TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to popular politician Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, who has died aged 75 after a short illness.
Mr Meacher had been an MP since 1970 and retained his seat with a 14,738 majority at May’s general election.
In April 2013 he was awarded the title of Honorary Freeman of the Borough in recognition of his outstanding service and dedication to the local community.
Mr Meacher was first elected as MP for Oldham West in 1970 and served there until 1997 when he was elected as the MP for the new Oldham West and Royton seat.
He served under Prime Minister Harold Wilson as the Under Secretary for Industry and under Prime Minister Jim Callaghan as the Under Secretary for Health and Social Security.
In opposition he served as a Shadow Cabinet Member for several departments under Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair.
He was appointed Minister of State for the Environment in Mr Blair’s first government in 1997 and served in this post until 2003.
Along with Sir Gerald Kaufman, Kenneth Clarke and Dennis Skinner he was the longest-serving MP in the House of Commons.
Mr Meacher was married to Lucianne and has four children and nine grandchildren.
Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “Like many in Oldham I am grieving the loss of a friend.
“Michael was someone I confided in, trusted and held in great affection. I’ll miss him.
“Oldham has lost a political giant – an extremely popular man who helped countless numbers of people and always got a fantastic reaction on the doorsteps over the 45 years that he served his constituents.
“On behalf of everyone in the borough I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Lucianne, and all his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”
A Book of Condolence will be placed at the Civic Entrance at Oldham Council and at Royton Town Hall from October 22 during normal opening hours.
People can also pay tribute at an online Book of Condolence at the website at www.oldham.gov.uk from tomorrow.
The Borough Flag at Oldham Civic Centre will fly at half-mast on the day of the funeral.
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, added: “I’m devastated to hear the news of Michael’s death. Michael was such a kind man and so encouraging and supportive of me.
“I’m proud to say he was my friend as well as a distinguished Labour party colleague. He was the quintessential gentleman.
“His parliamentary career was exceptional, encompassing many varied roles in opposition and in government.
“But he never wavered in his determination to represent Oldham West, and Royton from 1997, at every opportunity available to him.
“I will miss Michael very much.”