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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 13:45 GMT
Labour politician Dormand dies
Jack Dormand
Lord Dormand was an MP for 17 years
Veteran Labour politician Jack Dormand, who "never stopped fighting" for north east mining communities, has died aged 84.

A former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a government whip, he represented Easington as an MP for 17 years from 1970.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was quick to pay tribute to Lord Dormand.

He said: "Jack Dormand was a life-long servant of the Labour Party."

Colleague Lord Graham of Edmonton said Lord Dormand died as a result of a "breakdown" of his immune system.

'Never stopped fighting'

He paid tribute to his former colleague saying: "He was one of the most respected parliamentarians both in the Commons and the Lords.

"He never stopped fighting the case for the mining industry and he was a credit to his family, his constituency and his party."

Lord Dormand - who is survived by widow Doris and two children - was credited with helping Jim Callaghan remain in power by using his skills as a whip, but even that was not enough with the former Labour premier losing a confidence prompting the 1979 general election.

Regular attendance

Margaret Thatcher then won power and Lord Dormand continued in the Commons until the 1987 election before becoming a life peer.

Mr Blair said: "Even though he had recently been unwell, he would still attend the House of Lords, day in and day out, taking an active part in proceedings.

"Before going to the Lords, Jack was an extremely hard-working and committed MP for the people of Easington between 1970 and 1987, and was a very important member of the last Labour Government where, as a member of the Whip's Office, he would be kept up throughout the night trying to make sure the government didn't lose any votes.

"In opposition he was a very effective chair of the PLP.

"I know that Jack will be missed greatly by all his friends and colleagues.

"My deepest sympathies are with Doris and their two children at this sad time."

Born John Donkin Dormand on 27 August 1919 in the mining village of Haswell near Easington, he was educated at Wellfield Grammar School before going on to Durham University.

Shinwell's successor

He also studied at Harvard and St Peter's College Oxford.

He became a teacher in the 1960s before being elected to Parliament in 1970 succeeding 'Manny' Shinwell.

A jazz fan and lover of cricket he was also a staunch republican chairing the Republic All-Party Parliamentary Group - he recently called on the government to form a select committee to consider the future of the monarchy.

He played rugby into his early 60s and is understood to have been injured just once - although on that occasion he was refereeing.

He died in Peterborough District Hospital.

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