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Donald Dewar Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
PM leads Dewar tributes
Donald Dewar
Tributes pour in for Dewar
The cut and thrust of British politics ground to a halt on Wednesday afternoon as politicians of all colours paused to reflect on the death of Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar.

Prime Minister Tony Blair led tributes to Mr Dewar with a highly personal and at times emotional statement to reporters in London.


In a world of intrigue he was a man of integrity, in a world of ambition he was a man of service

Tony Blair
He said that Mr Dewar was a "thoroughly good man" who had made devolution possible adding that the Scottish parliament was his achievement "and history will remember him for that".

"But it will also remember him for his passionate belief in social justice - a commitment that he never wore on his sleeve but always in his heart and a commitment borne of a fundamental desire in him to help people in need, those who are poorest, those left behind.

"In a world of intrigue he was a man of integrity, in a world of ambition he was a man of service.

"Personally I will remember him simply as a really good friend: funny, irreverent, warm, loyal.

Mr Blair added that Mr Dewar was a great debunker of people and situations saying that if he were here now he would wonder at "all this fuss" at his own death.

He thought of others before he ever considered himself, he devoted himself to service and his life was tragically cut short, Mr Blair said.

Other parties join in

Tory leader William Hague said Mr Dewar's sudden death left him shocked and saddened.

"He sacrificed his health, he gave his life and he gave all his working hours to politics, to serving people, to the people of Scotland and, of course, to the new Scottish Parliament.

He said that everyone's thoughts were with Mr Dewar's children adding, " I think, with their sadness today should go a great pride in who their father was and what he achieved".

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said he was a "real gentleman player" and a man of "great vision".

"Donald Dewar's premature death is a tragedy for his family, his friends and for Scotland.

"He was a man of great vision. He lived to make his vision a reality but was robbed of the chance to see it completely fulfilled.

"He will be a great loss. We must honour his memory. I send my deepest condolences to Donald's family."

Irish and Welsh tributes

Showing the regard in which Mr Dewar was held abroad, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern expressed sorrow at Mr Dewar's "untimely death".

"Over the years we had struck up a warm personal relationship and I admired the skill with which he helped create the first Scottish parliament in 300 years.

"It is only 12 days since I had the opportunity of enjoying Donald's company, when I met him in my office, and he again displayed his usual self-deprecating good humour and his devotion to his one great love - Scotland.

"His experience, political wisdom and his graciousness will be sorely missed."

Mr Dewar's counterpart in the Welsh assembly, First Secretary Rhodri Morgan described Mr Dewar as a "politician of great standing".

He said: "On behalf of the National Assembly for Wales and the people of Wales I am sending my condolences to Donald's family. We share in the grief of the people of Scotland at the loss of a good political leader a supreme parliamentarian and a true friend."

And from the leader of the Northern Ireland assembly there were also warm words.

Ulster's First Minister David Trimble said Mr Dewar's "wisdom, intellect and humour" would be greatly missed.

A titan of politics

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook who is in Israel in a bid to kickstart the faltering Middle East peace process said: "I am shocked and distressed by the sudden death of Donald Dewar. I regarded Donald as a good friend, as well as a close colleague."

The Tory leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, was also quick to pay a warm tribute to Mr Dewar praising him not only for his service to the Labour Party but also to Parliament.

He said: " He was truly a titan of not just Scottish politics, but of politics throughout the United Kingdom."

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Filling the void

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See also:

11 Oct 00 | Scotland
11 Oct 00 | Scotland
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