Saturday, 19 April 2008

Death of Gwyneth Dunwoody

There have been many appreciative comments on the political blogs about MP Gwyneth Dunwoody who has died aged 77. Mrs Dunwoody was the Labour member for Crewe and Nantwich and was highly respected for her integrity and commitment by her political friends and foes alike. In fact she was regarded as one of the best members of the House of Commons.

Let's backtrack to 1966 for a moment. It was in that year that she was elected as MP for Exeter, her then husband John, a GP, winning the Falmouth seat for good measure. This particularly resonates with me as I was living in Exeter at the time and remember voting for her. I've never been really addicted to any one party and today their policies (or at least those of the three main ones) are getting ever closer. I guess the varied character of our MPs typifies the country as a whole. Some such as Gwyneth Dunwoody richly deserved the title 'honourable', many others are anything but! It's unfortunate that so many votes in the house are made along strictly party lines - common sense, integrity and competence are the things I demand from decision makers not party labels or prejudices.

Although born in London (her father Morgan Phillips was General Secretary of the Labour Party for nearly two decades) Gwyneth had been a member of Totnes Borough Council prior to her election as Exeter's MP. Today's Speaker of the House of Commons is Michael Martin and he is courting a lot of controversy in that post. There must be many who rue the day that Gwyneth wasn't selected for that job.

Not much else I can say really - I just hope that others with such excellent principles will get into future governments whatever their party affiliation.

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