Wales politics

Departing Welsh MPs clear their Westminster desks

Peter Hain and Nelson Mandela poster
Image caption Peter Hain about to remove his Nelson Mandela 1994 South African election poster from his office wall

The office walls are bare, apart from a photograph of a Welsh rugby triumph and a Nelson Mandela poster.

They too will soon be carefully packed and sent to their new home. After 24 years at Westminster, Peter Hain is leaving the building.

The Neath MP, a cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is one of eight Welsh MPs stepping down at the general election.

Surrounded by packing boxes, some of them heading for the Welsh Political Archive, he admits it feels "a bit odd" to be leaving and admits he will miss his constituency work.

"There are some MPs who are leaving who can't wait to go," he tells me.

"There are others who have suddenly started to get quite fearful.

"I've made my decision and I know what I'm going to do and I'm going to stay active in politics and keep fighting for Labour and I just see it as a different phase of that."

He says his next political role - one offered by Ed Miliband - "will become evident" but there are few clues ahead of the election other than a commitment to stay politically active.

What stands out from his time as Neath MP?

"The peace settlement in Northern Ireland, delivering extra powers for Wales in the 2006 act and helping win the referendum in 1997, those are amongst the achievements I'm most proud of," he said.

Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd is also leaving, having first won his seat in the 1992 general election.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP, a barrister, has established a reputation at Westminster for his work on criminal justice issues; his work on stalking paved the way for a new law.

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Media captionMPs Peter Hain and Elfyn Llwyd clear their desks at Westminster

He leaves Westminster with a prime ministerial tribute ringing in his ears.

During the last prime minister's question time of the current parliament, David Cameron said: "I remember some very passionate speeches, not least on the Iraq war.

"I remember some very passionate speeches about civil liberties in our country and making sure that we respond in the right way to terror.

"He has always stood up for his constituents, he cares passionately about Wales, he cares passionately about rugby, and he will be missed by everyone."

Other Welsh MPs stepping down include former Welsh and Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, Labour MP for Torfaen since 1987, and Tory Jonathan Evans, a minister in John Major's government.

Sian James, Martin Caton, Dai Havard and Hywel Francis are also retiring.

Lord Hain?

Some of those leaving the Commons may find themselves swapping its green leather benches for red ones.

I suggested to Peter Hain that most former cabinet ministers end up in the House of Lords.

"Do they?" he asked with the air of someone not totally surprised by the question.

I tried again: "You don't fancy it then?"

The reply was polite but firm: "I'm not saying what I'm going to do."

Lord Hain of Ynysygerwn does have a certain ring to it, although not one he might have anticipated during the early years of anti-apartheid protest that saw him carried out of Downing Street by two police officers.

Image caption David Cameron paid tribute to Elfyn Llwyd in Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions

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