Ann Clwyd
Official portrait of Ann Clwyd crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party
In office
24 May 2005 – 5 December 2006
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byJean Corston
Succeeded byTony Lloyd
Shadow Secretary of State for National Heritage
In office
29 September 1992 – 21 October 1993
LeaderJohn Smith
Preceded byBryan Gould
Succeeded byMo Mowlam
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
In office
18 July 1992 – 1 November 1992
LeaderJohn Smith
Preceded byBarry Jones
Succeeded byRon Davies
Shadow Minister for Overseas Development
In office
2 November 1989 – 18 July 1992
LeaderNeil Kinnock
Preceded byGuy Barnett
Succeeded byMichael Meacher
Member of Parliament
for Cynon Valley
In office
3 May 1984 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byIoan Evans
Succeeded byBeth Winter
Member of the European Parliament
for Mid and West Wales
In office
7 June 1979 – 14 June 1984
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byDavid Morris
Personal details
Born (1937-03-21) 21 March 1937 (age 85)[1]
Halkyn, Flintshire, Wales[1]
NationalityWelsh
Political partyWelsh Labour
Spouse(s)Owen Roberts
Alma materUniversity of Wales, Bangor[1]
WebsiteWelsh Labour

Ann Clwyd Roberts (born 21 March 1937) is a Welsh Labour Party politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Cynon Valley for 35 years, from 1984 until 2019. Although she had intended to stand down in 2015, she was re-elected in that year's general election and in 2017 before standing down in 2019.

Early life

Clwyd is the daughter of Gwilym Henri Lewis and Elizabeth Ann Lewis, born and brought up in Pentre Halkyn, Flintshire. She was educated at Holywell Grammar School and the Queen's School, Chester, before graduating from the University of Wales, Bangor.[1]

Career

Clwyd was a student teacher at Hope School in Flintshire, before training as a journalist. She then worked for BBC Wales as a studio manager, and then became Welsh correspondent for the Guardian and Observer newspapers during 1964–79.[1] She was Vice-Chair of the Arts Council of Wales from 1975 to 1979. She is a member of the NUJ and TGWU.

Parliamentary career

Clwyd was persuaded to stand for Parliament by Huw T. Edwards, who felt that there should be more women in parliament. She was the unsuccessful Labour candidate in Denbigh in 1970 and Gloucester in October 1974.[1]

From 1979 to 1984, Clwyd was the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Mid and West Wales. She was elected to Parliament in a by-election in May 1984 following the death of Ioan Evans, and became the first woman to sit for a Welsh valleys constituency. She served as Shadow Minister of Education and Women's Rights from 1987,[1] but was sacked in 1988 for rebelling against the party whip on further spending on nuclear weapons. She returned as Shadow Minister for Overseas Development from 1989 to 1992, and then served as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales in 1992 and for National Heritage from 1992 to 1993.

In January 1993, Clwyd was rebuked by Speaker Betty Boothroyd when she would regularly park her car in the Speaker’s Court, without Boothroyd’s permission, which culminated in Boothroyd threatening to have Clwyd’s car clamped if she did it in future.[2][3]

She was the Opposition Spokesperson for Employment from 1993 to 1994,[1] and for Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1995,[1] when she was again sacked, along with Jim Cousins, for observing the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kirkuk without permission. In 1994 she staged a sit-in down Tower Colliery mine in her constituency to protest at its closure. She was a member of the International Development Select Committee from 1997 to 2005.[1] On 9 August 2004, she became a member of the Privy Council.[1]

Clwyd was a Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party from 2001 until 2005,[1] and was elected as Chair by 167 to 156 (beating Tony Lloyd) on 24 May 2005.[1] However, on 5 December 2006 she was defeated by Lloyd by 11 votes when she sought re-election, with her closeness to Tony Blair being cited as a reason for her defeat.[4]

During her parliamentary career, Clwyd served as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the All Party Parliamentary Iraq Group.[1] She is Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coalfield Communities, and Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cambodia. She is a former Chair of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an Executive Member on the (IPU) Committee on Middle East Questions and an Executive Member on the (IPU) Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.

In February 2014, after informing party leader Ed Miliband and revealing her decision at the monthly meeting of the Cynon Valley Labour Party, Clwyd announced that she was to stand down at the 2015 general election.[5] However, she subsequently changed her mind but was told that she would need to go through a reselection process as the procedure to find her successor had already been put in train by the Labour Party.[6] On 13 December 2014, she was reselected from an all-women shortlist as the Labour Party candidate in Cynon Valley for the 2015 General Election.[7]

Clwyd was one of 13 MPs to vote against triggering the 2017 General Election.[8]

In the series of Parliamentary votes on Brexit in March 2019, Clwyd voted against the Labour Party whip and in favour of an amendment tabled by members of The Independent Group for a second public vote.[9]

In September 2019, Clwyd announced again that she intended to retire at the next general election.[10]

Iraq

Through her interest in human rights and international women's rights, Clwyd became involved in the debate around the rule of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Whilst opposition spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, she was sacked along with Jim Cousins for observing the Turkish Army's invasion of Iraqi Kirkuk without permission.[1] From 1997 to 2005 Clwyd was a member of the International Development Select Committee.

On 12 March 2003, James Mahon made first mention of the claims that some Iraqis were killed in plastic shredders or wooden chippers,[11][12] when he addressed the House of Commons after returning from research in northern Iraq. Six days later, Clwyd wrote an article in The Times entitled "See men shredded, then say you don't back war," saying that an unnamed Iraqi had said that Saddam and Qusay Hussein fed opponents of their Baathist rule into a plastic shredder or wood chipper, and then used their shredded bodies as fish food.[13] Later she would add that it was believed to be housed in Abu Ghraib prison, and spoke with an unidentified person who claimed the American-sourced shredders were dismantled "just before the military got there".[14] As the first journalist to state the unsubstantiated claim, the rolling effect of the gruesome verbal picture garnered wider media and international political support, including from Australian Prime Minister John Howard, for an invasion of Iraq. The Sun's political editor Trevor Kavanagh wrote in February 2004 that as a result of Clwyd's article "Public opinion swung behind Tony Blair, as voters learned how Saddam fed dissidents feet first into industrial shredders." As she had been vocal and prominent in her concern for the situation in Iraq before the war, Tony Blair made her a Special Envoy on Human Rights in Iraq in the run-up to the war.[1]

At the Chilcot Inquiry in February 2010, Clwyd explained why she supported the Iraq War. A month before the invasion, she had been on a visit to Kurdistan collecting evidence regarding human rights abuses. There she found people living in fear of a repeat of the 1988 Halabja massacre, where 5,000 Kurds had been killed in a gas attack. Whilst there she was taken by the wife of the [now] President of Iraq to the border of Iraq and Kurdistan, where she pointed towards the hillside and said: "That’s where they are going to fire the chemical weapons from."[15] On publication of the Chilcot report in July 2016, Clwyd remained unmoved: "So would I have still voted in Parliament in 2003 to support military action in Iraq – with the benefit of hindsight and in light of the Chilcot report? Yes. No one will ever be able to convince me that the world is not better off without Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime in power."[16]

NHS

She was a member of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service 1976–79.

In December 2012 Clwyd publicly criticised the standard of nursing care that her husband Owen Roberts had received at the University Hospital of Wales when he was dying there in October 2012. She focussed on the lack of compassion shown to him.[17]

In 2013, after the Stafford Enquiry report, she was appointed by the Prime Minister to advise on complaint handling in the NHS.[18]

Female Genital Mutilation

In 2003 Clwyd was chosen for a place to introduce a Private Member's Bill via a ballot of MPs. She was pressed by hundreds of pressure groups[citation needed] who wished to publicise their own groups, and promote their own proposals for legislation. She chose to introduce the Female Genital Mutilation Bill (to prohibit parents from sending, or taking, their daughters abroad for operations such as female circumcision),[19] which was successfully enacted.[20] Female circumcision itself had already been banned in 1985.[21]

Other positions

Clwyd was admitted to the White Robe of the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1991. She is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Bangor, and the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, which awarded her a University of Wales honorary degree. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Trinity College, Carmarthen for her contribution to politics and as a human rights campaigner. She was a Member of the Arts Council 1975–79 and the Vice Chair of the Welsh Arts Council 1975–97.

Personal life

She married Owen Dryhurst Roberts, a television director and producer, in 1963. He died in October 2012, aged 73.

Honours

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Rt Hon Ann Clwyd, MP Authorised Biography". Debrett's People of Today. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  2. ^ "BBC News | UK POLITICS | Madam Speaker's career". news.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Parking (Speaker's Court) (Hansard, 29 January 1993)". api.parliament.uk.
  4. ^ "Lloyd becomes Labour MPs' chair". BBC NEWS. 5 December 2006. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd to stand down at election". BBC Wales. 3 February 2014. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd to stand for re-election". BBC News. 19 September 2014. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Cynon Valley Labour MP Ann Clwyd wins fight to defend her seat". BBC News. 13 December 2014. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  8. ^ "The 13 MPs who opposed snap general election". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 20 April 2017. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  9. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (14 March 2019). "Brexit latest: The Welsh MPs who voted for a second referendum". Wales Online. Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Ann Clwyd: Longest serving Welsh Labour MP to step down". BBC News Online. 29 September 2019. Archived from the original on 29 September 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Saddam Executed; An Era Comes to an End". ABC News Blogs. 30 December 2006. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Prison Stands as Testament to Saddam's Evil". Defense.gov. 17 December 2005. Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  13. ^ Clwyd, Ann (18 March 2003). "See men shredded, then say you don't back war". The Times. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  14. ^ "How a Labour rebel became friends with US hawks". the Guardian. 22 June 2003. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Ann Clwyd tells inquiry why she backed Iraq invasion". Wales Online. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  16. ^ Clwyd, Ann (6 July 2016). "I'd still vote to go to war in Iraq". theguardian.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Ann Clwyd complains of 'cold' University Hospital of Wales nurses". BBC News. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Ann Clwyd asked to advise on NHS hospital complaints". BBC News. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  19. ^ "Female Genital Mutilation Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 21 March 2003. col. 1188–1208. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
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