Deborah Angela Elspeth Marie Abrahams (born 15 September 1960) has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency since a by-election in January 2011. Her previous career was as a public health consultant.
Early political career
She resigned from the Chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust in 2007, over the use of private health companies in the National Health Service, which she said was "destroying the NHS". She then joined the Labour Party, declaring that she wanted "to challenge health policy at a local and national level to ensure that it reflects [the] core values" of the NHS. She was appointed by Simon Danczuk, then Labour candidate for Rochdale, as his advisor on health, and she stood for Rochdale Borough Council in Milnrow and Newhey ward in the 2008 local elections. She criticised the local council in Rochdale for failing to address health inequalities in the town.
At the 2010 general election, Abrahams was the Labour Party candidate for Colne Valley; she made a plea to Liberal Democrat voters to back her in order to stop the Conservatives winning power. She was unsuccessful in her attempt to retain the seat, which had previously been held by Labour, and ended up in third place.
The winning candidate, Conservative MP Jason McCartney, said after the election that Abrahams had run "a good, positive campaign" and that in the light of bad-tempered exchanges between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, he was not surprised that she was close to coming second. Shortly after the general election, Abrahams was selected as the Labour candidate for the Liberal Democrat-held Golcar ward of Kirklees Council at the 2011 local elections. However, she stood down from the candidature when selected for the forthcoming Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.
In December 2010, Abrahams was placed on a shortlist of three to be the Labour Party candidate for the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. She was selected as Labour's candidate and retained the seat for the Labour Party with a majority of 3,558 with 42.1% of the vote.
Abrahams was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Andy Burnham and elected Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party's Health Committee. In 2014, she organised an Inquiry Into The Effectiveness Of International Health Systems which she said demonstrated that "where there is competition, privatisation or marketisation in a health system, health equity worsens". She sought to reassure Clinical commissioning groups that the Labour Party's proposed health reforms would not amount to a top-down ‘big bang’ shake up of the NHS.
She was elected as a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in July 2015. In September 2015, Abrahams was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in recognition on her work with disabled people in the past. Abrahams was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in June 2016, following Owen Smith's resignation from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the EU Referendum result.
In the general election of 8 June 2017 she retained the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat with an increased majority of 8,182. 2018 bullying claims
In March 2018, Abrahams was suspended from her position as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary whilst she was investigated by the Labour Party over a “workplace issue”, reported by several media outlets to be related to claims that she bullied staff; she has vehemently denied the claims, adding that she is the victim of a "bullying culture of the worst kind". In May that year she was removed from the Shadow Cabinet. In a statement, Abrahams said: "I strongly refute the allegations of bullying made against me. I believe the investigation was not thorough, fair or independent." She said she would now go to the party's National Executive Committee disputes panel.