Margaret McDonagh Wiki – Margaret McDonagh Biography
Margaret McDonagh, Labour’s first female general secretary, died in her sleep at the age of 61. The politician was general secretary of the Labour Party from 1998 to 2001 and sat in the House of Lords as Baroness McDonagh after she assumed office in 2004 with a Life Peerage. Her death comes as earlier this year, her sister Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, gave a House of Commons speech in which she accused the NHS of ‘abandoning’ her sister as she was treated for brain cancer. She fought back tears as she criticised the lack of progress on brain cancer treatment since 2005 in the NHS and explained her sister was on a course of treatment which involved a monthly four-day trip to Dusseldorf, Germany. She said that Baroness McDonagh had the tumour removed during surgery at the Royal National Neurological Hospital just before Christmas, but only after the operation was cancelled by the NHS three times prior.
Siobhain McDonagh said during her speech in March: ‘On the 27 November 2021 my beautiful, unique, tough, resilient, successful sister collapsed in front of me and had a series of fits. Five hours later in University College Hospital two doctors named Henry told me that they suspected she had a brain tumour but as this was the NHS, MRI scans were not done at the weekend and they couldn’t confirm their diagnosis.’ I wonder what my mum who came here in 1947 to train as the first generation of nurses from Ireland would say about the NHS abandoning her daughter. All that I want is for the NHS, the cancer research charities, the pharmaceutical companies to stand up and accept their responsibility and to give some hope to the 3,200 people who will be diagnosed with glioblastoma this year.’ Baroness McDonagh was described as an ‘unstoppable force of nature’ and a ‘tireless champion for women’ as tributes were paid to her today.
Margaret McDonagh was 61 years old.
Margaret McDonagh, a significant New Labour official, died at the age of 61
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed her ‘absolutely essential’ role as election co-ordinator in the party’s 1997 general election victory. Starmer said: ‘Margaret may not have been as famous as some of the politicians she worked with, but they wouldn’t have got into power without her. ‘Both inside and outside of the Labour Party, Margaret was a tireless champion for women, mentoring a whole generation of political and business leaders.’ Sir Keir added: ‘To the very end Margaret was campaigning for better healthcare for those with brain tumours. Margaret was absolute proof that one person can make a difference in the world. The difference with Margaret is that she also built an army of change-makers along the way who will proudly carry on that fight in her name. You can’t think about Margaret without her sister Siobhain (the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden), campaigners together not just in Mitcham and Morden, but across the world.’
Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair said: ‘Margaret was an amazing, vibrant, unstoppable force of nature. Dedicated to the country, and the Labour Party and fought for what she believed was right. As General Secretary of the Labour Party, she was an incredible support to me and a vital element of New Labour. Most of all she was the most loyal friend anyone could wish for.’ Lord Mandelson, who was Labour’s campaign director in the 1997 general election, said: ‘Margaret was a tour de force. She ran Millbank in 1997 with a rod of iron. Everyone was terrified, including me. ‘I have never met anyone so resolute, so uncompromisingly honest and so direct. She almost never made it to the high command in the early 1990s, but once she arrived there was no going back. She was formidable.’ Former Labour leader Lord Neil Kinnock said: ‘Margaret was magnificent in every way. She strove in the most practical ways for true equality for women throughout her life, she was a brilliant organiser for democracy and she had a mixture of steel and charm which earned her loyalty from friends and admiration from foes. Her courage in fighting her illness was remarkable, but typical of the valour which defined her. I offer love and sympathy to Siobhan and her beloved family.’