Devolution 'was wrong' says long-serving Welsh Labour MP

Ann Clwyd winning the Cynon Valley by-election in 1984. She is now the longest-serving Welsh MP. Credit: PA

After a lifetime in politics, Ann Clwyd has published a frank autobiography, recounting her numerous battles. They began with the uphill task of getting the Welsh Labour party to take a woman wanting to become an MP seriously. But in 1984, she finally won the Cynon Valley by-election, becoming only the fourth woman ever to have represented a Welsh constituency.

Her many setbacks included being on the losing side in the 1979 devolution referendum, which split the Labour party in Wales. As an MP she made a career as a rebel, sacked twice from the front-bench but finally finding herself on the same side as Tony Blair. He backed a Welsh Assembly and then she backed him over the Iraq war, largely because she had long campaigned to highlight the plight of the Kurds under Saddam Hussein.

In her memoirs, published today, Ann Clwyd recounts a meeting in 2014 with Denzil Davies, a former Labour minister who had never been in favour of devolution. She told him "you were right and I was wrong".

Her distress at the poor treatment she felt her late husband received in a Welsh NHS hospital contributed to her disillusionment but she insists that it goes far deeper.

  • Rebel with a Cause, by Ann Clwyd, is published by Biteback, £25.