Commons’ plaque in memory of MP Ian

The Ian Gow memorial plaque
The Ian Gow memorial plaque

CONSERVATIVE MP Ian Gow who was murdered by the IRA 20 years ago has been commemorated in the House of Commons.

Last week a private ceremony was held in the chamber and a plaque bearing the Gow coat of arms was unveiled by his widow, Dame Jane Gow.

It has been placed above the main door into the chamber, next to a similar memorial to Airey Neave.

Senior Eastbourne Conservatives attended the ceremony, as well as the Speaker, Lord Howe of Aberavon, Lord Tebbit, Lord Parkinson, Lord Howard of Lympne, Lord Trimble, Owen Paterson MP, Iain Duncan Smith MP as well as his three successors as MP for Eastbourne, David Bellotti, Nigel Waterson and Stephen Lloyd.

Mr Gow was assassinated in July 1990 when a bomb placed under his car by the Provisional IRA exploded outside his home in Hankham.

The MP for Eastbourne from 1974 until his murder, he was close to Margaret Thatcher and was appointed her PPS when she was first elected, serving in that role until 1983.

In opposition Gow and Airey Neave developed policy on Northern Ireland that favoured integration of the province with the rest of the UK. Neave was killed by a car bomb planted by Irish terrorists in 1979.

The decision to place the memorial to Mr Gow in the chamber was unanimously agreed by a meeting of the Commons commission and lobbying by former foreign secretary Lord Howe and Romford MP Andrew Rosindell.

At the ceremony on Thursday night, Lord Howe described Mr Gow as “one of the most warm hearted and courageous politicians of his generation” whilst Andrew Rosindell described him as “a man of principle and courage... who was never afraid to say and do what he believed was right for his country”.

As she unveiled the memorial, Dame Jane thanked all those behind it for recognising her late husband “in this place which he loved so much”.

Colin Belsey, who attended the unveiling along with a group from Eastbourne, said, “We all felt highly honoured to be invited and it was really nice to see Jane and her sons again. It certainly was a great evening to remember.”

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd added, “It was an honour to attend the unveiling of the plaque in the Chamber. It has pride of place over the main door which all the MPs pass through. Ian Gow is still held in enormous respect in Eastbourne and it is a privilege for me to follow in his footsteps.”