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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 14:04 GMT
Labour rebel to quit Commons
Alice Mahon
Mrs Mahon: 'An excellent constituency MP'
Veteran anti-war campaigner Alice Mahon is to stand down as a Labour MP at the next general election.


I have never been a career politician

Alice Mahon
Mrs Mahon, who is 65, has represented the West Yorkshire constituency of Halifax for the past 15 years.

The self-proclaimed socialist has long record of peace activism and has recently been one of the most vocal critics of a war in Iraq.

She has been one of Labour's most consistent backbench rebels, opposing the government on a range of issues from cuts in lone parent benefits to National Missile Defence.

'Socialist principles'

Announcing her retirement, Mrs Mahon said she had "never been a career politician", and had sometimes "stretched the loyalty of the party, and made mistakes".

But she said she had stood by her "socialist principles".

She told the BBC: "There is only one Labour Party" which had given people "a voice and is a vehicle for progressive change".

She added she still has a lot of work to do before she retires.

Mrs Mahon's Labour colleague Christine McCafferty, MP for neighbouring Calder Valley, described her as "an excellent constituency MP", who is a role model for independent thinking MPs.

Eurosceptic

Mrs Mahon, a former trade union activist, is one of Labour's most consistent backbench rebels.

She has focused in particular on anti-war activism, calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and for the end of sanctions against Cuba and Iraq.

She also campaigned against the Gulf war and the NATO attacks on Serbia.

She has also spoken on feminist issues, and against curbs on abortion.

She is a Eurosceptic, and voted against Maastricht.

When Labour came to power in 1997, she was a surprise choice as parliamentary private secretary to Chris Smith.

But she resigned in December 1997 in order to vote against cuts in lone parent benefits, and has joined every significant rebellion since.

She has most recently been one of the leading opponents of US proposals for National Missile Defence and led a Commons motion voicing concern over possible action against Iraq.

See also:

25 Sep 02 | Politics
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