Kate Hoey

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Kate Hoey (Born 26 June 1946) has been the Labour Party member of Parliament (MP) for Vauxhall 1989.[1] She is also an advisor to the Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson on Sport.[2]

Hoey retained her constituency seat in the 2015 general election with a majority of 12,708. [3]


Hoey was born in 1946 in the village of Roughfort, Antrim, Northern Ireland, where her parents were pig farmers.[4][5][6][7] She grew up with an elder sister and a younger brother who was born when she was 17.[8]

She has said of this period:

I had a happy childhood. I was a real tomboy and I loved the countryside. We weren't privileged; we were really very poor. It was a treat if my mum went into Belfast and and brought us back a pencil or a bar of chocolate. But we were never short of food because of all the eggs, milk, butter and vegetables we from the farm.[9]

According to the Birmingham Post during her childhood on the farm:

She learnt to ride bareback and has been out hunting a number of times, although she says she has been too busy to hunt since the ban came into force last February (apart from a protest ride the day after it was implemented).[6]

According to the Guardian, she 'learned to shoot as a farmer's daughter in County Antrim'.[10]

The Yorkshire Post gave this account of her childhood:

"I had an idyllic childhood but not a rich childhood," she says in her still undiminished Northern Irish accent. She climbed trees and fished in the river and rode the family's horse. The horse was a working animal, used to pull a cart for jobs like clearing out the hen house and there was no money for a saddle.
Kate and her sister used to ride bareback, vying with each other for the chance to ride the three-and-a-half miles to the local blacksmith when the horse needed re-shoeing - and returning at a much faster pace than on their outward journey
She experienced the treat of riding with a proper saddle only when she came to England years later...
On the farm in County Antrim, the children were expected to help out, and she grew up feeding the hens and helping the pigs when they gave birth. It is an upbringing, she says, that gave her a different attitude to some of her colleagues as far as animal rights are concerned. She loved the pigs, looked after them and watched them grow, but knew they would be killed. Farmers can't afford to be sentimental about their animals, but this does not mean that they treat them badly.[11]


Hoey attended the Belfast Royal Academy and the Ulster College of Physical Education. She subsequently took an economics degree in London.[12]

She was elected a sabbatical Vice-President of the National Union of Students.[13]

During her time as a student, Hoey was a member of the International Marxist Group.[14] Guardian diarist Andrew Moncur later wrote of this period:

Twenty years ago, when Straw became the broad left president of the National Union of Students, young Hoey, then very much associated with the International Marxist Group, was the lefty thorn in Straw's flesh.[15]

Political career

According to the Independent, Hoey joined the Labour Party in 1972.[16]

She served as a councillor in the London Borough of Hackney from 1978 to 1982.[17]

Hoey contested the Dulwich consituency in the 1983 general election.[18]

Hoey spoke on housing at the 1985 Labour conference:

You could see this new electoralism, too, in the way some old commitments were not so much left by the wayside as ceremonially burned. Kate Hoey, the spirited left-winger who aspires to be Mrs Thatcher's next MP (she's prospective candidate for Dulwich, including that bit of Barrett-land where Mrs T will go when Downing Street days are over) did not just argue that the old opposition to council house sales was outdated: she laid into 'state landlordism and municipal feudalism' as if they were anaethema to every good Socialist since Lansbury.[19]

Hoey also spoke at the 1986 conference:

The schools motion called for the 'replacement of the present examination system with a system of personal profiling and records of achievement' but this was not interpreted as meaning an end of examinations as such.
Moving the resolution, Ms Kate Hoey, parliamentary candidate for Dulwich, said the party must not allow the Conservatives to hijack words like 'quality' and 'standards' in education. Labour had to make it clear that it was not afraid of achievement and quality. 'But we can't have quality without equality. All our children need to be stretched, not just the academically gifted,' she said.
She said that Labour also had to make it clear that it never had been and never would be opposed to competition in school sports despite the attempts of the Education Secretary, Mr Kenneth Baker, to blame Labour's education policies for England's failures in the World Cup and the Test matches.[20]

She contested Dulwich again in 1987.[21] This time she was defeated by just 180 votes, the smallest majority in the country.[22]

She served a councillor in Southwark from 1988 to 1989.[23] At the time of her election, she was working as a freelance sports writer.[24]

Vauxhall By-election

In 1989, Hoey was nominated to contest Vauxhall for Labour in 1989. The Guardian later reported:

She got the Vauxhall nomination in 1989 (having failed by a mere 180 votes at Dulwich in 1987) as Neil Kinnock's nominee. The local party, who wanted a black candidate, had been told that its choice was unacceptable to the hierarchy.[25]

Some black activists said they would boycott the campaign:

Angry at the decision of the Labour leadership not to pick a black candidate, the activists are to stage a conference a week before the poll when they are expected to discuss what they say is the slow progress towards black representation in the party. But its unofficial black sections movement is to stop short of putting up an alternative candidate.[26]

She was elected to Parliament in the by-election on 15 June 1989.[27]

Parliamentary Career

Hoey served as Opposition Spokesperson for Citizen's Charter and Women 1992-93; PPS to Frank Field as Minister of State, Department of Social Security 1997-98; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State: Home Office (Metropolitan Police, European Union, Judicial Co-operation) 1998-99, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Minister for Sport) 1999-2001.[28]

In April 2008, Hoey agreed to act as an advisor to Conservative Boris Johnson if he was elected as Mayor of London. This led to a meeting with Labour chief whip Geoff Hoon, following which Hoey announced that her role for Johnson would be on a non-partisan basis, and she would be voting Labour in the Mayoral election.[29]

In May 2009, Hoey said she would not be devastated by a Conservative electoral victory:

"Because the Conservatives have changed their image a bit we don't get that venom that used to come out of people when the word Tory was mentioned.
"You're asking me 'would I be devastated?' No absolutely not. Even people who are voting Labour, that Thatcher (comparison) is no more meaningful to them than Tories talking about us and rubbish on the streets and not burying the dead.[30]

Along with Frank Field, Hoey was one of the first MPs to nominate John McDonnell during the Labour leadership election in 2010.[31] This was greeted with suspicion by some who questioned why MPs seen to be on the right of the party were nominating a figure associated with the left. The New Statesman's James Macintrye said of Field and Hoey: "Both are the subject of Tory dreams that they may defect"[32]

Northern Ireland Policy

According to the Daily Mail Hoey is 'a confirmed Unionist'.[33] The Independent reports that she is 'a staunchly Protestant, Co Antrim farmer's daughter for whom morning prayers at the House of Commons are a regular and meaningful experience.'[34]

In 1989, as a junior front-bencher, Hoey attended a Labour conference fringe meeting organised by the Campaign for Labour Representation in Northern Ireland. John Pienaar reported:

they were pressing on with the task of handing leaflets to anyone prepared to take one, and taking limited encouragement from the presence of a junior Labour front-bencher, Kate Hoey, at their conference fringe meeting.
The party leaders show no sign of relenting. Extending Labour's front into Ulster, they say, would run counter to the policy of reunification of Ireland by consent.
There is also a suspicion in some circles that the campaign is to some extent driven by a form of 'closet unionism'; a motive the Belfast campaigners attribute freely to their Tory counterparts.[35]

In the 1990 Upper Bann by-election, Hoey supported Erskine Holmes, of a pressure group called The Right to Vote Labour.[36][37]

In July 1992, Hoey and Nick Raynsford launched the Democracy Now campaign calling on Labour to organise in Northern Ireland:

"The Labour movement is coming round to believing Labour should campaign in every corner of the United Kingdom. The national executive must review its policy on membership in Northern Ireland," she added. "It is ridiculous that I can be a party member in Baghdad or Bali, but not in Belfast. How can attempts be made to solve the communal divide while the province is stuck in political limbo?"[38]

In February 1993, Hoey and Democracy Now welcomed a vote by Northern Ireland members of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union to affiliate to the British Labour Party. In contrast, the Labour Northern Ireland spokesman Kevin McNamara said the margin of the vote, 3,587 votes to 2,823, showed the lack of cross-community support for the move.[39]

In early July 1993, Hoey and Raynsford wrote to the Guardian as co-chairs of Democracy Now:

PATRICK WINTOUR'S report on Kevin McNamara's policy document on Northern Ireland makes interesting reading (June 29). There is certainly a need for an open and comradely debate within the Labour movement on Northern Ireland. Would that debate not be much better informed, and Labour have much more credibility, if people in Northern Ireland were involved in that debate? Currently labour excludes people in Northern Ireland from membership.[40]

Later that month, Hoey, Raynsford and Harry Barnes criticised McNamara over a pamphlet he co-authored entitled Oranges and Lemons:

In a statement, the three MPs said Mr McNamara's pamphlet attacks supporters of Democracy Now in a potentially libellous way and claims it describes the group, enjoying support from 30 MPs, "as a band of devotees specialising in shrill abuse of those with whom they disagree".
The pamphlet claims the group uses the tactics once deployed by the entryist Militant Tendency. Mr McNamara also dismisses Democracy Now as electoral integrationists or closet Unionists opposed to Labour's long-term goal of reuniting Ireland.[41]

In the wake of this episode, Irish Times correspondent Frank Millar wrote:

It is clear that Democracy Now campaigners have their sights firmly fixed on Mr McNamara. Following publication recently of his proposals for movement toward joint sovereignty, their hope is that a declining vote in this autumn's shadow cabinet elections could see him removed from the Northern Ireland job.[42]

Hoey spoke again on Labour organising in Northern Ireland at the 1993 party conference:

At a fringe meeting on Tuesday night, she insisted: "There is no party (in the North) which crosses the sectarian divide." And she simply couldn't grasp the concept of the SDLP as a sister party "when so many of its policies are anathema to women members of the Labour Party."[43]

Following the Downing Street Declaration in December 1993, Hoey asked Prime Minister John Major:

In paragraph 4, the Prime Minister reiterates on behalf of the Government that Britain has no selfish strategic or economic interest in northern Ireland. Even if hon. Members do not like it, they must accept that many people in Northern Ireland will regard that as a betrayal, even if we think it is wrong. Will the Prime Minister clarify what he means by that sentence? Does not he, as a British Prime Minister, think that British citizens, many of whom lost members of their families fighting for this country in the war, might feel a little sad? Will he say what he really means by it?[44]

In April 1994, proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill which resulted in a Commons vote in favour of lowering the homosexual age of consent in Northern Ireland to 18, in line with Britain.[45]

In August 1994, the Evening Standard reported that Hoey was due to speak that November at a conference organised by the new City of Westminster branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry:

'I am speaking to give a Labour perspective,' she tells me. 'Between 5,000 and 10,000 (people in Northern Ireland) voted in the Labour leadership election as trade unionists who pay the political levy. Yet they are not allowed to join the Labour Party, which is outrageous. Labour should move away from its blinkered Green nationalist line,' she adds.[46]

In an August 1994 article, Ruth Dudley Edwards suggested that on Ireland, Labour activists "are split into three tendencies, which I classify as Republican Chic, Emerald Isle and Sensible."[47] This classification arguably corresponds to republicanism, constitutional nationalism, and unionism, respectively.

Dudley Edwards went on to write:

Sensible tendency MPs such as Kate Hoey and Nick Raynsford believe it is democratically imperative that Labour should - like the Conservatives - allow people in Northern Ireland to join the party. Since the Social Democratic and Labour Party is tribal and socially conservative, socialists are virtually disfranchised.[48]



  1. Kate Hoey, www.parliament.uk, accessed 5 April 2011.
  2. Kate Hoey, Greater London Authority, accessed 5 April 2011.
  3. Kate Hoey Express, accessed 15 May 2015
  4. Home page, katehoey.com, accessed 5 April 2011.
  5. Brian Viner, Hoey a tireless captain of the awkward squad, The Independent, 1 March 2003.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sarah Probert RURAL LIVING: Rebel MP's passion for countryside; After announcing plans to encourage inner-city children to take up shooting in the countryside, Kate Hoey MP talks to Rural Affairs reporter Sarah Probert about her passion for a prosperous countrysideBirmingham Post January 24, 2006, Tuesday First Edition FEATURES; Pg. 4
  7. [http://www.gotobelfast.com/PDF/The%20famous%20faces%20of%20North%20Belfast.pdf The Famous Faces of North Belfast, Renewing Communities Visitor Servicing Project, 2008.
  10. Sarah Hall No 10 rebukes Hoey in gun row The Guardian (London) January 4, 2001 Pg. 7
  11. 'Unless people speak out, future generations won't have the kind of countryside that we have loved' Yorkshire Post January 18, 2006
  12. Home page, katehoey.com, accessed 5 April 2011.
  13. Home page, katehoey.com, accessed 5 April 2011.
  14. Ministers on the up, BBC News, 29 July 1999.
  15. Andrew Moncur, Diary, The Guardian, 19 May 1989.
  16. Brian Viner, Hoey a tireless captain of the awkward squad, The Independent, 1 March 2003.
  17. Brian Viner, Hoey a tireless captain of the awkward squad, The Independent, 1 March 2003.
  18. Kate Hoey, www.parliament.uk, accessed 5 April 2011.
  19. David McKie, Labour at Bournemouth: Even old heroes fail to spice drabbish day / Political sketch, The Guardian, 1 October 1985.
  20. Peter Hetherington and Martin Linton, Labour at Blackpool: Caning for private schools / Education, The Guardian, 30 Aeptember 1986.
  21. Kate Hoey, www.parliament.uk, accessed 5 April 2011.
  22. Jane Slade, War of Words, The Times, 2 November 1988.
  23. Brian Viner, Hoey a tireless captain of the awkward squad, The Independent, 1 March 2003.
  24. Jane Slade, War of Words, The Times, 2 November 1988.
  25. Pass Notes No.563: Kate Hoey, The Guardian, 1 February 1995.
  26. Ruth Gledhill, Candidate sets sights high; Kate Hoey, The Times, 19 May 1989.
  27. Kate Hoey, www.parliament.uk, accessed 5 April 2011.
  28. Kate Hoey, www.parliament.uk, accessed 5 April 2011.
  29. Sam Johnson, Labour MP denies defection in mayoral campaign, The Guardian, 30 April 2008.
  30. Melissa Kite, Kate Hoey: I would not be devastated if the Conservatives won the election, Telegraph, 5 April 2011.
  31. McDonnell gets first backing in Labour leadership fight, BBC News, 26 May 2010.
  32. Kiss of Death for Labour's most leftist candidates, James Macintyre, New Statesman, 27 May 2010.
  33. Martin Lipton Kismet, Kate; One of Blair's bright babes lands the job that always seemed to be her destiny DAILY MAIL (London) July 30, 1999 Pg. 90
  35. John Pienaar, The Labour Party Conference: Voices labouring for a lost cause, The Independent, 3 October 1989.
  36. Edward Gorman, Tories are back on Ulster election trail, The Times, 9 May 1990.
  37. Deric Henderson, Northern Irish Seek Legal Right to Vote Labour, Press Association, 11 May 1990.
  38. Call for Labour to Contest Ulster, Press Association, 15 July 1992.
  39. Frank Millar, Union confirms members want Labour Party to organise in Northern Ireland, Irish Times, 9 February 1993.
  40. Kate Hoey, Nick Raynsford, Letters: Path to peace, The Guardian, 1 July 1993.
  41. Patrick Wintour, MCNAMARA'S PAMPHLET ON ULSTER ABUSIVE, SAY MPS, The Guardian, 27 July 1993.
  42. Frank Millar, British Labour Party rejects call to organise in NI, Irish Times, 28 July 1993.
  43. Frank Millar, Labour fringe becomes nasty front in Irish war, Irish Times, 30 September 1993.
  44. [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=1993-12-15a.1091.5 Ireland (Joint Declaration) House of Commons debates, 15 December 1993, 3:30 pm], TheyWorkForYou.com.
  45. Len Freeman, COMMONS BACKS LOWER HOMOSEXUAL AGE LAW FOR ULSTER, Press Association, 13 April 1994.
  46. ORANGEMEN TO OPEN BRANCH IN WESTMINSTER, Evening Standard, 11 August 1994.
  47. Ruth Dudley Edwards, Tony, Abandon the Emerald Isle, The Independent, 23 August 1993.
  48. Ruth Dudley Edwards, Tony, Abandon the Emerald Isle, The Independent, 23 August 1993.