Gordon Brown and Tony Blair lead tributes to Malcolm Wicks

Tributes from all sections of politics, blue as well as red, continued to be made to Malcolm Wicks, Croydon North’s first Labour MP, who died on Saturday.

After Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, praised Wicks as a “thoroughly decent, intelligent and compassionate man” whose death left a “huge hole” in the party, other figures from Croydon and across the country spoke of their liking for Wicks and admiration for his achievements.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wicks would be mourned as a “great thinker, writer, campaigner and parliamentarian”.

He added: “He was a passionate advocate of social justice, a conscientious constituency MP and a great minister in the Labour government.

“I talked to him during his long period of ill-health and I marvelled at his courage and tenacity in fighting his illness. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family.”

Tony Blair said Wicks had “complete integrity in all he did”.

Many leading political figures used Twitter to express their sadness at Wicks’ passing and sympathy for his family’s loss.

Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said Wicks was a man of “great wit and humanity”.

John Prescott, Wicks’ colleague in the previous Labour government, said, “Our deepest sympathies to Margaret Wicks and her children on the passing of Malcolm. Such sad news.”

David Miliband said that Wicks was a “deep thinker, honest politician, real reformer, brave fighter”. BBC personal finance journalist Paul Lewis said that Wicks’s “1978 book Old and Cold – hypothermia and social policy was central to bringing attention to fuel poverty among pensioners”.

Lord Adonis, the former Labour cabinet minister, said, “Terribly sad news of Malcolm Wicks’ death. A highly effective and conscientious MP and minister, he will be greatly missed.”

Andy McSmith, The Independent‘s politics writer, gave an example of Wicks’ sense of humour from the time when he was a government minister. Commenting on the on ethnic, age and gender make-up of the Blair government, McSmith remembers Wicks saying: “There are too many people like me in this government. The others should all resign.”

Stella Creasy, an MP working on an important aspect of social policy – pay-day loan companies – Tweeted, “So sad to lose Malcolm Wicks – a really decent and kind man as well as fantastic MP for Croydon. He will be much missed.”

The Co-Operative Party said, “Among Malcolm Wicks’s many achievements, we are proud to have worked with him on the Co-op & Community Benefit Societies & Credit Unions Act.”

Tracey Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said, “Such sad news about Labour MP Malcolm Wicks. A lovely man who was always so kind to colleagues regardless of political persuasion.”

In Croydon, Timothy Godfrey, a Labour councillor for Selhurst ward in Wicks’ Croydon North constituency and a long-time colleague of the MP in local campaigns, was clearly deeply affected by the death of his friend. “This is obviously awful news for all of us and his family,” he said.

“Let’s support Malcolm’s family at this time. He was a good friend and an amazing MP. Croydon won’t be the same without him.”

Raj Chandarana, a former Croydon councillor and Labour party worker, said, “Shocked saddened devastated by loss of Malcolm Wicks MP. Remember helping him win first election 1992. Being his agent proudest moment 2001.”

Andrew Pelling, once Wicks’ political opponent when he was MP for Croydon Central, said, “Malcolm was a mature-minded, serious politician who was admired on all sides, an expert in many fields of public policy.”

And Gavin Barwell, the Conservative MP for the neighbouring constituency, posted a tribute to his colleague and oft-times passenger in his car – or “taxi” – on the drive home from Westminster.

“I didn’t know Malcolm very well before I was elected but since then we have often find ourselves at the same civic or community functions and I’d like to think we became good friends,” Barwell wrote.

“We live quite close to each other and I would often give him a lift home from Westminster. I will really miss the conversations we had in the cab (as he referred to my car; the fare was very reasonable – one bottle of wine each Christmas). Sometimes they would be about what had happened in Parliament that day – how our leaders had done at PMQs for example; sometimes they would be about a particular policy issue, which might mean a heated argument or unexpected agreement … sometimes they would be nothing to do with politics; and occasionally he would tease the sometimes naive and over-enthusiastic new member for Croydon Central with his dry but very effective sense of humour.

“The journey home from work will be a lonelier one without him.”

Even when desperately ill, in the final months of his life, Wicks continued to support important local causes, according to Aishah Mehmood, the local ambassador for international peace day.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t happen to support the Labour party or don’t choose to support politics in general: Croydon has lost a gem,” Mehmood wrote.

“I will always remember Malcolm as a wise individual, trying to make a change in Croydon.”

Mehmood approached all local MPs to support a peace tree, to carry messages to mark international peace day earlier this month.

Malcolm Wicks sent this message: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

  • Was Malcolm Wicks your MP? Did you meet him or call upon his help? Post your memories and tributes in the comment section below, or email us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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