Margaret Beckett

Dame Margaret Mary Beckett DBE PC MP (née Jackson; born 15 January 1943) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Derby South since 1983. She was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party under John Smith from 1992 to 1994, and briefly served as Leader of the Opposition and Acting Leader of the Labour Party after Smith's sudden death. She later served in the Cabinet under Prime Minister Tony Blair in a number of roles, becoming Britain's first female Foreign Secretary in 2006.

Dame Margaret Beckett

Margaret Beckett in 2020
Chair of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party
Assumed office
24 November 2020
LeaderSir Keir Starmer
Preceded byAndi Fox
Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee
In office
24 January 2008  3 October 2008
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byKim Howells
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
3 October 2008  5 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byCaroline Flint
Succeeded byJohn Healey
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
5 May 2006  27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJack Straw
Succeeded byDavid Miliband
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
8 June 2001  5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Prescott (Environment, Transport and the Regions)
Nick Brown (Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Succeeded byDavid Miliband
Leader of the House of Commons
Lord President of the Council
In office
27 July 1998  8 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
DeputyPaddy Tipping
Preceded byAnn Taylor
Succeeded byRobin Cook
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
President of the Board of Trade
In office
2 May 1997  27 July 1998
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byIan Lang
Succeeded byPeter Mandelson
Leader of the Opposition
12 May 1994  21 July 1994
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byJohn Smith
Succeeded byTony Blair
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
In office
18 July 1992  21 July 1994
LeaderJohn Smith
Preceded byRoy Hattersley
Succeeded byJohn Prescott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
12 March 1976  4 May 1979
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded byJoan Lestor
Succeeded byRhodes Boyson
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
19 October 1995  2 May 1997
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byJack Cunningham
Succeeded byMichael Heseltine
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
In office
20 October 1994  19 October 1995
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byDavid Blunkett
Succeeded byHarriet Harman
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
21 July 1994  20 October 1994
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byNick Brown (Acting)
Succeeded byAnn Taylor
In office
24 July 1992  12 May 1994
LeaderJohn Smith
Preceded byJack Cunningham
Succeeded byNick Brown (Acting)
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
9 January 1989  18 July 1992
LeaderNeil Kinnock
Preceded byGordon Brown
Succeeded byHarriet Harman
Member of Parliament
for Derby South
Assumed office
9 June 1983
Preceded byWalter Johnson
Majority6,019 (14.2%)
Member of Parliament
for Lincoln
In office
10 October 1974  7 April 1979
Preceded byDick Taverne
Succeeded byKenneth Carlisle
Personal details
Margaret Mary Jackson

(1943-01-15) 15 January 1943 (age 78)
Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England
Political partyLabour
Lionel Beckett
(m. 1979)
Alma materUniversity of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology

Beckett was first elected to Parliament in October 1974 for Lincoln and held junior positions in the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. She lost her seat in 1979, but returned to the House of Commons in 1983, this time representing Derby South. She was appointed to Neil Kinnock's Shadow Cabinet shortly afterward; she was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1992, becoming the first woman to hold that role. When John Smith died in 1994, Beckett became the first woman to lead the Labour Party, although Tony Blair won the election to replace Smith shortly afterwards and assumed the substantive leadership.

After Labour returned to power in 1997, Beckett became a member of Tony Blair's Cabinet initially as President of the Board of Trade. She later served as Leader of the House of Commons and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, before becoming Foreign Secretary in 2006, the first woman to hold that position, and—after Margaret Thatcher—the second woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State. Following Blair's resignation as Prime Minister in 2007, Beckett was not initially given a position by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown; after she had spent a period on the backbenches, Brown appointed her Minister of State for Housing and Planning in 2008, before she left the government for the last time in 2009.

Beckett holds the record for the female MP with the longest service overall (Harriet Harman has longer continuous service) and is the only sitting MP who served in the Labour governments of the 1970s. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2013 New Year Honours for public and political service.[1][2]