Graham was born in Aspley, Nottingham on 11 January 1953, into a mining family with deep roots in the city. His grandfather was a founder member of Nottingham Labour party. “I had a ‘chequered’ school career which is one reason I support second chances like our local further education college”. Graham was educated in two Nottingham schools, Robert Shaw Primary School and Forest Fields Grammar School. After leaving Forest Fields, he worked for a time in Nottingham as a warehouseman, but was sacked for forming a trade union branch. He made use of his spare time to study for his A Levels and then went to City of London Polytechnic. He became President of the Union in 1976 and graduated first in his year in Politics, Economics, Statistics and Sociology. He went on to Leeds University, where he earned an MA in Political Sociology studying under Professor Ralph Miliband, Ed and David Miliband’s Dad.
Graham then became was a research officer for the Labour party, helping to create its policies on the environment, and then Local Government Officer. With the Greater London Council, before becoming national co-ordinator of the Trade Union National Political Ballots Campaign. He helped to ensure that all of these were won, so that trade unions maintained their political levy. Graham then became a regional organiser in Nottingham and education officer for the GMBATU trade union. He was also a Labour councillor in the London borough of Tower Hamlets for four years.
Graham was selected in 1985 to contest his home seat of Nottingham North. We narrowly won it back from the Conservatives in 1987, and he has held it since then in five general elections.
In opposition he became a member of the Public Accounts Committee and chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Treasury Committee. He was a frontbench spokesman on social security, the media, transport, the environment, immigration, and democracy and the constitution. After the 1997 election Graham was appointed to the Government Whips Office as a Senior Whip (Lord Commissioner) and Whip to the Deputy Prime Minister. “It is pretty brainless in the Whips office for a policy person, but I was just pleased to serve a Labour Government after out 15 years in opposition”. In 1999 he was promoted to Vice Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household – which gave him the ceremonial role of being the MP who is “kidnapped” in Buckingham Palace during the State Opening of Parliament – and Whip to the Treasury, a position he held until the 2001 election.
After returning to the backbenches, in 2002 he was instrumental in securing the recall of Parliament to debate the prospect of war in Iraq, and he was a leading organiser of the two votes against Britain’s entry into the war in 2003. These represented the largest revolts within a governing party in British political history. He also campaigned actively against increased university tuition fees and helped to secure the restoration of the student grant for poorer students. He has repeatedly reminded the House that his constituency sends fewer of its young people to university than any other.
From 2005 to 2010 Graham was chairman of One Nottingham – making him the first MP to chair a city’s Local Strategic Partnership. This led to Nottingham being the UK’s first ‘Early Intervention City’.
In the 2010 election Graham was re-elected for Nottingham North with a majority of 8,138 over his nearest opponent. Having helped bring in the reform so MPs elected their own Chairs of Select Committees, Graham was elected by all MPs to lead the newly formed House of Commons Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform which is producing radical proposals on improving the UKs democracy. He maintained his passion for Early Intervention authoring two reports for Government on Early Intervention in support of a range of policies to give all children the best possible start in early life. He has overseen the building an Early Intervention Foundation and was its founding Chair before stepping down in July 2014.
Graham is in the process of setting up a project in Nottingham called “Rebalancing the Outer City Estates “to revive former manufacturing areas which he intends, if successful, to take to scale nationally. The project will focus on a range of issues from skills and training to health and culture. To find out more, click here: http://www.grahamallenmp.co.uk/campaigns/rebalancing_the_outer_estates
Graham is married to Allyson Stewart-Allen, an international authority and author on marketing who has advised many British businesses. They have a daughter named Grace and live in Bulwell, Nottingham.
Apart from his two reports on Early Intervention, Graham is the author of Reinventing Democracy (1995) and The Last Prime Minister: being honest about the UK Presidency (2002). When not reforming the British constitution Graham enjoys painting, cooking and cricket. He is a long-serving member of Parliament’s cricket team, the Lords and Commons; until his recent retirement as a player he was an aggressive middle-order batsman and a flighty off-spin bowler, who twice bowled out a former Nottinghamshire all-rounder called Garry Sobers. He led the team’s tour of South Africa after the end of apartheid, where he had the thrill of meeting Nelson Mandela.
Graham was sucessfully returned at the 2015 General Election, increasing his majority by 3,000.