Siobhain McDonagh

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Siobhain McDonagh
Member of Parliament
for Mitcham and Morden
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Angela Rumbold
Majority 16,922 (37.5%)
Personal details
Born (1960-02-20) 20 February 1960 (age 56)
Colliers Wood, Surrey, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Essex
Religion Roman Catholic

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]

Early life[edit]

McDonagh is a Roman Catholic[2] and is of Irish descent.[3] McDonagh was educated at the Holy Cross Catholic Girls' School in 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 where she was instrumental in the rebuilding of Phipps Bridge Estate.

Parliamentary career[edit]

McDonagh was selected to stand in the 1997 election for Labour through an all-women shortlist.[citation needed]

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

After the 2001 election, Tony Blair offered McDonagh the position of Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Communities, however she declined the offer and remained a backbencher. Later she was 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 a site in Sutton, a number of miles away from her constituency.

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 on 28 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. 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.[4]

In June 2015 McDonagh nominated Liz Kendall, considered the Blairite candidate, to be leader of the Labour Party[5] In December 2015, she was among the minority of Labour MP's 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". [6]

Expenses controversies[edit]

In April 2000, her office sent a party political questionnaire to 200 of her constituents using parliamentary resources; a spokesman for Ms McDonagh said it was a mistake. McDonagh promised to apologise and pay back the money.[7]

In 2007, her expenditure on stationery and postage attracted criticism, being more than any other MP for postage from 2003 to 2006. In total her office spent £126,833 on postage alone in the four-year period, an average of almost £32,000 per year. When adding in stationery costs, the expenditure was close to £50,000 in both 2004–05 and 2006–07.[8] McDonagh sent 120,000 letters in one year alone – 800 for every sitting day of Parliament[9]

Subsequently, a £7,000 limit was introduced for postage costs in 2007.[10]

Mobile phone theft[edit]

In October 2010 her mobile phone was stolen from her car.[11] Although not implicated in the robbery itself, it became evident that The Sun newspaper had accessed the phone, including messages stored on it. She subsequently won substantial damages against the newspaper in March 2013.[12]

Personal life[edit]

McDonagh lives in her constituency in Colliers Wood with her sister Margaret, who was General Secretary of the Labour Party between 1998 and 2001 during Tony Blair's premiership.[13]

She is Patron of Leap Forward Employment – a community interest company that finds work for adults with mental health issues.[14]

See also[edit]


  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.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  4. ^ "Whip sacked over leader bid call". BBC News. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  5. ^
  6. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Waugh, Paul (26 April 2000). "MP to apologise over party survey on Commons paper". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Siobhain McDonagh MP, Mitcham and Morden". Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  9. ^ "MPs set to vote for another handout... at the taxpayer's expense | Mail Online". London: 2006-10-31. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  10. ^ "Crackdown on free postage as Labour MP claims £50,000 on stationery | Mail Online". London: 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  11. ^ "BBC News – Sun apologises for accessing MP's stolen phone". 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  12. ^ "The Sun admits accessing messages from Labour whip's stolen phone while NI was under investigation over phone hacking – Press – Media". The Independent. 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  13. ^ "Labour Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden". Siobhain McDonagh. 1960-02-20. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  14. ^ "Home". Leap Forward Employment. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Angela Rumbold
Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden
1997 – present