Former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell dies aged 70

Sergio Conner
May 14, 2018

Former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell died at the age of 70 in her family's arms after being in a coma since Friday. "She was the most wise of counsellors, the most loyal and supportive of colleagues, and the best of friends".

Lord Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF and former chairman of the London organising committee of the Olympics, said: "Tessa was not just a close friend, she was a life enhancer".

Jowell, who played a prominent role in securing the 2012 Olympics for London when she served as United Kingdom culture secretary, had been campaigning for more cancer treatments to be made available on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) since she was diagnosed past year.

Her successor in Dulwich, Helen Hayes MP, tweeted: "So very sad at the passing of my friend & predecessor Tessa Jowell who served Dulwich & West Norwood for 23 years".

She helped London win the 2012 Olympics bid when she served as British culture secretary.

Leading Tributes to Dame Jowell was former Labour leader and ex-prime minister, Tony Blair.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the dignity and courage with Dame Tessa confronted her illness was "humbling" and "inspirational", and that her campaigning was a "lasting tribute to a lifetime of public service".

Described by the Jewish Labour Movement as "building an everlasting bond with the Jewish community" during her time as a Parliamentary candidate for Ilford North and then as an MP and Cabinet Minister, she appeared at various Jewish community events, guest speaking at dinners and fundraisers.

He said: "No politician deserves greater credit for the Games". Without her the sporting landscape of the United Kingdom would have looked very different, and so many other tangible legacies left dormant.

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"But if they were misleading, uncaring or obfuscating she would be tougher than anyone - and forensic with it. She showed unflinching tenacity".

He also paid tribute to her Olympic triumph.

Dame Tessa was appointed Deputy Mayor of the Olympic Village in recognition for her efforts in getting London the Games.

"And that's how I remember her because even though she's dead, I think of her as giving this sense of positivity to other people".

'She was someone who never stopped fighting for what they believed in, and a politician who delivered some of Labour's greatest achievements - the groundbreaking introduction of Sure Start helping millions of families across our nation and bringing the Olympics back to the UK.

Gordon Brown and his wife spoke of Dame Tessa's "sheer courage and compassion for others".

He added: "Through her focus on Early Years provision, Tessa did more than most to improve lives and promote social justice".

"I hope this debate will give hope to other cancer patients like me". However, her loyalty to New Labour was more than simply tactical or careerist.

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