Tributes for Holyrood veteran Helen Eadie

TRIBUTES have been paid to Helen Eadie after the long-serving Labour MSP died from cancer yesterday.
Helen Eadie MSP, who has died at the age of 66. Picture: Ian RutherfordHelen Eadie MSP, who has died at the age of 66. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Helen Eadie MSP, who has died at the age of 66. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Eadie, 66, was being treated in a hospice at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, when she passed away yesterday morning.

The Cowdenbeath MSP was diagnosed with the disease on 24 October. Just a few days earlier the Labour stalwart – who was part of the first intake of MSPs in 1999 – had been campaigning in the Dunfermline by-election.

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Last night, her party leader Johann Lamont said she was “deeply saddened” to learn of her colleague’s death and remembered her as a hard-working constituency MSP and Co-operative party member who was devoted to her family.

“Helen was very precious to her family,” Lamont said. “She played an important part in helping to establish the credibility of Holyrood. She will also be fondly remembered within the Scottish Co-operative movement. Her commitment to delivering change in our communities was the essence of her political beliefs and values.

“Helen was her own woman who didn’t fit the political stereotype. Perhaps that’s why some underestimated her, but her difference was why she was admired by the people of her constituency.”

In the days before her death, Eadie was said to have been conducting parliamentary business from her hospital bed.

Politicians from across the parties also paid their respects to the MSP, whose commitment to the Labour movement in Fife began long before she was elected to parliament.

Before she became a MSP, she worked as a councillor and as a full-time official for the GMB union. Her husband Bob was also a Labour councillor.

First Minister Alex Salmond passed on his “sincere condolences” to Eadie’s family, saying that they should be “rightly proud” of her 14 years of service at Holyrood.

Willie Rennie, Scottish Lib Dem leader, said: “As fellow parliamentarians for West Fife, Helen’s intense, burning commitment to socialism was inspiring to observe. Although a gentle and kind lady you did not cross Helen without suffering from the sharp end of her tongue. Helen made waves for her causes and her constituents. My thoughts are with Bob, family and friends.”

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The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Helen was a committed parliamentarian and a true servant to her constituents in Fife. She was a wonderful, warm-hearted woman who would always go the extra mile to help someone out. She had friends across all parties.”

The former prime minister Gordon Brown said Fife was mourning a “much-loved and well-respected” politician.

He said: “Helen will be remembered as a passionate champion of social justice, putting the case for women’s equality, for youth employment and for better care of the elderly.”

Eadie was born in Stenhousemuir, near Falkirk, and was educated at Larbert Village School, Larbert High and Falkirk Technical College.

She went on to graduate from the London School of Economics with a certificate in trade union studies. She worked as a member of Fife Regional Council before being elected to the former Dunfermline East constituency in 1999. She was an active member of the Church of Scotland and had served on the Scottish Parliament’s health, transport, public petitions and European and external relations committees. She resigned from two of her committee posts in June 2007 in protest when a Tory MSP became convener of the equal opportunities committee.

The previous year Eadie called for curfews for people under the age of 15, after she was trapped in her car by a gang of youngsters.

Eadie’s death will trigger a by-election in the Cowdenbeath seat, a constituency where Labour will defend a majority of 1,247 against the SNP.