Lucy Powell has been confirmed as the new shadow education secretary. Here’s what we know so far:
- Powell was born in Manchester. This parallels with two Labour education secretaries – Ellen Wilkinson, who served in the 1945 Labour cabinet, and Estelle Morris, who served under Tony Blair.
- She was born 10 October 1974, and is aged 40. The average age of an education secretary when taking office is 49. Nicky Morgan, the current education secretary, is 42.
- Powell attended Parrs Wood High School, a comprehensive, and Xaverian College in Manchester. If Powell became education secretary, she would be only the third ever to have attended a comprehensive.
- She studied at Somerville College, Oxford University – as did two education secretaries, Margaret Thatcher and Shirley Williams.
- Somewhat unusually Powell studied chemistry. Education secretaries most often study history or law. The last education secretary to study a science, and the only one to study chemistry, was Margaret Thatcher. She became education secretary in 1970.
- Powell has been an MP for less than three years. She won a by-election in November 2012 triggered by the previous office holder standing to be a police commissioner.
- She is a ‘career politician’ – having worked on the 1997 general election then working in MP’s offices and on campaigns. In 2010 she managed Ed Miliband’s campaign to become leader and was vice-chair of the 2015 general election campaign.
- Her hansard voting record on education is thin:
- She was a junior shadow education minister between October 2013 and November 2014. She specialised in early years and was involved in several heated exchanges with junior coalition education minister Liz Truss.
- 5 English words rhyme with Powell. So we can look forward to headlines such as ‘Time to throw the Powell in’ and ‘Early Powell movements’
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