Dawn Butler was born to immigrants from Jamaica, and is one of six children. She worked on a market stall and in a bakery in her youth but started her career as a computer programmer/systems analyst and then working as a trade unionist. Her desire to enter politics came from a deep rooted commitment to address inequality.
Elected as the Member of Parliament for Brent South on 5 May 2005 Dawn’s maiden speech described her constituency as a “shining example of integration at its best”. Dawn became the first elected African-Caribbean woman to become a Government Minister in the UK.
Dawn ran a hugely successful campaign in 2015 and won Brent Central with a majority of nearly 20,000 - giving the largest vote swing in Britain at that election. She was again successful in the 2017 election, winning 73.1% of the vote.
Dawn has always been a passionate campaigner for young people; she is an Honorary Vice President of the British Youth Council, was formerly Chair of the APPG on Youth Affairs, a member of the Children & Families Select Committee and Vice Chair of the Labour Party with responsibility for Youth. Her work on youth led to Dawn being appointed as the Minister for Young Citizens & Youth Engagement at the Cabinet Office by Gordon Brown.
A natural campaigner, since returning to Parliament Dawn has taken on the ‘Big 6’ energy companies over the excessive cost of pre-payment meters. She held a Westminster Hall debate, launched a national petition and secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to look at this issue.
Dawn continues to commit her time in parliament to representing groups and people in society that are often underrepresented. In 2017 Dawn became the first MP in its history to sign a question in the House of Commons using British Sign Language. Dawn used sign language in her question to highlight the need to give the language full legal status. Dawn continues to run successful campaigns on Employment Tribunal Fees and is now pushing for the Government to publish full equality impact assessments on their policies.
Dawn for the last two years has been awarded two Patchwork Foundation awards, having been voted People's Choice 2016 Labour MP of the Year and next receiving the Overall MP of the Year award in 2017.
Dawn is currently serving as the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.