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Death of 'a great parliamentarian'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 18 April 2008

Gordon Brown describes parliament's longest-serving female MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody, who has died aged 77, as "politics at its best, a great parliamentarian."

She was in many ways the scourge of governments, both Conservative and Labour, when she thought they were making mistakes or trying to ride roughshod over parliament, but ultimately it was for this that she was liked and respected across party lines.

Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party and leader of the House of Commons, said:

"Gwyneth is a great loss. She was an outstanding politician and a champion in the fight for social justice.

"She was a strong parliamentarian and a committed campaigner who was admired and feared in equal measure."

Dunwoody was born in Fulham in 1930. She came from a politically active family; both her grandmothers were suffragettes and her father Morgan Phillips was general secretary of the Labour party.

"We shall not see her like again."
Harriet Harman

Her mother was a minister in the House of Lords and later became Lord Lieutenant of London.

Dunwoody joined the Labour party in 1946 and her varied political career included a stint on the board of trade from 1967 and 1970, and four years as director of the film production association.

In 1974 she became MP for Crewe and Nantwich, and was also an MEP for five years until 1979.

She was a chairwoman of the Labour party communications committee and, until her death, was chairwoman of the powerful commons transport select committee.

Harman added, "I will sorely miss her. We shall not see her like again."

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