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Glenys Kinnock: Political spouse who became a force to be reckoned with in her own right

Glenys Kinnock was a formidable influence behind the scenes before becoming an MEP and taking on a ministerial role.

Alexander Butler
Sunday 03 December 2023 14:21 GMT
Baroness Glenys Kinnock has died aged 79
Baroness Glenys Kinnock has died aged 79 (PA Wire)

Glenys Kinnock, wife of the one-time Labour leader, Neil (later Lord) Kinnock, became a prominent politician, and an outspoken one at that, in her own right.

She served as a member of the European Parliament for some 15 years, before being appointed minister for Europe and receiving a life peerage at the same time.

It was sometimes said of her, before she became an MEP, that she played a large part in formulating Labour Policy “over breakfast with her husband”.

And even though she was regarded by some as even more of a left-wing firebrand than Neil, that story was always fiercely denied.

Baroness Kinnock had a wide field of interests but she was especially well-known for her work designed to alleviate poverty and starvation in Africa and other parts of the world.

Glenys Kinnock with her husband Lord Kinnock (PA Archive)

Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock (nee Parry) was born on July 7 1944, and was educated at Holyhead High School, Anglesey.

She graduated from University College, Cardiff, in education and history.

She met her future husband at university and they were married in 1967.

Baroness Kinnock subsequently worked as a teacher in secondary, primary, infant and nursery schools.

She became an MEP in 1994 and was a prominent member of several committees and for a period was Labour’s spokeswoman on international development in the European Parliament.

But it was not all plain sailing.

In 2004, she was caught up in an expenses scandal in which she was one of scores of MEPs who allegedly signed in for the day at the European Parliament (to qualify for the £175 daily allowance) and then promptly left the building.

And in November, 2006 she was criticised in the press for taking what was described as “a junket” in Barbados to discuss world poverty issues.

She had the unenviable reputation as “the most travelled British MEP” and, along with her husband, also acquired the no less enviable title as Brussels’ “very own Lord and Lady Expenses”.

Baroness Kinnock was required to leave the European Parliament in 2009, when then prime minister Gordon Brown appointed her minister for Europe, following the resignation from that post of Caroline Flint.

Although, when her husband was ennobled some years earlier, she was entitled to be called Lady Kinnock, it was a title she never used.

However, on her appointment as minister for Europe she became a peeress in her own right.

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, who was with her in her final moments, and her children Stephen, a Labour MP, and Rachel.

She was described in a family tribute as “an adored grandmother”.

Words by Press Association.

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