David Blunkett

David Blunkett remembers Tessa Jowell – ‘always thinking of others’

David Blunkett remembers Tessa Jowell – 'always thinking of others'
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Dame Tessa Jowell has died aged 70 after suffering a haemorrhage on Friday. The former Labour cabinet minister was diagnosed with brain cancer in May last year. In a post on Alastair Campbell's personal blog. Jowell's close friend David Blunkett has written a tube to his former colleague:.

‘Tessa was one of my closest friends for over 40 years. In 1980s local government, Tessa in Camden and myself in Sheffield, we helped to promote an alternative to Old Labour on the one hand and the far left on the other. Before the 1997 Labour victory, we worked on a programme to nurture children from the moment of their birth, but crucially also to work with parents and the wider community to transform the lives of those otherwise caught in intergenerational disadvantage.

She was the first Public Health Minister with the responsibility to take on long-term preventive change. Tessa and I worked together to implement that Sure Start programme, which led to the creation of 3,500 children’s centres across the country. Later, when Tessa was Employment Minister, we revived the Equal Opportunities Commission and started the drive to narrow the Equal Pay Gap.

But, alongside the triumph of helping to win the Olympic Games for London, it will be Tessa as a person who I will remember. There when people needed her, both personally and also with her political hat on, and with her bravery over the last year, always thinking of others. Her networking skills, which I used to tease her about as she was always on the phone, were used to enormous effect for good, in promoting international collaboration and sharing research and best practice in the treatment of brain tumours and, with her family, turning personal tragedy into the possibility of hope for those facing a similar challenge in the future. That is the person I will miss so much, and will always remember.’