Labour MP for Nottingham North from 1987 to 2017,
Graham represented the constituency of Nottingham North [where he was born in 1953] as it’s Member of Parliament from 1987-2017.It is one of the UK’s poorest areas, sending the fewest number of young people to university, and with double the national average of single parents and free school meals-it remains the driving passion of his outlook and activity. He was his Party’s Spokesperson in Parliament in 8 different policy fields, and served in Government as Whip to the Deputy Prime Minister and then to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, positions he held for 5 years. He says he is “a recovering whip, taking one day at a time”. He has been an active supporter of Humanists UK’s campaign against faith schools, asking questions in Parliament, signing a letter published in The Independent in July 2001 which urged the Government to reconsider its support for the expansion of maintained religious schools, and, in February 2006, initiating a debate on faith schools.
His ambition is to turn the UK into a modern democracy. He has been described as “One of the most original constitutional thinkers in the Commons.” (Andrew Marr) In 2010 he was elected by Parliamentary colleagues to Chair the new Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee. It worked cross party to produce a raft of reports on reforming and redeveloping a modern democracy including Devolution, independence for Local Government, improving voter engagement, a Citizens Constitutional Convention for the UK, and, culminating in 2015, produced a Written Constitution for the UK-the first ever to be published by Parliament.
Damned as “very independent minded" by Blair’s No.10, he proved it in opposing the war in Iraq by helping to organise the two biggest parliamentary rebellions within a governing party in UK’s political history. He told The Guardian that his proudest achievement in Parliament since 2001 is: "Sadly, having to organise the two largest revolts within a governing party in British political history on Bush's timetable for war in Iraq. Locally, becoming a constituency entrepreneur, especially on crime and education in a deprived constituency."
Prime Ministerial preferment being unlikely thereafter, he became a hyper-active backbench MP on behalf of his constituency. He took on the executive role of Chair of Nottingham’s Local Strategic Partnership in 2005 which he renamed One Nottingham and set it the mission of making Nottingham the first “Early Intervention City”. Taking the concept national ,in 2007 he wrote with Iain Duncan-Smith the seminal “Early Intervention: good parents, great kids, better citizens “underlining his reputation for getting things done by working cross party. In July 2010, the Conservative Prime Minister requested he carry out an Independent Review of Early Intervention for Her Majesty’s Government. He produced two influential reports, the first, “Early Intervention: the next steps” published January 2011, and the second of which,” Early Intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings”, was published in July 2011. He then set about building and funding a national Early Intervention Foundation [the first of the UK's "What Works “centres] to implement the findings of the reports. The EIF opened for business in February 2013 and he Chaired it unpaid. http://grahamallenmp.co.uk/
As a “serial political entrepaneur” in 2014 he created, founded and became the unpaid Chair of the Charity “Rebalancing the Outer Estates” a unique initiative and structure to facilitate, convene and build local and national partnerships in order to tackle outer city deprivation and replicate effective practise nationwide on jobs,skills,community and public health issues. The Charity -with its high powered Board and connectivity- has built an impressive list of achievements to date and has an ambitious future programme. He convened Parliament’s “20 most deprived constituencies” group.
He stepped down from Parliament in 2017 to go back into politics and focus his convening power on advocating for Early Intervention and to create and convene the Citizens Convention on UK democracy. The www.ccukdemocracy.org produced its Prospectus on how to build an evolved ,sustainable UK democracy .It helped win all the main political parties to election Manifesto commitments to set up a review of UK Democracy. The Oct 2020 proposal to HMG ”A Citizens’ Convention on UK Democracy” details how the UK government can keep that promise, including a Citizens engagement phase using AI with the ambition to engage 10 million founding mothers and fathers to create a fit-for-purpose UK democracy. He is the Secretary of the APPG for Deliberative Democracy and Visiting Professor of Political Economy at King’s College London.
He is currently engaged in trying to get the Summit for Democracies to take deliberative democracy and citizens’ assemblies seriously as part of a democratic response to autocracy.