Posted: Sat 22nd Jul 2023

Flintshire-born former Labour MP Ann Clwyd dies, aged 86

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Jul 22nd, 2023

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Flintshire born Ann Clwyd, the former Labour Party politician and pioneering female voice in Welsh politics has died at the age of 86.

Born in Pentre Halkyn, on March 21, 1937, she served the Cynon Valley as Member of Parliament (MP) for a remarkable 35 years, from 1984 until her retirement in 2019.

Raised by her parents Gwilym Henri Lewis and Elizabeth Ann Lewis, Ann first began her journey to an impressive career through an education at Holywell Grammar School and the Queen’s School, Chester.

She later graduated from the University of Wales, Bangor, her academic accomplishments serving as a springboard to her lifelong dedication to public service.

Her career began with teaching at Hope School in Flintshire, before transitioning to journalism where she became a significant voice in Welsh media.

This included working for BBC Wales and being a Welsh correspondent for the Guardian and Observer newspapers.

Her passion for the arts led her to the Vice-Chair position at the Arts Council of Wales from 1975 to 1979.

Ann’s parliamentary journey was sparked by a suggestion from Huw T. Edwards, who championed greater representation for women in Parliament.

She held the post of the Member of the European Parliament for Mid and West Wales from 1979 to 1984, leading up to her successful election to the British Parliament in a by-election in May 1984. This victory marked her as the first woman to represent a Welsh valleys constituency.

Her parliamentary career was marked by a staunch commitment to various causes.

She was notably rebellious, getting dismissed from her post as Shadow Minister of Education and Women’s Rights in 1988 for her opposition to further spending on nuclear weapons.

Despite setbacks, she served in many crucial roles including Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the All Party Parliamentary Iraq Group.

Ann was known for her consistent advocacy of human rights, leading her to become a vocal critic of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.

Her journalistic background led her to be the first to report the horrific claims of human rights abuses in Iraq, significantly impacting international political discourse.

In recognition of her commitment, she was appointed a Special Envoy on Human Rights in Iraq by Tony Blair.

Despite her international focus, Ann remained dedicated to her constituency.

She famously staged a sit-in at the Tower Colliery mine in Hirwaun to protest its closure, reflecting her commitment to her constituents and local issues.

Later in her career, Ann served as a member of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service from 1976-79, later critically highlighting deficiencies in care standards within the NHS, a cause prompted by personal experience.

After her intended retirement in 2015, Ann surprised many by deciding to continue serving her constituents, securing re-election in the same year and again in 2017. She eventually retired from politics in 2019.

Ann Clwyd’s life was marked by her dedication to public service, her championing of human rights, and her unwavering representation of Cynon Valley.

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