Political Career

All Edwina’s novels are available as ebooks
And - both sets of Diaries: 1987-1992, published 2002, and 1992-1997, published in September 2012.

Edwina Currie was a Birmingham City Councillor (1975-86) and Chairman of the Central Birmingham Health Authority and served as MP for South Derbyshire from 1983 to 1997. She entered Parliament on the same day as both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

One of only 23 women in the House on election (out of 656 Members), she quickly became one of the nation’s best-known MPs. In December 1988, Edwina was runner-up to Mrs Thatcher in BBC Radio 4's "Woman of the Year" poll; the following year she came 6th in the same poll (between Mother Theresa and Raisa Gorbachev). In 1990 she was voted "Speaker of the Year" by the Association of Speakers' Clubs and in 1994 was chosen "Campaigner of the Year" in the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards for her work on gay equality.

From 1985-86, Edwina was PPS (aide) to the Secretary of State for Education and Science, Sir Keith Joseph; from 1986-88 she was a government Minister at the Department of Health and Social Security (later the Department of Health) under Margaret Thatcher, with responsibility for campaigns on women’s health and the promotion of healthier lifestyles. Her greatest achievement was bringing in nationwide screening systems for breast cancer and for cervical cancer, with associated treatment services, all free of charge on the National Health Service, making Britain the first in the world to have both. Independent research has shown that many thousands of women’s lives have been saved in the years since. Her roles also included membership of the first UK team to tackle HIV/AIDS in 1986, and the introduction of the triple vaccine MMR (measles, mumps rubella) for children in 1988. She was also the first UK health minister to take a close interest in End of Life, sending out the first circular to the NHS requiring them to work closely with local hospices and to pay for beds used.  

1988 Dept of Health Ministers and regional chairmen

1988 Dept of Health Ministers and regional chairmen

29 Jan 1993, Any Questions from Co Durham with the late Nick Clarke

29 Jan 1993, Any Questions from Co Durham with the late Nick Clarke

Edwina wrote her first book, “Life Lines – Politics and Health 1986-88” about these busy years of achievement. It was published by Sidgwick and Jackson in 1989. Three of her novels are set in Parliament – see Writing page.

In December 1988 Edwina resigned from government after warning about food safety in eggs. Mrs Thatcher’s successor as Prime Minister, John Major, invited her to rejoin the government in 1992 as a Minister of State, but she declined and thereafter worked from the backbenches.

A recent interview for the 25th anniversary

A supporter of Stonewall and of TORCHE (the Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality), Edwina took the lead in proposing legislation to give equal rights of consent to gay men, calling a debate in February 1994, the first in the House of Commons in 25 years. The House voted to reduce the age of consent for gays in Britain, which had been 21, to 18; it has since been lowered to 16, the same as other groups in British society. Edwina is delighted at the substantial improvements in the rights of her fellow citizens which have occurred in recent years, and welcomes the change since the prejudice which greeted that first debate in 1994. 

Trafalgar Sq Jan 1994 Gay Rights rally with Tony Banks MP and daughter Debbie

Trafalgar Sq Jan 1994 Gay Rights rally with Tony Banks MP and daughter Debbie

Other campaigns included support for our military personnel who returned from the first Gulf War in Iraq in 1991 suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. She set up a multi-agency team with the Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Combat Stress and others, and successfully pressed Ministers to accept responsibility and to compensate the victims and their families.

During the 1990s she championed the cause of people with learning disabilities who had been abused, following a famous case in her constituency which resulted in the trial and imprisonment of a care worker. To help witnesses and victims she set up a registered charity, VOICE UK, with funding from the Department of Health and the Home Office.

She lost her seat in the 1997 General Election. Thus were completed 22 years of elected public service.

Aware and proud of her grandparents’ origins in Poland, Edwina has always been pro-European. In June 1994 she was Conservative candidate for the European Parliament for Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, but it was a bad year for the Conservatives who lost all but 18 seats. From 1995-97 she was Chairman of the Conservative Group for Europe, and 1995-99 was Vice-chairman of the all-party European Movement alongside Peter Mandelson and Emma Nicholson. With other backbenchers, she was active in the Future of Europe Trust and was its joint Chair; it helped train young politicians and hopefuls in the newly-democratised countries of the former Warsaw Pact, as preparation for their serving their country in their national parliaments. She visited Poland (three times), Hungary, Bosnia, Romania, Estonia, Germany and Russia, and hosted several international conferences at Lancaster House, London.

 Sir Menzies Campbell MP, EC, Prof Alan Watson, Giles Radice MP, Peter Mandelson MP, Emma Nicholson MP and was taken in 1995

European Movement - New Vice Chair - Pictured: Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Edwina Currie MP, Prof Alan Watson, Giles Radice MP, Peter Mandelson MP, Emma Nicholson MP and was taken in 1995

Edwina has been a member of the Conservative Party now for forty years and continues to be actively involved, alongside John Jones (“JJ”) her husband, who was councillor on Reigate & Banstead Borough Council in Surrey. She is in much demand for fund-raiser and speaker events for party members and sympathisers throughout the UK and abroad, and mentored several new MPs into the current Parliament. She says, “I am a fan of the new modern party under David Cameron’s leadership. I particularly applaud his efforts to have far more Tory women MPs in future.”

Much of her time is devoted to non-partisan community work, for example as Patron of MRSA Action (UK) mrsaactionuk.net and as a member and former trustee of the charity Patients Association (www.patients-association.org.uk). These groups campaign on behalf of patients, particularly for cleaner hospitals and the avoidance of acquired infections through "superbugs" such as MRSA and clostridium difficile.

A fourth career is emerging, as a campaigning pensioner. For two years till 2014 Edwina was a member of the Greater Life Advisory Board of McCarthy & Stone, builders of 70% of the UK’s retirement apartments for owner occupation. In October 2013 she presided over the Housing for Older People awards annual event at the National Motorcycle Museum. She was on the Mental Health Foundation’s inquiry into baby boomers, mental health and ageing well entitled “Getting On.. with Life” published May 2013. And on 27 February 2015 she chairs “Older People’s Question Time” for NARPO, CSPA and NFOP in Birmingham. “As an economist and a pensioner, I worry that too few people think about the challenges of getting older – where to live, how to arrange finances, how to ensure help is close at hand when it’s needed,” she says. “Governments have turned a blind eye for too long to the rapid increases in the elderly population, a large proportion of whom live alone. Yet our older generations are a vital source of knowledge and experience. We already have more citizens over 85 than youngsters under 16, but it’s taking too long for planners and families to catch up on this important fact.”

Read Edwina's article in "The Guide To Later Life"

On Radio

"Religion & Politics"

Radio 4 - November 2013

"Podcast: Edwina Currie on MPs' pay - 8 Dec 13"

Speaking to Emma Barnett on LBC Radio - 8th December 2013

Newspaper Articles

"Age of Consent debate in 1994"

Pink News - Saturday 1st June 2013

"Families of erring politicians are the ones who suffer"

Express - Tuesday 5th February 2013

video clip "High flying politiian who seemed to have it all"

Express - Wednesday 8th August 2012

video clip "The return of Spitting Image"

Telegraph - 12 February 2015


"Salmonella in eggs"

The One Show - BBC1 - Thursday 27 January 2011

Farmer’s Weekly: Interview 25 years after Salmonella

"The Age of Consent Debate"

Debate in the House of Commons concerning the age of consent for gays (1994)

"The Other Half"

Documentary about Edwina and her early career in politics.


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