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for the head of the United Nations Development Program, see Helen Clark

Helen Rosemary Clark, previously known as Helen Brinton, (née Helen Rosemary Dyche 23 December 1954 in Derby) is a politician in the United Kingdommarker. She was a Labour Member of Parliament for Peterboroughmarker from 1997 until the 2005 general election, when she lost her seat to Conservative Stewart Jackson.

Early life

She went to Spondon Park Grammar School (became Spondon School in 1974 when merged with Spondon House School, and became West Park Community School in 1989) in Spondonmarker, Derbymarker. Clark was educated at the University of Bristolmarker gaining a BA in English Literature, then an MA in Medieval Literature and a PGCE. She worked as a teacher for several years as an assistant English teacher at Katherine Lady Berkeley Comprehensivemarker in Wotton-under-Edgemarker from 1979-82, then teaching English at Harrogate Collegemarker from 1983-88. She was a lecturer at North Thanet FIE College from 1992-3, then an English teacher and Head of Year 8 at the Rochester Grammar School for Girlsmarker from 1993 until her election 1997.

Parliamentary career

Clark had previously stood unsuccessfully as the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Faversham constituency during the 1992 general election. For the following election she was again selected to stand for election for Labour, this time In Peterborough and through an all-women shortlist . This method of selection was subsequently declared illegal in January 1996 as it breached sex discrimination laws, Despite the ruling she remained in place as the candidate for the following year's election.

Early on in her parliamentary career, Clark was widely derided for her enthusiastic displays of loyalty to her party leaders. Matthew Norman, a diarist for The Guardian described her as "An alien life force designed by Millbank to stay on message for a thousand years without batteries" (Millbankmarker was the Labour Party headquarters). However, she later displayed a rebellious streak through her opposition to the Iraq War. Three days after her defeat in 2005, she left the Labour Party, blaming her defeat on Labour leader Tony Blair and policies such as top-up fees and the Iraq War..

It was widely reported at this point that she had declared she was planning to defect to the Conservative Party, an announcement which was not locally popular - the leader of the Labour group on the City Council called it "a slap in the face". However, by the beginning of June it was reported she had not joined the party, and did not intend to.

After parliament

In April 2007, Clark was interviewed by The Observer newspaper for an article about the progress of the female Labour MPs elected in the 1997 General Election. She criticised the personnel management of newly-elected MPs by the Parliamentary Labour Party and indicated that she did not intend to vote in the British General Election expected to take place in 2010.

Clark was involved in an embarrassing incident in 2008 when video footage of her drunkenly complaining to bar staff about their refusal to serve her husband was posted on YouTube. After Clark threatened legal action over the availability of the video, she was charged with public order offences. The case came to trial in March 2009 when Clark was cleared of being drunk and disorderly but found guilty of using threatening words and behaviour; she was given a conditional discharge. The judge presiding over the case described Clark as having a "preoccupation with self and self-image" and that "Clark was clearly out of control". On appeal, the conviction was overturned, with the Appeal Court judge describing Clark's behaviour as shameful but not criminal.


  2. Blair's babes 10 years on | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics

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