow Cabinet Office team, led by Rachel Reeves, as Shadow Paymaster General.
Marriage and family
Dromey married Harriet Harman in 1982 in the borough of Brent, after meeting her on the picket line of the Grunwick dispute in 1977; Harman was legal advisor to the Grunwick Strike Committee. They have two sons (born February 1983 and November 1984) and a daughter (born January 1987). Labour colleague Patricia Hewitt is godmother to one of their children. Their son Joe Dromey is a councillor in the London borough of Lewisham.
The couple decided to send their children to selective schools, the subject of negative comment at the time because it runs counter to Labour Party policy. Dromey served for ten years on the executive of the National Council for Civil Liberties, a pressure group for which Harman worked as legal officer.
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