Michael McGowan (politician)

Michael McGowan (politician)

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Michael McGowan is a British journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 and a former Member of the European Parliament
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

, with a special interest in international affairs
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

, European politics, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, peace, development, and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. He is a Director of Leeds
Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

 City Credit Union, and a Director of PAFRAS - Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and until June 2009 was a National Executive Committee
National Executive Committee
The National Executive Committee or NEC is the chief administrative body of the UK Labour Party. Its composition has changed over the years, and includes representatives of affiliated trade unions, the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party, Constituency Labour Parties,...

 member of the Co-operative Party
Co-operative Party
The Co-operative Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom committed to supporting and representing co-operative principles. The party does not put up separate candidates for any UK election itself. Instead, Co-operative candidates stand jointly with the Labour Party as "Labour...

.

Background


Michael McGowan was born in the village of Birkenshaw
Birkenshaw, West Yorkshire
Birkenshaw is a village in the county of West Yorkshire, England. It lies at the crossroads between the A58 Leeds to Halifax road and the A651 Bradford to Heckmondwike road....

 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His father, Edgar, was a baker at Bradford Co-op bakery and his mother, Marion, a waitress.

McGowan was educated at Birkenshaw Primary school, Heckmondwike Grammar School, and won a West Riding scholarship to Leicester University where he read History, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is married to Margarita and they have three grown up children, Joseph, Emily, and Sebastian and lives in Leeds.

Political career


Michael McGowan was elected a Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 District Councillor at the age of 21, a West Riding
West Riding of Yorkshire
The West Riding of Yorkshire is one of the three historic subdivisions of Yorkshire, England. From 1889 to 1974 the administrative county, County of York, West Riding , was based closely on the historic boundaries...

 County Councillor at 23, and has served for 2 periods on Leeds City Council
Leeds City Council
Leeds City Council is the local authority for the City of Leeds metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England.-History:The city council was established in 1974, with the first elections being held in advance in 1973...

. He was Parliamentary Labour candidate for Ripon
Ripon (UK Parliament constituency)
Ripon was a constituency sending members to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until 1983, centred on the city of Ripon in North Yorkshire.-History:...

 in 1966 and for Brighouse and Spenborough in 1979.

A former BBC Television
BBC Television
BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

 and Radio
BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

 producer based in Leeds, Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and at the Television Centre
BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre at White City in West London is the headquarters of BBC Television. Officially opened on 29 June 1960, it remains one of the largest to this day; having featured over the years as backdrop to many BBC programmes, it is one of the most readily recognisable such facilities...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, McGowan is a member of the National Union of Journalists
National Union of Journalists
The National Union of Journalists is a trade union for journalists in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1907 and has 38,000 members. It is a member of the International Federation of Journalists .-Structure:...

.

European parliament


In June 1984, having secured the nomination by defeating the sitting Member of the European Parliament
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

, Derek Enright
Derek Enright
Derek Anthony Enright was a Labour politician in the United Kingdom.-Early life:Born in Thornaby-on-Tees, he attended the St Michael's College on St John's Road in Leeds , then a grammar school...

, McGowan was elected the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 MEP
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 for Leeds
Leeds (European Parliament constituency)
Leeds was a European Parliament constituency, centred on Leeds in the West Yorkshire area of England.Prior to its uniform adoption of proportional representation in 1999, the United Kingdom used first-past-the-post for the European elections in England, Scotland and Wales...

 until he stood down in 1999. During those fifteen years, he served on the Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and External Trade committees of the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 and as Vice-President of the ACP EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which links the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 with the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

McGowan has been a member of delegations to 37 African countries and was an EU election observer in Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

, and Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

. He was a United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 election observer at the Namibian
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 independence elections in November 1989 and the first democratic elections in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 in 1994, when he was based in Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

. The South African city has since been twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with Leeds, which Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 has visited and where he has been made an honorary citizen.

Michael McGowan is the only British MEP to be elected President of the Development and Co-operation Committee of the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

, a position also held by the former French Prime Minister, Michel Rocard
Michel Rocard
Michel Rocard is a French politician, member of the Socialist Party . He served as Prime Minister under François Mitterrand from 1988 to 1991, during which he created the Revenu minimum d'insertion , a social minimum welfare program for indigents, and led the Matignon Accords regarding the status...

, and the present French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner
Bernard Kouchner
Bernard Kouchner is a French politician, diplomat, and doctor. He is co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde...

.

Journalist


In two recent op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 pieces in the Yorkshire Post
Yorkshire Post
The Yorkshire Post is a daily broadsheet newspaper, published in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England by Yorkshire Post Newspapers, a company owned by Johnston Press...

, Michael McGowan has raised a number of controversial issues. One article called for an urgent independent inquiry led by the United Nations into the Lockerbie disaster. McGowan wrote that he was personally affected by the crash: "As President of the Development Committee of the European Parliament, I had invited Bernt Carlsson
Bernt Carlsson
Bernt Wilmar Carlsson was Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations and United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from July 1987 until he died on Pan Am Flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988.-Social democrat:A native of Stockholm, Carlsson joined the...

, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for Namibia, to call in at Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 in December 1988. That Bernt Carlsson was on that plane should be an extra incentive for the UN to take action in view of the fact that this impressive diplomat was dealing with some of the most sensitive and violent situations being perpetrated by the brutal apartheid regime in both South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 and Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, besides his work in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. The best tribute to the lives and families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie, including Bernt Carlsson, and the most positive action for the international community to take against terrorism, is to launch an independent inquiry into this gross act of mass murder. Nothing less will suffice."

The second article by McGowan expressed the hope that Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 would vote against ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, thus frustrating Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

's ambitions to become President of the European Council
President of the European Council
The President of the European Council is a principal representative of the European Union on the world stage, and the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council...

. McGowan, fearing that ratification would nonetheless go ahead, argued in favour of a different British candidate for the presidency: Chris Patten
Chris Patten
Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC , is the last Governor of British Hong Kong, a former British Conservative politician, and the current chairman of the BBC Trust....

, "who has to be rated as one of the more heavyweight and internationally respected UK politicians of recent times. His experience as a UK Government Minister, as European Commissioner for External Affairs with responsibility for international development, and the last Governor of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

would make him a serious candidate. The appointment of Chris Patten as the first President of the European Union would be good for Britain, good for Europe and good for the developing world. It would also signal a determination that Britain intends to play a greater part at the heart of Europe."