Former Labour Cabinet Minister Tessa Jowell Loses Battle With Brain Cancer

Labour veteran and former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell has died after a year-long cancer battle aged 70.

A family spokesman said she suffered a haemorrhage on Friday, and fell into a coma until her death on Saturday (May 12).

The former Blair minister succumbed to a gliobastoma multiforme brain tumour that was diagnosed last May.

Looking frail and her voice cracking with emotion, Dame Tessa received a standing ovation as she said: “Let us live well with cancer, not just die from it.”

Dame Tessa’s frontbench career lasted almost 20 years and today she was hailed as an “inspiration” with “unflinching tenacity”.

Dame Tessa Jowell
Dame Tessa Jowell

She became MP for Dulwich, South London, in 1992 and was a key player in bringing the 2012 Olympics to London before joining the Lords in 2015.

She held the Cabinet role of Culture Secretary for six years and later launched a bid to be London’s mayor, but lost the Labour nomination to Sadiq Khan.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said this morning: “There was no-one like Tessa and no-one better. I will miss her more than I can say.”

Highlighting her work in the implementation of the Sure Start programme, as well as her drive to narrow the pay gap, Mr Blair hailed her “remarkable” achievements.

Dame Tessa Jowell had a long political career

Former PM Gordon Brown said: “No-one will ever forget the courage, strength and compassion for others that defined her life.

“[That was] shown in her incredible bravery in facing cancer and her desire to ensure that even while she suffered herself, she helped others who faced similar illnesses.”

Lord Sebastian Coe, former chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said there would not have been a London 2012 without the contributions of Dame Tessa.

He said: “No politician deserves greater credit for the Games. She showed unflinching tenacity in persuading the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that the Government should throw its full weight behind the bid.

“And long after the Games were over, Tessa continued to fight for their legacy.

Dame Tessa Jowell making an emotional plea for more cancer treatment in Parliament
Dame Tessa Jowell making an emotional plea for more cancer treatment in Parliament (Image: BBC)

“Without her, the sporting landscape of the UK would have looked very different, and so many other tangible legacies left dormant.

“I will miss her enormously.”

Former acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said Dame Tessa was “no softie”, adding: “She was clever and tough.”

“Tessa was my MP neighbour for 23 years, always courteous and polite with local agencies, hospitals and schools.

 

“But if they were misleading, uncaring or obfuscating she would be tougher than anyone – and forensic with it.

“But above all she wanted to see Labour in government, and when we were she took her unique style and deep personal commitment into the heart of Whitehall.”

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