An outspoken public figure with a reputation for being highly opinionated, former Conservative politician turned writer, broadcaster and media personality, Edwina Currie is best known for her two years as a Junior Minister within the Department of Health under Margaret Thatcher’s government.
Her varied and active involvement with government and current affairs, coupled with her latter career as media personality and writer, make Edwina Currie an ideal after dinner speaker for corporate and association event or keynote speaker for conferences and seminars.
She was born and brought up in Liverpool, and attended the same school (Liverpool Institute) as Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Despite spending hours in The Cavern listening to great music, she won a scholarship to Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
A short stint with Arthur Andersen and a Master's degree at LSE in Economic History followed. Then, for nine years, she was a teacher and lecturer.
With marriage and two daughters, Edwina embarked on career no 1: politics. She was elected to Birmingham City Council and served as chairman of Housing, of Social Services and of the local health authority, all good grounding for election to Westminster in 1983 as MP for South Derbyshire. She is proud of her role in transforming the constituency from an old coal-mining area to the home of car manufacturing giant, Toyota.
Edwina Currie was on the first team to tackle AIDS/HIV in Britain (the "tombstones" campaign), brought in screening for both breast and cervical cancer, encouraged the public towards healthier lifestyles, and helped persuade the British to cut down smoking.
In December 1988, faced with over 500 victims a week with serious food poisoning through eggs (and over 60 deaths that year), Edwina issued a warning about salmonella in British eggs. The statement commented that "most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella", which sparked outrage among farmers and egg producers, causing egg sales in the UK to decline rapidly, by 60 percent. The controversy gained her the nickname "Eggwina" and she was forced to resign as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health.
However, she had, in fact, been right. Long after the furore died down, in 2001 it was revealed that a covered-up Whitehall report produced several months after Edwina Currie's resignation revealed that there had been a "salmonella epidemic of considerable proportions".
As a backbencher, Edwina Currie turned her talents to writing books. Altogether she has eleven to her name (so far!), including best-selling novels A Parliamentary Affair and A Woman's Place. Her Diaries 1987-1992 caused a stir on publication in 2002, when curious goings-on at Westminster were revealed. Ten years on, Diaries 1992 -1997, covering the last Tory government and the rise of Tony Blair, has also attracted lively comment. In 1997, Edwina lost her parliamentary seat, thus bringing to an end 14 years in elected office.
Her third career has been in the media where she is a well-known commentator, appearing on the Nolan show (BBC Radio 5), Jeremy Vine (Radio 2, Woman's Hour (Radio 4), Sky News, BBC Breakfast News etc. She presented her own radio programme, Late Night Currie for five years on Radio 5, and TV including Currie Night for HTV.
Edwina has also featured in popular TV programmes including Hell's Kitchen, Come Dine with Me (twice), Wife Swap (with husband John Jones), The Chase and Pointless. She won Celebrity Mastermind in 2004, with her special subject The Life of Marie Curie, but did not do so well on Strictly Come Dancing (2011).
Edwina's awards include Speaker of the Year, 1990, Association of Speakers' Clubs; Campaigner of the Year, 1994, Spectator Highland Park, for the campaign on gay rights. Fellow MP Julian Critchley said of her: "Edwina has a brass neck, a silver tongue and a golden pen." while former colleague, journalist Matthew Parris, has written, "Edwina is the best communicator the Tories have”.