Glenys Kinnock

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Person.png Glenys Kinnock   Powerbase Sourcewatch TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Glenys Helle Neil.jpg
Glenys and Neil Kinnock with their daughter-in-law Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark
BornGlenys Elizabeth Parry
7 July 1944
Roade, England
Died3 December 2023 (Age 79)
Alma materCardiff University
Children • Stephen Kinnock
• Rachel Kinnock
SpouseNeil Kinnock
UK politician wife of Neil Kinnock

Employment.png Minister of State for Europe

In office
5 June 2009 - 13 October 2009

Employment.png Member of the European Parliament for Wales

In office
10 June 1999 - 5 June 2009
Preceded byRobert Sturdy

Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead was a British politician who campaigned on development issues over many years. She died on 3 December 2023.[1]

In 1989, Glenys Kinnock founded the charity One World Action in memory of UN Commissioner for Namibia Bernt Carlsson who was targeted on Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988.

From 1994 to 2009, Glenys Kinnock was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and was Labour spokesperson on International Development. She is the wife of Neil Kinnock, who was Leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992. When Neil Kinnock received a life peerage in 2005, Glenys became entitled to the style "Lady Kinnock", which she chose not to use. She was awarded a life peerage when she joined Gordon Brown's government in June 2009. Lord and Lady Kinnock are one of the few couples to both hold titles – in this case a Life Peerage – in their own right.[2]

At the UK General Election on 7 May 2015, her son Stephen Kinnock was elected as Labour MP for Aberavon in South Wales.[3] On 29 May 2015, Glenys Kinnock retweeted Patrick Haseldine's tweet "#ScotlandYard to launch a #BerntCarlsson #MurderInquiry".[4]

Early life

Glenys Kinnock was born at Roade, Northamptonshire, and educated at Holyhead High School, Anglesey. She graduated in 1965 from University College, Cardiff in education and history. She met her future husband Neil Kinnock at university during the first half of the 1960s and married him in 1967. She has worked as a teacher in secondary, primary, infant and nursery schools, including the Wykeham Primary School, Neasden, London. She is a member of the GMB trade union, the Co-operative Party, and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). She speaks Welsh.

Namibian Independence

Criticising apartheid regime's Namibia policy

In July 1989, Glenys Kinnock and Tessa Blackstone of the British Council of Churches visited Namibia and reported:

"There is a widespread feeling that too many concessions were made to South African personnel and preferences and that (Bernt Carlsson's successor in Namibia) Martti Ahtisaari was not forceful enough in his dealings with the South Africans."[5]

A review of Glenys Kinnock's book "Namibia: Birth of a Nation" stated:

"Interesting criticism of UN Special Representative in Namibia, Martti Ahtisaari, by Baroness Kinnock. She says that Ahtisaari was leant on by the apartheid regime to allow the South African Defence Force to attack members of SWAPO who were peacefully returning to vote in Namibia's Independence Election.[6]

As a result of Ahtisaari's acquiescence, as many as 308 SWAPO soldiers were killed - "shot in the back" - according to former SADF major Nico Basson.[7]

Assassination attempt?

In September 1989, while in Dublin at the invitation of the Irish Labour Party, Neil Kinnock and his wife, Glenys Kinnock, both escaped major injury after their chauffeur, Tom Conlon, suffered a massive heart attack at the wheel.[8] The car shot forward and mounted the roundabout before coming to a stop.

Everyone was shocked and confused. Only Kinnock realised what had happened. In a flash he had leaped out of the back of the car, ripped the driver’s door open, and pulled Tom out.
Then he lay down on the grass beside Tom, and started whispering urgently in his ear. And he kept talking to him until an ambulance arrived. Tom died at the scene, and was probably dead when Kinnock pulled him out of the car.
Later, when asked what he was whispering in Tom’s ear, Kinnock said:
“I knew he was a Catholic, and I knew he was dying. So I tried to make up a confession because I know that helps Catholics in that situation.”[9]
Glenys Kinnock and Tore Carlsson, brother of Bernt, at the launch of The Bernt Carlsson Trust
Shortly after his February 1990 release from jail, Nelson Mandela meets Neil and Glenys Kinnock

One World Action

Glenys Kinnock founded the development charity The Bernt Carlsson Trust on 21 December 1989, exactly one year after UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, was targeted on Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.

In 1991 The Bernt Carlsson Trust was renamed One World Action, and Glenys Kinnock became OWA President for the next twenty years.

In 2011 One World Action closed, and its many ongoing development programmes were transferred – together with supporting funds – to the long established charity Womankind Worldwide.

Greeting Nelson Mandela

Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela chose Sweden as his first port of call in Europe because of all the support the ANC had received over many years from the Swedish government, especially from prime minister Olof Palme who was assassinated by agents of the apartheid regime in February 1986.

Ingvar Carlsson, the new prime minister, invited British politicians Neil and Glenys Kinnock to come to Stockholm in April 1990 and greet Mr Mandela.

That meeting was recalled by Neil Kinnock in a television interview on 8 December 2013 (three days after Nelson Mandela's death).[10]

Call for UN investigation

Patrick Haseldine at Number 10
UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, threatening to prosecute De Beers and others
How De Beers were illegally exploiting billions of pounds-worth of Namibia's diamond gemstones

In June 2010, former British diplomat Patrick Haseldine addressed the following letter, calling for a UN investigation into the targeting of Bernt Carlsson, to Baroness Kinnock at the House of Lords:

Dear Glenys,
You founded the charity One World Action (formerly The Bernt Carlsson Trust) on 21 December 1989, which was exactly one year after Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for Namibia , Bernt Carlsson, was murdered at Lockerbie on 21 December 1988
Even if you were to have followed closely the protracted Lockerbie criminal investigation from the 1990s, and then sat through every day of the eventual trial of the two accused Libyans at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2000, you would not have known that the murder of Lockerbie’s most high profile victim, Bernt Carlsson, had never actually been investigated. In his 2002 book, "The Lockerbie Incident: A Detective's Tale" (pages 88/89), Detective Constable John Crawford of the Scottish Police explained how he personally took the decision not to investigate:
"We even went as far as consulting a very helpful lady librarian in Newcastle who contacted us with information she had on Bernt Carlsson. She provided much of the background on the political moves made by Carlsson on behalf of the United Nations. He had survived a previous attack on an aircraft he had been travelling on in Africa. It is unlikely that he was a target as the political scene in Southern Africa was moving inexorably towards its present state....I discounted the theory as being almost totally beyond the realms of feasibility."[11]
Now that you are aware of DC Crawford’s failure to investigate Bernt Carlsson’s murder, you will doubtless wish to bring it to the attention of the other Patrons of One World Action and of Parliament. You may also wish to inform them about a campaign that has recently been launched to have Bernt Carlsson's murder investigated by a UN Commission of Inquiry. Details of the campaign are on this Facebook page: U.N. must investigate the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103.
Of the 270 people murdered at Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, was obviously a target. Yet the Lockerbie investigators (CIA, FBI and the Scottish Police) failed to undertake even the most cursory of investigations into Bernt Carlsson's murder.
Commissioner Carlsson was to have taken charge of Namibia on 22 December 1988 immediately after apartheid South Africa had signed an agreement at UN headquarters giving up its illegal occupation of the country. In a 29 September 1987 TV interview (The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds), Carlsson had warned that he intended to start proceedings against the countries and firms which had been defying UN law over many years by stealing billions of pounds-worth of Namibia 's natural resources. Among those facing UN compensation claims were: the diamond mining firm De Beers; the apartheid regime of South Africa; Rio Tinto Group, owners of the Rössing Uranium Mine; and, the government of Iran which today still owns 15% of Rössing and, in 1988-89, received large shipments of uranium from Namibia.
Because Bernt Carlsson died at Lockerbie, none of these prosecutions ever took place. Now, more than 21 years after the Lockerbie disaster, it is probably too late to seek compensation from the offending countries and firms. However, the lapse of time cannot allow the murder of a senior UN diplomat to go unpunished. Therefore, the UN must investigate the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103.
Before the so-called "Lockerbie bomber" Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi dies of prostate cancer, the UN should establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the crime of Lockerbie. The Commission should be authorised by the UN to refer the case to the International Court of Justice for action to be taken against both the individuals and country or countries involved in Bernt Carlsson's assassination.
Yours sincerely,
Patrick Haseldine
HM Diplomatic Service
PS. I enclose a DVD of Granada TV’s World In Action 30-minute documentary entitled The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds in which Bernt Carlsson is interviewed (from 22’43’’ to 24’20’’).

Welcome initiative

Glenys Kinnock replied by email on 17 June 2010:

Dear Patrick,
I very much welcome the initiative which has been taken calling for a UN investigation into the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103.[12]
I will certainly pass on the information you have given me to One World Action.
I knew Bernt very well and knew what a threat he posed to the apartheid governments in Namibia and South Africa.
What about asking the United Nations Association in the UK to take this up?
Best wishes,
Glenys Kinnock
House of Lords
0207 219 1297
17th June 2010

Unlikely UNSC will agree

In a formal letter dated 22 June 2010 from the House of Lords, Baroness Kinnock wrote:

Dear Mr Haseldine,
Thank you for your correspondence on the Lockerbie disaster and the death of our close friend, Bernt, on that flight.
I concur absolutely with the sentiments you have expressed, but believe that it is, in my view, unlikely that the UN Security Council will agree to pursue this further in the way which you suggest.
Yours sincerely,
Glenys Kinnock

Dual UN Inquiry

Dual UN Inquiry

In November 2013, Patrick Haseldine created this e-petition calling upon HM Government (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to:

"Support a United Nations Inquiry into the deaths of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and UN Assistant Secretary-General Bernt Carlsson"
On 9 September 2013, the London-based Hammarskjöld Commission reported that there was "significant new evidence" about the plane crash that killed United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and recommended that the adjourned 1962 UN Inquiry should now be reopened.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Bernt Carlsson was the highest profile victim on Pan Am Flight 103 which was sabotaged over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.
Since Bernt Carlsson's death has never been investigated, the British Government should propose extending the remit of the new UN Inquiry to cover the deaths of both senior diplomats: Dag Hammarskjöld and Bernt Carlsson.

The e-petition is open for signature by UK citizens and residents from 13 November 2013 to 13 May 2014, and can be signed here.

On 29 April 2014, Haseldine created an e-petition addressed to the UN Secretary-General which is open for signature by anyone, regardless of nationality:

"Take action to investigate the deaths of UN Officials Dag Hammarskjöld and Bernt Carlsson!"[13]

European Parliament

Glenys Kinnock represented Wales in the European Parliament from 1994 until 2009, where she was a member of the Party of European Socialists political group.[14] She was a Member of the European Parliament's Development and Co-operation Committee[15] and a substitute member of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.[16] She was also co-president of the African, Caribbean and Pacific-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly from 2002 until 2009 and was Labour spokesperson on International Development in the European Parliament.

In November 2006, Glenys Kinnock was criticised in the press for "taking a junket" to Barbados to discuss world poverty issues. She was co-presiding over the 12th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly[17] which was invited by the Barbados government to discuss international aid and development.

On 18 January 2009 Glenys Kinnock revealed on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show that she and Neil Kinnock had received a personal invitation from Joe Biden to attend Barack Obama's presidential inauguration on 20 January 2009 at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In 2004, Glenys Kinnock was caught up in an expenses scandal. Fellow MEP Hans-Peter Martin claimed to have caught 194 colleagues receiving the European Parliament's attendance allowance. Kinnock was among those MEPs whom Martin found and filmed leaving the building just moments after they had signed in for the day to qualify for their £175-a-day allowance, in addition to their £70,000 salaries as MEPs.[18]

United Kingdom Parliament

Minister for Europe

In the 2009 cabinet reshuffle, Glenys Kinnock was appointed Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following the resignation of Caroline Flint.[19] To enable her to join the government, she was awarded a life peerage and became Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead in the County of Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn), on 30 June 2009.[20] She was introduced to the House of Lords on the same day.[21]

In September 2009, The Daily Telegraph listed Baroness Kinnock as the UK's 38th 'Most influential Left-winger', stating: "People working closely with the new minister have asked why on earth better use had not been made of her sooner. She has impressed civil servants and, more importantly, made a good impression on visits and in meetings abroad."[22]

On 12 October 2009, Baroness Kinnock answered questions in the House of Lords about the release on 20 August 2009 of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from prison in Scotland:

"My Lords, the decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing on compassionate grounds was solely for the Scottish Executive to take. As the Prime Minister said in his statement of 2 September, he respected the right of Scottish Ministers to make that decision."[23] In answer to Lord Lester of Herne Hill who asked whether any pressure put on Megrahi to drop his appeal Kinnock said she was "not aware of what the answer might be," but would ask for advice and respond.

Within hours, Baroness Kinnock had been replaced amid what the Daily Mail described as "farcical scenes" as her replacement, junior minister Chris Bryant "broke with protocol and announced his new role on the Twitter website before Downing Street or the Foreign Office had a chance to issue a statement."[24]

Which prompted Patrick Haseldine to comment (on Professor Black's blog):

"Europe Minister, Lady Kinnock, was moved to another portfolio on the same day as she had to answer this question from Lord Pannick in the Upper House: 'Will the Government please allocate urgently time in this House for a full debate on this matter in the interests of all those who lost their lives in the Lockerbie murders?' A full debate on the Lockerbie disaster could have proved embarrassing to the government, and especially to Glenys Kinnock because she founded a charity on 21 December 1989 in memory of the most prominent of Lockerbie's 270 victims - UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson."[25]

Minister of State

From 12 October 2009 to 11 May 2010, Glenys Kinnock served as FCO Minister of State with responsibility for Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and the UN, filling a post left vacant after the resignation of Lord Malloch Brown. Baroness Kinnock has long been a campaigner on issues relating to Africa and the Caribbean, and cemented her reputation as an expert on the regions during her time as a Member of the European Parliament and as co-president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.[26]

In a House of Lords debate on 12 October 2009, the following exchange took place:

Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I preface my question with a word of congratulation to the Minister on her appointment as our new Minister for Africa, a subject in which she and I have a long-standing interest.
It is some years since I went to Libya with Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the Lockerbie tragedy, to try to help to persuade the Libyans to agree to a trial in a third country. Since that happened, I have had no involvement in the case at all. However, four things concern me, which have all been referred to already, but which I shall repeat.
First, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has expressed grave reservations about the authenticity of the original verdict, and we have not yet seen its full report. That is a matter over which great uncertainty still hangs. Secondly, the United Nations legal observer at the trial has been scathing about the quality of the evidence on which Mr Megrahi was convicted. That must be a matter of concern. Thirdly, the Government have placed public interest immunity certificates on some of the papers, which prevents the defence seeing what evidence they had that has not been made public. Fourthly, Mr Megrahi withdrew his appeal, so we have not been able to get at the truth. Surely, there is an unanswerable case for a full, independent judicial inquiry, and the victims of the Lockerbie disaster deserve nothing less.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I thank the noble Lord. I very much value his experience in connection with these matters. As the Secretary of State mentioned in his Statement, the terrible tragedy of Lockerbie is something that many of us in this House remember very well. The reality is that the Libyans continue to maintain that they consider the matter to be closed. Although the British Government do everything that they can, still, as I am sure do the Scottish authorities, it is proving very difficult to persuade the Libyans that the matter can be opened. This must be an issue for the Scottish justice system to deal with. The issues that the noble Lord raises are extremely worrying and throw the spotlight on some aspects of the trial that we should be concerned about, but I very much hope that the Scottish Parliament and others will take up these matters and ensure that the issues that noble Lords have raised will be understood to have been taken very seriously by your Lordships. Perhaps we will see some responses soon on the matters raised with me.[27]

Patron and honours

(L to R) daughter Johanna, wife Helle, Stephen Kinnock MP, dad Neil and mum Glenys on Thursday 7 May 2015

Baroness Kinnock is a Council Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.[28]

She is a patron, president or board member of a number of charitable organisations, including Saferworld,[29] Drop the Debt,[30] EdUKaid,[31] Parliamentarians for Global Action,[32]The Burma Campaign UK,[33] International AIDS Vaccine Initiative,[34] Voluntary Service Overseas, [35] Freedom from Torture,[36], and the British Humanist Association. She is also Patron to the Welsh children's charity, Snap Cymru, Council member of the Overseas Development Institute and member of Advisory Board of Global Witness.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Wales, Bangor. She holds honorary Doctorates from Thames Valley University, Brunel University and Kingston University.


Glenys Kinnock was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago and in September 2022, daughter Rachel Kinnock and son Stephen wrote:

When people talk about Alzheimer’s, they often describe it as a “cruel” or “horrible” disease. It’s hard to imagine any disease that isn’t either of those things but, unlike other incurable conditions, you lose a little bit of the person you love every single day with Alzheimer’s. Mum was diagnosed in 2017 when she was 73, although looking back we knew something was wrong for at least a year before that. Mum has always been “star baker” when it comes to birthday cakes, and she took particular pride in those she made for her beloved grandchildren — everything from princesses to football pitches and hedgehogs. We were struck when one year she arrived with a simple Victoria sponge. Dad later admitted that she’d become confused.[37]


See also


  1. "Glenys Kinnock, former minister and ‘proud democratic socialist’, dies at 79"
  2. "Biography of Glenys Kinnock"
  3. "Stephen Kinnock follows in the footsteps of his father Neil to become Labour MP for Aberavon"
  4. "Scotland Yard to launch a Bernt Carlsson murder inquiry"
  5. "Namibia: A Birth of a Nation"
  6. "Glenys Kinnock critical of Martti Ahtisaari"
  7. "Missing diplomatic links and the Lockerbie tragedy"
  8. "Kinnock in Dublin car crash"
  9. "Two men of character, but only one is lucky in his choice of enemies"
  10. "2013 BBC interview with Neil Kinnock an early supporter of Mandela" BBC1, 8 December 2013
  11. "The Lockerbie Incident: A Detective's Tale" (pages 88/89)
  12. "U.N. must investigate the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103"
  13. "Take action to investigate the deaths of UN Officials Dag Hammarskjöld and Bernt Carlsson!"
  14. "The Socialist Group in the European Parliament"
  15. "The European Parliament Development and Co-operation Committee"
  16. "The European Parliament committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights"
  17. "The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly"
  18. Private Eye 1238, page 5
  19. "Kinnock 'delighted' at wife's job"
  20. LondonGazette, issue number 59121, 7 July 2009
  21. "Lords Hansard text for 30 June 2009"
  22. "Top 100 most influential Left-wingers"
  23. "Hansard, House of Lords" Monday, 12 October 2009
  24. "Farcical scenes as Baroness Kinnock axed from Lords post immediately after pledging to investigate Megrahi pressure"
  25. "Megrahi release and the House of Lords"
  26. "Chris Bryant replaces Glenys Kinnock"
  27. "House of Lords Debate: 12 October 2009"
  28. "European Council on Foreign Relations"
  29. Saferworld
  33. "Glenys Kinnock MEP Patron of BCUK"
  34. International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
  35. VSO
  36. Freedom from Torture
  37. "Mum’s here with us, yet already gone"

External links

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