Jim Dowd (politician)

James Patrick Dowd (born 5 March 1951) is a British Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1992 to 2017, first for Lewisham West and since 2010 for Lewisham West and Penge. He stood down at the 2017 general election, following the announcement of Prime Minister Theresa May's snap election in June 2017.[1][2]

Jim Dowd
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
8 May 1997  7 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
ChancellorGordon Brown
Preceded byRichard Ottaway
Succeeded byAnne McGuire
Member of Parliament
for Lewisham West and Penge
Lewisham West (1992–2010)
In office
9 April 1992  3 May 2017
Preceded byJohn Maples
Succeeded byEllie Reeves
Personal details
Born (1951-03-05) 5 March 1951 (age 70)
Bad Eilsen, Lower Saxony, West Germany
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Janet Anderson

Early life

Jim Dowd grew up in Lewisham, London, with an Irish father and German mother. He was educated at the Dalmain Infant and Junior Schools in Forest Hill; the Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Catford, and the London Nautical School, Lambeth. He began his career in telephone engineering as an apprentice in 1967 with the General Post Office (GPO). Following his apprenticeship, he became a manager in 1972 at a Heron petrol station for a year before joining Plessey as a telecommunications engineer in 1973, where he remained until his election to the House of Commons.[3]

Dowd was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham in 1974, becoming deputy leader in 1984 for two years. He was twice deputy mayor in 1987 and 1990, and was the Mayor of Lewisham in 1992. He stepped down from the council in 1994.[3]

Dowd first stood for parliament at the 1983 general election for the seat of Beckenham, finishing in third place behind the long-standing Conservative MP Philip Goodhart by 17,330 votes. At the 1987 general election he contested the marginal seat of Lewisham West, but was defeated by John Maples by 3,772 votes.

Parliamentary career

At the 1992 general election, Dowd again contested Lewisham West, and defeated Maples by 1,809 votes. He made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 10 June 1992.[4]

Jim Dowd was appointed as an opposition whip in 1994, before becoming the spokesman on Northern Ireland in 1995. Following the election of the Labour government at the 1997 General Election he was given a place in the Blair government as a whip. He was unexpectedly sacked after the 2001 general election,[5] since when he was a member of the Health Select Committee and maintained a voting record strongly in line with government policies.[6] In June 2012, Dowd joined the Science and Technology Select Committee.

In 2005, he was involved in a heated confrontation in Parliament with fellow Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews over the Terrorism Bill.[7] He was a vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group.

He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[8]

Intellectual Property Bill

On 20 January 2014, Dowd made a speech in the House of Commons during a debate on the Intellectual Property Bill, stating that he had asked for Worcester Sauce whilst eating a meal at the Hare and Billet pub in Blackheath and that he was provided with Henderson's Relish.[9] Dowd used Henderson's as an example of "parasitic packaging", implying in the debate that it was attempting to pass itself off as Lea and Perrins.[10]

Henderson's Relish
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Henderson's Relish is well known within Sheffield and parts of Yorkshire and has been manufactured there for over 100 years. Dowd upset supporters of the sauce; the Sheffield Central member of parliament, Paul Blomfield, offered to bring a bottle to Parliament and invite Dowd for a meal with him using it – an invitation accepted by Dowd.[11]

The Hare and Billet

Simon Freeman  the managing director of Henderson's  jokingly stated that he would order "an internal investigation to find out how it got out of Yorkshire";[12] a local newspaper, the Sheffield Star, launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #Hendogate to defend Henderson's, attracting support locally.[13] Dowd later stated his "amazement" at the backlash his comments had caused, which he said included threats of violence.[14] The assistant manager of the Hare and Billet  Adam Beaston  claimed that Dowd branded Henderson's a "blatant copy" of Lea and Perrins at the time but that he warned the MP that such a view would be "blasphemy in Sheffield".[15]

Personal life

Dowd lists his interests as music, theatre and reading, and enjoys travelling in Cornwall. His partner Janet Anderson is the former Labour MP for Rossendale and Darwen.


  1. Edward, Peter (20 April 2017). "Jim Dowd becomes eighth Labour MP to call time on Commons career". Labour List. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  2. Leedham, Charlotte (26 April 2017). "#ELLection: Lewisham MP Jim Dowd will not defend seat at general election". Eastlondonlines. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  3. "About Me". Jim Dowd.org. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  4. Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 Jun 1992". www.publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  5. "BBC NEWS – UK – Politics – Jim Dowd". news.bbc.co.uk. 22 October 2002. Archived from the original on 17 June 2004. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
  6. "Jim Dowd, former MP, Lewisham West and Penge – TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou. Archived from the original on 24 April 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  7. "BBC NEWS – UK – England – MP demands inquiry over colleague". news.bbc.co.uk. 10 November 2005. Archived from the original on 25 November 2005. Retrieved 9 December 2005.
  8. "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  9. "Daily Hansard – debate". Hansard: Column 56. 20 January 2014. Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  10. "Parasitic copying". British Brands Group website. British Brands Group. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  11. Haddou, Leila (22 January 2014). "MP disses Henderson's Relish and incurs the wrath of Sheffield (and Nick Clegg gets a bit cross)". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  12. "Should MP apologise over Henderson's attack?". Sheffield Telegraph. 22 January 2014. Archived from the original on 24 January 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  13. Lynch, Molly (22 January 2014). "MP under fire as Sheffielders leap to the defence of Henderson's Relish". Sheffield Star. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  14. "Relish row is Hend-over". Sheffield Star. 27 January 2014. Archived from the original on 31 January 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  15. "MP 'warned' in relish row". Sheffield Star. 24 January 2014. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.