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Blair and Starmer lead tributes after death of former Labour MP Ann Clwyd

22 Jul 2023 4 minute read
File photo dated 03/02/10 of veteran Labour MP Ann Clwyd who has died at the age of 86. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Sir Tony Blair and Sir Keir Starmer have led tributes to former Labour MP Ann Clwyd who has died at the age of 86.

She represented the Cynon Valley constituency in South Wales for 35 years, becoming the oldest woman to sit in the House of Commons before standing down in 2019.

Ms Clywd was first elected MP for Cynon Valley in a by-election in 1984, having previously been the MEP for Mid and West Wales for five years in the European Parliament.

The former journalist held a series of frontbench posts in opposition including shadow Welsh secretary and shadow international development secretary.

As a backbencher she campaigned to highlight the atrocities of Saddam Hussein against the Iraqi Kurds and was a strong supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Her family said she died peacefully at home in Cardiff on Friday evening.

Fearless

Former Labour leader Sir Tony said: “Ann was a courageous, fearless, principled political campaigner, whose politics remained steadfastly wedded to representation of the poor and oppressed wherever in the world she found them.

“She didn’t flinch from speaking her mind, no matter what the personal or political cost.

“She fought the case of those employed in the coal industry, persuading my government to correct the failure to compensate former miners for the ill health they suffered through mining.

“She was a stalwart campaigner for better healthcare, typically using her own experience to advocate on behalf of others.

“And having spent a large part of her life standing up against the brutal repression of the Kurdish people in Iraq, she supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, not only when it was relatively easy to do so, but when the going got tough.

“I admired her enormously and am deeply sorry at her passing. A remarkable woman with an outstanding record of service to others.”

First Minster Mark Drakeford said: “She was a fearless campaigner, a defender of human rights and a trailblazer for female politicians, but above all of these – a long-term, dedicated servant of the people of Cynon Valley.”

Labour leader Sir Keir tweeted: “Incredibly sad to hear that Ann Clwyd, former Labour MP for Cynon Valley has passed away.

“A long standing Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Ann was a leading figure in the Labour Party, dedicating her life to our movement. My thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Beth Winter, who succeeded Ms Clwyd as MP for Cynon Valley, said: “My thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

“Her work over so many years for women’s rights, international justice and the miners will be remembered.”

Tenacity

Eluned Morgan, the Welsh Government health minister, said: “Throughout her decades of dedicated public service, she faced difficult challenges with tenacity and courage, fought for social justice, and spoke out for those in need.

“She was a true radical, inspired by her time as a European MP before becoming a significant force at Westminster, where her voice echoed in the corridors of power, urging for change and progress.

“Although her departure leaves a void uneasy to fill, her legacy will remain an inspiration for generations to come.

“We will never forget her impact on and contribution to Welsh public life.”

Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff Central and shadow secretary of state for Wales, said: “Ann really was a trailblazer for women, not just in Wales but across the UK and abroad.

“Determined, passionate, fierce and stood her ground, showing huge strength of character. Ann was also very kind, funny and loyal to her many friends and constituents.

“She was hugely supportive to me when I arrived at Parliament in 2015, always had time to chat and give wise advice. I’ll miss her. She was one of a kind.”

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said of Ms Clwyd: “She was an exceptional parliamentarian who was a champion of many causes. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, added: “A formidable figure, she never shied away from fighting for her beliefs, standing on principle no matter who that may have upset.

“She was a passionate servant of the people of the Cynon Valley and will be deeply missed.”


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Eva Arnott
Eva Arnott
8 months ago

Ann and I were classmates at UCNW Bangor in the ‘fifties. I remember when she wanted the dining room in our dormitory, University Hall, to boycott South African peaches.

max wallis
max wallis
8 months ago

Ann was a longstanding friend of the Kurdish people. When all on the left were condemning the Blair-Bush war on Iraq, she went along with the section of the Kurdish leadership who supported brief intervention to remove Saddam. But it wasn’t brief. and the Americans tried to co-opt the Kurdish leadership, leading to splits and eventual disaster. How Ann Clwyd squared her serving under Blair with the eventual disastrous out-turn, we shall never know. 

max wallis
max wallis
8 months ago

The Cynon was infamous for the “Furni” phurnacite plant during Ann’s time. Though miners unfit to work underground were often transferred there to suffer lung pollution on top of mining dust, they were not included in the Miners Compensation Scheme that went through parliament. Why Ann did not press this was unclear – except that.Wales NUM officials were maintaining through the1970s and 80s that working conditions were “safe”. After the plant closed in 1990, “Furni” cancer victims both in the community and the ex-workforce started campaigning, getting national coverage and culminating in a 200-strong class action in the High Court… Read more »

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