EVERYBODY wants to pay tribute to Tessa Jowell, who passed away last night, and it’s a testament to her nature and character that by everybody we don’t just mean Labour Party members, or members of what people may assume was her wing of the party. She had friends on all sides of our political divides; one of the reasons she has been described in some quarters today as the best mayor London never had. The former Camden councillor went a long way, given she always joked that she had stumbled into politics. Given all we’ve said about Labour’s wait to win in Swiss Cottage, here was a woman who won there in 1971, as a 23-year-old. She topped the polls with 2,206 votes, but sensibly moved to Gospel Oak (where she lived at that time) by the 1974 elections: Labour won there, but not again in Swiss.
Three weeks ago, Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq explained the appeal in the House of Commons, as part of a debate on access to healthcare:
Ms Siddiq concluded her speech by telling the House: “In 2015, Tessa gave a memorial lecture to mark 10 years since the 7/7 attacks. She said: ‘This city, this country, this people are a model of resilience… Resilience is rooted in optimism. Behind the strength to stand firm lies the feeling that tomorrow will be better than today… Resilience relies on a commitment to our way of life but also the feeling that life can improve. Progress is not an illusion even in the darkest of hours.’
“Tessa was talking about British people, but her words are a perfect testament to the character she has shown in fighting, even after she left these green Benches and was elevated to the red Benches. A model of resilience, a model of optimism, a model of a politician—our Tessa Jowell.”