About Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North
Barry served as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister for International Climate Change from 2016 to 2020. Barry was first elected to parliament in 1997. Today people in Brent North know Barry as one of our most effective politicians. He gets things done locally and pioneers changes to our laws in the House of Commons. But very few people know the story behind this caring campaigner: his life in one of Scotland’s worst slums, his time as an academic or his experience running his own successful business in the City of London. In the following paragraphs you can get to know the man as well as the politician.
Barry’s mother, a doctor, was the first woman to win the gold medal for surgery at Glasgow University, his father (a former international footballer) ran Scotland’s Kelvin Hall Exhibition centre and Barry’s first few years could not have been happier as a Glasgow boy in the 1960s. But by the time Barry was eight his father had died of cancer and his mother then moved him to an English boarding school. Six years later his mother too fell ill with cancer and by the time he was seventeen both his parents had died.
Barry returned to Scotland as a student and then in 1979 married his childhood sweetheart, Caroline. They moved to live in West Pilton – then one of the roughest council estates in Europe (later immortalised in Irvine Welsh’s book “Trainspotting”). He intended to seek ordination as a priest, but Barry’s sense of vocation changed when Edinburgh Council sold off 718 houses, including his own, without the courtesy of letting residents know!
“I saw the contempt with which ordinary people were treated by the council and it made me want to change things.”
But politics had to wait. He graduated top in his year in Moral Philosphy and won a John F. Kennedy Scholarship to do research at Harvard, under John Rawls. It was only when he returned from America to do his Doctoral studies at Cambridge, that Barry became active as a councillor where he Chaired the City’s Finance Committee and became the youngest mayor in the City’s 800 year history.
Barry’s political career was not the only thing to flourish in Cambridge. In 1985 their first son was born. Caroline though suffered difficulties during the pregnancy. Premature and weighing only 2lbs 13ozs the baby needed seven weeks of round the clock nursing in the Special Care Baby Unit.
“Nothing taught me the value of life more than those seven weeks. I will be forever grateful to the NHS. They saved both Caroline and our son Jesse.”
Three more children followed, before Barry left academic life for the City, joining “Mediterranean”, a company of Maritime arbitrators. He ended up as the senior partner within eight years, and established the business all across the newly opened-up countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“I know what it feels like to fill out my monthly VAT return and to have the staff’s salaries depend on my performance.”
Barry for Brent
During Barry’s time in office he has significantly improved education, welfare, housing and the local economy in Brent North. Over the last 23 years, Barry has helped the residents of Brent North:
- Deliver free nursery places for all three and four year olds
- Build Wembley Primary School, and the Jewish Free School
- Secure £80million pounds for the complete rebuild of Alperton Community School and Copland School.
- Rebuild Wembley Park and Wembley Central stations
- Rejuvenate the economy of Wembley High Road.
- Taken up over 30,000 cases for constituents.
Barry in Westminster
Barry was Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister for International Climate Change. He loyally served in this role since 2016 until 2020 . Barry was first appointed to Labour’s shadow cabinet in June 2016, leading on energy and climate change. With changes in government departments after the vote to leave the European Union, he was appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Europe, Energy and Climate Change in July 2016.
Prior to these positions, Barry served on Labour’s front bench as the Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries from 2013 and then Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change from September 2015. Barry was previously Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Climate Change & the Environment. His first appointment was as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in April 2004, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Trade and Industry in May 2005 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA between May 2006 and June 2007. He served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Forestry between 2007 and 2008 and as Private Parliamentary Secretary to Lord Mandelson in the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills between 2009 and 2010.
Barry has always been very active in parliament, serving on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, the Public Accounts Select Committee and on the Broadcasting and Procedure Select Committees. He has stood on the Finance Standing Committee and scrutinised the budget for three years in a row and played a significant role in scrutinising the Energy Bill through his membership of the Energy Bill Committee. Barry has also been a member of many All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) Chairing the International Conservation APPG, the APPG for Nature and the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform APPG.
Barry also founded and was the long-time Chair of Labour Friends of India.
He is the European Vice-President of the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International) and served as the international Chairman of the Board until 2013. He also holds the position as Director of the Climate Parliament.