Sir Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Gorton in Manchester, has died aged 86.
His family released a statement on Sunday night confirming he had died following a long term illness. They said he was a “great socialist and parliamentarian”.
Former Central Manchester MP and current GMP commissioner, Tony Lloyd, described Sir Gerald as a “great mind and model local MP”. “he was very, very loved by his constituency in Gorton”, he said.
Sir Gerald had been an MP in Manchester for nearly 50 years, first serving for Ardwick in 1970, and then for Gorton since 1983.
He was known affectionately as the Father of the House, a title given to him for being the longest serving MP in the House of Commons.
He was also a prolific writer, who throughout his life wrote for various publications.
He became known for his satirical contributions, particularly to the BBC sketch show, That Was The Week That Was.
However, despite being a practising Jew, Sir Gerald was perhaps best known for being a vocal critic of Israel.
He repeatedly called for economic sanctions and an arms ban against Israel, while being a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause.
In 2002, he accused Israel’s politicians of being ‘war criminals’ who were part of a ‘pariah state’. And more controversially, that Israel ‘exploits guilt’ over the holocaust towards its enemies.
Jeremy Corbyn said at the time of Kaufman’s remarks that they were “completely unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.
The Labour leader, however, lead the tributes today along with the Prime minister, calling the late MP an “iconic and irascible figure”.
Former Labour Prime minister, Tony Blair, continued the tributes to his late peer and friend:
“Gerald was an extraordinary man, passionate, principled, acerbic and absolutely dedicated to the cause of social justice and the Labour Party”.