Tom McCabe funeral: Hundreds pay last respects

The coffin of former Labour MSP Tom McCabe is carried from St Mary's Church in Hamilton. Picture: PA

The coffin of former Labour MSP Tom McCabe is carried from St Mary's Church in Hamilton. Picture: PA

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LABOUR politician Tom McCabe’s six-year-old daughter paid a touching tribute to her father yesterday when she read a poem at his funeral service.

Around 400 mourners, including former prime minister Gordon Brown, Deputy First Minister John Swinney and shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran, listened as Ava McCabe read the poem at the service at St Mary’s Church in Hamilton, Lanarkshire.

Tom McCabe's widow Shuming comforts six-year-old Ava. Picture: Hemedia

Tom McCabe's widow Shuming comforts six-year-old Ava. Picture: Hemedia

The youngster said: “I love you, Dad, with all my heart and hate that we should be apart.

“Our love is a bond that can’t be broken. You may be gone but never forgotten.”

Mr McCabe, who made history as Scotland’s first elected MSP, died of cancer last weekend.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, former deputy first minister Lord Wallace and Lord Robertson, who served as UK defence secretary and secretary-general of Nato, were some of the other high-profile figures who joined the congregation.

“I love you, dad, with all my heart and hate that we should be apart. Our love is a bond that can’t be broken. You may be gone but never forgotten”

Ava McCabe

Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, also shared some of his memories of Mr McCabe. He said Ava was the “absolute apple” of her father’s eye, adding that Mr McCabe’s wife, Shuming, said that “every day for months after she was born he would hold Ava in his arms and cry”.

He added: “He loved her so much and she brought him so much joy.”

Mr Matheson hailed his friend as a “Lanarkshire great”, saying: “He made a difference during his life that very few people could ever hope to, and was esteemed by those who knew him.

“Throughout his life he served the people of the town and county where he was born, lived and died.

“He served his country with pride and distinction. He served his party with loyal dedication, thoughtfulness and integrity. And while he died too young, we give thanks for a life that was full.”

Mr McCabe’s Hamilton South constituency was the first to declare just over an hour after polls closed at the historic 1999 Scottish Parliament election, giving him a place in political history.

The service recalled 60-year-old Mr McCabe’s political career, which saw him serve as Labour chief whip at Holyrood and as finance minister.

During his time at Holyrood, Mr McCabe also served as minister for parliamentary business and deputy minister for health and community care, but he lost his seat in 2011 when the SNP won a landslide victory.

Mr McCabe’s character and his politics were based on the “sometimes hard experience” of his childhood in Hamilton, Mr Matheson said. He told mourners Mr McCabe’s father had lost both his legs in a “horrific” industrial accident at the Ravens-craig steelworks.

As a child, Mr McCabe, who had three sisters, used to steal turnips from the garden of a policeman who lived nearby.

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