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Top Labour figures pay tribute as former Cabinet minister Frank Dobson dies aged 79

3 min read

Senior Labour figures have paid tribute to former Cabinet minister Frank Dobson, who has died aged 79.

The one-time Health Secretary in the early years of Tony Blair’s government was praised as “straight-talking” with “good humour and passion” by Sir Keir Starmer.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary, who took over Mr Dobson’s Holborn and St Pancras seat when he stood down from Parliament in 2015, said: “I’m deeply saddened to hear about the death of Frank Dobson.

“He dedicated his life to serve the people of Camden and a Labour Party he loved. He will be remembered for his straight-talking, good humour and the passion he brought to every job he had, including Health Secretary.

“I will remember a close friend who, even after he retired, never stopped giving me advice and support, and doing what he could to get a Labour Government.

“He will be sorely missed. My thoughts go out to his family.”

Former Prime Minister Mr Blair said: "Frank Dobson was an exemplary public servant and politician of the highest calibre. He made an immense contribution to getting Labour back into power in the 1990s and then was the first Labour Secretary of State for Health in almost 20 years.

"He was a great colleague with an often pugnacious style but always loyal to the Labour Party and to changing the lives of people for the better."

Mr Dobson also served as a shadow cabinet minister in the years running up to Labour's 1997 landslide election victory, but was unsuccessul in a bid to become Mayor of London in 2000.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Just heard sad news that Frank Dobson has passed away.

"To this day NHS staff tell me Frank was best Health Secretary they ever worked with putting foundations in place to rebuild our NHS under a Labour govt. He was an ongoing source of support, advice & friendship. RIP Frank.”

And David Lammy said: “So sad to hear Frank Dobson has passed. Frank was my mentor for many years in my early years in politics and in so many ways an icon in London Labour and the wider movement.

“Rooted in the community he loved a curry, was very funny, kind and patient.”

Hampstead and Kilburn candidate Tulip Siddiq tweeted: “Really gutted to learn that Frank Dobson has died. He has been part of my political life since I was 16. I will miss him enormously.”

Labour's Walthamstow candidate Stella Creasy added: “Gutted the lovely Frank Dobson has passed away. He was so kind and supportive to all of us when we were first elected in 2010 as well as being passionate about the Labour Party and what it could do for Britain.

“And he also had some of the filthiest and funniest jokes you have ever heard which could make any event a cracking night out if completely unsuitable for tender ears!”

Former Blair-era minister Yvette Cooper added: "Such very sad news that Frank Dobson has died. A lovely, kind and funny man, Labour to his core, he gave me great advice and support. Alongside the jokes, he was also deeply thoughtful as this speech shows."

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