We live in an age where Ministers of the Crown lie to parliament, break the law, crash the economy but feel no compulsion to exhibit regret let along ‘do the honourable thing’. It is astonishing to think that in 1988 Edwina Currie had to resign as a junior health minister because she said something not wholly untrue about eggs.
She was born Edwina Cohen in Liverpool on 13th October 1946, the daughter of Simon and Pese, a Jewish couple of modest means. At the time of her birth the family were living at 7 Meadow Way L12, later moving to 66 Mosspits Lane L15 where she attended Mosspits Lane Primary School, moving on to the Liverpool Institute for Girls at Blackburne House. Gaining a scholarship to St. Anne’s College, Oxford she took time out to travel in the USA, raising the fare by working at Dista Products in Speke, of which she said “there was a nasty smell in the air which stuck to your clothes and stayed with you when you went home”.
Having been a Conservative councillor in Birmingham for over a decade in 1983 she was elected as M.P. for South Derbyshire. She became a health Minister in 1986 and in the next few years shared her wisdom with the world with such pronouncements as “good Christian people” don’t get AIDS, old people who couldn’t pay their heating bills should put on more clothes and Northerners die of “ignorance and chips”. Her fall from grace came in December 1988 when her remarks about salmonella in British egg production led to a dramatic fall in sales. Subsequent studies suggest that salmonella was indeed rife in the industry.
If the consequences of her egg remarks (which resulted in the nickname Eggwina) seem harsh we ought to remember her close association with Jimmy Savile and her role in approving his appointment to head a task force to run Broadmoor psychiatric hospital. This gave him exceptional access to the hospital and an opportunity to assault vulnerable girls which he seized.
After losing her seat at the 1997 general election she created a new career as an author and ‘media personality’. Her diaries, published in 2002, revealed a four year affair with John Major. Lurking on the outer fringes of the ‘celebrity’ world (most people under retirement age probably wonder who on earth she is) she has maintained a presence by always being prepared to come up with a controversial quote. Her honesty on some issues is to be admired, in one interview when asked who was the love of her life she replied “myself”.
She attempted a return to politics in 2021 standing for election to Derbyshire County Council in her home ward of Whaley Bridge but lost to the incumbent Labour councillor by a wide margin.
The Cohen home at the time of Edwina's birth in 1946.
The Cohen home when Edwina attended Mosspits Lane Primary School
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