St Helens political leader lead Tony Benn tributes

Veteran politician Topny Benn, who died at home today at the age of 88, his family said in a statement
Veteran politician Topny Benn, who died at home today at the age of 88, his family said in a statement

Senior politicians in St Helens have paid tribute to Tony Benn, who died this morning.

The veteran Labour politician and former Chesterfield MP died at home at the age of 88.

Tribute have been paid from across the political spectrum to the radical politician.

In St Helens, where Mr Benn supported workers affected by the miners strike 30 years ago, both the town’s MP and council leader have led tributes.

Dave Watts, Labour MP for St Helens North, said: “He was a man of principle who started life on the right wing of the party before unusually moving to the left in later years.

“He could be a fierce opponent in support of his views but was also a very kind and generous man who, I know, was very proud of and committed to his family.

“He was never happier than when spending time with them. I didn’t always agree with what he said but respected the independence of his views.”

Shaun Woodward, Labour MP for St Helens South, said: “Not just the Labour Party, but Britain and the world of politics has lost one of the giants of the twentieth century.

“Tony Benn in every sense helped shape politics in our country. His considerable impact and imprint will remain for many generations to come.”

And council leader Barrie Grunewald said: “Tony Benn believed passionately in the power of politics, a great thinker, a prolific writer and man who stuck by his principles above all else, which is something many politicians could learn from.

“He was a towering figure and is loss to the Labour movement. My thoughts go out to his family.”

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the Labour veteran on Twitter.

He said: “Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”

Labour MPs also took to the social network to pay warm tributes.

Former cabinet minister Peter Hain said: “Tony Benn was a giant of socialism who encouraged me to join Labour in 1977: wonderful inspirational speaker and person: will be deeply missed.”

Diane Abbott said: “Admired so many things about Benn: unwavering principles; always open to new ideas; stellar political speaker but unfailingly courteous.”

Alastair Campbell tweeted: “RIP Tony Benn. A fighter all his life, fought death with the same courage he lived life. A large and loving family there with him to the end.”

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: “Tony Benn was a powerful, fearless, relentless advocate for social justice and people’s rights whose writing as well as speeches will continue to have a profound influence on generations to come.”