Zoe Halivar

Zoe Halivar

Official portrait of Lisa Nandy crop 2.jpg
Halivar in 2016
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
22 May 2016
PresidentAlice Roberts
Prime MinisterReginald Wilton-Smyth
Preceded byIsaac Wright
Leader of the Social Democratic and Co-operative Party
Assumed office
22 May 2016
DeputyOwen Cunningham
Preceded byIsaac Wright
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
In office
11 February 2014 – 22 May 2016
LeaderNick Lawrence
Isaac Wright
Preceded byDoug Harman
Succeeded bySandeep Sangra
Member of Parliament
for Harbrough Hillside
Assumed office
5 August 2012
Preceded byTony Johnson
Personal details
Zoe Lila Rose Halivar

(1980-11-24) November 24, 1980 (age 40)
Morwall, Estmere
Political partySDCP
David Owen-Smith (m. 2011)
MotherJackie Walker
FatherSandip Halivar
Alma materSt. Joseph's College, Tolbury University

Zoe Lila Rose Halivar (born 24 November 1980) is an Estmerish politician and historian serving as the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Social Democratic and Co-operative Party since 22 May 2016. Halivar was elected as the Member of Parliament for Harbrough Hillside in the 2012 election, and has served in Parliament since then. Halivar describes herself as a progressive and a democratic socialist, and is considered on the soft left of the SDCP.

Halivar was born in Morwall to a mixed Wealdish-Sivathran family. Her father was an influential Sotirian socialist, and she joined the SDCP at a young age. She was raised in Harbrough, and attended the comprehensive North Harbrough Public School. She attended Tolbury University, and graduated from the constituent St. Joseph's College with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2002. During her studies, she was elected as President of the Tolbury University Students' Union.

Prior to entering Parliament, Halivar worked as a historian with the United Congress of Trade Unions, working alongside her future partner David Owen-Smith to document the history of the trade unions in Estmere. She has authored many books on the subject, such as Godfredson: Father of the Nation? and Holmes: The Great Reformer. With the support of UCTU, Halivar was shortlisted as an SDCP candidate, and was elected to the Chamber of Commons in 2012.

She was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Education in 2014 as part of then-leader Nick Lawrence's shadow cabinet shuffle. Halivar consistently raised the issue of education reform, and drafted plans to streamline the system. After the SDCP's defeat in the 2016 election, Lawrence stepped down as leader, and Halivar won the subsequent leadership election after emerging as a dark horse. Subsequently, the party gained seats in the 2018 snap election. Her leadership has been defined by a new approach, "combining competence with the promise of real change", which has been dubbed One Nation Socialism.

Early life and education

Halivar was born on 24 November 1980 in the Willowston borough of Morwall. She grew up in a mixed household, which emphasied her joint Wealdish and Sivathran heritage. Her father, Sandip Halivar, was a Southern Sotirian and Sotirian socialist, who became a member of the Satrian Section of the Workers' International. He arrived in Estmere in 1972, leaving Mangalore to avoid persecution following the imposition of martial law in Sivathra. Sandip worked as a lawyer for the Steelworkers' Union, and met Jackie Walker - Zoe's mother - during a solidarity strike. Jackie worked as a nurse.

After her birth, the Halivar family moved to the suburbs of Harbrough, where Zoe was raised for the majority of her early life. She attended the North Harbrough Public School, a comprehensive school, and was able to pass the entrance exam to attend Tolbury University. She studied history, and was accepted into the constituent college of St. Joseph's. She was active in politics throughout this time. During her second semester, she was elected as President of the Tolbury University Students' Union, running on a Pluralist Left ticket. She graduated from Tolbury in 2002 with a first class Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Her dissertation topic was Gone But Not Forgotten: An Argument on the Great Shift, which argued that the failure of the SDCP to adapt to changing times doomed it to be overtaken by Reform in the 1980s. This work was published.


Professional and union career

Briefly working at a supermarket chain in Tolbury, Halivar became a chartered member and fellow of the Federal Historical Society, and began working as a professional historian in 2004. Her chief interest was in labour history and identity politics. She briefly worked as an assistant at the University of Sowemere, but from 2007 she worked almost exclusively with the United Congress of Trade Unions, documenting the history of the trade union movement in Estmere.

She investigated a number of historical SDCP and labour figures during this time, writing a number of biographies such as Godfredson: Father of the Nation? in 2006, and Holmes: The Great Reformer in 2011. Her account of the early SDCP, Trials and Tribulations of the Early SDCP, 1881-1916, published in 2009 also recieved praise from Nick Lawrence, the leader of the SDCP at the time.

Early political career

Halivar in 2012 during election hustings.

Halivar was shortlisted as a candidate for the SDCP in 2011, and was eventually selected to run for the party in the relatively marginal seat of Harbrough Hillside, defending the seat for the SDCP as the incumbent Tony Johnson was retiring. Her selection campaign was helped heavily by the UCTU. In the 2012 election, Halivar successfully defended the seat and was elected to the Chamber of Commons, though the SDCP lost seats as a whole during the election, and the Euclosceptic Estmere First surged in many SDCP heartland seats.

Halivar was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, soon being promoted to Shadow Minister for Training and Skills. In Nick Lawrence's 2014 cabinet shuffle, she was brought into the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Education. Halivar attacked the governing coalition's education policies, arguing that the department had been neglected. She argued that the system was in need of reform, and consistently raised the issue to Parliament. She drafted a number of plans to streamline the system, with the support of Lawrence.

One of her most controversial suggestions was to abolish grammar schools, replacing the current tiered system with an equal opportunies system that allowed students to study at either technical schools or comprehensives. She also suggested that polytechnics should be equalised with their university counterparts, and subject to the same funding and level of respect.

Leader of the SDCP

Halivar announcing her candidacy during the 2016 leadership election.

In the 2016 election, Halivar increased her majority in Harbrough Hillside, but the SDCP saw its national voteshare stagnate. This was the party's third electoral defeat under Nick Lawrence, and his position as leader quickly became untenable. Halivar and the rest of the Shadow Cabinet advised that Lawrence step down as leader, and he did so in early March. In the leadership election organised to elect his successor, Halivar emerged as an unexpected candidate, though polls showed she was the frontrunner. She beat interim leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Isaac Wright and former Shadow Chancellor Jon Revvie in the first round, securing 51.2% of the vote from party members. Her vote share among union members was significantly higher, at 68.7%.

Upon her election, she became the first woman to be elected as Leader of the SDCP. In her acceptance speech, she vowed to "uphold the promises" that she campaigned on, and that she would pioneer a new kind of leadership, "combining competence with the promise of real change".

She officially became Leader of the Social Democratic and Co-operative Party and Leader of the Opposition on 22 May 2016. She appointed her Shadow Cabinet in the following days, keeping her fellow leadership contenders Wright and Revvie in the Shadow Cabinet, while also bringing in rising stars like Sandeep Sangra, who took on the Education portfolio, and Keith Hudson, who became Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. With the appointment of Jo Pierce as Shadow Chancellor, she made her the first woman to serve as Chancellor, in both a ministerial or shadow ministerial sense. Halivar boldly claimed that her Shadow Cabinet was one of the most qualified in history; with every Shadow Minister having a degree or experience in a field relevant to their portfolio.

Halivar stated that she intended to form a strong opposition to the policies of Prime Minister Richard Graham, but that her opposition would be "focused on competence" and would "not oppose for opposition's sake". She continually campaigned against the government's continuation of austerity politics, describing it as a "vindictive attack on working people". Her opposition focused on alternatives to austerity; with the Shadow Chancellor laying out the SDCP's alternative plan for the economy, taking inspiration from the Knowlesby school and promoting state investment in industry to stimulate growth while tightening Estmere's fiscal responsibilities that did not go toward new investments.

In March 2017, Halivar led a campaign with prominent economists and Reform Party rebels to prevent Graham from abolishing the National Economic Development Organisation, which allowed trade unions and business management to organise government economic policy. The campaign, named We're Ready to Save Neddy, was ultimately successful, as Graham abandoned plans to dissolve the organisation in order to preserve his coalition government with the Reform Party.

Halivar addressing the SDCP conference in November 2019.

Halivar strongly criticised Graham for the numerous scandals that affected his government. In August 2017 it was revealed that Graham had agreed to reduce Estmere's high standards on foreign imported pork in order to secure the import of pork from Imagua and the Assimas, and had then tried to cover up the details of agreement. The resulting scandal was known as Piggate. The SDCP was able to gain access to the trade deal document through a leak, and Halivar used the document to attack Graham. She denounced his move to decrease food standards, arguing that the high standards were a point of Estmerish pride.

In February 2018, the Averygate scandal broke, as it became clear that Graham had used contacts within the High Court of Estmere to meddle in court proceedings relating to the Avery family, attempting to speed up the prosecution of the elder Avery brothers. Politicial scientists saw this as an attempt to sap Estmere First support by removing two of it's most influential figures. Halivar criticised Graham for intervening in the courts; even though she personally believed that the Avery brothers were guilty, she strongly attacked Graham for his attempt to influence the outcome of the politically neutral courts. Graham resigned as Prime Minister.

Reginald Wilton-Smyth succeeded Graham in April 2018, and quickly called a snap election to try and secure support for his government. Halivar and the SDCP voted in favour of triggering the snap election. Her party rose in the polls, and the final results of the election saw the SDCP emerge as the second largest party in Estmere for the first time since 1981, overtaking the Reform Party. Halivar celebrated the results, and declared her party as a government-in-waiting.

Despite approaching the Reform Party, Halivar was unable to secure their support, and Wilton-Smyth stayed on as Prime Minister, maintaining his party's coalition with Reform. Halivar continued her critique of the government in the new term. She argued against Wilton-Smyth's continuation of austerity, in addition to his shift in foreign policy direction and his right-wing populism. She criticised Wilton-Smyth for causing Estmere to backtrack on civil rights, and argued that his premature closure of the committee into reforming the Recognition of Gender Act was "bigoted and morally indefensible".

Halivar initially supported Wilton-Smyth during the 2019 Estmere-Zorasan Crisis, despite opposition from the left-wing of her own party. She described the assassination of Assad Erekat on Estmerish soil on 6 July 2019 as "gut-wrenchingly awful", and following the release of evidence on 12 July, she criticised Zorasan for the assassination, describing it as "a repugnant act of an unlawful rogue state". She offered Wilton-Smyth her support in responding to the crisis, but urged the Prime Minister to "exercise caution", to "work within the law" and to "utilise the neccessary diplomatic channels".

On 15 July, ships of the Estmerish Navy patrolled near Zorasan. Secretary of State for Defence Edwina Porter maintained that Estmerish ships had not violated Zorasan's territorial integrity, and that they had remained in international waters. Halivar warned the Prime Minister against "playing dangerous games" and stated that her support for him during the crisis was conditional and his working within international law. Zorasan later released video footage revealing that the ships did illegally enter Zorasani territorial waters. Porter was forced to resign, and Halivar warned Wilton-Smyth that "moral superority" was crucial during this crisis. Despite pressure from her backbenchers to take a stand against the Prime Minister, she did continue to support Wilton-Smyth's crisis motions. Nevertheless, she whipped her MPs to oppose any other government business in the Chamber of Commons.

On new year's day 2020, Halivar criticised Wilton-Smyth's 'axis of evil' speech. She argued that while the governments of Xiaodong and Zorasan did need to be held to higher scrutiny, and that Zorasan needed to be sanctioned for the assassination of Erekat, that this "needs to be done the right way", through the Community of Nations or International Council for Democracy. She also disagreed with his assessment of neighbouring Kirenia as "an illiberal force". The speech was seen as a turning point in regards to Halivar's attitude toward Wilton-Smyth, as she withdrew her support from his government.

Halivar increasingly criticised the Prime Minister and his Reform Party coalition partners. Her party began putting pressure on Reform, especially as Wilton-Smyth increasingly skirted the terms of his coalition agreement with Reform. Reform MPs increasingly broke ranks to vote alongside the SDCP on a number of issues.

Halivar criticised the Prime Minister's obstructionism during the 2020 IES Summit in Baiqiao, describing climate change as a "an issue that will define our generation" and decrying Wilton-Smyth's actions as "unstatesmanlike and utterly childish". She told the SDCP conference in the same year that she broadly agreed with the proposals put forward by Monique Degar-Abdulrashid, for a green investment bank and for Eastern Euclea to help the Global South invest in green energy. She also suggested that Estmere should use the funds generated by its natural gas to transition to green energy.

She again offered tempered support to Wilton-Smyth after the shooting down of a Federal Air Force jet plane on 10 December; she again said that her support was contingent on the Prime Minister working "within the framework of international law", and offered her condolences to the families of the pilots, stating that their "peace of mind" should be a top priority.

Political positions

Halivar has been considered to belong to the soft left of the SDCP, and has described herself as a democratic socialist with progressive views. She has said that her kind of socialism is "undeniably an ethical one". She has also been labelled as a Sotirian socialist. Her active involvement with the United Congress of Trade Unions and more specifically the General Workers' Union of which she is a member has led to her being labelled as a trade unionist, an assessment she has agreed with. As SDCP leader, she aimed to combine "competence with the promise of real change", which has been dubbed One Nation Socialism.

She has been a strong opponent of the austerity program of the government, dubbing it a "false economy" and a "vindictive attack on working people", while outlining her own Knowlesby school proposals to stimulate investment in the economy, and to balance the budget through cuts to bureaucracy and through new financial levies and "experimental" taxes. She has been a proponent of welfare reform, and has signalled her support for a trial of either universal basic income or negative income tax, schemes which had recently been implemented in Caldia and Gaullica respectively by the SDCP's sister parties.

She has expresssed support for Estmere's social market economy and has defended the National Economic Development Organisation, Estmere's economic planning forum, though she has said that the priorities of the social market "need to be re-examined". Halivar suggested that some measure of wellbeing or happiness should be used to measure economic success alongside GDP.

Halivar has been seen as a strong supporter of civil rights, and was rated by LGBTQ+ organisation Veracity as a "strong ally". She has called for reform of the Recognition of Gender Act to allow for self-identification and to allow a third, nonconforming option to Estmerish passports. She described Wilton-Smyth's premature closure of the commission to reform the RGA as "bigoted and morally indefensible".

She has generally support Estmere's intervention in Tsabara, but has said that she disagrees with the current approach taken by the Prime Minister, urging the need to "work within the law" and "utilise the neccessary diplomatic channels". Halivar has been a proponent of further integration of the Euclean Community, but she has said that many have "legitimate grievances" with the organisation.

Personal life

Halivar married David Owen-Smith in 2011, having been engaged since 2009. The two met while both working with the UCTU; Halivar as a labour historian and Owen-Smith as a legal advisor. The couple have two children, Sidney and Lilian, born in 2015 and 2017. Their first child was named for Sidney Bell, a founding member and the first leader of the Social Democratic and Co-operative Party.

Halivar is a Sotirian, but does not affiliate with a specific church. She has attended services at Communion, Solarian Catholic, and non-mainstream Amendist churches.

Halivar has said that she supports Harbrough United FC, the local football club for her constituency.

She has been a member of the GWU since 2003, and has been a fellow of Federal Historical Society since 2002.


  • Halivar, Zoe (2006). Godfredson: Father of the Nation?. Morwall: Harrow Publishing House.
  • Halivar, Zoe (2009). Trials and Tribulations of the Early SDCP, 1881-1916. Morwall: Harrow Publishing House.
  • Halivar, Zoe (2011). Holmes: The Great Reformer. Morwall: Harrow Publishing House.
  • Halivar, Zoe (2016). Change or Die: The Path That Lies Ahead. Morwall: Harrow Publishing House.


  • "Gone But Not Forgotten: An Argument on the Great Shift" Tolbury Historical Journal, Volume 95, Summer 2002.
  • "A Radical Reinterpretation of Fighting Estmere" Novel Great War History, Volume 47, Spring 2004.
  • "Swandles, Waxons and Duthes: Oh My!" Pre-Modern Estmerish History, Volume 33, Season 2004.
  • "A Brief History of Socialism in Estmere" UCTU Historical Journal, Volume 8, Autumn 2007.
  • "Land and Labour: Localism in the Social Democratic and Co-operative Party" UCTU Historical Journal, Volume 11, Autumn 2010.
  • "The First Unionists: An Account of the Tolbury Martyrs" UCTU Historical Journal, Volume 12, Autumn 2011.
  • "A Few Steps Moore?: A Reinterpretation of Holmes' Successor" Contemporary Estmerish History, Volume 22, Spring 2013.
  • "A Rose Yet Wilted: The Revival of Euclean Socialism" Contemporary Estmerish History, Volume 26, Spring 2018.