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 Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 18:22 GMT
Political tributes to Roy Jenkins
Roy Jenkins
Lord Jenkins's death has saddened many politicians
Politicians from all sides have paid tribute to former Labour Chancellor and Home Secretary Lord Jenkins of Hillhead who has died, aged 82.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Lord Jenkins was "one of the most remarkable people ever to grace British politics".

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "Roy Jenkins was a great man and a great personal friend.

He will be greatly missed but long remembered

Sir Edward Heath
"We shall all miss him very deeply".

Lord Jenkins, who formed the breakaway SDP party after serving in a Labour Government, collapsed and died at his home in Oxfordshire on Sunday morning.

Former Labour prime minister Lord Callaghan said Lord Jenkins was one of the outstanding statesmen of his era."

Sir Edward Heath, former Tory prime minister, said: "Roy Jenkins was one of the most distinguished politicians of his generation in Britain and then in Europe.

"His work in Britain, in particular as Chancellor of the Exchequer, made a big impact on this country's affairs and when he severed his connection with the Labour Party his personal influence on the country was considerable."

Sir Edward said he had a thorough intellectual grasp of this country and its difficult problems and of all world affairs.

Roy Jenkins (left) and Mr Bill Rodgers
Lord Jenkins' move with the Gang of Four inspired many
Labour statesman Tony Benn told BBC News Lord Jenkins could be considered the "grandfather of New Labour"

"The Prime Minister has much more in common with Roy Jenkins than with the Labour Party," he said.

"I think he would want to be remembered as a writer and somebody who campaigned very hard to get Britain into the Common Market.

"But you don't want to think about these things in terms of careers, it is the long term contribution people make that lead to them being remembered."

European Commission President Romani Prodi "He will be remembered with great esteem and affection in the Commission and throughout the European Union for his historic role in the birth of the euro and his consistent support for European ideas."

'Helping Thatcher'

But Labour peer Lord Healey said he thought Lord Jenkins' political impact was "really very unfortunate".

"The fact that 27 good Labour MPs left the party to join the SDP made it possible for Thatcher to win the election," he said.

"So without Roy, Thatcher would never really have happened."

Many of us will have lost a great friend, but we have also lost a great Liberal, a great European and a great man

Sir Paddy Ashdown
He said Lord Jenkins' greatest achievement - apart from his books - had been his work as home secretary when he liberalised the laws for homosexuality, divorce and abortion.

Lord Rodgers, a fellow founding member of the SDP told BBC News Lord Jenkins had a great capacity for personal friendship and loyalty.

"Friendship was far more important than just politics.

"He was a man of Victorian proportions. He was a statesman and a man of letters," he said.

Lord Owen said: "He was by any standards a major political figure and historical figure in the context of the last century."

He added: "He had a very inquisitive mind and was quite a good gossip.

"He enjoyed conversation for its own sake and he was a brilliant conversationalist himself."


Sir David Steel, who led the Liberal Party which merged with the SDP, said: "He was without question one of the greatest Britons of the last half of the 20th century both as a politician and as a writer.

"He was the most delightful friend and companion anyone could wish to enjoy."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown, now High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, said: "Probably no person outside the rank of Prime Minister has done more for British politics in our time than Roy Jenkins."

He added: "Without him the SDP would never have been formed, the Liberal Democrats would never have existed and New Labour would look very different."

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "He was a big political figure and his passing is a sad moment."

Tory peer Lord Tebbit said: "Even his old opponents will be sad at his passing."

See also:

05 Jan 03 | Politics
05 Jan 03 | Politics

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