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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Losing candidate will become peer
Maggie Jones
Maggie Jones is a former trade union official
The Labour candidate who lost the party's safest Welsh seat in the 2005 general election is to be made a peer, Downing Street has announced.

Maggie Jones, who was defeated in Blaenau Gwent by independent AM and MP Peter Law, will become one of 23 new "working peers" in the House of Lords.

Labour say it is deserved for her years working as a trade union official and as a member of the party's ruling body.

But Mr Law's supporters branded the appointment a "disgrace".

News of the nomination was leaked in November, but not confirmed.

Yes, I was the candidate in Blaenau Gwent but really the peerage is for my 30 years of trade union work prior to that
Maggie Jones

Ms Jones, an official with Unison, was defeated in Blaenau Gwent on 5 May 2005 despite defending a 19,000 Labour majority.

Ex-Labour Assembly Member Peter Law won the Blaenau Gwent seat following a campaign overshadowed by a row over all-woman shortlists for Labour candidates.

Mr Law, who left the Labour Party over the issue, won the seat with a 9,121 majority.

Ms Jones told BBC Radio Wales her nomination was a "great honour".

She said: "The fact is I've had 30 years of experience and activity in the trade unions and Labour Party.

"Yes, I was the candidate in Blaenau Gwent but really the peerage is for my 30 years of trade union work prior to that.

Peter Law with Maggie Jones (right)
Peter Law defeated Maggie Jones at the general election

"Thirty years' experience is a very long time and I was the candidate in Blaenau Gwent for just a couple of years.

"It's time for the constituency to move on and it's time for me to move on and I'm really pleased to have this second chance to represent my party."

Ms Jones added that the Lords Appointment Commission had checked her nomination "in some great detail" and approved it.

In November, deputy Welsh health minister John Griffiths defended Ms Jones' nomination, saying she "deserves her peerage".

He said she was being "rewarded" for her high profile work as a union official and Labour activist for many years.

But Mr Law said he had predicted on election night that Ms Jones would be awarded a peerage and called her nomination another example of "Labour rewarding failure".

And the former Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, Llew Smith, said her appointment was "insulting".

He told BBC Wales: "Once again the people think they've been insulted. They made their voices heard loud and clear - we're not having a Labour clone imposed on us."

He added that Prime Minister Tony Blair did not care about the opinions of "ordinary working people" and simply did what he thought was right.

Ms Jones was born and brought up in south Wales in a mining family.

She has also been involved as a housing campaigner and as a member of Labour's National Executive Committee.

Other working peers include former TGWU boss Sir Bill Morris and ex-Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

Listen to Maggie Jones on her nomination for the Lords

Watch Blaenau Gwent's reaction to Maggie Jones' nomination

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11 Apr 06 |  Politics

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