Member of Parliament Jim Dobbin has died while on a visit to Poland with the Council of Europe this weekend, reports the BBC.
Dobbin, who was 73 when he passed away, was the MP for Heywood and Middleton – a more or less solid Labour seat in the Greater Manchester area. He had a parliamentary majority of nearly 6,000 in 2010, though the Electoral Calculus website suggests that this may have almost doubled at the General Election next year.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband led the tributes to Mr Dobbin:
“Jim’s death is a sad day for parliament. He was a dedicated public servant, representing the people of Rochdale on the council and at Westminster for three decades. Working in the NHS for more than 30 years, Jim had a deep passion for helping others.
“A lifelong committed Catholic, Jim always took a lead in fostering links between the church and the Labour party, and his strong faith informed every aspect of his political and public life. This was recognised by Pope Benedict XVI when he made Jim a papal knight.
“I will miss Jim’s good friendship and decency. On behalf of the Labour party, I offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Pat, and their children. We will all miss him.”
Dobbin was one of the few Labour MPs who rejected the government’s Same Sex Marriage bill, and signed a pledge by the Coalition for Marriage organisation that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. He also voted against the Iraq War, against an EU referendum, and for a tax on banker’s bonuses. Dobbin chaired the Pro-Life Group in parliament and, according to the Heywood Advertiser, held a Papal Knighthood from Pope Benedict XVI.
The news of his death will mean that all of Britain’s political parties will be forced to compete in a by-election in the constituency at the behest of the Labour Party.
Labour strategists will already be thinking of moving the writ so as to confound the Tories, who already are throwing resources that would typically have been used for the General Election next year, at Clacton, where Douglas Carswell recently defected to UKIP and triggered a by-election.