I haven’t read a lot about Gwyneth on the web yet, but I think it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that the word “formidable” will be used more than any other to describe her. “Indomitable” might be another. From my personal point of view, how about “terrifying”?
Because that’s how I felt the very first time I was called before her select committee to give evidence. Gwyneth had a reputation for chewing up ministers and spitting them back out, and I was not relishing the experience. As it turned out, I survived. A bit bruised, perhaps, but that was as good an outcome as I could have hoped for. Yes, she was a formidable and, at times, intimidating individual. But she was also extremely good humoured and generous at times. So long as she didn’t suspect that witnesses appearing in front of her committee were trying to pull a fast one, she was willing to treat them fairly. Just God help the ones who thought they could outsmart her…
I was very sad when I heard the news this morning. I couldn’t say we were particularly close, but we were on very friendly terms, and it’s always sad to lose a parliamentary colleague. Importantly, the railways have lost one of their highest profile and most energetic supporters. I didn’t agree with some of her strongly held opinions about the industry, but no-one can deny the breadth and depth of her knowledge and experience. And also her genuine affection for it.
Gwyneth Dunwoody will be missed by many, many people.