Wales politics

Torfaen MP Paul Murphy to stand down at general election

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Media captionPaul Murphy served in the cabinets of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is to stand down as a Labour MP after 28 years in parliament.

Elected as MP for Torfaen in 1987, he served two spells as Welsh Secretary and one as Northern Ireland Secretary, where he was credited for playing a key role in the peace process.

Mr Murphy, 66, said it had been "a difficult decision" to step down but "the right thing to do".

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was "a man of integrity and honour".

He went on to describe Mr Murphy as "a diligent and passionate Member of Parliament, driven by a burning commitment to social justice and to the creation of a fairer Britain".

'Support and loyalty'

Announcing his decision to stand down, Mr Murphy said: "This has been a difficult decision for me, but I think it's the right thing to do.

"With a fixed five year term, I feel it would be better for a younger person to carry the Labour flag in our valley.

"I will miss the work in the constituency and the House of Commons, but it would be wrong of me to stand again and then not have the stamina to be an effective MP."

He added: "It has been an honour to represent my home constituency in Parliament. I value the support and loyalty that people in this valley have shown me, and I will always be thankful to them."

His majority at the 2010 election was 9,306.

Paul Murphy Factfile

Image copyright AP
Image caption Paul Murphy helped Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam achieve the Good Friday Agreement in 1998

1973-87: Torfaen borough councillor

1987: Elected MP for Torfaen

1988-97: Shadow minister speaking on Welsh affairs, later Northern Ireland, foreign affairs, and defence

1997: Minister for Political Development in Northern Ireland

1998: Part of the UK government team which secured the Good Friday Agreement

1999-2002: Welsh Secretary

2002-05: Northern Ireland Secretary

2005-08: Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee

2008-09: Welsh Secretary

2009-10: British co-chair of the British-Irish Assembly

First Minister Carwyn Jones paid tribute to Mr Murphy as "one of the great Welsh political figures".

"He played a major role in securing peace in Northern Ireland and our current and future generations across the UK owe him a debt of gratitude for that alone."

Mr Jones added that while Welsh Secretary, Mr Murphy had combined "calm authority with good humour and won the respect of politicians from across the political divide".

Analysis by Tomos Livingstone, BBC Wales political correspondent

Pragmatic, urbane and diplomatic, Paul Murphy was an unusual figure on the political scene - not least because even his opponents struggled to find a bad word to say about him.

A Labour member since the age of 15, he was elected as MP for Torfaen in 1987, holding the seat with comfortable majorities at successive elections.

Like many in his party he shifted from being anti-devolution in 1979 to voting yes in the 1997 referendum; he rejected attempts to paint him as a "devo-sceptic" blocking further powers for Cardiff Bay - he preferred the term "devo-realist".

His political skills were put to good use in Northern Ireland; as Minister of State he spent many hours negotiating the fine print of the Good Friday Agreement.

His Catholic faith - Murphy is a Papal Knight - proved no barrier to building relations on both sides of the religious and political divide.

A graduate of Oriel College, Oxford, in recent years he led a Welsh government campaign to encourage more Welsh teenagers to apply to Oxbridge colleges.

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