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MPs pay tribute to a great parliamentarian’

PUBLISHED: 15:48 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:59 12 August 2010

TRIBUTES have flooded in after the death of the country s longest-serving female MP, championing her as a true free spirit . Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, MP for Crewe and Nantwich, fell ill during the week before her death and died peacefully last Thursday ni

TRIBUTES have flooded in after the death of the country's longest-serving female MP, championing her as a 'true free spirit'.

Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, MP for Crewe and Nantwich, fell ill during the week before her death and died peacefully last Thursday night.

Praise came from both ends of the political spectrum, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Cameron, leader of the opposition, both commending her parliamentary career.

Beckenham MP, Jacqui Lait, said: "I had a huge amount of respect for her, she was a good old trooper and she feared nobody.

"It is a great loss. She was her own woman. She was incredibly forthright and had a great sense of humour. She was also an excellent committee chairman. I'd say she was one of the characters of the House.

"To her credit she had a deep knowledge of her constituency and of transport. She was also an authentic voice of Labour. Despite that, she was never afraid to criticise the government. She was always very clear and happy to do that."

Leader of the opposition for Bromley council, John Getgood, paid tribute to her independence and beliefs.

He said: "Some 20 years ago I lived up in North Staffordshire and met her a few times up there.

"She brought a lot to the House of Commons. She was always a lovely person to meet, yet very independent, a true free spirit.

"Her values were very well respected. She was always conscious and concerned with looking out for those who needed it most and those who were most vulnerable. I feel very lucky to have worked with her. She will be very much missed within the party."

Fulham-born Mrs Dunwoody joined the Labour Party in 1946, and was a mother to three children and grandmother to 10.

Both of her own grandmothers were suffragettes while her father, Morgan Phillips, was general secretary of the Labour party and her mother, Norah Phillips, served in the House of Lords before being made Lord Lieutenant of London.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "So many people will be so sad to hear of the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody. She was always her own person. She was fiercely independent. She was politics at its best, a great parliamentarian. She will be sadly missed in all parts of the Houses of Parliament."

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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