3 March 2024 9:39 PM
The wife of ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, has passed away at the age of 79. Pictured at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool in 1988

news: Baroness Glenys Kinnock is hailed as a ‘truly formidable person’ as she dies aged 79 following Alzheimer’s battle: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Keir Starmer lead tributes to ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock’s wife after she passed away ‘peacefully’

Tributes have poured in for Baroness Glenys Kinnock of Holyhead, a former minister the wife of ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock, who has died aged following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s.

In a statement, her family said the ‘cherished mother and adored grandmother’ had died peacefully in her sleep at her London home on Sunday with her husband at her side.

Labour grandees including Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as well as current party leader Sir Keir Starmer, have paid touching tributes to a woman who many have remembered as a ‘formidable’ person and force in politics.

While she had been a huge support to Lord Kinnock throughout their 56 years of marriage, Mr Blair said, she was a leader herself and her passing would be mourned across many parts of the globe. 

He called her a ‘huge figure in progressive politics’ and said the world had lost an ‘incredibly smart, brave’ woman who, along with her husband, was the ‘life and soul of any gathering’.

Sir Keir Starmer said she was a ‘passionate lifelong campaigner for social justice’ who had ‘the most wonderful partnership’ with her husband, while former party spin doctor Alastair Campbell called her a ‘formidable political force in her own right’.

The wife of ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, has passed away at the age of 79. Pictured at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool in 1988

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Many have remembered Baroness Kinnock as a ‘formidable’ person and force in politics. Pictured at a CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) march in 1983

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Lord and Baroness Kinnock stand on the steps of a BAE aircraft at a factory in Hertfordshire during the 1987 general election campaign

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Baroness Kinnock was both a staunch supporter of her husband’s political career and a prominent politician in her own right

Sir Tony also said in his statement that he and his wife Cherie were saddened by the news of her passing, and offered their deepest condolences to the Kinnock family.

He said Baroness Kinnock was ‘determined and resolute in standing up for what she believed was right.

‘Whether in fighting the cause of development, and the eradication of global poverty, social justice in Britain, equality for women or making the case for a European Union of weight and influence in the world, Glenys was passionate and persuasive.

He added of her final years, echoing the sentiments of her family, that ‘she took her illness with the same steadfastness which had governed her life.’

Mr Brown, Sir Tony’s successor in Downing Street, spoke of his and wife Sarah’s sadness following the death.

Baroness Kinnock passed away six years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and Mr Brown said she had borne her lengthy illness with ‘great fortitude’.

‘All who met Glenys admired her for her generosity, her warmth and her passionate support for the best of national and international causes,’ said Mr Brown.

‘She was a highly effective and popular minister for Europe in the last Labour government and I was delighted to have persuaded her to become a member of the government.’

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar also paid tribute to Baroness Kinnock remembering her as a ‘relentless campaigner for social justice.’ 

‘Deeply sad news,’ the MSP for Glasgow wrote on X, formerly Twitter, adding that ‘my thoughts are with Neil, Stephen and Rachel.’

Her son Stephen, the Labour MP for Aberavon, described his mother as a ‘truly formidable’ person who had a ‘cheeky’ sense of humour.

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Neil and Glenys Kinnock at the funeral for Frank Dobson at St Pancras Church in London in 2019

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Labour grandees including Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have paid tribute to Glenys Kinnock following her death

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Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar remembered her as a ‘relentless campaigner for social justice’

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Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Glenys Kinnock in 1995

He wrote on X: ‘Heartbroken that my Mum passed away peacefully in her sleep last night, after many years of Alzheimer’s.

‘She was a beloved Mum & Nain who was adored by her family & friends.

‘A truly formidable person in every single way, and with such a cheeky sense of humour! Rest in peace.’

Another Labour MP, Jess Phillips, paid a heartfelt tribute, calling Baroness Kinnock ‘beautiful’ and describing her family as ‘welcoming’.

Taking to X, she wrote: ‘Glenys Kinnock beautiful inside and out. Love to the loveliest family you could hope to meet all so big hearted and kind. 

‘Never acted like a political power house family just lovely and welcoming.’

Brendan Cox, widower of Labour MP Jo Cox who was murdered more than seven years ago by a far-right extremist, recalled the kindness and support Baroness Kinnock had shown his wife.

‘Glenys gave Jo her first job in politics, working in her Brussels office,’ he wrote on X. 

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‘She supported Jo always, challenged her & helped inspire her into politics. 

‘Even when ill her eyes have always twinkled with mischief & we will miss her, her singing & her love.’

Harriet Harman, MP and Mother of the House of Commons, also shared her personal memories of Baroness Kinnock, describing her as a ‘joyous, clever, caring, dynamic [and] vivacious woman’.

‘So political, so witty. She made change from the very local to the international. Such a loss,’ she said. ‘My thoughts with Neil, stephen & Rachel.’

Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to her and offered his condolences to her family, calling her a ‘true fighter for the Labour Party.’

‘On behalf of the whole Labour Party, I want to pay tribute to Glenys Kinnock on the sad news of her passing,’ he said. ‘Glenys was a passionate lifelong campaigner for social justice at home and abroad. 

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Baroness Kinnock stands with her husband Neil and their son Stephen at the unveiling of an English Heritage blue plaque in Chelsea in 2015

‘She supported Neil through his leadership and went on to have an impressive political career of her own as a member of the European Parliament, in the House of Lords and as a minister in the last Labour government, focused on Europe and Africa. 

‘Neil and Glenys had the most wonderful partnership, there for each other through thick and thin, with a love and commitment that was instantly obvious when you saw them together. 

‘As the family have detailed, in recent years that meant looking after Glenys as Alzheimer’s did its worst. 

‘But what we will all remember is Glenys as a true fighter for the Labour Party and the values of the labour movement, a pioneering woman, to whom we owe an enormous debt.’

Baroness Kinnock was both a staunch supporter of her husband’s political career and a prominent politician in her own right.

She served as a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Wales from 1994 to 2009, before being appointed minister for Europe and receiving a life peerage at the same time.

It was sometimes said of her, before she became an MEP, that she played a large part in formulating Labour Policy ‘over breakfast with her husband’.

And even though she was regarded by some as even more of a left-wing firebrand than Neil, that story was always fiercely denied.

She had a wide field of interests but she was especially well-known for her work designed to alleviate poverty and starvation in Africa and other parts of the world.

Last year her family had described the ‘slow grief’ of seeing her go through Alzheimer’s and ‘losing a little bit of he person you love every day’.

In a column for the Sunday Times they heartbreakingly revealed she had been left unable to make a birthday cake for her grandchildren, something she had taken ‘particular pride’ in.

They added she had been ‘mortified’ by her diagnosis and that while much of her personality remained ‘we can’t talk or get through to her’.

Speaking in May 2022 to Talk TV, Lord Kinnock revealed she had ben diagnosed after they noticed her ‘slipping words’ being confused on a family holiday to Kefalonia in 2016.

He added: ‘She has supported me for 50 years and I’ve been helping her out for five so I’ve got a way to go to catch her up.’

Paying their own tribute, her family said in a statement today: ‘It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Glenys Kinnock.

‘Glenys died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning, at home in London.

‘She was the beloved wife and life partner of Neil, the cherished mother of Steve and Rachel and an adored grandmother.

‘Neil was with her in her final moments. They had been married for 56 years.

‘A proud democratic socialist, she campaigned, in Britain and internationally, for justice and against poverty all her life.’

Baroness Kinnock’s family said they were ‘devastated’ by her death. 

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Baroness Kinnock while on the campaign trail in support of her husband Neil in 1987

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Baroness Kinnock during a service of prayer and remembrance for Jo Cox at St Margaret’s Church in London

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Baroness Kinnock stands with her husband Neil during the 1992 election campaign in London

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Baroness Kinnock stands astride a moving car with her husband amid the 1987 election campaign

Continuing their tributes to Lady Kinnock, her family said: ‘Passionate to the end about education, she was a valued and respected school teacher before she began her own political career, as a Member of the European Parliament, then being made a peer in the House of Lords from where she served as minister for three of the great passions of her life, Europe, Africa and the UN.

‘She was a great friend to many people and causes and was truly loved.

‘Glenys endured Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed in 2017 and, as long as she could, sustained her merriment and endless capacity for love, never complaining and with the innate courage with which she had confronted every challenge throughout her life.

‘The family is of course devastated and and would ask that their privacy be respected. Funeral details will be communicated in due course.’

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Baroness Kinnock laughs as she walks alongside her husband towards the conference centre at the 2007 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth

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Baroness Kinnock stands alongside former Labour leader Michael Foot during a memorial for Baroness Barbara Castle of Blackburn in 2002

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Lord and Baroness Kinnock smile as they arrive for the Labour Summer Party at the Roundhouse in Camden in 2014

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Baroness Kinnock helps her husband get up after he took a tumble on Brighton beach at the Labour Party conference in 1992

Former journalist and Labour strategist Alastair Campbell called Baroness Kinnock a ‘great woman’ and a ‘bright and beautiful light’.

He wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: ‘The whole family devastated by the news that Glenys Kinnock has died. She has been a big part of our lives for forty years and a part of our children’s lives since they were born. There could be no more loving friend and counsel. 

‘Devastated today above all for Neil. It is impossible to think of one without the other. 

‘Their love was deep and unshakable and never more on display than during these recent years when her horrible illness increasingly took hold. Neil vowed to look after her till the end and that is exactly what he did. 

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Lord Kinnock and Baroness Kinnock pictured together as they arrive at Westminster Abbey for the memorial service of Lord Richard Attenborough in 2015

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Baroness Kinnock pictured at a press conference in 2003

‘Glenys would understand that many will remember her as part of that remarkable couple. But she was a formidable political force in her own right. Mandela no less adored her. 

‘She was a committed MEP heartbroken by Brexit and a brilliant minister for Europe, Africa and the UN Many people in many parts of the world will be very sad today. 

‘A bright and beautiful light has gone out, leaving the world a sadder place, but those who knew her with so many memories of a great woman.’

Glenys Elizabeth Kinnock (nee Parry) was born on July 7, 1944, and was educated at Holyhead High School, Anglesey.

She graduated from University College, Cardiff, in education and history.

She met her future husband at university and they were married in 1967.

Baroness Kinnock subsequently worked as a teacher in secondary, primary, infant and nursery schools.

She became an MEP in 1994 and was a prominent member of several committees and for a period was Labour’s spokeswoman on international development in the European Parliament.

But it was not all plain sailing.

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Baroness Kinnock smiles during the Welsh Labour Conference in Swansea in 2009

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Baroness Kinnock pictured speaking to reporters in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in 2010

In 2004, she was caught up in an expenses scandal in which she was one of scores of MEPs who allegedly signed in for the day at the European Parliament (to qualify for the £175 daily allowance) and then promptly left the building.

And in November, 2006 she was criticised in the press for taking what was described as ‘a junket’ in Barbados to discuss world poverty issues.

She had the unenviable reputation as ‘the most travelled British MEP’ and, along with her husband, also acquired the no less enviable title as Brussels’ ‘very own Lord and Lady Expenses’.

Baroness Kinnock was required to leave the European Parliament in 2009, when then prime minister Gordon Brown appointed her minister for Europe, following the resignation from that post of Caroline Flint.

Although, when her husband was ennobled some years earlier, she was entitled to be called Lady Kinnock, it was a title she never used.

However, on her appointment as minister for Europe she became a peeress in her own right.

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, who was with her in her final moments, and her children Stephen, a Labour MP, and Rachel.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12820197/baroness-Glenys-Kinnock-tributes-cause-death-Alzheimers.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270

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