New Year Honours: Commons prepares to welcome second disabled dame


newslatestA former minister for disabled people is set to become the House of Commons’ second disabled dame – at least for a few months – after being recognised in the latest new year honours list.

Anne McGuire, the Labour MP for Stirling and a former minister for disabled people, has been recognised for parliamentary and political services, following the same honour awarded four years ago to her disabled Scottish Labour colleague Dame Anne Begg.

McGuire, who has a long-term health condition, is co-chair of the all-party parliamentary disability group, but is retiring as an MP at May’s general election, although she said she has not decided what she will do next.

Before her first election as an MP in 1997, she was deputy director of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations.

She previously worked in an adult training centre and later managed employment programmes, before becoming national officer for CSV (Community Service Volunteers).

She also helped as a volunteer to establish a pioneering community housing scheme for adults with learning difficulties in the 1980s in her home town of Cumbernauld, a project which meant service-users were able to stay out of residential institutions.

She said: “I have always had the privilege of being able to do work that I enjoyed, all the way through my working life.

“I do things for the satisfaction of doing them. It’s not about my own self-esteem.”

She said she was “really very touched” by the “really nice reaction” to her damehood from many of the people and organisations she has worked with, including many disabled people and disability organisations.

She said: “I always felt I got a fair crack of the whip with people, maybe because of my experience before I came into politics.

“I tried always to make the time and understand why people had a particular point-of-view and I hope I always went the extra mile to try to do that.”

She said that being minister for disabled people had “brought together many strands of my life in the voluntary sector, working with disabled people, particularly people with learning disabilities and the whole equality agenda”.

She insisted that she had no idea why she had been singled out for a damehood, but she added: “I have always tried to do my best in whatever job I have done.”

8 January 2015