Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 18:57 UK

Profile: Siobhain McDonagh

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh
Siobhain McDonagh has been thrust into the national spotlight

On her website, Siobhain McDonagh quotes a speech she made in Parliament saying she makes "no apology for concentrating on local issues".

But the MP for Mitcham and Morden has now been thrust firmly into the national spotlight after calling for a Labour leadership contest.

Ms McDonagh has lost her job as a government whip after breaking ranks and calling for a challenge to Gordon Brown.

In her 11 years as an MP, Ms McDonagh has been regarded a Labour loyalist and has never voted against the government.

A long-term Labour activist, Ms McDonagh became the youngest councillor in London when elected to Merton Council in 1982.

A year later, she made her first conference speech at the age of 23.

Early jobs included positions in the Department of Health and as a benefit officer for Wandsworth Council.

She is proud of her local links, having been born in the constituency which she now represents and living there most of her life.

Third time lucky

But she initially struggled to fulfil her dream of representing her own area at Westminster, failing to win the seat in the 1987 and 1992 elections.

She was ultimately successful in taking the seat in the Labour landslide of 1997, becoming of the "Blair babes" in the process.

For some years, she was seen as a low-key Blairite somewhat in the shadow of her sister Margaret, who became the first female general secretary of the Labour Party in its history.

As a former chair of Merton Council's housing committee, she has lobbied hard for improvements to housing in her constituency as well as campaigning for NHS to offer digital hearing aids for all deaf people who need them.

She successfully provoked a change in the law when she introduced a bill which would have permitted her former assistant David Cairns, now Labour MP for Greenock and Inverclyde, to take a Commons seat despite being a former Catholic priest.

Her bill failed but the government later introduced its own bill.

She served on the Commons Health Select Committee between 2003 and 2005.

She joined the government, initially as a PPS to John Reid, becoming a junior government whip last year.

However, she was never regarded as being close to Gordon Brown and was the only member of the government not to sign his nomination papers when he became leader last year.

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