Ann Clwyd obituary


The previous Labour MP for Cynon Valley Ann Clwyd, who has died aged 86, blazed a path in pursuit of human rights for all these whose causes she adopted throughout an extended lifetime of passionate political advocacy. Her first campaigns have been near dwelling on behalf of the mining trade in her native Wales, and she or he would later develop into strongly recognized with sympathy for the Kurdish individuals of Iraq.

Her dedication to their case and opposition to the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein led to her outstanding speech within the Home of Commons in early 2003 in help of the proposed conflict in opposition to Iraq, regardless of the widespread opposition on the Labour get together left, with whom she was usually related. The then prime minister, Tony Blair, subsequently appointed her as his particular envoy on human rights in Iraq, a put up she held till the autumn of the Labour authorities in 2010.

She by no means regretted her choice – “I knew that I couldn’t face the Iraqi individuals if I voted in opposition to intervention” – and her decided stance later gained her political awards as backbencher and campaigning MP of the 12 months.

Clwyd was additionally a trenchant and articulate journalist, notably for this information organisation and the Observer from 1964 till 1979, and she or he by no means hesitated to make use of this platform to advance her arguments on the problem of human rights, at dwelling and overseas, and as a fearless feminist. Her parliamentary profession was devoted to advancing the rights of girls, having had an extended and difficult battle to safe a winnable constituency in what was then the masculine autocracy of Welsh Labour politics. She was the primary feminine MP to characterize a seat within the valleys of the south Wales minefield and at one level the one feminine MP in Wales. A wise dresser with a beautiful sense of fashion, she gave many trigger to thank her for main the profitable marketing campaign to incorporate a ladies’s hairdresser among the many Commons’ services.

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Ann Clwyd after successful the Cynon Valley byelection in 1984. She represented the south Wales constituency for 35 years. {Photograph}: Tim Ockenden/PA

She was a powerful lady with a cool head, who knew her personal thoughts. Pleasant and widespread within the Commons, and having spent eight years as a frontbench shadow spokeswoman, Clwyd may need anticipated to have been appointed a minister when the Blair authorities took workplace in 1997. She would have appreciated abroad improvement. Nevertheless, by then she was thought to be a member of the get together’s awkward squad. Blair had sacked her from his shadow overseas affairs staff for lacking a Commons vote in 1995 when pursuing her marketing campaign on Kurdish rights. She had additionally been dismissed by Neil Kinnock in 1988 from her put up as spokeswoman on ladies and schooling, for defying the whips in a vote on nuclear weapons.

She had acquired political confidence earlier than arriving at Westminster throughout 5 years as a member of the primary instantly elected European parliament from 1979. On arrival as an MEP she had been in opposition to the then widespread market, however was swiftly gained over. She mentioned of the EU in 1992: “It’s the place the long run lies and you may get issues accomplished”, little foreseeing Brexit on the time – a choice she thought to be calamitous in 2016. Her years in Europe additionally gave her an understanding of a world perspective, discovering the Home of Commons when she first joined to be “delusional” in its collective perception that the UK did every part higher.

Born Ann Clwyd Lewis in Denbigh in north Wales, she was the daughter of Gwilym Lewis, a metallurgist, and his spouse, Elizabeth (nee Jones), who had skilled as a home science trainer. Each mother and father have been from the seaside village of Aberdyfi, in Gwynedd, an space to which Clwyd retained a lifelong attachment. It was not a political family, and she or he and her youthful sister, Gwyneth, have been raised with a way of obligation, instilled at chapel and Sunday faculty.

She spoke solely Welsh till the age of 5 and remained an advocate of the language, later securing European funding for its encouragement and taking the parliamentary oath in Welsh and English. She went to Halkyn major faculty and Holywell grammar faculty earlier than the household moved to Chester when Ann was 14, after which attended the direct grant Queen’s faculty.

She gained a spot to check English, Welsh and biblical research at College School, Bangor, however spent an excessive amount of time socialising and on scholar politics, and dropped out with out graduating after two years. Subsequently she would develop into an honorary fellow of the college, amongst different honorary levels.

She discovered a job with BBC Wales and have become a studio supervisor – she did the sound results for the youngsters’s programme Toytown – which led finally to journalism as a contract reporter and producer.

In 1963 she married Owen Roberts, a TV director and producer, and though identified for a interval as Ann Clwyd Roberts, dropped her husband’s surname within the pursuits of a shorter byline. She now additionally had an growing curiosity in politics. Having supported Plaid Cymru as a schoolgirl and gained a faculty election because the nationalist candidate, she had developed ambitions to be a Labour MP. She joined the get together in 1968 and in 1970 stood within the secure Tory seat of Denbigh. In October 1974 she was chosen for one more unwinnable seat in Gloucester and thereafter did not win choice for Birmingham Stechford or for Caerphilly in 1977, or for Ogmore in 1979. Throughout this era she additionally wrote for the Labour get together newspaper Labour Weekly, because the Welsh correspondent. She was elected because the MEP for Mid and West Wales in 1979.

In 1984 she gained choice for the Cynon Valley byelection, defeating 4 former MPs for the seat as soon as represented (then known as Merthyr and Aberdare) by Keir Hardie. As a journalist she had campaigned forcefully for compensation for miners affected by pneumoconiosis, and elected, as she was, in the middle of the bitter miners’ strike, she proved a strong voice in defence of the trade as she would stay all through. In 1994 she joined a profitable sit-in to maintain open the Tower Colliery in Hirwaun and stayed underground for 27 hours. The pit continued to supply coal and at last closed solely in 2008.

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Ann Clwyd, second from proper in entrance row, with different feminine Labour MPs and the get together chief, Neil Kinnock, in 1987, the 12 months she grew to become shadow abroad improvement secretary. {Photograph}: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

One other important curiosity lay in bettering the effectivity of the NHS. She was a member of the Welsh hospital board (1970-74) and Cardiff Group Well being Council (1975-79). She was appointed by Barbara Citadel, then well being secretary, because the Welsh consultant on the Royal Fee on the NHS, which sat from 1976 to 1979.

In later years she made a strong political affect after her husband, who suffered from a number of sclerosis, died within the College Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, in 2012. She advised MPs in 2013 that he had “died like a battery hen” and had been handled with coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt on his deathbed, an account that opened floodgates of comparable grievances and led the then prime minister, David Cameron, to nominate her to guide a evaluate into the NHS complaints process.

Her different campaigns included introducing controls to forestall the apply of rogue cosmetic surgery, and in 2003 she sponsored a non-public member’s invoice to outlaw feminine genital mutilation.

She had duties on the opposition frontbench between 1987 and 1995, notably as shadow secretary for abroad improvement. It was throughout this time that she first visited Kurdistan, in 1990, and advised the Commons: “I’ve seen for myself probably the most abject distress, that I’d not have thought doable.” After one other go to in 2003, previous to the invasion of Iraq, she mentioned she had cried after listening to from victims of torture, and it was her nice remorse that Britain had not led the best way to regime change in Iraq when it had the prospect through the first Gulf conflict.

She chaired the parliamentary Labour get together in 2005, and the all-party parliamentary group on human rights (1997-2019). She was a member of the choose committees on worldwide improvement (1997-2005) and on overseas affairs (2010-19).

When she stood down on the final election, after 35 years representing Cynon Valley, she was the oldest lady to have sat as an MP. Her memoir, Insurgent With a Trigger, was printed in 2017 and devoted to her late husband and to human rights.


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