Right Honourable Hazel Blears
Over the last fifteen years, the Right Honourable Hazel Blears has occupied various key positions in the British government on issues related to terrorism, radicalization and engagement with Muslim communities.
The daughter of a maintenance fitter and the first person in her family to go into higher education, Blears represented the city of Salford in the British Parliament from 1997 until 2015. From 2006-2007 she served as the Chair of the Labour Party.
Blears served as Britain’s Police and Counter Terrorism Minister from 2003-2006, a period that saw her deal with the aftermath of the 7/7 terror bombings on the London transportation system. She was responsible for the formulation of new counter terrorism legislation, steering it through Parliament.
From 2007-09, Blears served the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and was responsible for formulating policies to tackle radicalization. As part of this effort, she visited Muslim communities across Britain to better understand the views and concerns particularly of young people and women and to navigate the British government’s policy vis-à-vis Islamist organizations.
In 2010, Blears was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Intelligence and Security Committee, the only female member of the committee. Blears played a significant role in the scrutiny of the Agencies’ actions in connection with the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby and the ISC’s report in April 2015 into Privacy and Security following the revelations of Agency capabilities by Edward Snowden. She is the author of the report “Women in the Intelligence Community” following a two year study of Agency policy and practices and has made a series of recommendations to improve the recruitment, development and progression of women in the Agencies.
Blears’s work with the Program on Extremism at George Washington University focuses on how political and civic leaders can formulate effective policies for inclusive and principled community engagement while tackling extremism.