Paul Yaw Boateng (born 14 June 1951) is a British Labour Party politician. He became the UK's first black Cabinet minister in May 2002 when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Brent South from 1987 to 2005, and is the current British High Commissioner to South Africa.
He stood, and lost, as a parliamentary candidate for Hertfordshire West in the 1983 general election. He had more success in the general election of 1987, when he was elected to the House of Commons for Brent South in succession to Laurence Pavitt, becoming one of the first three black MPs (the others being Bernie Grant and Diane Abbott). During his victory speech he famously declared, "Brent South today, Soweto tomorrow!"
Like many other members of the left in the 1980s, he became more moderate under the leadership of Neil Kinnock, who made him a junior spokesman in 1989. In 1992, he became shadow minister for the Lord Chancellor's Department, a post he held until the 1997 general election.
With Labour's victory, Boateng became the UK's first black government minister as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health (UK) (Baron Sinha, an Indian, was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for India in the House of Lords in 1919). In 1998 Boateng became a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office and subsequently became Minister of State for Home Affairs. At the time a loyal supporter of the New Labour project, he defended the police and criticised his former GLC colleague Ken Livingstone's mayoral campaign.
In 2001, he was made Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and stepped up to become Chief Secretary to the Treasury and so a member of the Cabinet in May 2002. He had been senior to Charles Clarke when both were at the Home Office, though Clarke was appointed Home Secretary when David Blunkett resigned.
In March 2005, he announced that he would not stand for re-election as an MP in the May 2005 general election. Labour having won the election in May 2005, he was named as the next High Commissioner to South Africa, replacing Ann Grant. Dawn Butler was selected by the local Constituency Labour Party to replace him and was elected.
Boateng was featured on an episode of current affairs spoof The Day Today, in which Chris Morris complained to him about the explicit content in music by fictional artists such as 'Herman the Tosser'.
As a member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council he enjoys the style of The Right Honourable and as a High Commissioner he also enjoys the style of His Excellency. Though both styles are not always used together he may be called His Excellency the Right Honourable Paul Boateng.
Nice Work If You Can Get It . . Sprawling Luxury: The British High Commission in Cape Town and (Inset) Janet and Paul Boateng
Nov 15, 2008; Byline: Geoffrey Levy GAZING from the antique-strewn elegance of the drawing room on to the large swimming pool, the floodlit...