SIR GERALD BERNARD KAUFMAN British Labour politician, former minister and most recently Father of the House who was an MP for more than 46 years has died aged 86 following a long illness.
An outspoken and often eccentric character, he flouted custom and said what he thought even if it made him unpopular and as the youngest son of Jewish immigrants from Poland amazed many by criticising the State of Israel and calling for Palestinian Statehood.
His loss has been mourned by politicians both serving and retired across all of the political parties and so popular was he in his Manchester Gorton constituency that the combined votes of every person standing against him at the 2015 election were less than 50 per cent of the votes that he received.
This does of course mean a third by-election for Labour in a short period of time and the result will be closely watched by those people who are both pro and anti Jeremy Corbyn, who has recently said that he will continue in his role as leader of the Labour party until the next election in 2020.
Father of the House is very much an honorary title based not on age but on length of continuous service in Parliament although as it happened he was also the oldest MP at Westminster.
Other individuals had been elected at the same time as him in 1970, but the ‘rules’ state that the MP who is recorded as being sworn in first in Hansard, is considered to be the longest serving member.
Now, the death of Sir Gerald means that Conservative rebel and former minister often referred to as the Great Beast, 76-year-old Kenneth Clarke will take over as Father of the House whilst he will be ‘shadowed ‘by equally maverick Labour MP, the Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner.