Tributes to Sir Tony Lloyd

– in the House of Commons at 1:28 pm on 23 January 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, House of Commons Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee 1:28, 23 January 2024

Before we proceed with the business, I would like to take the opportunity to remember our late colleague Sir Tony.

I first met Tony almost 30 years ago when I was standing as a candidate in Chorley in the 1997 election. Tony was shadow Foreign Affairs Minister. He came along to Chorley and to Adlington—the village I live in—where, on Sutton Lane, he knocked on doors. I have to say that it was his charm, passion and good humour that helped convince those wavering voters to vote for me, so I am forever in his debt.

Of course, Tony had been in the Commons for quite some time before me. In total, he served the people of Greater Manchester for 45 years. He was first elected as a member of Trafford Council in 1979, and, in 1983, he was elected to this House as the Member for his home town of Stretford. In 1997, he was returned for Manchester Central. By that time, he had been part of the Labour Front-Bench team for over a decade, and Tony Blair appointed him Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, serving under Robin Cook. He remained active in international affairs after leaving the FCO as leader of the UK delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Western European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. He was chair of the parliamentary Labour party from 2006 to 2012, the longest-serving holder of that role during that last Labour Government.

He stood down as a Member of Parliament to become the first elected police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, but in 2017, he returned to the House as the Member of Parliament for Rochdale. Tony remained an active Member of the House until very recently. In one of his final speeches in this House, just last month, he concluded by saying:

“I think the message that has come across today is that we must fight for the change that we want to see take place.”—[Official Report, 7 December 2023;
Vol. 742, c. 184WH.]

That is a fair summary of Tony’s attitude to public service: he was truly a great Member of Parliament. However, although he took politics seriously, Tony did not take himself seriously. He had a very dry—even mischievous—sense of humour, but overwhelmingly, he left an impression of kindness and decency on those who dealt with him.

Tony was an impressive Member of Parliament—he was an impressive person—but his politics were shaped by his mother. His father died young; his mother introduced him into the Labour movement, and it was the Labour movement that shaped the person we are talking about today. I will always be in awe of his kindness, his generosity, and the support that he always gave me. Even on that day as he came out of hospital, Tony was thinking of others. I was pleased to have had the chance to have a chat with him, to share a few jokes and reminisce a bit, but one of the most difficult things you have to do is phone somebody whose life is coming to an end, and I wondered how I could make that phone call. Typical of Tony, he made it so easy for me. He was that kind of person: he put me at ease when it was meant to be the other way around. That is the person we are talking about. He made sure that it was not a difficult conversation. I did not know that that would be the last time we would ever speak, but I am so glad that we did.

We have not only lost a great colleague and friend; the country has lost one of its nicest and most effective MPs. However, while we in this House and those who worked for him mourn his loss, our thoughts are with his family, who are watching today’s tributes from the Gallery: his wife Judith, his children and his granddaughters. I hope the tributes will give them some comfort in the knowledge that Tony was much loved by all sides of the House. May you rest in peace, dear Tony.

I now call the Leader of the Opposition.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 1:32, 23 January 2024

The death of Sir Tony Lloyd last week was a great loss to so many people on the Labour Benches and beyond, but the sadness we feel pales in comparison with the grief that Tony’s family are going through. Our hearts are with them, and I am pleased that some of Tony’s family are in the Gallery today: his wife Judith, his children Angharad, Siobhan, Kieron and Alexandria, his son-in-law Paul, his nephew Sean—who I know was like a son to him—and of course his sister Vivian. Like you, Mr Speaker, I hope they can take some comfort in the memories and tributes of colleagues today, and I hope they see just how much Tony was loved and respected here in this House and how much he managed to achieve in his decades of public service.

I first met Tony when I was Director of Public Prosecutions and he was the police and crime commissioner in Greater Manchester. We were at a sexual assault referral clinic in Greater Manchester, St Mary’s, which works with organisations and individuals committed to combating violence against women and girls, providing safe places for women and girls to report what has happened to them. It is an incredible model, and I saw at first hand Tony’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls. What really struck me when I met him for that first time was that he had the heart of a true public servant: not grandstanding, not pretending that he had all the answers, but quietly and respectfully working with others to deliver.

Like others, I have been deeply moved to read and hear the many tributes to Tony, not just from Labour Members but from Members across the House. I thank Members across the House for the comfort that the tributes they have paid will have given Tony’s family. Tributes have also been paid by those from the trade union movement, because Tony was a committed trade unionist, and by people who met Tony in his decades of public service. Like you, Mr Speaker, it meant a great deal to me personally to have had the opportunity to speak directly to Tony when he left hospital for the last time, the Thursday before he died, Thursday week ago. I was able to convey to him at first hand the high esteem in which he was held by everyone, which I hope gave him some comfort and support in those final days.

Tony was held in special high esteem by his staff: Jacob, Iftikhar, Beverley, Arjeera, Megan and Chris, and of course Tricia, his close friend and political confidante in Rochdale. Indeed, many of those in Tony’s tight-knit group of friends used to work for him, and I know that they were by his side in his final days. That is a true tribute to Tony: he treated people as kindly and warmly behind closed doors as he did publicly, and he treated those who worked for him with the respect and dignity he expected everybody to be treated with.

Some Members of the House know that Tony followed the reds on two fronts: he was committed to the Labour party, but he was also a passionate supporter of Manchester United. Tony and I agreed on a lot of things, but not on that. As we all know, though, his love for Manchester went beyond football. A former Irish ambassador who I have got to know well, and who worked closely with Tony when he was the shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, remembered receiving from Tony what he described as a

“whimsical Mancunian take on Irish history”,

showing not just Tony’s typical knowledge of his subject but the great sense of humour and poignancy that he was known for.

Across the country, Tony had a huge impact as the MP for Rochdale; across the United Kingdom, he championed co-operation, collaboration and communities; and across the world, he promoted peace, chairing Labour Friends of Ukraine and supporting human rights and democracy in Belarus. However, he still always had the time for the little things that matter so much to Members of this House—a friendly word and some encouragement, with that twinkle in his eye that everybody who has ever met him knows and will remember.

Just a few days before he died, Tony published what would turn out to be his final article in his local paper. He wrote about his hopes for 2024—for peace in the middle east and across the world. He wrote of the need to help the NHS off its knees, particularly having just experienced its care first hand. He wrote of the importance of action on climate change to make sure that we can pass our planet on to our children, and he wrote about education and the need to invest in young people. Tony might not be able to lead the fight for that better world he hoped for, but those of us he leaves behind will, and we will have him in mind as we continue to fight for the causes he was passionate about, the values he lived, and the people he served throughout his entire life. May he rest in peace. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:39, 23 January 2024

Last week, the whole House was deeply saddened by the loss of one of our longest-serving and most respected Members, Sir Tony Lloyd. I offer my sincere condolences and those of the whole Government to his wife, Judith, their children and grandchildren, and all of his friends and family.

Tony and I of course came from different political traditions, but I deeply respected him as a man of great integrity, compassion and humour, a gentle, but fierce advocate for his constituents and his values, and a dedicated parliamentarian. He loved this House, he said, for the “shenanigans of the place”, and it has said everything about his pragmatic and warm approach to politics that we have heard and will hear so many heartfelt tributes to him from all sides of this House.

For Tony, politics was always about people. That began, of course, with his constituents in Rochdale and his home city of Manchester. Born in Stretford, within cheering distance of his beloved Old Trafford, he spent 36 years as a Member of Parliament and served as a police and crime commissioner, truly living up to his nickname, Mr Manchester.

Tony gave an interview while recovering from covid that gives us the full measure of the man. All of Tony’s humanity is there—his empathy, his values. He talked of watching a young nurse gently feeding an old man opposite, reflecting, in his words,

“that there is more to life than the next parcel from Amazon. It’s what binds us as a human family really. That enormous decency.”

Tony was an enormously decent man, who gave his life to public service. From local government to crime, Northern Ireland and, perhaps most enduringly, foreign affairs, he was a principled and tireless public servant who made a real difference to the lives of people here and around the world.

Mr Speaker, as you said, in his penultimate contribution in this House, Tony said that

“change can happen, and…we must fight for the change that we want to see”.—[Official Report, 7 December 2023;
Vol. 742, c. 184WH.]

From the beginning of his career right to the end, Tony Lloyd lived those words. He was a great family man, a great man of Manchester and a great man of the House of Commons. He will be missed, but he and the change he fought for and achieved will never be forgotten. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw 1:41, 23 January 2024

I want to send our sincere condolences to Tony’s family from the SNP Benches.

I also want to say a few words personally about Tony. I did not know him very well, but I have one very vivid recollection. One evening, in the covid tent that was set up on the terrace, I went to meet an SNP colleague for a little light refreshment, and at the table with her were Tony Lloyd and Stephen Pound. Mr Speaker, we almost got thrown out of that covid tent—not because we were drinking so much, but because we were laughing so much. I think every time someone said something, either Stephen or Tony, maybe a wee bit myself and my colleague, just capped each other, and those who were in that tent probably remember the racket. Everyone—everyone—was looking at us and wondering what it was we found so funny. I cannot remember what it was we found so funny, but it was just one of those evenings where you go away feeling better. Thereafter, every time I met Tony, he spoke to me.

I probably fully understand what Tony’s family are going through, having been widowed myself. My late husband used to say, “Marion, hen, most people get into politics to help other people”. I think that was Tony, and I am so glad I met him. I spoke to him very recently in the Chamber, and he gave me his lovely smile, nodded and asked me how I was—and the day felt better. It is a bit presumptuous of me to say that things get better, but I know they do. I also know that it is always best to look back and remember those we love who are gone with a smile, and I am sure that will be easy in time for Tony’s family.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons 1:43, 23 January 2024

One of the interesting quotations in Wikipedia has Tony Lloyd’s words:

“the basic morality of politics was instilled in me. I have always thought if not fighting for what’s right and just, then what is politics for?”

My recommendation to anybody coming into this place, and one I try to take myself, is to try to earn the tributes that Tony Lloyd has earned.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 1:44, 23 January 2024

When we have the sad duty to pay tribute to hon. or right hon. Members, it is often the case that the facts get gilded, in a sense, to help the family. There is absolutely no need to embellish the facts when it comes to Tony. Quite simply, Tony was a decent man, who dedicated his life to public service.

Tony was first elected to Trafford Council on the same day that Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, which meant that his first 18 years as an elected representative were probably more difficult than most people’s first 18 years. He very soon, four years after he had been elected as a councillor, became the Member of Parliament for Stretford, and I want to mention two things about that. It meant that he represented Manchester United and Manchester City—both grounds were in that constituency—and Tony, who was fair with all his constituents all his life, was I suspect not completely even-handed between the Reds and the Blues at Manchester. He was delighted to go into the directors’ box at Old Trafford, and I think the last early-day motion he put down was a very good tribute to Bobby Charlton when he passed away recently. One of the sadnesses of Tony passing is that he campaigned against, and led a debate in Westminster Hall on, the Glazers’ parasitic ownership of Manchester United, and as the Glazers are on the way out, I think Tony would have been delighted to see their demise.

When Tony became the MP for Stretford, which included Moss Side, I became leader of the council shortly afterwards, and we both had to deal with many of the problems that there were in Moss Side at that time. I think it would be fair to say that Tony worked tirelessly to improve the relationships between the different communities and the public services in Moss Side, because we were still in the aftermath of the 1981 riots in Moss Side. I think it is also fair to say—he took this into his job later as police and crime commissioner—that he was not a supporter of James Anderton’s rather brutal tactics in Moss Side, and he saw it as part of his job to improve relations between the communities, not to make them worse.

Tony took a similar attitude when he moved to Manchester Central. Although he loved representing Manchester United, he was always the political realist, and he could see that there was likely to be a much larger majority in Manchester Central than there was in Stretford, so he moved to Manchester Central. Again, he had a difficult ward in Cheetham, and he dedicated his time to improving relations in that ward. He never said this to me directly, but I think it was his experience of seeing the damage that poor policing could do that motivated him to become the police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.

In some ways more importantly, Tony was the first non-elected mayor for Greater Manchester to use those skills of bringing communities together in bringing the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester together. Greater Manchester has a reputation for the authorities working together, but that does not just happen on its own. Authorities are often jealous of each other, leaders of councils are jealous of Members of Parliament and they are certainly jealous of mayors, elected or not, and Tony used his skills to bring people together.

Tony was calm, which does not mean he always toed the party line: on Iraq and Trident, for instance, I was pleased to walk through the Lobby with him. He did not agree with the current Labour party policy on the middle east, but again it was done in a calm and thoughtful way. And when the war memorial in Rochdale was desecrated with pro-Palestinian, anti-British Government writing and by people chanting racist, antisemitic slogans, Tony was the first person to call it out.

This House, the people of Rochdale and the people of Greater Manchester will greatly miss Tony’s contribution to our political life.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 1:50, 23 January 2024

It is with great sadness that I rise and say goodbye to Tony Lloyd. He was a man of great courtesy, he was a great parliamentarian, and I am so glad that both the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister have paid such fulsome tributes to him.

I much enjoyed his company when I had the opportunity to speak to him, and I also want to recognise his independence of mind, as Graham Stringer just said, regarding the question of Iraq, which was a huge issue for those on the Labour side. He spoke for the Labour party with an independence of mind and an authority that certainly attracted me to listen to what he had to say when he spoke.

I would also like to pay tribute to him not only as the Mayor of Greater Manchester but as the Member for Rochdale and, by way of a personal anecdote, I would like to put on record my thanks. In 2017 he helped to organise and spoke at the commemoration of John Bright in Rochdale Quaker cemetery; he played a very important part not only in putting the event together but in the celebration and commemoration that took place afterwards. He recognised the greatness of other people’s contributions to the history of Rochdale, such as that of John Bright, and Bright’s commitment to democracy. I can only say that as the Member for Rochdale, although sadly no longer, he represented the very best of what John Bright represented when he himself was a Member of Parliament in this country for so long. So I just want to pay tribute to his family—to offer my condolences to Judith and the family—and to say thank you, Tony, for all you did.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Leader of the Liberal Democrats 1:52, 23 January 2024

I hope these heartfelt tributes to Sir Tony Lloyd are a source of comfort to his family. I say to them that those of us who were lucky enough to know him for a little while knew him to be an absolutely lovely man: kind, and respected in all parts of the House. You should be really proud of him.

I say to the Labour family that I know he was an integral part of the Labour party for so many years and I know you are proud of him, and justifiably so. He stood up for Labour party principles and his own principles as an individual MP representing his constituency.

I have spoken to Liberal Democrat colleagues in Manchester who remember Tony as the sort of person who would reach out to other parties to make sure that the people of Manchester were the prime objective in the work that politicians of all parties were trying to do. It was no surprise that he decided to leave this House to go and be the police and crime commissioner, where he served with real distinction to try to make the lives of everyone in Manchester better. He was a Mancunian at his heart, as we heard from the former leader of the council, Graham Stringer.

I also remember Tony as a strong internationalist; that was a real theme in the work that he did. In his last speech in this House, he was supporting and standing up for the universal declaration of human rights. He voted against the Iraq war. He was an internationalist and put his beliefs into what he did.

My personal experience of Sir Tony from listening to him in this House was that his calm, thoughtful and respectful interventions were often heard in silence because people wanted to hear what he had to say. My particular remembrance is from a cross-party visit to Israel and Palestine in 2009. We went to towns in southern Israel such as Ashkelon, and we went to the west bank and Gaza. We were at the border crossing in Gaza and were not being let in; it was a prearranged trip, but we were not being allowed in and we were there for several hours. We rang the British ambassador; that did not work. But Tony had the idea of ringing the BBC, and within an hour the BBC was reporting that a cross-party group of British MPs was not being allowed into Gaza, and it was amazing how quickly we were allowed in. That showed the measure of Tony: a principled pragmatist, getting through issues, understanding how things worked. My advice to colleagues is when going on foreign trips, always take a former Foreign Office Minister with you, because that comes in quite handy.

We will not forget him; no one who met him—whether constituents, Members of this House or, frankly, anyone around the world who met him—will ever forget Tony. He will live in our hearts and memories.

Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley Chair, Procedure Committee, Chair, Procedure Committee 1:56, 23 January 2024

I feel humbled to be able to speak about Tony. He shadowed me when I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and it was always a pleasure and an honour to be able to have a private conversation with him. Yes, across the Dispatch Box we might have our disagreements, but behind the scenes I knew that we could have a proper, open, frank conversation. And I will say this about conversations with Tony: I learned something from every one of them. Every single time we spoke there was something new—there was a different perspective that Tony gave me, a different way of thinking about things, and he helped me enormously in the task we both had to try to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland when I was Secretary of State and he shadowed me.

After that time we remained close and would regularly chat about Northern Ireland and what was going on. We often talked about football as well, despite supporting teams from different sides of Manchester. We always had a great conversation and he was always generous and warm and witty.

I was very honoured that last month he was able to co-host with me an event that the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union held to mark the 75th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. Tony being Tony, he went around every stall; every possible person met Tony, and he was warm, he was kind, he was generous, and they knew that he was engaged and listening to them, which is a rare quality in the people we come across.

Last week Patrick Grady and I were both at a BGIPU conference and our admin official was Joe Perry, who is the newest BGIPU recruit. Joe worked in Tony’s office for many years and we could see just how much he was affected by the loss of Tony—the shock of it, but also the sense of loss of somebody so special to him, somebody who had given him so much. I am very pleased that the three of us were able to spend a little bit of time to toast Tony; we found somewhere he would have liked and it was nice to be able to raise a glass to a good friend and somebody we will all miss desperately.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead 1:58, 23 January 2024

Like you, Mr Speaker, I met Tony about 30 years ago in the run-up to the 1997 general election. I thought then, and have continued to think ever since, what a tolerant and restrained man he was, even when he felt strongly. I have to say I was not particularly tolerant or restrained in those days; I would like to think I learned something from Tony—I think I did over the years.

Those qualities stood him in great stead when he became chair of the parliamentary Labour party. He took over at a time when the tensions—I am being slightly euphemistic—between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were at their sharpest. He was able to guide the PLP through that period.

It is extraordinary to think that when Tony came into this place, Michael Foot was leader of the Labour party. I think I am right that he served under nine Labour leaders. On longevity, I remember Tony telling me many years ago that as a young boy, he saw the Busby babes play, with the great Duncan Edwards. He must have been one of the last people still alive who could say that they saw Manchester United before the Munich crash.

In conclusion, Tony’s tolerance and restraint were an exemplar. There are an awful lot of people—not just in here, but outside as well—who could usefully learn a few lessons from Tony.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee 2:00, 23 January 2024

I add my condolences to those of colleagues; Tony was a man who commanded universal respect across the House and beyond.

Although for most of my time as a Member of Parliament, Tony was a fellow MP, I got to know him best when he was out of the House of Commons as the first Mayor of Greater Manchester, following on from being the police and crime commissioner—indeed, he combined the two. He was appointed on 29 May 2015, two weeks after I had been appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It was an absolute pleasure to work closely with Tony during those two years. Creating the first big city Mayor outside Greater London was a big deal. It had not been done for many decades, so it was important that it should be a success not only for Greater Manchester, which was going to elect its Mayor, but for the whole country, because we wanted to encourage other great cities across the UK to follow that route.

The first Mayor was crucial. Tony was selected by borough leaders across Greater Manchester, and he proved to be the perfect inaugural Mayor with his easy-going charm and ability to work well not only with the three parties who were leading the boroughs of Greater Manchester, but with a Conservative Government. The experience he had of this place and of ministerial office built the confidence in the role of Mayor of Greater Manchester—the confidence that it could be entrusted with powers and responsibilities devolved from this place. That proved to be a template not just for further devolution to Greater Manchester, but for the whole country.

I enjoyed working with Tony during that time not only because of his courteousness and effectiveness, but due to his tenacity, which colleagues across the House will remember. Without his sure-footed leadership, not only the mayoralty of Greater Manchester but those of other city regions might not have taken root in the way that they have. Tony was not one to trumpet his own attributes and achievements, as has been said, but in those two short years as Mayor of Greater Manchester he created a great legacy, not just for the city of which he was so proud, but for the country as a whole. We send his family our sincere condolences.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 2:03, 23 January 2024

I first met Tony Lloyd in 1988. My husband Colin and I were looking for help putting on an Amnesty International showing of artwork to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the UN declaration of human rights. I contacted Tony, whom I had not met previously, and he helped us to arrange the showing of those artworks at Manchester central library. We also managed to have a fantastic launch event at the library, featuring Tony and some actors from “Coronation Street”. The wholeheartedness with which he supported what we wanted to do with that event on human rights was typical of Tony.

Tony was the MP for Stretford at the time I became a councillor on Trafford Council. Having been a Trafford councillor himself, as we have heard, Tony was a great mentor for all of us new councillors who were elected when we won Trafford Council in 1995. I can remember Tony and Judith at our Trafford Labour social events, and in particular his very good salsa dancing.

Tony has a remarkable record of service as an MP in Trafford and Manchester, our police and crime commissioner, the interim Mayor and, most recently, the MP for Rochdale. He was also the long-serving chair of the parliamentary Labour party. In all those roles, Tony had a substantial influence on our political life, particularly in Greater Manchester and the north-west, but more widely in his role as a committed internationalist.

The final thing I want to pay tribute to is Tony Lloyd’s sheer decency and humanity. I thank him for his friendship and support across the years, and I want to send love to Judith, his children—Siobhan, Angharad, Kieron and Alexandria—all the family and Tony’s staff. We will miss him terribly.

Photo of Chris Clarkson Chris Clarkson Conservative, Heywood and Middleton 2:04, 23 January 2024

I am not going to talk for long, because a lot of people knew Tony better than I did, but for the past four years I had the privilege of sharing a borough with him. I was his constituency neighbour, and a better friend and neighbour you could not ask for.

I was trying to think of anecdotes I could use to sum up how good a friend he was to me, but as has been alluded to, Tony’s sense of humour was very dry, which means I cannot repeat quite a few of those anecdotes in the Chamber. I will touch on a couple of incidents. The first was on 13 December, when a bleary-eyed, newly-elected MP for Heywood and Middleton reached out of the bed to grab their phone, which was ringing. It was Tony on the other end, who was clearly in a lot better condition than me. He said, “I think we should probably get together so I can get you up to speed.” This was a man who had just been through a tough election, and his first thought was getting his constituents’ needs dealt with, because there had been a transition on the other side of the borough. There is a lovely story that comes off the back of that, but it is not repeatable, so Members should find me in Strangers later. It was the mark of the man. If we are talking about the spirit of co-operativism that is Rochdale, Tony embodied that. That service never waned, even when his health did.

Most recently, I spoke with Tony one-on-one at the Holodomor commemorations. Tony did fantastic work with the Ukrainian community, especially in our borough. We were stood there in the freezing cold, and I was close enough to him at that point to ask how his treatment was going, and he started asking questions about how I was doing personally. He was so sanguine about it, and he just kept going. We were exchanging casework pretty much up to the last. This was a man who gave his all for something he really cared about. He was a parliamentarian’s parliamentarian, but he was also a fantastic local community representative.

We use a lot of superlatives in this job—we talk about things being awesome, big and grand—but a word that carries a lot more weight for me is “good”. Tony did not just do good; he was good.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Social Care) 2:06, 23 January 2024

A lot has been said about our friend Tony Lloyd, such as the service he gave to the people of Greater Manchester over his long and distinguished career as Trafford councillor, MP for Stretford, MP for Manchester Central, police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, MP for Rochdale, Minister, shadow Minister—we can rattle them all off.

Tony was a friend, and somebody who I will miss greatly. I first got to know Tony at the 1992 summer Young Labour residential—I was young once. I am billing it as a residential, but it was actually in Manchester. It was at the GMB National College in Whalley Range. It is now the British Muslim Heritage Centre and the site of the constituency office of my hon. Friend Afzal Khan, but back then it was the GMB National College. A number of MPs from across the north-west region and beyond came to talk to all these eager young Labour activists. We were a little dejected, because we had been through a general election that we should have won, but we did not, and the rest is history.

Tony did not just come to the college and chat to us youngsters, but he stayed with us afterwards. Everybody else disappeared—they had more important things to do—but Tony stayed with us, to encourage us to keep up the fight and to stand for what we believe in. He did like a beer, and he even did the karaoke afterwards, but he was all about supporting young people and encouraging them into politics and to chase and follow their dreams. I did not think he would remember, but when I was elected in 2005 as the MP for Denton and Reddish, he came over to me in the Members’ Tea Room and said, “I remember you doing karaoke, Andrew.” I said, “Well, Tony, I remember you doing karaoke, and it wasn’t that great.”

Over the last 19 years, we served together in this place. We sat in the shadow Cabinet together. He was a great shadow Northern Ireland Secretary who really believed in reaching out across the communities and bringing people together. He fought for internationalism, whether it was for the people of Colombia, the people of Palestine or the Kashmiri people with whom I did a lot of work with Tony when he was MP for Rochdale. He was a socialist and an internationalist. He believed in social justice. He was an exceptional public servant. He was both a gentle man and a gentleman. God bless you, Tony, and thank you to Judith, the family and the staff for sharing such a lovely man with the Labour party.

Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes 2:10, 23 January 2024

I am deeply honoured to speak, as I served with Tony on the International Trade Committee for three years. He was always there to give this young upstart some good, impartial advice. He was kind and generous, and always had a balanced view about what should and should not be done. He had the best interests of Parliament at heart. His was an extraordinary service to Parliament and an extraordinary example to any young Member entering this place.

I wrote to him last year when he fell ill. In the midst of his treatment, he sent back a letter not complaining or uttering anything about his personal circumstances but saying how much he missed being in this place and how much he was looking forward to getting back here. When I saw him a month ago, I was so pleased to be able to have a last word with him and say what an extraordinary example he was to so many.

I thought about what would be an acceptable anecdote to tell. At one point, I said to him, “I’m a bit stuck, Tony. I’ve got a constituency engagement coming up and I’m not entirely sure what the funny story is that I will be able to tell.” I do not know whether this happened to him or was one of those apocryphal stories, but he looked at me and said, “How about this one? I had some constituents come to see me: a mother, a father and a son. They were standing in Central Lobby as the Division bell went, and the Doorkeepers and the police were all shuffling about. The father said to the mother, ‘What’s that? What does that mean?’ Out of nowhere, the boy said, ‘It means one of them has escaped.’” [Laughter.] That was his gift to me—a good sense of humour—and now it is passed on to all hon. Members to use at association events.

Tony was an extraordinary man. I am so pleased and fortunate to have ever been able to meet him. I send my very best to his family.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Labour, Manchester, Gorton 2:12, 23 January 2024

My thoughts are with Tony’s family in the Gallery, and also his staff, past and present. Many of them will be mourning a man who made a great impact in their lives. I knew Tony for well over 25 years as a colleague and a friend. Of course, we shared the two reds idea. I have to say that one of the reds is clearly coming up nicely—and I hope the football team also gets better. [Laughter.]

The other thing that I shared with Tony was our community relations work in Greater Manchester, where I found him incredible. As a colleague and mentor to me when I joined the Labour party, he helped me with many great political challenges and fights, including winning my Cheetham Hill seat from the Lib Dems and the late Qasim Afzal. When I became a Member of the European Parliament, the fight was with Nick Griffin, who represented the north-west. Again, Tony was a star—he knew exactly what needed to be done at the right time and what needed to be said. It was the same when it came to George Galloway—I have had my share from both the left and the right.

I always found Tony to be an absolute gem. With his experience, his balanced ideas and his clarity of thought, I always found myself in a good place. He was an unfailingly warm, friendly and kind individual. He could always be relied on for support, whatever campaign or issue we were working on, and he was always available to intervene in obscure Westminster Hall or Adjournment debates. Despite being gentle and modest, he was a sharp politician who knew exactly how this place worked and how he could use it to get the best for his constituents. I know that because Tony represented Whalley Range—an area in my constituency—and even now, long-term residents still remember him and talk fondly about how he sorted out their housing, their immigration or whatever issues they had some 30 years ago.

As a councillor, a Member of Parliament, a police and crime commissioner and interim Mayor, Tony touched the lives of everyone in Greater Manchester. He will be missed here in Parliament and, most importantly, by people back home in Manchester and Rochdale, whom he never missed an opportunity to champion. May he rest in peace.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Chair, Conservative Party 1922 Committee 2:15, 23 January 2024

I am grateful for the chance to participate. Tony was a calm and decent man and a gentleman. When I was elected in 1997, I was one of two Conservative MPs in Greater Manchester—and in 2001 I was one of one—but, right from the start, Tony was one of those who helped to set the tone for the way in which, regardless of party, we all worked together in the interests of the city and the region. I always valued that enormously. That is an example to all Members of how we serve the wider public and not just our parties or our own interests.

Oddly, then, the other thing I will say in giving my condolences to the family and paying tribute to Tony is that I came across him again in particular in 2010, when I was elected chairman of the 1922 committee and he was the chairman of the parliamentary Labour party. There we both were in our respective party roles, but also finding ourselves working together, perhaps more often than I had ever expected, and I have found that since, with his two successors in my time as chairman of the ’22. I always valued his advice. It was remarkable how often he was able to give me, as the new boy looking after the 1922 committee, advice and guidance from his experience of dealing with the PLP. He will be missed and he sets an example for us all that I hope will be followed.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 2:17, 23 January 2024

I wish to pass on my sincere condolences and sympathies to the family of Tony on his passing.

I got to know Tony Lloyd just after his return to the House in 2017, and then when he was appointed as the Labour party’s Northern Ireland spokesperson. A very senior member of the Labour party had the ultimate responsibility when coming to Northern Ireland to meet with the innocent victims of terrorism. Despite my best efforts to get that person to meet them, Tony came to me and said, “I will meet them, Gregory.” I said, “Thank you very much, Tony.”

I arranged a meeting, which was the first time I had been in close proximity to Tony in a meeting with a small group of people, as opposed to in the Chamber. Initially, I felt deeply touched by his empathy, how he listened to the trauma of many people who had suffered at the hands of terror, and how he very calmly and patiently responded to each and every person. I deeply appreciated that, but what struck me even more was that after he finished his term as Labour Front-Bench spokesperson for Northern Ireland and he no longer had that responsibility, one day he sat behind me in the Chamber, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Gregory, I would like to meet those people again.” He did not have to, he did not need to, but he did. Again, he showed and demonstrated his empathy.

In preparation for these few words, this morning I was reminded of how we should be reminded of all our mortality at this occasion. As the old book says:

“What does God require of us? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.”

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Labour, Salford and Eccles 2:19, 23 January 2024

Tony was one of the best of us: a decent, kind man dedicated to helping people. As we have heard today, often he was unassuming and he never showboated the brilliant work he did. Such was his commitment to public service, he rarely felt comfortable taking personal credit for the great work he did, preferring to quietly and furiously work in the background to get done what needed to be done. His career was never about him but about the people he was trying to lift up. Because of that, Tony was loved.

There are so many stories and messages of warmth from his friends and colleagues, and I have just a few that I want to share. Ian Stewart, a close friend who was formerly the MP for Eccles and then Mayor of Salford, said:

“Tony phoned me before Christmas (he must have been in hospital when he phoned, although he didn’t mention that). He said he wanted arrange a meal and a drink with me. I explained that Mez was ill and we thought she might have Covid. I suggested that he and I should get together as we regularly did either between Christmas and New Year or early January. He agreed but then calmly said he loved me and Mez and that I should let her know that.

First and foremost Tony was a true and close friend of 50 years. He was a real trade union socialist, with a good heart and a strong desire to help those in need.

He was a Statistician by trade lecturing at the University of Salford when we first met. People were always bemused when they found out he was good at maths. Tony was a product of the post war Labour Government’s Welfare State and Education System. Which he never forgot.

I ran his campaign to become the Chair of the parliamentary trade union group.

I ran his campaign to become the Chair of the parliamentary Labour Party.

I had great respect for him as a politician and dear friend.

In 1988, Tony was the first Politician to be interested in and support the creation of the synergistic social partnership model for good governance and socially just resolution of complex problems.

Tony and I were invited to attend our friend Chan Singhs inauguration as the Temple President of a Manchester Sikh Temple and we wore Turbans together. We looked the part.

He was part of that small group of politicians who were underestimated;
underrated; and underused in Parliament. His quiet, calm manner belied the gut instinct and passionate reaction to inequality and lack of social justice experienced by oppressed communities, whether at work, in the community, in the UK or Sub Saharan Africa. He had been the Minister for Sub Saharan Africa in the Blair Government. He was a genuine internationalist, and understood the real global implications and need to battle against neoliberalism at home and abroad.

A genuine man of the people. And one of the few politicians I will miss sharing a meal and a drink with.”

Andy McDonald, who cannot be here today as he is recovering from an operation, asked me to share this funny story:

“He was so special and a warm character but there was also a very naughty side to him and I’d like to share this story about him.

I’d missed breakfast and I was really quite hungry and was hoping the delicious jerk chicken would be on offer and headed off to “The Debate”, the cafeteria in Portcullis House in eager anticipation.

But imagine my disappointment when walking up to the entrance to cafeteria and looking up at menu board to see the row of usually packed canteen serving stations totally empty, no staff and no customers. There’d been some sort of problem and services were disrupted and there’d be no lunch in the Debate today.

I tried to take in the full extent of this lunchtime disaster.

I was standing there, open mouthed in disbelief, with my hand still outstretched in automatic pilot poised to pick up a tray from the pile to put my non existent food on, as if in total denial and unable to compute, whilst simultaneously scouring the sad notice of temporary closure that only served to reinforce my disappointment and with it the dawning realisation that I’d be eating somewhere else today.

I must have had a look on my face of complete bewilderment and disappointment in equal measure, when my friend Tony Lloyd, who had observed my frozen form as he made his way through PCH, quietly walked up to my side, still invisible to me, and said very gently and so caringly, with a wicked twinkle in his eye: ‘is there a daughter we could ring?’

Rest in peace Tony.”

Paul Dennett, the Mayor of Salford, said:

“Sir Tony Lloyd MP was a great man, a person &
politician of great integrity, someone who often did the right thing quietly, without fear or favour, a great friend of Salford &
its peoples. My thoughts &
prayers are with Tony’s family &
friends at this time”.

Outside the world of politics, Tony’s real and unending love was for his family, and it was in that context that I first met him. At the age of five, in Stretford, he was my first ever MP, although I did not know that at the time, when I was running around his and his wife Judith’s house, driving everyone mad playing “She-Ra: Princess of Power” with his daughter Siobhan, who was my friend at school. We were usually having a row about who would be in the role of She-Ra that day, causing Tony or Judith to have to come and sort out the problem diplomatically.

I remember a house and family full of love and warmth, and a family who often supported mine. It was only years later that I realised what Tony actually did for a job. That was important because, growing up, there was a tendency to believe that MPs were in some special class of their own, and that people from backgrounds like mine could not be MPs. But Tony was different. He was one of us, a man of the people, and a proud member and supporter of the Irish diaspora in Manchester. He gave me the courage to believe that if he had become an MP and could serve to help people, then maybe—just maybe—people like me could do it, too.

I send all of Salford’s deepest love and prayers to Judith, Siobhan, Angharad, Kieron, Ali, Carmen, Carys and all Tony’s family and loved ones. To Tony, I say: “You were an inspiration to all of us in this place. If we can be just one ounce of the good man that you were then I know the world will be far better, kinder place.”

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Clean Power and Consumers) 2:26, 23 January 2024

It is a special politician who gets a tribute covering the whole front page of the Manchester Evening News with the headline “An example of honesty, principle and kindness”, a quote taken from comments from the Mother of the House but echoed by so many in recent days. The tributes often mention what an outstanding public servant Tony was, and what a good, kind person he was. He was always ready with a kind word to me in difficult times; in particular, I remember his sympathy when my mum died.

To those of us who have been involved in Greater Manchester politics for a long time, Tony was a giant. His record of public service is unparalleled—as a councillor, MP, police and crime commissioner and Mayor, he was a hugely respected and influential figure. He will be missed across greater Manchester, but also across Parliament. The respect he was held in on all sides of the House been clear today and in recent days. Perhaps what I admired most about Tony was that his contributions were always so thoughtful. They came from a place of principle, and he always had great conviction, but he was always measured and able to look at the big picture with great knowledge and experience. His wisdom will be missed across this House.

As a long-time resident of Chorlton in my constituency, he will be missed by the local community. As a familiar face on Beech Road, he was liked by everyone. Among many tributes, I was touched to see the following written by staff from Ludo’s deli on Beech Road:

“We are all very sad at Ludo’s. One of our loveliest customers, so supportive. I’m already missing him and all the lovely chats we had about everything and nothing. All our thoughts are with his family and friends”— as are all our thoughts today.

Finally, he will be missed by his friends in the Bowling Green and the other pubs in Chorlton, where he liked to chat about politics or Manchester United over a pint, and especially by his colleagues in our local Labour party, who admired and respected him so much.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth 2:28, 23 January 2024

It is so sad that today we are paying tribute to our dear friend and colleague, and my constituency neighbour, Tony. I have listened to so many stories this afternoon, and it is a testament to the person Tony was that people from all sides of the House have spoken so strongly about him. I hope that provides some comfort to his family and his staff, who I know loved him so much.

One thing that sticks out is not only the enormous impact that Tony had on British politics, but the high regard in which he was held, which is quite unusual in this place. What has really stood out is that almost everyone has an individual story and mentions his kindness. I absolutely agree with that. My recollection is of the kindness he showed me when I was a new MP and he was chair of the parliamentary Labour party.

As police and crime commissioner, Tony organised a roundtable on tackling violence against women and girls. He invited me along because he knew that I was passionate about that. He showed such empathy to the women who were there because of their experiences. I also remember his help in a constituency case for a mum who had lost her son to murder. Again, the way he was with her was quite remarkable. Most recently, when we knew that Tony was poorly, I was really keen to organise a Parliamentarians for Peace event—thank you for that, Mr Speaker—and as soon as I sent the message around, he was the first to respond, saying, “Yes, we must do something. I’ll be there.” Unfortunately, he was not able to be there, but I knew that he absolutely wanted to be.

Tony was the embodiment of politics as public service: deeply humble, conscientious and compassionate. He worked tirelessly in the interests of his constituents, not for himself. As a constituency neighbour, I know the work that Tony put into his work in Rochdale. He called me just before Christmas, because there was a particular issue that he said he needed my help on and wondered whether the wording of a letter was just right. The way he worked was so collaborative; it was quite special. Tony was not interested in politics as a game or a sport. He was passionate about changing lives and our politics being the vehicle to do just that. I will always think about his poignant words when speaking to a young constituent:

“For me politics is about all people, it’s that sense of human solidarity that matters. If it’s not about making people’s lives better, don’t be a politician.”

I ask all colleagues, in Tony’s memory, to redouble our efforts to make people’s lives better. Rest in peace, Tony.

Photo of Navendu Mishra Navendu Mishra Labour, Stockport 2:32, 23 January 2024

I first met Sir Tony about 10 years ago. Like my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend Andrew Gwynne, I was young once. At the time, I was active in Young Labour and was fundraising for Hazel Grove constituency Labour party in Stockport. Tony did not know me, but his office was helpful and he made the time to come to Hazel Grove and fundraise for a CLP that at that time had no Labour councillors and a Liberal Democrat MP. Not only did he come to the fundraiser, but he spent the entire evening with us and spoke to each and every person. We had a table for Young Labour activists and he went over and spoke to each and every one of them. He inspired me and many people on that table. Many are now Labour councillors and Labour party activists. His demeanour was very soft: he spoke softly and chose his words wisely. Many colleagues on both sides of the House have said that we could all learn from the way he conducted himself.

It has also been mentioned that he was an internationalist. He believed in a better world for everyone, both in the UK and across the world. I remember inviting him to speak at an event at the Mechanics’ Institute in Manchester in 2017 for the Cuba solidarity campaign, supported by Unison the trade union. He impressed us all with his Spanish skills: he delivered parts of his speech in fluent Spanish and he was also able to translate. I was in awe of him, because I had wanted to learn Spanish for a long time and had never quite managed to get there. He was giving a speech and, out of nowhere, kept moving between Spanish and English. It was quite impressive.

When I was in the Labour Whips Office, he was in my group and I had frequent interactions with him. He was always very kind with his time. Unfortunately, when he was not well recently he asked me to be his proxy vote in the parliamentary Labour party and, for a while, in the Chamber. I remember my last conversation with him. He was coming up those stairs into the Chamber and said to me, “We were supposed to have that pint.” I said, “Tony, please let me know what works for you and I will take you to my favourite pub in Stockport to have a fine pint of cider.” He said that he would.

One of my last messages to him on WhatsApp was on 29 December. I said, “Tony, I hope you are well. Please let me know if you have any availability and I would love to have that pint with you.” He did not respond and I was a bit disappointed, but when I messaged him two days later, on 31 December, to wish him a very happy new year, he responded straightaway. Looking at my messages, his last message was to wish me a happy and successful 2024.

A lot of people have said—and I agree with them—that he will leave a massive hole in Greater Manchester politics, but I think it is bigger than that: he will leave a massive hole in British politics. It is uncommon for someone to be remembered fondly on both sides of the House, particularly a politician, so it is nice to see that there are colleagues from all the major parties here to speak about their memories of Sir Tony. On behalf of the people of Stockport, my thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and his staff members.

Photo of Andrew Western Andrew Western Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:35, 23 January 2024

Colleagues have already ably described Tony’s internationalism, socialism and trade unionism, but as one of my predecessors as Member of Parliament for Stretford, I want to pay tribute today to his local work, his collegiate nature and the way he went about his business. His personal style was unique, but it was also incredibly impressive.

Tony was a true son of Stretford. Born and raised locally, he was extremely well-regarded and conscientious as a constituency MP from 1983 to 1987, even if being born locally made it inevitable that he was a fan of Manchester United—you can eventually learn to forgive that in a person. He was known locally not only as a man of absolute principle—the person that so many of us are familiar with here—but as a person who got things done for the community. Indeed, during my own election campaign that led to me coming to this place in 2022, Tony, who made frequent visits to the campaign trail, was often recognised by local residents and his time as an MP remembered favourably. What was all the more remarkable was the fact that he often recognised those residents too, some 25 years after he had ceased to be the MP for Stretford.

But that was Tony all over. He treated everybody he met with courtesy. He earned respect because he gave it without question. There have been many tributes to Tony in recent weeks, but the one that chimed with me most was from a former member of Tony’s staff team who said that the thing she admired most was that he always treated working-class people with respect, and that that means everything, especially to people who have rarely been treated like that before. It may sound like a small thing, but it is less common than it should be, and what a mark of the man.

I guess in total I have known Tony for almost 20 years, but it was when I became the group leader on Trafford Council and Tony was the police and crime commissioner and then the interim Mayor of Greater Manchester that I first saw him in action. That was, as we have heard, an incredibly tough gig, but Tony went about it with his usual inclusiveness and he was truly exceptional; a famously international person who knew that, when all was said and done, for real working people all politics was local. He also understood that crime was a working-class issue, which is what had driven him to become the PCC in the first place. He cared about the people and communities he served, and that shone through. Whether in this Chamber, in his constituency, or indeed having a pint with him in the Beech in Chorlton with our mutual friend Councillor Thomas Robinson, that spirit of public service shone through.

Tony’s approach to serving people was the same as his approach to supporting colleagues: human solidarity. That quiet word, that nod of encouragement, that message to keep going. The phone call he made to me in November because he had heard I was having some issues in the constituency, just to check that I was okay and to make sure that I felt supported. We heard similar from Chris Clarkson. It was something he also extended to my own mother when she was facing a tough election campaign in 2016. I will always remember the phone call that he made to her at 4 am, having got the number from Judith, to congratulate her on her re-election.

Tony really was an outstanding man. When I look for the word that sums him up best, I find that it is “thoughtfulness.” He was an exceptional parliamentarian, he was an outstanding community politician, but above all he was fundamentally a thoroughly decent man.

Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle 2:40, 23 January 2024

We have heard much about the many roles that Tony played during his time in politics, in the House, in the Labour party, as a police and crime commissioner, and as the interim Mayor of Greater Manchester. He was also a champion of the underdog, someone we could all learn from and someone I absolutely looked up to. He was a great friend of mine from his time as the shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I was a newbie in this place in 2019, and he helped me to navigate the corridors and the strange rules that govern this place.

The chair of the parliamentary Labour party, John Cryer, talked about Tony’s tolerance and restraint. I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that when he was the shadow Secretary of State, during a very difficult period in our politics, we put those qualities to the test many times, and in the numerous meetings that I attended with Tony and representatives of other political parties in Northern Ireland, there was not much tolerance and restraint on display, but he was there to calm us all down.

I think it important for me also to say that Tony’s interest in Ireland did not start when he became shadow Secretary of State; it was a decades-long pursuit of truth, justice and peace for the people of our island. His friends in Ireland will never forget him, as he never forgot us. I was delighted to host him in Derry a few months ago for a few pints in a local hostelry, where we had great craic and told great stories, and to see him again in the Strangers Bar for a pint just before Christmas—sometimes we actually met without having pints.

One thing stood out to me on the many occasions on which I saw him after he got sick. We all knew that he was not well, but he wore it so lightly. As others have said, he did not talk about himself or his own illness; he talked about us and asked us questions about how things were going. I think of some of the contributions that he was making in this place at the end of his career. He was talking about arms exports to Israel, he was talking about Rwanda, and he was talking about and advocating on behalf of private tenants who were not being treated properly. He was an advocate for the voiceless until the very end.

I want to extend our sympathy and love to Tony’s family and friends, and to all who loved him. On behalf of the people I represent on our island, I say, “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”. May he rest in peace.

Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:42, 23 January 2024

I have a thousand stories to tell about Tony, having met him 40 years ago as member of the Fianna Phádraig pipe band in Stretford during an Armistice Day event, but I will save them for the Stranger’s Bar later.

My sympathies first go to Judith, who continues her work as councillor for the Longford ward in Trafford.

Tony was an active member of the Catholic community here in Westminster. Father Alexander has asked me to convey to the House that the Catholic mass at 6 pm tomorrow in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft will be for the repose of the soul of Tony, and that all will be welcome.

Photo of Karin Smyth Karin Smyth Shadow Minister (Health) 2:43, 23 January 2024

I met Tony when we became corridor neighbours after his 2017 election, but I knew of his reputation and was somewhat in awe of it. When I worked with him, my Irish-Mancunian Aunt Margaret messaged me to say, “You’re working with our Tony!” She was so proud and told everyone in Middleton about my great rise.

Although 2018 was a difficult time in the Labour party, in our country and in Northern Ireland, Tony assumed the role of shadow Secretary of State with his usual calm, professionalism and guiding political principles. Knowing my interest in Northern Ireland, he brought me into the team. It is still a mystery to me that when I became a shadow Northern Ireland Minister there was no announcement, there were certainly no tweets, and I am not even sure that the Office of the Leader of the House knew that the number of people in that team had risen from two to three. Along with the aforementioned Steve Pound, I became part of a trio. What a time that was—again, perhaps there will be stories later.

Tony was not going to allow a bit of procedure, or indeed convention, get in the way of pragmatism and what he thought was needed at the time. He wanted to have a woman in his team—he was a great supporter of women’s equality. It was such a great pleasure to work with him at that time. Wherever we went, whoever we met and whatever difficult discussions we had—and there were many—with all political parties it was exactly the same. We met the political parties, we met those victims of the terrible violence in Northern Ireland, for which people are still struggling to get justice, we met campaigners for a new and different Northern Ireland, we met the Irish Government, and we met Tory Ministers, with whom we had difficult but always respectful conversations. Tony was exactly the same at all those meetings: calm, informed, respectful and, ultimately, very wise.

Sadly, there are not always enough people in this place who are interested in the affairs of Northern Ireland, so we often had a lot of down time between debates. We were often here quite late when everyone else had gone on to do other things. We also spent a lot of time travelling, and I learnt so much. I have not met most of Tony’s family, but I feel that I know about them, and we shared the great love that we both felt for our families.

I remember waxing lyrical—as I am sometimes wont to do, but will not do now—when asking his advice about how best to be a good MP, and how best to use Parliament. Should MPs stay on the Back Benches, should they take a position on the Front Bench, should they join Select Committees, should they try to introduce private Members’ Bills? He stopped, raised his hand, took a sip of his pint and asked me, “Can you do joined-up writing?” [Laughter.] And I can, Mr Speaker. When I said that I could, Tony said, “There is always a job to be done in this place by people who can do joined-up writing.” What he meant was that MPs should have a clear focus on their constituents—there is a job to be done there, which he did really well—but after that they should do what they feel is right for them, where they think they can make the most difference. But he also meant, “Enjoy the great privilege that you have.”

I will miss Tony for that sense of fun, for that mischievousness, and for his great wisdom and friendship, particularly over the last couple of years when he was ill. We all seem to have spoken to him and received texts in the last two months, so that phone bill must be very high. Tony had no intention of dying when he spoke to us in those last conversations, but I know from the work that he did with me on assisted dying and the right of people to choose their moment of leaving that that choice to be at home with the love of his family would have been a very important one. Our main thoughts are with his family and close friends. I thank everyone for sharing them, and may he rest in peace.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington 2:47, 23 January 2024

Let me explain to our friends opposite that the reason so many of us loved and respected Tony was that, for us, he was one of the finest socialists and trade unionists that we had ever met. If he were here, however, I think he would be asking why we are not celebrating one of his greatest attributes.

Tony was possibly the best political plotter any of us have ever come across. He was always plotting for a cause, and it was usually the right cause. I remember the plot that made him the chair of the trade union group in Parliament. At that time the Labour leadership were perhaps not as amicable as they are now. It was said that they always looked on the trade unionists as the uninvited uncle at the wedding who turned up every now and again. What Tony became was the bridge between the trade union movement and the then Labour leadership, and that held together our relationship with the movement overall. Then there was the plot to make him chair of the PLP, to oust Ann Clwyd, as Members may recall. It was a Brownite plot—and a prominent Brownite, my right hon. Friend Mr Brown, is sitting beside me—but it was also a good cause. Tony saw that the leader dominated the PLP, and that there needed to be a political balance that reflected all the different views.

A large number of people would not have voted against the Iraq war if it had not been for Tony. He led by example on every occasion, on a very principled basis. If he were here today talking about Palestine, he would be leading for the Palestinian people.

I was in the Shadow Cabinet with Tony. Some colleagues may remember that there was not an awful lot of fight for jobs in the Shadow Cabinet; fending off the monthly coup took a bit of our time. The reason he came in was his loyalty to the cause and his loyalty to the party. Whoever was leader, he was loyal and he did his job. We appointed him shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, because I do not know anyone else who could get that lot talking to one another in the same room in that way. That is why we loved and respected him—because he was part of us, he was part of our movement: a trade unionist, a socialist, a parliamentarian of the highest degree. He knew how this place worked and he was able to use that, just as he did for the party, for the best of causes and the best of objectives. That is why we will greatly miss him, exactly as the leader of the party has said. The foundations that we lay in the future will be based upon the principles that he advocated and convinced so many people of.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent Central 2:50, 23 January 2024

I was a bit worried today because I thought I was going to be overwhelmed with emotion and also because I thought I might find out that I was not Tony’s favourite MP. It was the mark of a good leader and a good man that he made people feel like they were his favourite and that he was telling them something special. I cannot tell you how long I have known Tony because I have been in the trade union movement for so many years and our paths crossed all the time; we were campaigning all the time on so many different issues. But I remember in 2005 when I came into Parliament, I was quite obviously distressed about something—I do not know what—and I remember Tony putting his hand on my shoulder quite gently and saying, “Dawn, you’re often going to feel lost in this place, but don’t worry.” He said that if I ever had any questions I could always ask him, no matter how silly those questions were, and I have passed that on to new MPs that come in. I always say, “If you have a silly question, ask me. It’s okay”, because I remember how Tony made me feel when he said that.

Tony also told me not to believe people who said they knew how this place worked, because inevitably they do not. That I carry with me too. The last conversation I had with Tony was at the bottom of the stairs by the Opposition office and I remember he asked me how I was and how my health was. And I thought, “Oh my goodness, he is going through what he is going through.” I remember sending him a message that me and Christina Rees—who cannot be here today but would really want to be—were feeling quite lost and we did not know what to do—[Interruption.] I do not know how to portray to the family—sorry; how to portray to the family how much he meant to us.

Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston 2:52, 23 January 2024

It has been a real comfort to me to listen to so many tributes for such a wonderful man that I have the highest respect for. I had the pleasure of knowing Tony for many years and it was a joy to work together in Parliament after decades of friendship. He was such a kind, caring, compassionate man. Tony could not help himself from helping others. Every day was a day of action to help others to make life and things better. Only last month, I was at the all-party parliamentary group on Belarus—he corrected me on how I pronounce that—which was chaired by Tony, and he was fighting as passionately as ever for a free and democratic Belarus. That was just last month. Tony was kind and softly spoken yet so strong in his beliefs, and actions always followed them up. He was a dear friend to so many people and so well respected, and I am privileged to be one of those people. I always enjoyed chatting over a drink of tea in the Tea Room, and we would have many a laugh. I will miss Tony, my real friend. God bless Tony and God bless his family—may you take the same comfort that I have here today listening to so many well-deserved tributes.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham 2:54, 23 January 2024

I wanted to speak today to pass on my condolences to Tony’s family, but also to mark somebody who is one of the most standout individuals I have come across in the 27 years that I have been in this House. I first got to know him soon after I was elected in 1997; we were members of the same trade union group. He was somebody who you looked forward to meeting socially around the place because he was always good company, and he was somebody who was always wise and worth listening to, whether it was here in the Chamber or in discussions elsewhere.

Perhaps I got to know Tony best when I joined the parliamentary Labour party committee when he was chair of the PLP. You will remember, Mr Speaker, as will those of us who were here at the time, what we went through with the expenses issues, where MPs came under a considerable amount of criticism. Tony’s leadership really came to the fore there. His calmness and his ability to influence what was going on were really exemplary. I used to sit in the committee when the civil servant—I will not name him—who had been invited to set up the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority came in to talk down to us, I have to say. Tony was very calm, as always, and I was not. I always thought that in his negotiations, Tony went away and said, “If you don’t negotiate with me, I’m going to set him on you.” His personal skills really got us through that time; I remember that time very well.

I was also a member of the Justice for Colombia group, and I know that they will want to pass on their sympathies to Tony’s family. He had enormous influence on the work of Justice for Colombia and in supporting the peace process in that country, which has eventually made enormous changes there. Tony was a driving force, both in the trade union movement and in this place, in supporting Justice for Colombia. He was the embodiment of the word “comradeship”—whether it was through his kindness and decency, his compassion, his courageousness, it all shone through. He was among the best of us, and we will miss him dearly.

Photo of Margaret Greenwood Margaret Greenwood Labour, Wirral West 2:56, 23 January 2024

It has been so good to hear all these warm tributes to Tony. He was a man of such warmth, integrity and decency and that has resonated through everything that everyone has been saying. I got to know Tony when we both served in the shadow Cabinet and he was shadowing the Northern Ireland Secretary. Two things really struck me. One was the time that he would take to listen to people, to consider the problem they were grappling with and to give wise words of guidance. The other was the degree to which he cared about people so passionately. He worked tirelessly for his constituents, but also very genuinely for the people of Northern Ireland. I think that that has rung true this afternoon. I would just like to express my condolences to all of his family.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration) 2:57, 23 January 2024

I think what makes politics interesting for the people out there are great characters, and there is no doubt at all in my mind that the great Tony Lloyd was a great character. Anytime you met Tony and you left his company, you walked away with a smile on your face because there was always some witticism that he had left you with to think about. He always made you feel better about yourself and politics. I remember Tony talking to me about his great love not just for Greater Manchester but for the city of Glasgow and of course his other beloved football team, Celtic football club, which he insisted was Glasgow’s No. 1 football team. As a Partick Thistle supporter, I can only say that he was nearly correct in his summation. He was very proud of his Irish roots, as I and many others across this House are. His work with the Parliamentary Friends of Colombia has also been mentioned, and for so many of us he was a leader in raising that particular issue.

I think we always have to learn from each other, and one of my first conversations with Tony was about the vital importance of a constituency office keeping tabs on the full moon dates across the year. We all know why, don’t we? We can never say it here in public, but we know why. Full moon dates are a vital part of a constituency office’s work. I will always remember this great man and this great friend. I hope the WhatsApp messages between me and him are between us and no one else. I say to his family and to our Labour colleagues: our comradeship and our love are with you at this time as we remember the great Tony Lloyd.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 2:59, 23 January 2024

It is a pleasure to contribute to this debate. I am ever mindful of those who have spoken so, on behalf of my Democratic Unionist party colleagues, I express our sincerest and deepest condolences to Tony’s wife, Judith, and his four beloved children and adored grandchildren, some of whom are in the House today.

As is well documented and rightly lauded by Members, Tony’s rich service in this House began in 1983, some 41 years ago—two years before the start of my service as a councillor in 1985. I will briefly highlight the friendship that Tony gave to me and everyone in this House. He made friends very quickly, and it was particularly meaningful when we served together on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. John McDonnell spoke about how, across the political parties, he brought us all together to focus on the things on which we could agree, rather than on the differences we sometimes have with each other.

Tony and I were often together in Westminster Hall, where he often spoke in debates on human rights and freedom of religion and belief. We were on the same side of the Chamber, obviously, but we were also on the same page in speaking up for those things. He was a voice for the voiceless, and boy did he speak up well. He was one of those people.

Although Tony and I may not have shared the same political opinion on the way forward in Northern Ireland, we shared respect and love for the country. Tony was knowledgeable on the intricacies of Northern Ireland and, although we did not always agree, his opinion was fair, reasoned and respectful. We enjoyed many a conversation in the Chamber, with me sitting here and Tony sitting just behind me. He often leaned over, and he was always softly spoken and incredibly courteous. He was always personable and often had a story. He never gave advice unasked, but he helped everyone who asked—that was the sort of advice he often gave to me. I enjoyed that.

Tony was a man of personal faith. Mr Speaker, I know that you and the family are ever aware of the importance of faith. Mike Kane spoke about that, too. I am reminded of 2 Timothy 4:7-8, which is a great scriptural text. He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award him on that day, and not only him but also to all who have loved his appearing.

That is the Tony we knew. He was well thought of and respected in this place, and his wisdom and wit will be sorely missed.