'A good man': Labour MP David Cairns passes away

David Cairns, the Labour MP for Inverclyde
David Cairns, the Labour MP for Inverclyde

By Alex Stevenson

Tributes are flooding in for Labour MP David Cairns, who has died aged 44 after a short illness.

The MP for Inverclyde had been in intensive care in Royal Free hospital in London after spending eight weeks in hospital suffering from acute pancreatitis.

He died at 23:00 BST last night. Mr Cairns leaves behind his partner Dermot, brother Billy and father John.

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair said Westminster, politics and the Labour party would all be poorer without Mr Cairns.

"David's life was dedicated to public service. He was a committed and conscientious constituency MP, an excellent government minister and a passionate campaigner for social justice, equality and opportunity," he said.

"But more than that, David was, quite simply, a good man, with time for everyone and a wonderful sense of humour, which made him a delight to be around."

Chris Bryant, the Labour frontbencher, tweeted: "David Cairns was a truly lovely man with a great sense of what was right. In words of Thomas Hardy he was a good man and he did good things."

Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, tweeted: "David Cairns was one of the best people I have ever known and ever will know. Country is poorer for his passing - he made this place better."

Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, said Mr Cairns had been one of his closest friends.

He wrote on his blog: "He was incredibly clever and funny and loyal. I can't believe I will never see him again. And I dread how much I'm going to miss him."

Ed Miliband said Mr Cairns would be "missed beyond measure" and praised the former minister's "wide hinterland".

"As a former Catholic priest, he brought a sensitive understanding of others and a ready wit to politics, and he never shied away from saying what he believed to be true," he said.

"The Labour party will miss him profoundly. He was a good man."

Mr Cairns, who worked as a director of the Christian Socialist Movement before becoming an MP in 2001, was born in 1966.

He served as a junior ministerial aide in New Labour's second term before being promoted to minister of state at the Scotland Office in 2007.

He resigned from the post in 2008 and returned to the backbenches, after refusing to publicly restate his loyalty for prime minister Gordon Brown.

In last year's general election Mr Cairns bucked the national trend by securing a swing towards Labour of 3.6%.

He took 56% of the vote to increase his majority to 20,993 against the Scottish National party's candidate.


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