John Battle (politician)

For other people named John Battle, see John Battle (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
John Battle
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
28 July 1999  7 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Tony Lloyd
Succeeded by Ben Bradshaw
Minister of State for Trade and Industry
In office
5 May 1997  28 July 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Peter Fraser
Member of Parliament
for Leeds West
In office
12 June 1987  12 April 2010
Preceded by Michael Meadowcroft
Succeeded by Rachel Reeves
Personal details
Born John Dominic Battle
(1951-04-26) 26 April 1951
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Mary Meenan
Children 3
Alma mater University of Leeds

John Dominic Battle, KC*SG (born 26 April 1951)[1] is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds West from 1987 to 2010.

Early life

Battle was born in Bradford and educated at St. Paulinus' School, a primary school in Dewsbury; St Michael's College, Underley Hall 1962–1967 (a junior seminary – secondary education – for the training of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool), and at St Joseph's Upholland College (1967–1972). Following a year of work he went to the University of Leeds where he gained a BA First class hons in English in 1976. From 1976–79 he undertook postgraduate research.

In 1979 he began to work as a research assistant to Derek Enright, a fellow Catholic and a Member of the European Parliament. Battle gained a seat on the City of Leeds Council in 1980. He chaired the innovative Industry and Employment Committee and later the Housing Committee

He was chosen to contest the Conservative seat of Leeds North West at the 1983 General Election. Donald Kaberry, the Conservative MP since the constituency's creation in 1955, was retiring. John Battle lost to a sitting MP in Keith Hampson, whose own seat of Ripon had been abolished.

Battle became the national coordinator for Church Action on Poverty in 1983 and in 1986 John Battle was selected to fight the seat of Leeds West, which had seen a shock result at the 1983 general election. Joseph Dean had been comfortably re-elected as the Labour MP for Leeds West at the 1979 General Election, with a majority of over 10,000 votes. However, in 1983 he was defeated by the Liberal Michael Meadowcroft to national surprise, for Leeds West had been held by Labour since the war.

Parliamentary career

Against the national swing, Battle won fairly easily and regained the Leeds West for Labour. Meadowcroft only served one term at Westminster.

Within a year of entering the Commons Battle was promoted to the Opposition Whip's Office by Neil Kinnock in 1988, but resigned in protest at Labour's support for the Major government over the 1991 Gulf War. After the 1992 General Election, he joined the frontbench of the new Labour Party leader, John Smith as a spokesman on Housing. Following Smith's death and the election of Tony Blair as Leader of the Opposition in 1994, Battle was moved to become the spokesman on Science and Technology. A year later in 1995 he became a spokesman on Energy.

After the 1997 General Election, Battle entered the government becoming Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry with responsibility for Science, Energy and Industry, announcing the decommissioning of the nuclear power station at Dounreay in 1998. In 1999 he moved sideways to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but was dropped from government after the 2001 general election. Subsequently he served on the International Development Committee. He became a Member of the Privy Council in 2002 and was the Prime Minister's envoy to all the faith communities until May 2010.

On 27 June 2009 Battle was invested as a Knight Commander with Star of the Order of St Gregory the Great by Pope Benedict XVI, this in recognition of lifelong commitment and loyalty to the local Church and for Battle's political contribution as a member of parliament.[2][3]

Personal life

As a devout Roman Catholic, he is staunchly anti-abortion, is pro-Nationalist regarding Northern Ireland and a long-standing champion of East Timor.


He married Mary Meenan in 1977, who is of Irish Catholic extraction and who was a maths researcher at the University of Leeds, and they met at the University catholic chaplaincy. They have a son (born ca. 1980) and two daughters. One of his daughters graduated from the University of Leeds in Mathematics and Finance. John Battle's brother, Jim Battle, was the Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council from 2004 to 2013 and then took up the position of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester.


Battle is a Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and a patron of the International Young Leaders Network.


  1. "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2014. Mr John Battle, former Labour MP, 61
  2. Leeds MP receives papal honour – Website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales
  3. Pope honour for Leeds MP – Website Yorkshire Evening Post
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Meadowcroft
Member of Parliament for Leeds West
Succeeded by
Rachel Reeves
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