IT WAS STANDING room only at Torfaen Museum as the borough’s former MP Lord Paul Murphy launched his autobiography.

About 100 people gathered in the museum’s Oriel Baker Gallery for the launch, which featured speeches from those who knew him best – including a number of political colleagues.

The book focuses on the entirety of Lord Murphy’s political career, including securing peace in Northern Ireland, his experiences as secretary of state for Wales, as well as Brexit.

As well as his long list of political achievements, the book tells the story of Lord Murphy growing up in Torfaen - the borough he would go on to serve in Westminster from 1987 to 2015 - and how this went on to shape his political beliefs.


“Everything I did was based on where I came from,” he said. “I joined the Labour Party in 1964 in Abersychan when Harold Wilson was the leader.

“Everything I did from then on was rooted here in the Eastern Valley.

“When I was lucky enough to do ministerial jobs, I had to remind myself all the time that the only reason I was doing this job was because I was the Member of Parliament for the Eastern Valley and that I was there only because the people of the Eastern Valley elected me to do that job.

“The Valleys shape us - the principals which we base our lives on, the memories, particularly of how people were treated so terribly during the years of the depression. All of these things form you.

“I just hope I have made a difference with what I have done.

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(Lord Paul Murphy of Torfaen speaking at the launch of his new autobiography - Paul Murphy: Peacemaker.)

“In some ways you could say I was pigeon-holed in what you might call the territorial departments, and I was really grateful for that, because it gave me a chance to do things in Wales after devolution had been established and in Northern Ireland of course, to guide and help ensure they had a peace process there.

“One of the most significant moments of my life was on April 10, 1998 at 5.36pm, when George Mitchell pounded the table and said: ‘We’ve made the agreement. The agreement is made.’

“I had been working there for 18 months then, chairing the talks with George Mitchell, and the idea we could be part of making peace in a place which had been terribly troubled for 30 years and over 3,500 people had perished was to me hugely significant.

“Not a person in that room didn’t cry that day because of what had happened, including me.

“The book outlines a bit of that story. A story of Northern Ireland, the story of Wales, but also the story of our Valley, and how I grew up in this remarkable, but sometimes difficult environment. It's about how education has developed, and above all, how politics has changed in all those years.”

Lord Murphy said the title of the book, Paul Murphy: Peacemaker, was chosen to reflect what he believed politics should be about.

“I have been an active politician for 43 years now if I include my local authority job,” he said. “My one regret is that politics has become very nasty and very unpleasant.

“I hope that when this election is over, whoever wins we can possibly get back to a situation where politics is more friendly, is less awful, and where people can go about their business expressing their views, whatever they might be, without being in fear of not only moral attacks, but physical attacks as well.

“I never thought that I would be in Parliament when a Member of Parliament would be murdered for her views.

“I just hope we will see the end of that. My politics isn’t that politics.

“My politics is about what that book is named. It’s about making peace wherever we are. It’s my Christian belief and it’s my socialist belief, and for me the two of them go together.”