Tony Cunningham

Sir Tony Cunningham

Shadow Minister for International Development
In office
7 October 2011 โ€“ 7 October 2013
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Mark Lazarowicz
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
5 October 2008 โ€“ 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Chancellor Alistair Darling
Preceded by Alan Campbell
Succeeded by James Duddridge
Member of Parliament
for Workington
In office
7 June 2001 โ€“ 30 March 2015
Preceded by Dale Campbell-Savours
Succeeded by Sue Hayman
Majority 4,575 (11.7%)
Member of the European Parliament
for Cumbria and Lancashire North
In office
Personal details
Born (1952-09-16) 16 September 1952 (age 68)
Workington, Cumberland, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Anne Margaret Gilmore
Alma mater University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University

Sir Thomas Anthony Cunningham DL (born 16 September 1952) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Workington from 2001 to 2015. Ed Miliband appointed him to replace Mark Lazarowicz as Shadow Minister for International Development.[1][2] He was removed from the team in the October 2013 reshuffle.[3] In June 2014 Cunningham announced that he would not be standing again at the next election.[4]

Early life

Tony Cunningham was born in Workington and educated at the Workington Grammar School (which became Stainburn School in 1984) on Stainburn Road before attending the University of Liverpool where he received a BA degree in History and Politics in 1975, and the Didsbury College of Education, Manchester where he qualified as a teacher with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in 1976. He began his teaching career at the Alsager Comprehensive School on Hassall Road in 1976 until 1980 when he taught at the Mikunguni Trade School in Zanzibar. He returned to Britain in 1983 to teach history at Netherhall School, Maryport on Netherhall Road in Maryport and he remained in post until his election to the European Parliament. For the duration of his teaching career he was a member of the National Union of Teachers, serving as a local secretary 1985โ€“1994, and has been a member of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union since 1993. He was elected a councillor to the Allerdale District Council in 1987, and became the leader of the council in 1992, he stepped down from both the leadership and the council in 1994. He was the Mayor of Workington in 1990.

Parliamentary career

At the 1994 European Parliament election he became the MEP for Cumbria and Lancashire North, but was defeated in 1999. On leaving Strasbourg and Brussels in 1999 he became the Chief Executive of Human Rights NGO INDICT where he remained until his election to the House of Commons. At the 2001 general election, he became the MP for the safe Labour seat of Workington on the retirement of Dale Campbell-Savours. He was elected with a majority of 10,850 and remained the constituency's MP until 2015. He made his maiden speech on 13 July 2001.[1]

In parliament, he was a member of the European Scrutiny Select Committee from 2001 until he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Elliot Morley. He was promoted to serve in the Tony Blair government after the 2005 general election and was an Assistant Whip. Following Gordon Brown's October 2008 reshuffle, Cunningham was promoted from Assistant Whip to a Government Whip also known as a 'Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury', in which role he served until May 2010.[citation needed]

In 2013, he became one of the few Labour MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which eventually passed with cross-party support.[5]

Personal life

Cunningham has been married to Anne Margaret Gilmore since 1984; he has a stepson, a stepdaughter, and a son and a daughter with his wife. Since 1994, he has been a patron of both Voluntary Service Overseas and the Mines Advisory Group. The constituency of Workington contains some of the Lake District, the lakes of Buttermere and Crummock Water as well as the former steel manufacturing town of Workington and the old docks of Maryport. It also includes Cockermouth, the birthplace of the romantic poet William Wordsworth.

Prior to the 2010 general election the constituency included Keswick. Cunningham is active in sports, he is a qualified rugby union coach and referee, and has played cricket and football, as well as rugby (both league and union) competitively. He played for the parliamentary football team, and he speaks some Swahili.

He was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for public and political service,[6] and is a Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria.[7]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Confirmed: Labour's new frontbench team in full". 8 October 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  4. ^ Staff writer (28 June 2014). "Workington Labour MP Sir Tony Cunningham MP to step down in 2015". BBC News. Archived from the original on 27 October 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  5. ^ George Eaton, "Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted against gay marriage: full list" Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine,, 6 February 2013; retrieved 26 August 2013.
  6. ^ "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Deputy Lieutenants of Cumbria" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 March 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.

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