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McDonald was born in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, the daughter of Dr HD McDonald, an Irish protestant minister. The family moved to London and she was educated at East Barnet Grammar School and King's College London, where she gained a Master's degree in Theology in 1962 and a Ph.D in 1974. She worked variously as a teacher, lecturer, researcher and management consultant. She taught philosophy at the University of Bristol from 1965-76. She also served as a member of the Financial Services Commission in Gibraltar and was a senior consultant on international regulatory and public policy issues. Her marriage to Richard Whitehouse ended in divorce.
McDonald unsuccessfully contested the seat of South Gloucestershire as the Labour Party candidate at both the February 1974 and October 1974 general elections. She was elected Member of Parliament for Thurrock in the 1976 by-election following the death of Hugh Delargy.
She became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Joel Barnett (now Lord Barnett) in 1977. She was then Opposition Spokesman on Defence from 1981–1983, and then Opposition Spokesman on Treasury and Economic Affairs from 1983-1987.
In 1998, McDonald was named Commander of the British Empire (awarded for services to financial regulation and business).Debretts People of Today/>
Life after Parliament
McDonald is currently a director of the British Portfolio Trust, Complaints Commissioner for the London Metal Exchange, ICE Futures and Virt-x and a member of International Monetary Fund's Expert Roster. She was previously a director of the UK Financial Services Authority (formerly the Securities and Investments Board), a director of the General Insurance Standards Council, a director of Skandia Insurance Co Ltd, a director of the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme, a director of the Investors Compensation Scheme and of Scottish Provident (until demutualised and sold to Abbey National in 2001), and a member of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission. She has undertaken numerous consultancy projects on financial regulation and the development of private pensions for the Asian Development Bank, the IMF, USAID and the British Know-How Fund in Russia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Brunei and Moldova.
She was Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and wrote The Future of Whitehall, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1992 and is also the author of Parliament at Work, Methuen, 1989 and The Future of Retail Banking in Europe: A View from the Top, with Professor Kevin Keasey, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, and numerous research papers for a variety of clients including Deloitte's and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She is currently a Visiting Fellow, International Institute of Banking & Financial Services, University of Leeds. She also edits the Journal of Financial Regulation & Compliance. In 1998, she was awarded the CBE for services to financial regulation and business.
- Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1987
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Oonagh McDonald
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Thurrock