Kevin Brennan (politician)

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Kevin Brennan

Official portrait of Kevin Brennan crop 2.jpg
Shadow Minister for Arts and Heritage
Assumed office
9 October 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byThangam Debbonaire
Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills
In office
25 September 2015 – 28 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byStephen Doughty
Succeeded byGill Furniss
Minister of State for the Third Sector
In office
5 October 2008 – 8 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPhil Hope
Succeeded byAngela Smith
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
5 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJoan Ryan
Succeeded bySteve McCabe
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff West
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded byRhodri Morgan
Majority12,551 (26.9%)
Personal details
Born (1959-10-16) 16 October 1959 (age 59)
Cwmbran, Wales, UK
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Amy Lynn Wack (1988–present)
Alma materPembroke College, Oxford
Cardiff University
University of South Wales
WebsiteOfficial website
Commons website

Kevin Denis Brennan MP (born 16 October 1959) is a British Labour Party politician who was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cardiff West in 2001, and was a Minister of State at both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families before the 2010 general election. His responsibilities included Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs.[2]

He was Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills until he resigned on 28 June 2016.[3]


Brennan was born in Cwmbran, South Wales, the son of a steelworker and a school dinner lady, he was educated at St Alban's RC High School in Pontypool and Pembroke College, Oxford. He graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1982, and was elected President of the Oxford Union in the same year with support from William Hague, who preferred Brennan's candidacy over those from the left of the Conservative faction in the Union. After University of Oxford he returned to Wales to study at the University College of Wales, Cardiff where he qualified as a teacher with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in history in 1985, he finished his education with a master's degree in Education Management at the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) in 1992.[citation needed]

In 1982, Brennan joined the Cwmbran Community Press as a journalist, he joined the National Union of Teachers in 1984 before becoming a teacher at Radyr Comprehensive School in 1985. He left the school in 1994 as Head of the Economics Department. Between 1991–2001, Brennan was a member of Cardiff Council representing the ward of Canton, Cardiff. During this time he served as Chair of the Finance Committee, Chair of the Economic Scrutiny Committee and Vice-Chair of Economic Development.[4]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Following Rhodri Morgan's decision to step down as the Member of Parliament for Cardiff West in order to concentrate on being the First Minister of Wales, Brennan was selected as the Labour candidate for the constituency and became the MP for Cardiff West at the 2001 general election. In 2002, he appeared in the House of Commons without a tie, as he favours a less formal dress code.[5][6]

After the 2005 general election, he was promoted to Tony Blair's government as an Assistant Government Whip. In June 2007, Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, appointed Brennan as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families in the new Department for Children, Schools and Families, replacing Parmjit Dhanda. Brennan was replaced in this role by Lady Morgan following the government reshuffle in October 2008, he was moved to the Cabinet Office before being promoted in 2009, becoming the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs with responsibilities in both the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Following the 2010 General Election, he continued this role in a Shadow Ministerial capacity before Ed Miliband's decision to appoint Brennan to the position of Shadow Minister for Schools.[citation needed]

Brennan was made Shadow Minister for Trade, Investment, and Intellectual Property by Jeremy Corbyn in September 2015, with responsibility for, among others, low carbon business sectors, manufacturing, construction, trade, and intellectual property,[3] he resigned from this position on 28 June 2016, following a motion of no confidence in Corbyn which was passed overwhelmingly by Labour MPs.[7]

Pensions Bill/Allied Steel and Wire[edit]

In July 2002, the steel manufacturer Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) entered receivership and many of their employees were told they would not receive their full company pensions because of a fund shortfall.[8] Mr Brennan, who had many former workers of Allied Steel & Wire as constituents, tabled an early day motion in the Commons in November calling for compensation and threatened to table an amendment to the Pensions Bill if the government did not offer any help.[9] After Brennan carried out his threat to table the amendment, The Independent newspaper reported that Tony Blair faced the "biggest backbench rebellion" of his career.[10] Ultimately, Brennan was successful; the BBC said he was "instrumental in extracting the government's commitment to establish a £400 million fund to provide compensation for workers who lost their pensions when their firms went bankrupt".[5]

Dress down Thursdays[edit]

In 2002 Kevin Brennan appeared in the House of Commons without a tie and called for Westminster to have "dress down" Thursdays pointing out that Billy Bragg had complained Parliamentarians gave a "besuited image that's male, pale and stale",[11] it provoked jeers from Conservative MPs. Michael Fabricant was so incensed he made a point of order to the speaker; the Speaker, Michael Martin, agreed with Fabricant and Brennan was forced to leave the chamber to retrieve a tie from his office.[12]


In 2009, Brennan came under scrutiny during the Expenses scandal for claiming items, including a £450 television claimed for his London second home which was delivered to this family home in Cardiff, he claimed for bunk beds for his daughter while the expenses system was intended exclusively for items for the MPs use. Brennan said he bought from businesses in his constituency but the items were for use in his second home, calling the story a "smear with no basis in fact".[13][14]

Social Media Award[edit]

In 2010, Brennan became the first Member of Parliament to win the British Computer Society's (BCS) Social Media MP of the year award beating Nick Clegg and Jeremy Corbyn who both finished as runners-up.[15]

Guitars for prisoners[edit]

In 2014, Brennan led a campaign with musician Billy Bragg to lift a blanket ban on prisoners having access to guitars, they were backed in their campaign by musicians including Johnny Marr, David Gilmour and Richard Hawley.[16] Brennnan held a Westminster Hall debate on the subject to try and get the government to overturn the ban citing the importance and the efficacy of music as a means for the rehabilitation for prisoners;[17] the Government agreed and prisoners can now have access to the instruments.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Brennan has been married to Amy Lynn Wack since 1988; the couple have one daughter. Brennan supports Cardiff City Football Club and the Cardiff Blues rugby team, he is also a member of a parliamentary rock band MP4 with fellow politicians Ian Cawsey, Pete Wishart and Greg Knight.[19] They have helped to raise over £1 million for charity as well as releasing an album and an EP, they are currently the house band on the television show Unspun with Matt Forde.[19][20][circular reference]

The Friends of Jo Cox[edit]

In 2016, following the murder of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, Brennan put together the 'Friends of Jo Cox' to record a charity single to raise money for the Jo Cox Foundation which had been set up in her memory;[21] the Friends of Jo Cox included the parliamentary rock band MP4, the House of Commons choir, MPs from other parties and a group of famous musicians including David Gray, KT Tunstall, Ricky Wilson and Steve Harley.[22] The song was a cover of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want", with the Rolling Stones waiving their royalties for the Jo Cox Foundation;[23] the single made the iTunes Top 10, and narrowly missed out on the top 100 UK Singles chart before Christmas Day. The single has raised more than £35,000.[24]


  1. ^, The Tablet - w:. "Fall in number of Catholic MPs in the House of Commons ahead of landmark debate on assisted dying". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  2. ^ Ministerial Responsibilities Archived 28 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "New Shadow Ministerial role for Cardiff West MP". 25 September 2015. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  4. ^ Biography
  5. ^ a b "Kevin Brennan". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  6. ^ Why, Who, What (30 October 2014). "Who, what, why: What is the parliamentary dress code?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2017 – via
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Pensions hope for steelworkers". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  9. ^ Association, Press (6 April 2004). "MPs call for pension compensation". Retrieved 11 June 2017 – via The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Blair U-turn in bid to stave off pensions revolt". 22 April 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Tie move gets MP in a knot". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Dressing down for rebel MP who dared to dress down". 5 July 2002. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  13. ^ Correspondent, By Rosa Prince, Political. "Kevin Brennan had £450 for television delivered to family home on MPs' expenses". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  14. ^ "MP dismisses expenses abuse claim". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  15. ^ "BCS announces winners of MP Web Awards - News releases - Press Office - Policy and media - BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  16. ^ Michaels, Sean (29 July 2014). "Campaigners win bid to grant prisoners access to steel-string guitars". Retrieved 11 June 2017 – via The Guardian.
  17. ^ "Music in Prisons - Hansard Online". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Billy Bragg campaign successfully sees prisoners allowed steel-string guitars - NME". 28 July 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  19. ^ a b "MP4 strike a chord with voters". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  20. ^ MP4 (band)
  21. ^ McCarthy, James (3 December 2016). "MP Kevin Brennan part of charity single in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Who's behind the Jo Cox charity single? Plus, everything else you need to know". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  23. ^ Staff; agencies (16 December 2016). "Rolling Stones waive their royalties on Jo Cox tribute single". Retrieved 11 June 2017 – via The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Jo Cox charity single misses out on Christmas No 1 spot". Retrieved 11 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Rhodri Morgan
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff West