John Prescott has led the tributes to former shadow cabinet minister Kevin McNamara, whom he described as a “class act”.
McNamara, who died yesterday at the age of 82, was MP for Hull North for nearly four decades, which included eight years as shadow Northern Ireland secretary, during some of the most difficult moments in the Troubles.
He died “peacefully at home”, his family said, after falling ill on holiday and being diagnosed with cancer.
“On holiday in Carboneras, Spain, Kevin appeared unwell and was referred by a local doctor to Hospital de Torrecardenas, Almerìa, where he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. He had experienced no symptoms and was pain-free. After medical evacuation by air ambulance from Almerìa on July 28, he spent two nights in Southport and Formby District General Hospital, before returning home to Formby,” they said in a statement.
Prescott, who served as deputy prime minister for a decade while MP for Hull East, remembered his political neighbour on Twitter, writing:
From securing the Humber Bridge, working for peace in Northern Ireland & serving North Hull with distinction, Kevin McNamara was a class act pic.twitter.com/XVK7FSegTu
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) August 6, 2017
Jeremy Corbyn added: “Very sad to hear of Kevin McNamara’s death. He was a lovely man, who won the historic 1966 Hull North by-election. My thoughts with his family.”
Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, also wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear Kevin McNamara has died. Respected Hull MP from 1966 to 2005 with passionate commitment to social justice and human rights. RIP.”
McNamara was born in Liverpool in 1934 and went on to serve as secretary of the National Association of Labour Student Organisations, before becoming a history teacher and a law lecturer.
He was elected for Hull in 1966 and held various shadow ministerial posts, including the Northern Ireland brief. His spell as a shadow secretary of state began in 1987 and meant he served under Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair before becoming shadow minister for the civil service in 1995 and 1996.
He stepped down from the Commons in 2005. He is survived by his wife, Nora, and three sons and a daughter; another son died before him.