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definition - Denis_MacShane

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Denis MacShane

The Right Honourable
Denis MacShane
Minister of State for Europe
In office
3 April 2002 – 5 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Peter Hain
Succeeded by Douglas Alexander
Member of Parliament
for Rotherham
Assumed office
5 May 1994
Preceded by James Boyce
Majority 10,462 (27.9%)
Personal details
Born Denis Matyjaszek
(1948-05-21) 21 May 1948 (age 64)
Glasgow, Scotland
Political party Labour
(Suspended from the PLP: 2010–present)
Spouse(s) Liliana Klaptocz (1983–1986)
Nathalie Pham (1987–2003)
Domestic partner Carol Barnes (1975–1981)
Joan Smith (2003–2010)
Children 4 daughters
1 son
Residence Clapham and Rotherham
Alma mater Merton College, Oxford
University of London
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website Official website

Denis MacShane (born 21 May 1948) is a British politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham since the 1994 by-election and served as the Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005, as well as being a current Policy Council member for Labour Friends of Israel.[2]

On 14 October 2010, it was announced that the Parliamentary Labour Party had suspended the whip from MacShane while he is under criminal investigation in respect of his expenses claims.[3][4]



MacShane was born in Glasgow[5] as Denis Matyjaszek, to an Irish mother, Isobel MacShane, and her Polish husband, Jan Matyjaszek,[6] who had fought in the Second World War and remained in exile after it, taking British nationality in 1950. MacShane was educated at the independent St Benedict's School in Ealing and read history at Merton College, Oxford where he wrote for the Cherwell student newspaper. However, in retaliation for an article attacking the rival publication Isis, MacShane was stripped naked, covered with pink paint and left in a remote location.[7][8]

  Early career

After graduating from Oxford with a 3rd class degree, he worked for the BBC from 1969 to 1977, including as a newsreader and reporter on Wolverhampton Wanderers for BBC Radio Birmingham. He changed his surname to his mother's maiden name at the request of his employers. He was fired by the BBC after using a fake name to call the radio phone-in programme he worked on at the time. During the call, MacShane accused leading Conservative politician Reginald Maudling of being a crook, with the MP threatening to sue as a result.[7]

MacShane supported the Solidarity trade union in Poland, where he was arrested in 1982 for attending a demonstration and deported. He became an activist for the National Union of Journalists and later its president. He was policy director of the International Metal Workers' Federation from 1980 to 1992, and he completed a PhD in international economics at the University of London in 1990.[9] MacShane founded the European Policy Institute of which he was the director from 1992 to 1994.

  Political career

MacShane first contested a parliamentary seat at the October 1974 general election, where he failed to win Solihull. In 1984, he was on the shortlist for Labour Party Communications Director, though he failed to get the job. For the 1992 general election, he attempted to secure a nomination for the Coventry South East constituency, then Neath, and finally Rotherham, though all the attempts were unsuccessful.[10] He was elected to the House of Commons in the 1994 Rotherham by-election, and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to a succession of ministers in the 1997-2001 Parliament.

After the 2001 general election, he was made a junior minister at the Foreign Office with responsibility for the Balkans and Latin America. He caused some embarrassment to the government in 2002 by describing President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela as a 'ranting, populist demagogue' and compared him to Benito Mussolini during a failed military coup attempt to depose the democratically elected president.[11][12] Afterwards, he had to make clear that, as minister with responsibility for Latin America, the government deplored the coup attempt.[13][14]

  Minister for Europe

In 2002, he became Minister for Europe in the reshuffle caused by the resignation of Estelle Morris.

After the 2005 general election, he was dropped from the government. MacShane's failure to remain in government is believed by some to have been because he was neither overtly a Blairite nor a Brownite, and thus, in his own words, having "no hand to push [him] up the greasy pole". However, his position was considered to be untenable after comments he made to a meeting of Durham Labour Students[15] in which he described Gordon Brown's five economic tests as, "a bit of a giant red herring." When contacted by The Scotsman newspaper about whether or not he made the comments he responded: "Jesus Christ, no. I mean, ‘red herring’ is not one of my favourite metaphors. If you think any Labour MP saying the Prime Minister’s most important policy is a red herring, then they would not survive long in the job."[16] However, he had been recorded on a dictaphone, and the tape was played on both the Today Programme and BBC News 24. MacShane himself wrote in Tribune, "I have no idea why I was removed as a minister, and it does not worry me in the slightest."[17]

  Later career

MacShane was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 2005. He has continued to write columns for The Guardian since leaving government, as well as appearing on television programmes relating to European affairs both in Britain and in other European countries.

In 2005, he signed on to the Henry Jackson Society principles, advocating a proactive approach to the spread of liberal democracy across the world, including by military intervention. The society also supports "European military modernisation and integration under British leadership". In 2003, he criticised the Muslim community, saying they did not do enough to condemn acts of Islamic terrorism.[18] He was a supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and strongly supported Tony Blair's foreign policy in relation to the Middle East and elsewhere.

He was chair of the inquiry panel of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, which reported in September 2006. Other members included Iain Duncan-Smith and Chris Huhne. In March 2009, he became chairman of a think-tank on anti-Semitism, the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.[19] He was an advisory board member of the now defunct Just Journalism,[1] a pro-Israeli media advocacy group [2], which presented itself as a neutral voice monitoring reports about Israel in the UK media. Just Journalism was closely associated with the pro-Israeli Henry Jackson Society (HJS), sharing an office with it. When Just Journalism was forced to close in September 2011, citing lack of funds, Robin Shepherd, international affairs director of HJS and a member of Just Journalism's advisory board, said: "This is a great pity and the cause of Israel in Britain will be the poorer for it".[3]

MacShane was employed as an advisor by United Utilities during 2006 and 2007.[20][21]

MacShane has been called "one of the few British politicians with a deep knowledge of France."[22]

On 17 December 2008, he initiated a debate about Britain's libel laws in Parliament. Specifically, he described how the United Kingdom has become a destination for libel tourists as well as how various jurisdictions in the United States (including the U.S. states of New York and Illinois and the federal government) were ready to pass measures designed to halt, at the minimum, reciprocal enforcement of civil judgments related to libel with the United Kingdom, and quite possibly, to allow countersuit, and the award of treble damages in the United States against any person bringing a libel action in a non-US court against US publications or websites.[23]

An ardent Europhile, on 7 September 2009 MacShane wrote a piece in the Evening Standard claiming that it was time for Britain to abandon sterling and join the euro:[citation needed]

"For more than a decade we have been told that the euro was a terrible idea, while the good old pound sterling would protect the British economy from the wily ways of the Europeans. Now more and more people are asking why the pound is letting us down - and whether treating it as a shibboleth that cannot be questioned makes sense any more. All the old arguments against the euro have fallen away. There is no European super-state emerging with its adoption. There is no dictation of economic policy from Brussels. But in the end, Britons prefer reality to prejudice. The pound no longer walks tall against the euro. The euro is not going to collapse because of wide variations in the economic profile of different regions using it any more than the US dollar fails because its external value and the interest rates set by the Fed do not suit Michigan and California at one and same time."[cite this quote]


  The Five Myths Muslims Must Deny

In November 2001, an article was published under Khalid Mahmood's name supportive of the war in Afghanistan headlined "The Five Myths Muslims Must Deny". A few days later however, it was revealed that The Observer article had not in fact been written by Mahmood, but by MacShane; Mahmood agreed to put his name to the article after Lord Ahmed of Rotherham refused. Mahmood's actions were condemned by Inayat Bunglawala from the Muslim Council of Britain, who said, "MacShane then found Mahmood–universally regarded as being not exactly the brightest spark in parliament–to be a more willing instrument for his scheme."[24]

  False trafficking statistics

MacShane has been accused of repeatedly using false statistics in order to inflate the number of female victims of sex trafficking. In January 2007, he stated, "According to Home Office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves currently work in the massage parlours and brothels of Britain." He repeated the figure in a 2008 debate, attributing it to the Daily Mirror newspaper. It was later claimed that no such figure exists as an estimate, but MacShane's speeches made the figure be used regularly in media coverage of the issue.[25]

  McKinnon case

He was criticised in The Guardian for implying that the late diagnosis of Gary McKinnon's Asperger's Syndrome was somehow a sham and for likening his case to that of Ernest Saunders's apparent Alzheimer's disease, even though one of the most notable characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome is that it is very often not diagnosed until late into adulthood, as in Mr McKinnon's case. According to the Daily Mail, "Mr McKinnon's mother accused MacShane of 'gutter' tactics. Janis Sharp said: 'It was an absolutely awful, cheap shot. It is a horrendous suggestion. It also shows his ignorance.'"[26]


MacShane, during the expenses scandal of 2009, was accused in The Daily Mail of having been less than honest with his expense claims. It featured a story stating that MacShane had claimed £125,000 over a period of 7 years for his garage, which he used as a constituency office. One fellow Labour MP privately told the journalist that he was ‘very surprised’ at the scale of Mr MacShane’s claims given that he does not have to pay to rent an office.[27]

In total, MacShane was ordered to repay £1,507.73 in wrongfully claimed expenses, with his appeals against the ruling being rejected.[28][29] In addition, MacShane is alleged to have passed twelve invoices from the "European Policy Institute" for "research and translation" expenses to the parliamentary authorities, and claimed for eight laptop computers in three years. A number of newspapers stated that the EPI was "controlled" by MacShane's brother, Edmund Matyjaszek, a claim which MacShane denied: "The EPI was set up 20 years ago by a network of people on the Left working in Europe and the US...Ed is my Brother, but simply administrates it."[30][31][32]

It was reported on 14 October 2010 that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (on instruction from the Standards and Privileges Committee[33]) had referred an expenses-related complaint about MacShane from the British National Party[3] to the Metropolitan Police. The matter referred was his claiming of expenses totalling £125,000 for his constituency office, the office being his garage. The Labour Party suspended MacShane from the parliamentary party pending the outcome.[34][35] In June 2011 The Daily Telegraph highlighted further discrepancies in MacShane's expenses which had been uncovered by former independent candidate Peter Thirlwall. As a result he held an emergency meeting with House of Commons officials and agreed to repay a further £3,051.38.[36]

MacShane had previously written an article for The Guardian in which he played down the expenses scandal, writing, "There will come a moment when moats and manure, bath plugs and tampons will be seen as a wonderful moment of British fiddling, but more on a Dad's Army scale than the real corruption of politics."[37] In 2008, MacShane supported Michael Martin as Speaker, calling for Conservative Douglas Carswell to be disciplined for calling for Martin to resign for failing to reform expenses.[38]

  Reports of bullying of House of Commons staff

On 25 August 2010, The Guardian reported that MacShane admitted he was the MP involved in an incident with a volunteer with the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority: "On 11 May a volunteer had an encounter with an MP who was described as 'very difficult ... disruptive [and] angry' during an induction session. The official report said: 'At the 10 minute mark the volunteer burst into tears and a staff member [from Ipsa] attempted to intervene. When the staff member offered to help, the MP dismissed him as 'condescending', at which point another staff member pulled the volunteer (still in tears) out of the session.' The Daily Mail reported MacShane as saying, "A nice young intern was trying to explain it, but I could have learned Chinese quicker".[39] MacShane apologised for his conduct.[40]

  Anne Phillips Smear

MacShane was publicly criticised by the Association of Political Thought for wrongly accusing London School of Economics professor of political and gender theory Anne Phillips of supporting prostitution and filling the minds of her students with "poisonous drivel". He cited a question from an LSE reading list about the ethical differences between legal waged labour and prostitution as evidence for her supposed support for the latter. MacShane later admitted that he taken the question 'out of context'.[41] Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart subsequently called Professor Phillips' views "frankly nauseating" on the basis of the same evidence.[41][42]

  Personal life

From 1975 to 1981 MacShane had a relationship with broadcaster Carol Barnes.[43][44] Their daughter Clare Barnes died in March 2004 after her parachute failed to open on her 200th skydiving jump in Australia.[45] MacShane married Polish-born Liliana Kłaptoć in 1983, with the relationship lasting only a few years. In 1987, he then married Nathalie Pham, an interpreter of French-Vietnamese origin; they have a son and three daughters. They divorced in 2003.[7][46] His relationship with writer Joan Smith[47][48] ended in 2010 after seven years.[49]

MacShane owns houses in Clapham and Rotherham.[50][51] In his spare time, he enjoys skiing and running.[52]


  1. ^ Review: Globalising Hatred: The New Antisemitism | The Jewish Chronicle
  2. ^ "LFI Members | Labour Friends of Israel". Lfi.org.uk. http://www.lfi.org.uk/who_we_are. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Haroon Siddique, et al Siddique, Haroon (14 October 2010). "Labour withdraws whip from former minister facing police inquiry". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/14/labour-whip-former-minister-police. 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Weekly Information Bulletin". 2 April 2011. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmwib/wb110402/notifi.htm. "Mr Denis MacShane has recently been listed in the WIB as an Independent Labour Member, this is not the case. Although the whip has been suspended it was not removed." 
  5. ^ MacShane, Denis
  6. ^ "Denis MacShane: The 'Big Cheese Englishman' who believes the Eurosceptics' arguments are full of holes". Independent (London). 31 May 2004. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/denis-macshane-the-big-cheese-englishman-who-believes-the-eurosceptics-arguments-are-full-of-holes-565303.html. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Free Library". http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Blair%27s+secretly+divorced+Mr+Europe...+and+the+feminist+who+believes...-a0133388255. 
  8. ^ New Statesman - NS Profile - Denis MacShane
  9. ^ Fellows of the College — Birkbeck, University of London
  10. ^ "NS Profile - Denis MacShane". New Statesman. 1 January 2002. http://www.newstatesman.com/200211110015. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "Find Your MP: Dr Denis MacShane". BBC. 10 February 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/mpdb/html/374.stm. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Paul Richter (16 April 2002). "Venezuelan turnabout leaves U.S. in lurch". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/04/16/MN31545.DTL. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Denis MacShane (17 April 2002). "Letter: Viva Chavez". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/venezuela/story/0,12716,858095,00.html. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "Urgent Question in the House of Commons regarding Venezuela". theyworkforyou.com. 14 May 2002. Hansard 14 May 2002 : Column 632. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2002-05-14.632.1&s=speaker%3A10401. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  15. ^ new-frontiers.org
  16. ^ "MacShane at centre over 'red herring remarks'". Daily Mail (London). 4 December 2004. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-329560/MacShane-centre-red-herring-remarks.html. 
  17. ^ Denis MacShane (29 July 2006). "Talk don't walk on principles". Islamophobia-watch.com. http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2006/7/29/denis-macshane-on-londonistan.html. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  18. ^ Matthew Tempest and agencies (21 November 2003). "guardian.co.uk". London: guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/21/september11.usa. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  19. ^ EISCA Press release: "Denis MacShane Named As New Chair of Think Tank on Antisemitism".
  20. ^ TheyWorkForYou
  21. ^ FT.com / UK - Pressure to reveal ex-ministers' outside pay
  22. ^ Tariq Ramadan has an Identity Issue Buruma, Ian. New York Times, 4 February 2007.
  23. ^ "House of Commons Debates 17 December 2008 col 69WH". http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm081217/halltext/81217h0001.htm#08121766000001. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  24. ^ Bunglawala, Inayat (26 November 2008). "Supping with the devil-We're still discovering exactly how politicians and the media colluded to deceive us over Afghanistan and Iraq". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/26/iraqandthemedia-islam. Retrieved 26 November 2008. 
  25. ^ Davies, Nick (20 October 2009). "Prostitution and trafficking–the anatomy of a moral panic". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Drury, Ian; Chapman, James; Seamark, Michael (17 July 2009). "David Cameron attacks the spineless Labour MPs who deserted Gary McKinnon". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1200266/David-Cameron-attacks-spineless-Labour-MPs-deserted-Gary-McKinnon.html. 
  27. ^ Brendan Carlin (16 May 2009). "The MP who claimed £125k for the garage he used as a constituency office but the paint is still peeling". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1183548/The-MP-claimed--125k-garage-used-constituency-office-paint-peeling.html. 
  28. ^ "What MPs have been asked to repay". The Independent (London). 4 February 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/what-mps-have-been-asked-to-repay-1889590.html. 
  29. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons. "House of Commons - Review of past ACA Payments - Members Estimate Committee". Publications.parliament.uk. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmmemest/348/34807.htm. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  30. ^ Owen, Glen (20 June 2009). "Former Labour Minister's £8,000 cash for his poet brother's 'translation services'". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1194462/Former-Labour-Ministers-8-000-cash-poet-brothers-translation-services.html. 
  31. ^ Robert Winnett (14 October 2010). "Denis MacShane reported to police over expenses claims". Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/8063760/Denis-MacShane-reported-to-police-over-expenses-claims.html. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  32. ^ Expenses probe into MP by Scotland Yard
  33. ^ "First Special Report of the Standards and Privileges Committee". House of Commons. 12 October 2010. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmstnprv/527/52703.htm. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  34. ^ "Denis MacShane expenses complaint referred to police". BBC News. 14 October 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11543589. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  35. ^ Owen, Glen (27 June 2009). "Labour MP Denis MacShane claims expenses for eight laptops... in just three years". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196038/Labour-MP-Denis-MacShane-claims-expenses-laptops--just-years.html. 
  36. ^ Blake, Heidi (21 June 2011). "MPs expenses: former Labour minister faces new expenses investigation". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/labour-mps-expenses/8586573/MPs-expenses-former-Labour-minister-faces-new-expenses-investigation.html. 
  37. ^ MacShane, Denis (12 May 2009). "Lord Tebbit's act of mutiny". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/12/lord-tebbit-ukip-bnp. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  38. ^ Hencke, David (14 April 2008). "Tory MP under fire for calling on Speaker to step down". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/apr/14/conservatives.houseofcommons. 
  39. ^ Simon Walters (8 August 2010). "Named: The MPs whose angry outbursts forced expenses chief to quit for his 'health and sanity' | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1301154/Named-The-MPs-angry-outbursts-forced-expenses-chief-quit-health-sanity.html. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  40. ^ Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent (25 August 2010). "MPs reduced expenses staff to tears, documents show | Politics". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/aug/25/mps-parliamentary-expenses-body-staff. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  41. ^ a b OurKingdom (29 May 2011). "MP attacks LSE professor over feminist political theory course". London: OurKingdom. http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ourkingdom/mp-attacks-lse-professor-over-feminist-political-theory-course. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  42. ^ Hansard (18 May 2011). "Hansard Record of 18th May 2001". London: Hansard. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110518/halltext/110518h0001.htm#11051885000001. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  43. ^ "Carol Barnes: Authoritative television journalist who anchored 'News at Ten'". The Independent (London). 10 March 2008. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/carol-barnes-authoritative-television-journalist-who-anchored-news-at-ten-793670.html. 
  44. ^ Smith, Lewis; Charter, David; Maynard, Roger (16 March 2004). "Skydivers last kiss before parachute failed". The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1047383.ece. 
  45. ^ "Minister mourns skydive daughter". BBC News. 15 March 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3513188.stm. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  46. ^ "Vote 2001: Candidates". BBC News. 5 May 1994. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/vote2001/candidates/candidates/4/48903.stm. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  47. ^ Milligan, Becky (21 July 2009). "Expenses: The MPs' story". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8160477.stm. 
  48. ^ political blonde » Joan Smith is Political Blonde
  49. ^ Hardcastle, Ephraim (9 December 2011). "Wikileaks boss Julian Assange's lawyer defends his client on those sex charges". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1337118/Wikileaks-boss-Julian-Assanges-lawyer-Mark-Stephens-says-sex-surprise.html. 
  50. ^ Blake, Heidi (21 June 2011). "MPs expenses: former Labour minister faces new expenses investigation". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/labour-mps-expenses/8586573/MPs-expenses-former-Labour-minister-faces-new-expenses-investigation.html. 
  51. ^ Owen, Glen. "Labour MP Denis MacShane claims expenses for eight laptops... in just three years". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196038/Labour-MP-Denis-MacShane-claims-expenses-laptops--just-years.html. 
  52. ^ Your Democracy - Denis MacShane


  • Black and Front: journalists and race reporting
  • Solidarity: Poland's independent trade union
  • François Mitterrand, a political odyssey
  • International labour and the origins of the Cold War
  • Global business: global rights
  • Heath
  • Globalising Hatred: The New Antisemitism

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Boyce
Member of Parliament
for Rotherham

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Hain
Minister of State for Europe
Succeeded by
Douglas Alexander


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