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Frank Dobson: Tributes paid to 'wonderful socialist' and former Holborn and St Pancras MP who has died aged 79

PUBLISHED: 12:18 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 12 November 2019

Frank Dobson addresses constituency party members in his farewell speech. Picture: Mark Hakansson.

Frank Dobson addresses constituency party members in his farewell speech. Picture: Mark Hakansson.

Archant

The former MP for Holborn and St Pancras and leader of Camden Council, Frank Dobson, has died aged 79.

Frank Dobson MP. Picture: Polly HancockFrank Dobson MP. Picture: Polly Hancock

The late-health secretary led the council between 1973 and 1975, before joining parliament in 1979. After years on the frontbench in opposition in the 1980s and 1990s, he was Tony Blair's first health secretary after the Labour landslide in 1997. He went on to run unsuccessfully for London mayor in 2000. He stood down in 2015, being succeeded by Sir Keir Starmer.In a statement, his family said: "The Dobson family is sad to announce the death of Frank Dobson, former MP for Holborn and St Pancras and secretary of state for health.

"His family would like to thank all the staff at the Homerton University Hospital for their outstanding expertise, commitment and care in the last few months and also the staff of York Hospital for his previous excellent care.

"He also greatly appreciated the support of his many friends and former parliamentary colleagues."

Sir Keir said he was "deeply saddened" by the news.

Frank Dobson General Election 2001. Picture: Nigel SuttonFrank Dobson General Election 2001. Picture: Nigel Sutton

He added: "[Frank] 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.

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"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."

St Pancras and Somers Town councillor Roger Robinson, who had known Mr Dobson since their time in the council chamber in the 1970s said: "The world has lost a wonderful socialist and a hard worker for people and what they needed. He worked so hard for the party and the people he helped. He was quite blunt and honest, and very clear about what he wanted to get done. He was a great leader for us and did a tremendous amount of work."

Camden Labour party Launch Election Campaign Alastair Campbell,Raj Chada & Frank Dobson MP. Picture: Nigel SuttonCamden Labour party Launch Election Campaign Alastair Campbell,Raj Chada & Frank Dobson MP. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Cllr Robinson added that Mr Dobson "respected everyone, and they respected him as well. It's very upsetting. We shall miss him enormously."

Leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould said the borough had lost a "giant."

She added: "[Mr Dobson] is written into Camden's DNA, rebellious, larger than life, passionate and always great fun. As the council leader he was a fierce protector of council housing. As an MP he was a great champion of the NHS and social justice nationally, and he never forgot to fight for our community."

"He was always there with a joke, sage advice, his big rumbling laugh or a hug and I will carry with me his warmth and huge spirit."

Lord Lord "Jock" Stallard with his successor Frank Dobson on a Labour rally in 1974. Picture: Nigel Sutton

He is survived by his wife Janet and three children.

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