Tributes paid from across the political divide for former Birkenhead MP Frank Field

Tributes have poured in from across the political divide to former Birkenhead MP Frank Field who has died.

The former Labour Minister and crossbench peer represented the Wirral constituency from 1979 until 2019 before entering the House of Lords in 2020. He was a hugely influential figure in Parliament but a statement read out in the House of Lords on behalf of Lord Field of Birkenhead in 2021 revealed he was terminally ill and had spent time in a hospice.

His family shared a statement confirming he died following a period of illness highlighting his work on child poverty, modern slavery and welfare reform. He helped set up the Number Seven café in Birkenhead which offers advice and discounted food to people who are struggling.

Following the news, politicians have paid tribute as well as people in Birkenhead he helped support who “will always remember how supportive he was.” The Number Seven Café said, “Frank was the inspiration behind Number Seven. He was loved by all who knew him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Birkenhead’s current Labour MP Mick Whitley, who won the race for the seat against Lord Field in 2019, said, “It is a tribute to his resilience as a human being that he not only survived the illness for so long, but also managed to fulfil his duties as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.”

He added, “Indeed, it was Frank’s longstanding dedication to the struggle to eradicate poverty that he will rightly be remembered for. His work not only dealt with the scourge of poverty at a national level.

“For the people of Birkenhead, Frank was often a lifeline, helping and advising people at his surgeries and he was a champion of tackling food poverty through the “Feeding Birkenhead” charity. It prefigured the many foodbanks we see today and as Frank once said it was a charity that should not have to exist in modern Britain.

“Regardless of their political persuasion the people of Birkenhead, across the board, will mourn their former MP’s passing, and rightly so. Frank has given our town an enduring legacy which I salute.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “Frank Field was a decent, moral, and thoughtful man. He was a great parliamentarian – he made our politics better and raised the level of national debate in this country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said, “The death of Lord Frank Field is a profound loss to politics and to our nation. Frank dedicated his life to being a voice for the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the country.

“Frank was principled, courageous and independent-minded. He cared about the people he served, thought deeply about the issues he championed and worked entirely for the good of the people of Birkenhead as their MP for 40 years. His honour and integrity were well known and admired.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, my thoughts are with his family.”

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern said, “Everyone in the Wirral will be thinking of his life and contribution. He was indeed unique and a very special person to work with.” Wallasey MP Angela Eagle said he was always supportive and “brimming with ideas to make society better – a great champion of his Birkenhead constituents.”

Cllr Paul Stuart, the Leader of Wirral Council, “It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Baron Frank Field of Birkenhead. Frank’s four-decade dedication to serving the people of Birkenhead as their MP and championing welfare issues has left an enduring legacy.

“His unwavering commitment to social justice and his collaborative approach in politics have made a lasting impact across political divides. On behalf of the people of Wirral, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Frank’s loved ones as they grieve this great loss.

“Frank Field’s contributions to Birkenhead and Wirral and his advocacy for those facing injustice will always be remembered and cherished. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.”

A book of condolence has been opened for the public to sign at Birkenhead Town Hall.

Other political parties have also paid tribute. A page representing Conservatives in Birkenhead said he was “a great MP who served his constituents with diligence and compassion. He will be sadly missed but long remembered.”

Birkenhead Green councillor Pat Cleary said, “I’m very sorry to hear this news. Frank’s commitment to the people of Birkenhead was clear for all to see. He worked tirelessly for their benefit and leaves a significant legacy.”

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Phil Gilchrist said, “He truly and faithfully devoted his life to public service, constantly working and fighting to improve the lives of people in genuine need.”

Tom Sutton, a Liberal Democrat campaigner who lives in Rock Ferry described Lord Field was “a maverick of Parliament” pointing out he had helped his mum appeal a decision over welfare benefits. On X, he said, “He fought for his constituents when they needed him most,” adding, “Politics we seldom shared, but he was a servant of Birkenhead until the end.”

Frank Ernest Field, Baron Field of Birkenhead, CH, PC, DL  16 July 1942 – 23 April 2024

Image: Official portrait Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) 

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