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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK
Castle tributes flood in
Baroness Castle
Baroness Castle has died at home at the age of 91
Tributes to Baroness Castle, who has died at home at the age of 91, have been flooding in from across the political spectrum.

Tony Blair said she was "an extraordinary pioneer for women in politics".

"Barbara Castle was one of the dominating figures of the Labour movement of the last 50 years," the prime minister said.

"She was courageous, determined, tireless and principled, she was never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for her beliefs.


Britain has lost one of its great political figures and the Labour movement a great heroine

Prime minister Tony Blair

"Britain has lost one of its great political figures and the Labour movement a great heroine."

Former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd, who was once Barbara Castle's secretary, said she was a "friend and mentor" who "could always be found campaigning for her deeply held socialist beliefs".

Chancellor Gordon Brown said: "Barbara was a heroine of the Labour movement who brought in equal pay for women, and right up to her death was campaigning for the cause of justice for the elderly.

"She made a massive contribution to the 20th century and her achievements will never be forgotten."


She was a tireless campaigner with a massive character

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith

Baroness Williams of Crosby - formerly Shirley Williams - said: "Barbara Castle was a woman of fire and conviction who was also elegant, attractive and consciously so.

"She had been shaped by the great depression, the war, and the determination of a post-war Labour government that the old class-ridden Britain must be transformed.

"She was an ideologue and a class warrior, but one committed to the poor and the unemployed, an icon of Old Labour.

"She was also considerate and brave."

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith agreed: "She was a tireless campaigner with a massive character.

"Even in her later years, watching her campaigning on pensions, one was reminded of the huge enthusiasm and determination she brought to everything she did."

Veteran left-wing Labour MP Tony Benn knew Baroness Castle for more than 50 years.


There was nobody she did not have a row with

Labour MP Tony Benn

He said: "Whenever you were with Barbara you felt plugged into a power station - she absolutely vibrated with energy.

"She had a great sense of humour and was just fun to be with - but there was nobody she did not have a row with.

"She had many with me and I look back on them with pleasure.

"Whatever she did she thought out and then when she had come to a conclusion she argued for it with passion and conviction."


She gave her whole being to the Labour movement

Former Labour leader Michael Foot

Michael Foot, who led the Labour party from 1980-83 and was a long-time friend, said: "She was a wonderful fighter for socialism from her early days to the last. She gave her whole being to the Labour movement.

"Her last fight was for the pensioners and she helped to change that too."

Another former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, and his wife, Glenys, said in a joint statement: "Her passion blazed and her courage held steady throughout her long life."


She was fiery, funny, stylish and a socialist to her last breath

Former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, and his wife, Glenys

"[Her] dazzling charm and low cunning won and kept the admiration and affection of the Labour movement for nearly 60 years.

"She was fiery, funny, stylish and a socialist to her last breath."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who worked as a special adviser for Barbara Castle at the Department of Health and Social Security for two years before following her as MP for Blackburn, said she was "remarkable".

"She was a real pioneer, possessed of an iron will and courage combined with acute political skill.

"She made such a difference wherever she worked - for Blackburn, for the Labour Party, for the country. She will be sorely missed."

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