‘Spent his life fighting injustice’ - Former Birkenhead MP and Labour minister Frank Field dies aged 81

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Lord Field served as MP for Birkenhead for 40 years and spent his life fighting poverty, injustice and environmental destruction.

Former Birkenhead MP and Labour minister Frank Field has died aged 81 after a long battle with cancer, his family has announced. The crossbench peer revealed he was terminally ill in October 2021 and died in a London care home on Tuesday night.

Lord Field was elected 10 times to represent Birkenhead between 1979 and 2019. Described as a man with an ‘unwavering moral compass’, he spent his life fighting poverty, injustice and environmental destruction. He was a minister under Labour PM Tony Blair and joined the House of Lords in 2020 after leaving Labour to form the Birkenhead Social Justice Party.

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In a statement, his family said: "Through a long battle with cancer, Frank Field remained resilient and engaged with life until the end. He will be enormously missed by his family and wide circle of friends. Frank was an extraordinary individual who spent his life fighting poverty, injustice and environmental destruction. His decency and faith in people's self-interested altruism made a unique contribution to British politics.

"After 40 years of dedicated public service, Frank will be mourned by admirers across the political divide. But above all, he will be deeply missed by those lucky enough to have enjoyed his laughter and friendship."

Tributes to Frank Field

Labour former minister Dame Angela Eagle said: "Very sad news. Always supportive of me as his Parliamentary neighbour, brimming with ideas to make society better - a great champion of his Birkenhead constituents: RIP Frank" 

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: "Rest in peace, Frank Field. A great parliamentarian, crusader for social justice and source of wise counsel. What a blessing to have known him and benefited from his advice and kindness, even as his illness gripped him. Deepest condolences to all who knew and loved him." 

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Former home secretary Dame Priti Patel said: “Frank was a kind and compassionate man and a great Parliamentarian. His unwavering moral compass, commitment to working cross-party and unshakable principles defined him and will be greatly missed."

Frank Field, the former Labour MP and crossbench peer, has died at the age of 81. (Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire)Frank Field, the former Labour MP and crossbench peer, has died at the age of 81. (Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Frank Field, the former Labour MP and crossbench peer, has died at the age of 81. (Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire) | Yui Mok/PA Wire

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said: "At Frank's core was the conviction that poverty was never to be accepted and could be ended. Clever, persistent and caring, he held that argument high across decades RIP" 

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "As a former colleague, I watched in admiration as Frank Field navigated a career as a formidable MP, and as a minister, tasked with 'thinking the unthinkable' on social care. He was neither cowed by the establishment or whips - which made his campaigns against hunger and food poverty, for climate change and the Church, even more effective.

"He was the driving force behind Parliament's commitment to prevent slavery and human trafficking within our supply chains. Having worked with him on the modern slavery advisory group, and made him its chair, I am in no doubt his efforts saved many lives nationwide from this shameful criminal activity. Suffice to say, he was one of a kind and he will be sorely missed."

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Shadow Commons leader Lucy Powell said: ""I remember working with Frank very fondly. We worked closely on the early years and education - he taught and helped me greatly, always with kindness, respect and friendship. I know he made a massive impact on the lives of many children who will never know. RIP."

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