The Baroness McDonagh
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
24 June 2004
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1961-06-26) 26 June 1961 (age 61)
Political partyLabour
Alma materHarvard University

Margaret Josephine McDonagh, Baroness McDonagh (born 26 June 1961) is a British Labour Party politician[1] and was General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1998 to 2001.[2] She now works as a management consultant.[3]


McDonagh was part of the New Labour leadership inner-circle for the 1997 general election campaign and was one of the inner-core deciding the official party position on specific issues.[2][4]

In 1998, McDonagh became Labour's first female general secretary, after serving as deputy general secretary the previous year. She was not always popular with the grassroots and parts of the Parliamentary Party due to her perceived 'control-freakery'.[2][5] She was considered to have badly mishandled the party's London mayoral candidate selection process, which resulted in Ken Livingstone winning the election as an independent candidate, leaving the official Labour candidate, Frank Dobson, in third place, with subsequent disapproval amongst the party members.[6][2][7] McDonagh later apologised for the mayoral electoral loss.[4] Her organisational skills came to the fore however in the delivery of a second landslide victory at the 2001 general election.[2] She was also criticised for accepting, without consultation, a £100,000 donation from Daily Express an adult magazine publisher Richard Desmond, and still counting as party members those in arrears of up to 15 months to delay news of declining membership emerging.[8]

After stepping down from the position of General Secretary following the 2001 general election,[9] McDonagh took a short Harvard University business course and became General Manager of Express Newspapers.[4][10] She has been a non-executive director of Standard Life, TBI plc and CareCapital Group plc. She is Chair of the Standard Life Charitable Trust.[3]

She was created a life peer on 24 June 2004 taking the title Baroness McDonagh, of Mitcham and of Morden in the London Borough of Merton.[11]

In 2013, Margaret McDonagh was appointed chair of the Smart Meter Central Delivery Body, which then became Smart Energy GB, an independent organisation that aims to inform consumers about smart meters and their national rollout across Great Britain.[12][13]

Her sister is Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden.[2]


  1. ^ "Baroness McDonagh". Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ray Dunne (27 March 2001). "Margaret McDonagh: Labour general secretary". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b "McDONAGH, Baroness". Who's Who. (Dec 2013 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 16 June 2014. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c "Former Labour chief joins Express". BBC. 11 October 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  5. ^ Liz Davies (29 March 2001). "Labour pains". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  6. ^ Nick Assinder (7 March 2000). "Livingstone sparks Labour inquest". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  7. ^ Nicholas Watt and Kevin Maguire (8 March 2000). "Knives out for McDonagh after selection fiasco". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  8. ^ Grice, Andrew (25 August 2002). "David Triesman: The Blairite trade unionist determined to square the funding circle". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  9. ^ Andy Mcsmith (4 October 2001). "Smiles mask the tensions at the end of McDonagh's reign". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  10. ^ Matt Wells and Kevin Maguire (12 October 2001). "Woman behind Labour landslides gets job at Express". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  11. ^ "No. 57341". The London Gazette. 30 June 2004. p. 8139.
  12. ^ "Appointment of Central Delivery Body Chair Baroness Margaret McDonagh". Central Delivery Body. 19 June 2013. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  13. ^ Baroness Mcdonagh (10 June 2014). "Smart meters will revolutionise how we pay for energy". Daily Express. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
Party political offices Preceded byTom Sawyer General Secretary of the Labour Party 1998–2001 Succeeded byDavid Triesman