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Siobhain McDonagh

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

Siobhain McDonagh

Official portrait of Siobhain McDonagh crop 2.jpg
McDonagh in 2017
Member of Parliament
for Mitcham and Morden
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byAngela Rumbold
Majority21,375 (44.5%)
Personal details
Born (1960-02-20) 20 February 1960 (age 59)
Colliers Wood, Surrey, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Essex

Early lifeEdit

McDonagh is a Roman Catholic[2] and is of Irish descent.[3] McDonagh was educated at the Holy Cross School, New Malden and later studied Politics at the University of Essex.

She was a clerical officer for the DHSS between 1981–83, a receptionist at the Wandsworth Homeless Persons Unit from 1984–86, and a housing adviser from 1986–88. 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, being instrumental in the rebuilding of Phipps Bridge Estate.

Parliamentary careerEdit

McDonagh was first elected in the 1997 election for Labour, having been selected through an all-women shortlist,[4] defeating the Conservative incumbent, Dame Angela Rumbold, to whom she had lost in the 1987 and 1992 General Elections,[5] on a swing of 11.6 percentage of the votes, similar to the national average.

After the 2001 election, prime minister Tony Blair offered McDonagh the position of Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Communities. She declined the offer and remained a backbencher. After the May 2005 general election, she served as PPS to Dr. John Reid while he served as Secretary of State for Defence and from May 2006 to June 2007 Secretary of State for the Home Department. She was appointed to the position of Assistant Whip in June 2007 in the re-shuffle brought about by Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister.

On 12 September 2008, McDonagh became the first member of the government to call for a leadership contest, resulting in her dismissal from her government post.[6]

In June 2015, McDonagh nominated Liz Kendall, considered the Blairite candidate, for the leadership of the Labour Party.[7] She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[8]

In 2018, McDonagh offered her support to Labour MP Chris Leslie when he faced a confidence motion from his CLP, a vote he subsequently lost.[9]

Middle EastEdit

In March 2003, McDonagh voted in favour of the country going to war with Iraq.[10] She has consistently voted against any inquiry into the Iraq war.[11]

In December 2015, she was among the minority of Labour MPs who voted in favour of extending UK military airstrikes against ISIS into Syria. She has written that it was a decision "not easy to come to".[12]

McDonagh abstained from a vote about the UK's support for Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen. The vote was defeated by a majority of 90. As noted by commentators, the vote would have succeeded if 97 Labour MPs had not abstained.[13]


In April 2000, her office sent a party political questionnaire to 200 of her constituents using parliamentary resources; a spokesman for McDonagh subsequently said it was a "mistake". McDonagh promised to apologise and reimburse the cost to her office.[14]

In 2007, her expenditure on stationery and postage attracted criticism, being more than any other MP's for postage from 2003 to 2006. In total, her office spent £126,833 on postage in the four-year period, an average of almost £32,000 per year. When adding in stationery costs, the expenditure was approximately £50,000 in both 2004–05 and 2006–07.[15] McDonagh responded stating, "I believe the job of an MP is to keep in contact with constituents on important issues."[16]

Mobile phone theftEdit

In October 2010, her mobile phone was stolen from her car.[17] Although not implicated in the robbery itself, it became evident that The Sun newspaper had accessed the phone, including messages stored on it. She sued the paper and in March 2013 won "substantial damages."[18]

Antisemitism commentsEdit

In 2019, McDonagh was criticised by some left-wing members of the party after she appeared to agree with a statement put forward by John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, that "to be anti-capitalist you have to be antisemitic". McDonagh said anti-semitism is a problem in the Labour Party, because "part of [Labour Party] politics, of hard left politics, [is] to be against capitalists and to see Jewish people as the financiers of capital." She went on to say "In other words to be anti-capitalist you have to be antisemitic."[19][20]

Personal lifeEdit

McDonagh lives in Colliers Wood in her constituency with her sister Margaret, who was General Secretary of the Labour Party between 1998 and 2001, during Tony Blair's premiership.[21]

She was a patron of Leap Forward Employment – a now defunct community interest company that found work for adults with mental health issues.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Whip sacked over leader bid call". BBC News. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  2. ^ Oliver, Jonathan; Woolf, Marie (14 September 2008). "Will this woman bring down Gordon Brown". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  3. ^ Siobhain McDonagh MP Archived 29 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Russell, Ben (26 February 2004). "What became of Blair's Babes?". The Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Former Tory education minister Dame Angela Rumbold dies". BBC News. 20 June 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Whip sacked over leader bid call". BBC News. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  9. ^ Coulter, Martin (29 September 2018). "Corbyn-critic Labour MP Chris Leslie loses vote of no confidence". Politics Home. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Iraq — Declaration of War — 18 Mar 2003 at 22:00". The Public Whip. 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Investigations into the Iraq War". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  12. ^ McDonagh, Siobhain (1 December 2015). "Extending airstrikes on ISIL / Daesh targets in Syria". personal blog. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  13. ^ Stone, Jon (22 October 2016). "Labour MPs rebel against party's own motion calling for action on Saudi Arabian war crimes". The Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  14. ^ Waugh, Paul (26 April 2000). "MP to apologise over party survey on Commons paper". The Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Siobhain McDonagh MP, Mitcham and Morden". Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  16. ^ Mulholland, Héléne (25 October 2007). "MP spends £35k on postage". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Sun apologises for accessing MP's stolen phone". BBC. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  18. ^ "The Sun admits accessing messages from Labour whip's stolen phone while NI was under investigation over phone hacking – Press – Media". The Independent. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  19. ^ Stone, Jon (4 March 2019). "Labour MP Siobhain Mcdonagh: to be anti-capitalism is to be anti-semitic". Nye Bevan News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  20. ^ Cowles, Ben (4 March 2019). "Left-wing Jewish groups condemn McDonagh for appearing to suggest Jewish people control capitalism". Morning Star. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Labour Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden". Siobhain McDonagh. 20 February 1960. Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  22. ^ "Home". Leap Forward Employment. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2010.

External linksEdit