Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman dies aged 86

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Sir Gerald Kaufman, the Labour MP and Father of the House of Commons, has died aged 86, sparking a by-election in his Manchester seat.

He died on Sunday evening having suffered from a long-term illness for several months, his family said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sir Gerald was an “iconic and irascible figure”, adding: “He loved life and politics. I will deeply miss him, both for his political commitment and constant friendship.”

The Labour politician was first elected as Manchester Ardwick MP in 1970, before becoming Manchester Gorton MP after constituency boundary changes in 1983 until his death.

Sir Gerald’s family announced his death “with great sadness”, saying: “Sir Gerald had been suffering from a long-term illness for several months, but, in that time, remained firmly committed to, and focused on, the activities and wellbeing of his beloved constituency, which he had served since first elected in 1970.

“Sir Gerald dedicated his life to serving those who he believed would benefit most from a Labour government and Labour values in action.

“He believed that policy and principle without power were simply not enough to deliver the better life that he fought for on behalf of his constituents for almost 50 years.

“Though Sir Gerald had many friends and supporters in Manchester and across the world from his work on many campaigns and causes, he was in essence a private man.

“There will be a further opportunity for those who wish to pay tribute to the contribution of this great socialist and parliamentarian in due course.

“For now, his family request that his dignity and integrity be honoured through respectful reflection.”

Commons Speaker John Bercow said: “I was very saddened to learn of the death of Sir Gerald Kaufman, the Father of the House and Manchester Gorton’s outstanding representative.

“Gerald was a passionate campaigner for social justice, here in Britain and around the world.

“His passing will be mourned by his relatives, friends, constituents and colleagues.”

Sir Gerald won his seat in 2015 with a majority of 24,079 and the constituency is regarded as one of Labour’s safest seats.

So the by-election resulting from Sir Gerald’s death is unlikely to cause any headaches for Mr Corbyn.

Conservative grandee and former chancellor Ken Clarke is the new Father of the House, the title given to the MP with the longest continuous service who is not a minister.

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