Sir Tony Lloyd ‘championed the marginalised and the forgotten’, mourners told

Hundreds of mourners have gathered at the funeral of veteran Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd who was praised for his devotion to “championing the marginalised, the silent and the forgotten”.

Family, friends and colleagues from Parliament packed out St Hugh of Lincoln RC Church in his home town of Stretford to pay respects to the highly respected and popular politician who represented three constituencies in Greater Manchester across five decades.

Among those attending the requiem mass on Friday for Sir Tony, who died from blood cancer last month aged 73, were Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and former prime minister Gordon Brown who gave a reading.

Mr Brown told the congregation: “Tony Lloyd was the most popular, most committed and most compassionate member of Parliament you could ever meet.

“His mission was social justice, his life was given to public service, his cause was the people he represented.”

Requiem Mass for Tony Lloyd
The order of service for the requiem mass for former Rochdale MP Sir Tony Lloyd, at St Hugh Of Lincoln RC Church in Stretford, Greater Manchester(Peter Byrne/PA)

He quipped: “His task was to manage what let’s say can sometimes be an unruly mob and, as Keir is finding out, quite self-opinionated.”

He said it was role that needed such qualities as “the stamina and perseverance of a natural conciliator”, together with “the humanity and caring qualities of a social worker” and also “the courage to tell people like me when I would be wrong and that he had to do, I would say, on quite a few occasions”.

Requiem Mass for Tony Lloyd
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer talks to guests at the funeral of veteran MP Sir Tony Lloyd (Peter Byrne/PA)

“That was what Tony was for, that was Tony’s life work and in the words of Abraham Lincoln he conducted himself with malice towards to no-one and with charity for all.

“Tony was not only so brave and tireless in that fight for justice but also so brave and tenacious in the final fight he faced against Covid and then cancer.

“Let me just say to the family and all those closest to him, Tony will live on in the influence he has and will continue to have on all of us who he leaves behind. Never to be forgotten, always respected, forever loved and admired.”

Former prime minister Gordon Brown
Former prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to veteran Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd (Peter Byrne/PA)

She said: “Tony was not just a politician. He was guided by a deep sense of duty and commitment to improving society in pursuit of his socialist principles.

“He never lost sight of his values and he also showed incredible skill in bridging divides, uniting people and trying to find common ground while making progress.

“His political journey started at an early age fuelled by an unwavering belief in social justice and equality.

Angela Rayner
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Sir Tony Lloyd devoted himself to “championing the marginalised, the silent and the forgotten” (Peter Byrne/PA)

“As a member of Parliament, Tony was unwavering in standing up for his constituents, tirelessly fighting for their causes and addressing their concerns.

“His accessibility to, and general concern for, the people he represented was legendary. Whether it was advocating for better healthcare, people’s jobs, tackling climate change or reducing crime, Tony remained steadfast to his commitment.”

Eulogies were also given by Sir Tony Lloyd’s brother, David, and daughter, Alexandria.

A private committal followed at Manchester Crematorium.

Sir Tony first entered Parliament in 1983, being elected during that year’s general election — a disastrous showing for Labour under Michael Foot’s left-wing leadership — as MP for Stretford in Greater Manchester.

Following boundary changes, he stood and won election for Manchester Central during New Labour’s 1997 general election landslide.

He would go on to serve in the influential position as chair of the parliamentary Labour Party between 2006 and 2012 before standing down from Parliament to successfully contest the election for police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.

After losing to Andy Burnham in his ambition to become Labour’s candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester, Sir Tony returned to the Commons as MP for Rochdale in 2017.

During his Commons career, he was a junior minister for some of former prime minister Sir Tony Blair’s first term in office.

He also held a number of key opposition roles during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader, including shadow housing minister and shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

In 2020, he was admitted to intensive care after contracting Covid-19, standing down from the shadow cabinet to focus on his recovery.

He was knighted in the Queen’s 2021 birthday honours for parliamentary services.

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