Malcolm Wicks, a Croydon MP for more than 20 years, died today after a brief illness. He was 65.
“Croydon won’t be the same without him,” one leading figure in the Croydon Labour party said tonight.
Tributes swiftly followed, with Wicks’s party leader, Ed Miliband, saying, “Malcolm Wicks was a thoroughly decent, intelligent and compassionate man whose untimely death leaves a huge hole in the Parliamentary Labour party. He was a brilliant energy minister and a deep thinker about welfare and pensions and Labour to his core.
“Malcolm was a dedicated constituency MP, always putting the needs of his Croydon constituents first. He was also a brilliant campaigner.
“The way he handled his illness tells you everything about the man. He showed huge dignity and also kept on thinking, writing and advising right to the end.
“I have lost a wise confidant and most importantly a dear friend and the Labour Party has lost one of its sharpest thinkers. Our thoughts go to Malcolm’s wife Margaret and his family.”
After failing to win the seat at the 1987 General Election, Malcolm Wicks was first elected to parliament for Croydon North-West in 1992, and represented Croydon North after a boundary change.
Born in Hertfordshire in 1947, the son of a Labour LCC member, Arthur Wicks, after graduating from the LSE, he worked in a number of academic and advisory positions on social welfare, writing a number of influential policy papers, including Old and Cold: hypothermia and social policy and A Future for All: Do we need the Welfare State?.
Once elected to parliament, Wicks was busy with social reform, even when not in government: he had a Private Member’s Bill, the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act, passed into law in 1995. He chaired the Education Select Committee from 1998 until July 1999, when he was appointed as Minister for Lifelong Learning in Tony Blair’s government. In July 2001 he moved to the Department for Work and Pensions, where he held a couple of junior minister positions.
In May 2005, Wicks was appointed as Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade and Industry. In November 2006, he was appointed as Minister of State for Science and Innovation in the same department. The following year, he returned to his previous job as energy minister, but stood down from the government in October 2008, accepting an appointment to the Privy Council and becoming the Prime Minister’s special representative on international energy issues.
A mark of Wicks’ integrity as an MP at Westminster was that the Telegraph, in the midst of its expenses investigation, described him as one of the parliamentary “angels” because of his refusal to exploit the system.
At the last General Election, Wicks was re-elected with an increased majority of 16,483.
Wicks was diagnosed as having cancer late last year, but through his treatment he continue to work for his constituents, making some important speeches at Westminster and attending state occasions including the opening of parliament.
Wicks married Margaret Baron in 1968, and they have a son and two daughters.
Tonight, Tony Newman, the leader of the Croydon Labour group, said, “We have lost one of our finest ever MPs, we have all lost a friend and a hugely respected colleague and the people of Croydon have lost a powerful advocate and much-loved local representative.
“Our only thoughts at this very sad time are with Margaret and family.”
- Further tributes, including the personal recollections of Andrew Pelling, will be posted here soon.