Today is the funeral of Peter Law, the independent MP for Blaenau Gwent who died from a brain tumour last week.
In 2001 Labour had won the Welsh valleys seat with 72% of the vote but chose an
all-women’s shortlist to select the retiring MP’s successor. Peter Law, the Welsh Assembly member for the area, stood against Labour’s official
candidate, Maggie Jones, in protest at Tony Blair’s imposition of a female candidate. He successfully overturned a 19,000 Labour majority in last year’s General Election and won a more than 9,000 vote majority for himself.
Maggie Jones will soon become a member of the House of Lords but Mr Law’s widow, Trish (who may yet seek to succeed her husband as Blaenau Gwent’s MP), had accused Labour of offering Peter Law a peerage in order not to stand as an independent. Mrs Law did not name the person alleged to have made that offer but today, under parliamentary privilege, a Plaid MP has fingered the accident-prone Peter Hain. The Plaid MP Elfyn Llwyd told the Commons:
"New Labour, in an effort to prevent him from standing for Parliament, offered him a peerage. The man named as being responsible is the Secretary of State for Wales who made the offer on the specific authority of the Prime Minister."
Peter Hain responded:
"I am at a loss to understand why it is now being alleged that Peter Law would have made such an accusation about me, when he himself never made that allegation public, even when he was standing in the general election. The suggestion that I offered a peerage to Peter Law is utterly without substance. And indeed the Labour Party have made it absolutely clear that no such offer was made."