Michael Dugher
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Michael Dugher was elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for Barnsley East at the 2010 General Election.

In October 2011, Michael was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office). Before that, he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband (May-October 2011), and was Shadow Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (October 2010-September 2011).

Born in Doncaster in 1975, Michael was brought up in Edlington, then a pit village in South Yorkshire. He was educated at St Mary's RC primary school, Edlington, at the McAuley RC School, Doncaster, and at the University of Nottingham, where he read Politics.

Before being elected as MP for Barnsley East, Michael worked at 10 Downing Street as Chief Political Spokesman for the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He previously worked as a Special Adviser in a variety of Government roles, including: Transport, Local Government and the Regions; Defence; for the Leader of the House of Commons; and for the Government Chief Whip.
Michael has also worked in industry as UK Director of Government Relations for EDS, a large global technology services business (now Hewlett Packard). Prior to working in government, he was Head of Policy for the AEEU Engineering Union (now Unite). Michael is currently a member of both Unite and Unison.

Since being elected, Michael has also joined several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). He is currently Vice-Chair of the APPG on Heart Disease, working closely with the British Heart Foundation, and he is Chair of the APPG for Brass Bands. Michael is also a Vice-Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, a Save the Children Champion and is on the Executive of the British-American group.

Locally, Michael is patron of the Wombwell Operatic Society and the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer's and Dementia Support (BIADS) group and a member of the Barnsley Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). He is also a proud member of the Royal British Legion (Hoyland and District branch).

Michael writes for Labour Uncut and has also written for the Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Post, Tribune, Fabian Review, Total Politics and Progress.
His interests include history, music, films and sport (mainly watching football, cricket and horse-racing).

He is married to Joanna and they have two young daughters. When not in Westminster to sit in the House of Commons, Michael and his family live in Hoyland, Barnsley.

Entries by Michael Dugher

Labour's One Nation Plan to Bust Open Whitehall

(6) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 7:00 PM

Labour's guiding mission under Ed Miliband is to be a One Nation government. We want to create a country where prosperity is equally shared and opportunities are not confined to particular regions, races or genders.

David Cameron once sought to be a One Nation Prime Minister, but an economic policy...

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Labour Is Setting the Pace - Online as Well as on the Streets

(8) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 6:20 AM

Last week Labour launched a new Facebook video - 'David Cameron's Facebook Movie' - a look back at four years of Conservative-led government with all its failures and broken promises.


Within 24 hours, it had appeared on the Facebook timelines of more than a million people. Already, more than 600,000 people have watched it on YouTube, far outstripping anything the party has produced in the past. In an era where pundits and politicians alike bemoan a growing disconnection between voters and parties, it is significant that this 60-second video should have such a reach and reaction.

The video was picked-up and was featured on websites ranging from GC to the Metro. Indeed, when interviewed on BBC's Daily Politics last week, Jim Waterson, political editor of the social news and entertainment website Buzzfeed, called it "the first online video from a British political party to break through the Westminster bubble".

How we communicate continues to change. The rise of social media and online news means that elections will be fought in new ways. It will be quicker, more open, more democratic and more discursive, not least because for the first time it will also be fought online. Broadcast media still continues to dominate, but the fast-declining, overwhelmingly Conservative-supporting press will not have anything like the disproportionate influence they have had in the past.

There are now some 33 million UK Facebook accounts and four out of five daily users do so on a smart phone or tablet. At a time when the readership of the print press continues to fall sharply - major dailies' circulation is down by an average of 30% since 2009 - online news just keeps growing. A third of UK adults now use the internet as a source of news. This itself brings new communications challenges for political parties.

Like the Obama campaign, Labour is taking digital seriously. Our brilliant Digital Taskforce is now a standalone team for the general election campaign and we have hired ex-Obama staffers to sharpen our operation. Already this investment is paying dividends - literally in the case of the growth of our online donations. Our Facebook reach is up 700% on 2013 and our Twitter engagement up 179% on 2012.

In some ways, Labour's approach is even more personalised than the Obama For America online campaign, and we know that digital activity can extend our reach. Our 'thunderclap' last year (simultaneous tweeting of "it's time to deal with David Cameron's cost of living crisis") reached just over 4.5 million people. Labour's cost-of-cameron messages, info graphics and pictures were in the timeline of some 14 million twitter followers last month. This is a revolution in political communications and it works because it is fast, direct, individualised and crucially it engages with people.

But our online activity only serves to compliment Labour's community campaigning - which must be just as personalised - led by former Obama mentor Arnie Graf. Following evidence from 2010 that those areas which had a full-time organiser saw larger swings to Labour, we now have organisers in each of our 106 target seats. And whereas in 2010 the ratio of Westminster HQ staff to those working out in the regions was two-to-one in Westminster, now there is parity with the regions. Labour is breaking out of SW1 - a one nation party in action as well as outlook.

Lord Ashcroft's polling has pointed to bigger Labour leads in the marginals, but the benefit of Labour's community organising approach was also in evidence this week in the Wythenshawe by-election, where Labour now has the largest majority in the history of the constituency. The Tories, who blamed the bad result on the presence of a large council estate in a way that must have had Margaret Thatcher spinning in her grave, ended up eleven per cent down, with a share of the vote lower than in 1992, 2001, 2005 and 2010.

David Cameron is now leading a hollowed out party without roots or a connection to many parts of the country, in particular in large parts of northern England. This weekend we have already seen noises off about David Cameron's indifference to working class issues in Wythenshawe, while Nadine Dorries has gone as far as to call for Boris Johnson to be drafted in to come to Cameron's rescue. If ever you needed evidence of how desperate and out-of-touch the Tories are it is the idea that Boris could be the saviour to re-engage with the working classes up north.

The Lib Dems predictably got battered again. They suffered a staggering 17% swing against them and embarrassingly demanded a recount in Wythenshawe in the vain hope of at least keeping their deposit. The truth is the Lib Dems have now gone from pavement politicians to serial deposit losers.

As for Nigel Farage, despite the privately-educated former City trader's attempt to pitch UKIP as the 'working class' party against Labour, he failed to make the breakthrough he had hoped, not least because UKIP had so little presence on the ground. As the SDP found out in the eighties, you cannot just run a political party from a Westminster TV studio - your demise can be as fast as your rise if you fail to have roots in communities. In the words of Wythenshawe's new MP Mike Kane, voters "rejected the isolationism and scaremongering UKIP".

A combination of winning and mobilising support in the community, a relentless focus on living standards and community worries like the threat to the local hospital, combined with an innovative campaign led brilliantly by Toby Perkins MP, delivered victory for Labour.

Under Ed Miliband, Labour is a party that is changing - in our policies and in how we are opening up our politics with big party reforms. The transformation of our organisation and the modernisation of our communication operation are also significant. We still have a lot of work to do, with Miliband describing himself as the "eternal warrior against complacency", but whether it is online or on the streets, Labour is setting the...

Read Post

Labour Is Setting the Pace - Online as Well as on the Streets

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 6:09 AM

Last week Labour launched a new Facebook video - 'David Cameron's Facebook Movie' - a look back at four years of Conservative-led government with all its failures and broken promises.



Within 24 hours, it had appeared on the Facebook timelines of more than a million people. Already, more than 600,000 people have watched it on YouTube, far outstripping anything the party has produced in the past. In an era where pundits and politicians alike bemoan a growing disconnection between voters and parties, it is significant that this 60-second video should have such a reach and reaction.

The video was picked-up and was featured on websites ranging from GC to the Metro. Indeed, when interviewed on BBC's Daily Politics last week, Jim Waterson, political editor of the social news and entertainment website Buzzfeed, called it "the first online video from a British political party to break through the Westminster bubble".

How we communicate continues to change. The rise of social media and online news means that elections will be fought in new ways. It will be quicker, more open, more democratic and more discursive, not least because for the first time it will also be fought online. Broadcast media still continues to dominate, but the fast-declining, overwhelmingly Conservative-supporting press will not have anything like the disproportionate influence they have had in the past.

There are now some 33 million UK Facebook accounts and four out of five daily users do so on a smart phone or tablet. At a time when the readership of the print press continues to fall sharply - major dailies' circulation is down by an average of 30% since 2009 - online news just keeps growing. A third of UK adults now use the internet as a source of news. This itself brings new communications challenges for political parties.

Like the Obama campaign, Labour is taking digital seriously. Our brilliant Digital Taskforce is now a standalone team for the general election campaign and we have hired ex-Obama staffers to sharpen our operation. Already this investment is paying dividends - literally in the case of the growth of our online donations. Our Facebook reach is up 700% on 2013 and our Twitter engagement up 179% on 2012.

In some ways, Labour's approach is even more personalised than the Obama For America online campaign, and we know that digital activity can extend our reach. Our 'thunderclap' last year (simultaneous tweeting of "it's time to deal with David Cameron's cost of living crisis") reached just over 4.5 million people. Labour's cost-of-cameron messages, info graphics and pictures were in the timeline of some 14 million twitter followers last month. This is a revolution in political communications and it works because it is fast, direct, individualised and crucially it engages with people.

But our online activity only serves to compliment Labour's community campaigning - which must be just as personalised - led by former Obama mentor Arnie Graf. Following evidence from 2010 that those areas which had a full-time organiser saw larger swings to Labour, we now have organisers in each of our 106 target seats. And whereas in 2010 the ratio of Westminster HQ staff to those working out in the regions was two-to-one in Westminster, now there is parity with the regions. Labour is breaking out of SW1 - a one nation party in action as well as outlook.

Lord Ashcroft's polling has pointed to bigger Labour leads in the marginals, but the benefit of Labour's community organising approach was also in evidence this week in the Wythenshawe by-election, where Labour now has the largest majority in the history of the constituency. The Tories, who blamed the bad result on the presence of a large council estate in a way that must have had Margaret Thatcher spinning in her grave, ended up eleven per cent down, with a share of the vote lower than in 1992, 2001, 2005 and 2010.

David Cameron is now leading a hollowed out party without roots or a connection to many parts of the country, in particular in large parts of northern England. This weekend we have already seen noises off about David Cameron's indifference to working class issues in Wythenshawe, while Nadine Dorries has gone as far as to call for Boris Johnson to be drafted in to come to Cameron's rescue. If ever you needed evidence of how desperate and out-of-touch the Tories are it is the idea that Boris could be the saviour to re-engage with the working classes up north.

The Lib Dems predictably got battered again. They suffered a staggering 17% swing against them and embarrassingly demanded a recount in Wythenshawe in the vain hope of at least keeping their deposit. The truth is the Lib Dems have now gone from pavement politicians to serial deposit losers.

As for Nigel Farage, despite the privately-educated former City trader's attempt to pitch UKIP as the 'working class' party against Labour, he failed to make the breakthrough he had hoped, not least because UKIP had so little presence on the ground. As the SDP found out in the eighties, you cannot just run a political party from a Westminster TV studio - your demise can be as fast as your rise if you fail to have roots in communities. In the words of Wythenshawe's new MP Mike Kane, voters "rejected the isolationism and scaremongering UKIP".

A combination of winning and mobilising support in the community, a relentless focus on living standards and community worries like the threat to the local hospital, combined with an innovative campaign led brilliantly by Toby Perkins MP, delivered victory for Labour.

Under Ed Miliband, Labour is a party that is changing - in our policies and in how we are opening up our politics with big party reforms. The transformation of our organisation and the modernisation of our communication operation are also significant. We still have a lot of work to do, with Miliband describing himself as the "eternal warrior against complacency", but whether it is online or on the streets, Labour is setting the...

Read Post

Step Up to Serve

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 8:45 AM

This week I was privileged to attend the launch of 'Step Up to Serve', a new cross-party and cross-sector national initiative to increase the number of young people taking part in social action across the UK. The event was hosted by HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and...

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Cameron Didn't Say Much Except More of the Same - A Land of Opportunity for Just a Privileged Few

(22) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 7:00 PM

In his speech to the Conservative party conference, David Cameron spoke for over 50 minutes but he said very little. No policies to deal with the huge cost of living crisis that has left people on average nearly £1,500 a year worse off since the General Election. And nothing for...

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David Cameron Lost the Syria Vote Because of a Failure of His Leadership

(12) Comments | Posted August 31, 2013 | 10:22 AM

Whether or not to commit our country to military action is the most grave decision any prime minister can make. When excitable defence correspondents on television talk about military 'assets' and 'capabilities', it is important to remember that what we are really talking about is somebody's son or husband, their...

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Questions About How the Tories Fund Their Politics Aren't Going Away

(9) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 7:00 PM

This week Ed Miliband heralded the biggest Labour Party reforms for a generation to strengthen the connection with millions of individual working people. And in doing so, he has re-ignited and led the debate about how we reform the funding of all political parties and how we open up our...

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Book Review of 'Commons People: MPs Are Human Too'

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 5:28 AM

In February of last year, Ipsos-Mori carried out a poll that found that 77% of the public "do not generally trust politicians" and that only 18% trust politicians to tell the truth. Indeed, the British public trust politicians to tell the truth less than they do estate agents, bankers and...

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It's Not Just the Economy, It's the Inequality, Stupid

(2) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 7:00 PM

Whilst visiting the awful slums in the heart of South Delhi and Kolkata on my recent visit to India with Save the Children, it was impossible not be shocked by the sheer scale of inequality in the country. In one of the slums, we saw people "rag-picking" - which to...

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We Know the Economics of Cameron's Europe Speech Is a Disaster, But the Politics Is All Wrong Too

(1) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 5:04 AM

This week's news from the Office of National Statistics, which showed that borrowing is over £7 billion higher than at the same point last year, was further evidence that the government has plunged our economy into a serious jobs and growth crisis. But just at the time when we need...

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It's Time Cameron Stopped Running Scared and Accepted Ed Miliband's Challenge for TV Debates

(8) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 8:03 AM

After the second Leaders' Debate in April 2010, David Cameron said the event had been a ''good thing for democracy" and that the Tories had been ''vindicated'' over their calls for the debates between the party leaders. He also predicted at the time that televised debates would become a regular...

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For All Cameron's Talk of 'Aspiration', His Record and His Policies Just Don't Stand Up to Scrutiny

(2) Comments | Posted October 14, 2012 | 7:00 PM

The Prime Minister began his speech in Birmingham last week with a supreme understatement: "I can't tell you all is well". The optimist who used to rally his party and the country with "let sunshine win the day" now points to stormier clouds on the horizon, a dark hour of...

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Tackling the 'Silent Salesman' Glitzy Cigarette Packets - Plain Packs are an Idea Worth Trying

(1) Comments | Posted July 19, 2012 | 10:09 AM

In April this year, the government launched a UK-wide consultation into whether tobacco should be sold in plain packaging with just large health warnings, devoid of attractive logos and glitzy colours. This is a contentious issue. But as Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease, working closely with...

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Baroness Warsi Has Serious Questions to Answer

(12) Comments | Posted June 7, 2012 | 7:00 PM

It was announced this week that the Conservative peer and Minister without Portfolio, Baroness Warsi, is to be formally investigated by the House of Lords standards commissioner over reports that she allegedly claimed £165 per night for accommodation whilst staying with her political adviser in a friend's house apparently rent-free....

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Cameron's Government is Starting to Look Increasingly Like That of Major's

(10) Comments | Posted April 11, 2012 | 7:00 PM

In a recent speech in his constituency, David Cameron reportedly compared himself to both Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill (adding, somewhat immodestly, that he and Barack Obama were also "quite similar"). On Monday, it was the 20th anniversary of John Major's general election victory in 1992 and the truth is...

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