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Siobhain McDonagh MP

Member of Parliament
for Mitcham and Morden
Incumbent
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by Angela Rumbold
Majority 12,560 (31.5%)

Born 20 February 1960 (1960-02-20) (age 50)
Colliers Wood, London
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Essex

Siobhain Ann McDonagh (born 20 February 1960) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden since 1997. She previously served as an Assistant Whip in the Labour Government, but was fired following comments regarding a leadership contest to replace PM Gordon Brown.[1]

Contents

Early life

McDonagh is a Roman Catholic[2] of Irish descent [3] and was educated at the Holy Cross Catholic Girls' School on Sandal Road in New Malden and later studied Politics at the University of Essex. Her sister is Baroness McDonagh who was General Secretary of the Labour Party between 1998 and 2001 and was instrumental in the modernisation of the Labour Party in both its campaigning and policy.

She was a clerical officer for the DHSS between 1981-3, then a Housing benefit from 1983-4, then a receptionist at the Wandsworth Homeless Persons Unit from 1984-6, and a housing adviser from 1986-8.

Prior to being elected to Parliament she worked as a Development Manager for Battersea Churches Housing Trust from 1988-97. She also served as a councillor on London Borough of Merton for Colliers Wood ward between 1982 and 1998, chairing the Housing Committee between 1990 and 1995 where she was instrumental in the rebuilding of Phipps Bridge Estate.

Parliamentary career

McDonagh was selected to stand in the 1997 election for Labour through an all-women shortlist [4]. This method of selection was subsequently declared illegal in January 1996 as it breached sex discrimination laws.[5] Despite the ruling she remained in place as the candidate for the following year's election.

She was first elected in 1997 on her third attempt, defeating the Conservative incumbent, Dame Angela Rumbold, who was her opponent in both 1987 and 1992 General Elections.

McDonagh had a record of loyalty to the Labour Party. Locally, she generally has a reputation for being an assiduous local Member of Parliament[citation needed] holding a weekly surgery along with regular coffee mornings.

She has been extremely pro-active and instrumental in securing two Academy schools for East Mitcham, an area that suffers from considerable educational underachievement with GCSE results far below the national average. Recently she was also successful along with Merton Council in getting the Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt, to locate the new critical care hospital at St Helier near the southern edge of her constituency. This overturned a decision by local health chiefs to locate the hospital at the Sutton Hospital site a number of miles away from her Mitcham and Morden constituency.

After the May 2005 General Election she served as PPS to Dr. John Reid in his position as Secretary of State for Defence and from May 2006 to June 2007 Secretary of State for Home Affairs. She was appointed to the position of Assistant Whip on 28 June 2007 in the re-shuffle brought about by Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister.

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Expenses Controversies

McDonagh had attracted criticism in April 2000 when it emerged she had used public money to send party political information to 200 of her constituents, she claimed the incident was a mistake. John Redwood was particularly critical of her actions, stating "she should have found out by now that free post is not there for self-promotion". McDonagh promised to apologise and pay back the money. [6]

Then in 2007 McDonagh attracted further criticisms for her vast expenditure on stationery and postage, spending more than other MP on postage from 2003 to 2006. In total she spent £126,833 on postage alone in the four year period, an average of almost £32,000 per year. When adding in stationery costs, her expenditure was close to £50,000 in both 2004-05 and 2006-07.[7] McDonagh sent 120,000 letters in one year alone - 800 for every sitting day of Parliament [8]

As a result of such excessive spending on postage by MPs, a £7,000 limit was introduced for postage costs in 2007.[9] Some critics such as Martin Bell have expressed concern that excessive postage spending gave incumbent MPs an advantage over challengers in elections as the funds mights be inappropriately used for party political purposes.[10]

Dismissal

On 12 September, McDonagh broke government ranks and became the first member of the government to call for a leadership contest. McDonagh said "It's about time we let party members and people involved in the Labour Party and the wider community in on that debate" in a BBC interview and was told live on air by a Channel 4 interviewer that she had been dismissed by Number 10.

Personal life

McDonagh lives in Colliers Wood with her sister Margaret.[11]

She is Patron of Leap Forward Employment - a community interest company that finds work for adults with mental health issues.[12]

References

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7613086.stm
  2. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4748875.ece
  3. ^ Siobhain McDonagh MP
  4. ^ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19960109/ai_n9634358?tag=content;col1
  5. ^ "Labour blow as all-women lists outlawed". The Independent. Bnet.com. 9 January 1996. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19960109/ai_n9634289. 
  6. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mp-to-apologise-over-party-survey-on-commons-paper-721415.html
  7. ^ http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/siobhain_mcdonagh/mitcham_and_morden#expenses
  8. ^ http://www.bookrags.com/highbeam/labour-mps-sent-mailshots-to-cling-on-20051028-hb/
  9. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-451398/Crackdown-free-postage-Labour-MP-claims-50-000-stationery.html
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ http://siobhainmcdonagh.org.uk/joomla_folder/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21&Itemid=34
  12. ^ http://www.leapforwardemployment.org

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Angela Rumbold
Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden
1997 - present
Succeeded by
incumbent

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