Tributes for ‘inspirational’ Tessa Jowell

Former Labour cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell has died, her family announced on Sunday.''Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Former Labour cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell has died, her family announced on Sunday.''Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire
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Tributes have been paid from across the political spectrum to former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell following her death on Saturday night, with Theresa May describing her as “inspirational”.

Dame Tessa, who was 70, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour in May last year, suffered a haemorrhage on Friday and had been in a coma until her death on Saturday, a spokesman for the family said.

The Prime Minister tweeted: “The dignity and courage with which Dame Tessa Jowell confronted her illness was inspirational. My sympathies to her loving family – Dame Tessa’s campaigning on brain cancer research is a lasting tribute to a lifetime of public service.”

A popular figure in Parliament, Dame Tessa played a major role in securing the 2012 Olympics for London when she served as culture secretary.

She also championed the SureStart initiative, which aimed to give children the best possible start in life through improvements and better access to child care, early education, health and family support.

Dame Tessa moved fellow peers to tears in recent months as she used the Lords as a platform to discuss her condition and call for patients to have better access to experimental treatment.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was devastated at the news of Dame Tessa’s death, adding: “Her strength in raising awareness of her illness and fighting for better treatment for others inspired us all.”

Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader and member of the Olympic Board which had oversight of London 2012, said Dame Tessa was “regarded with both admiration and affection”.

He said: “She was universally popular and respected among politicians of all parties. She will be remembered for many things, but for those with an interest in sport, her crowning achievement was to bring the Olympic Games to London in 2012. Throughout her illness she behaved with quite remarkable courage.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known. She was an inspiration to work with, and a joy to be near. She was the most wise of counsellors, the most loyal and supportive of colleagues, and the best of friends.

“What she achieved was remarkable. She was the first senior politician fully to understand the importance of public health and to shift health policy towards prevention of illness and not only cure. She was the instigator of SureStart and in the process gave hope and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of children. She brought the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to London, and ensured their success.”