Vernon Coaker

Vernon Rodney Coaker (born 17 June 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gedling between 1997 and 2019. He also served as the Minister of State for Schools from 2009 to 2010, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence from 2013 to 2015 and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from October 2011 to October 2013, and again from September 2015 until his resignation in June 2016 from the Shadow Cabinet.

Vernon Coaker
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
13 September 2015  26 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
ShadowingTheresa Villiers
Preceded byIvan Lewis
Succeeded byDave Anderson
In office
7 October 2011  7 October 2013
LeaderEd Miliband
ShadowingOwen Paterson
Theresa Villiers
Preceded byShaun Woodward
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
7 October 2013  13 September 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
ShadowingPhilip Hammond
Michael Fallon
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byMaria Eagle
Minister of State for Schools and Learners
In office
8 June 2009  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Sec. of StateEd Balls
Preceded byJim Knight
Succeeded byNick Gibb
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
10 May 2005  5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
ChancellorGordon Brown
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byAlan Campbell
Member of Parliament
for Gedling
In office
2 May 1997  6 November 2019
Preceded byAndrew Mitchell
Succeeded byTom Randall
Majority4,694 (9.1%)
Personal details
Vernon Rodney Coaker

(1953-06-17) 17 June 1953
London, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Jacqueline Heaton
Children1 daughter
1 son
Alma materUniversity of Warwick
Nottingham Trent University
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life

Born in Westminster, London, Coaker attended Drayton Manor Grammar School in London.[1] He studied for an Economics and Politics BA (Hons) degree at the University of Warwick, then obtained a PGCE at Trent Polytechnic (Clifton College of Education).[1]

Coaker worked as a teacher, becoming a History teacher at Manvers Pierrepont School (now the Carlton Road Centre of Castle College Nottingham) from 1976 to 1982, then Head of Department at Arnold Hill School from 1982 to 1988.[1] From 1989 to 1995, he was a senior teacher at Bramcote Park School and thence until 1997 he was Deputy Headmaster at Big Wood School in Bestwood, Nottingham.[1] He is a member of the NUT.

Political career

Coaker served as a district councillor for the Cotgrave Ward in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire from 1983 to 1997 and was leader of the Labour group on the council between 1987 and 1997.[1] He contested the Rushcliffe constituency seat in 1983. He contested Gedling in 1987 and 1992 before defeating Andrew Mitchell in the 1997 election, becoming the first Labour MP to win the Gedling seat.

After a number of Parliamentary Private Secretary roles, Coaker became a government whip in May 2005 having been an assistant whip since June 2003.[1] He served as a Minister of State at the Home Office between 2008 and 2009 before being moved to take up the role of Minister of State for Schools and Learning between 2009 and 2010.[1] Following the Labour defeat at the 2010 General Election, Coaker was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in October 2011.[1] Coaker joined dozens of shadow ministers in resigning from his position on 26 June 2016 in Labour's parliamentary disquiet over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[2] He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[3]

Expenses scandal

Coaker was found to have claimed large sums every month in cash for his second home without submitting any receipts.[4] Over the course of four years, he claimed £3,425 for cleaning, £6,320 for services and maintenance and £5,205 for repairs. This was initially for his semi-detached home in Cotgrave, and then for his one-bedroom flat in Kennington in London.

A spokesman for Coaker subsequently stated that expenses were claimed in accordance with the rules administered by Commons fees office at the time.[4]

Political positions

Coaker supports the modernisation of the UK Trident missile system, and Britain's membership of NATO. He supports the multilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons.[5] Coaker belongs to the Labour Friends of Israel lobby group.[6]

Shortly after being appointed Minister for Drugs and Crime Reduction in the May 2006 reshuffle, he revealed to the Coventry Evening Telegraph that he had had "one or two puffs" of cannabis as a student but did not enjoy it.[7] His admission was made during a nationwide tour to evaluate the effectiveness of the government's drugs strategy. He also supports people taking part in shooting sports and angling.[8]

In January 2010, Coaker apologised for remarks that misled MPs. He had earlier told MPs that 70 police officers were hurt as a result of a global warming protest at Kingsnorth power station. In fact there were only 12 injuries that were legally reportable with just four of those involving contact with another person.[9] The remaining eight injuries included "wasp sting", an injury while "sitting in a car", and an officer succumbing "to sun and heat". There were 68 injuries in total with the rest being treated by first-aiders at the scene. The whole operation had involved more than 1,000 officers.[9]

Personal life

He married Jacqueline Heaton on 23 December 1978 in Basford; the couple have a daughter and a son.[1] He supports Tottenham Hotspur. His wife, who is a teacher, was a town councillor in Cotgrave, where they live in the district of Rushcliffe.[10]


  1. ‘COAKER, Vernon Rodney’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 9 Jan 2013
  2. Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances; Slawson, Nicola (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  4. Watt, Holly (16 February 2015). "A dozen MPs in Labour's shadow cabinet claimed thousands without submitting a single receipt". Telegraph. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  5. "Vernon Coaker: 'I've had disagreements with Jeremy Corbyn's policies'". Belfast Telegraph. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  6. "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 23 March 2018.
  7. "Drugs minister 'smoked marijuana'". BBC News. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  8. Shooting Times
  9. "Apology over policing 'injuries'". BBC News. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  10. Parish Council Election Results 2003 Archived 22 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Andrew Mitchell
Member of Parliament
for Gedling

Succeeded by
Tom Randall
Political offices
Preceded by
Shaun Woodward
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Ivan Lewis
Preceded by
Jim Murphy
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Maria Eagle
Preceded by
Ivan Lewis
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Dave Anderson
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