The family of Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead has announced the death of the “proud democratic socialist”, a former politician and wife of ex-leader of the Labour Party Lord Kinnock.
In a statement to PA news agency, her family said: “It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Glenys Kinnock. Glenys died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning, at home in London.
“She was the beloved wife and life partner of Neil, the cherished mother of Steve and Rachel and an adored grandmother. Neil was with her in her final moments. They had been married for 56 years. A proud democratic socialist, she campaigned, in Britain and internationally, for justice and against poverty all her life.”
The family said they were “devastated” by her death, adding: “Passionate to the end about education, she was a valued and respected school teacher before she began her own political career, as a Member of the European Parliament, then being made a peer in the House of Lords from where she served as minister for three of the great passions of her life, Europe, Africa and the UN. She was a great friend to many people and causes and was truly loved.
“Glenys endured Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed in 2017 and, as long as she could, sustained her merriment and endless capacity for love, never complaining and with the innate courage with which she had confronted every challenge throughout her life. The family is of course devastated and and would ask that their privacy be respected. Funeral details will be communicated in due course.”
Sir Keir Starmer called her a “true fighter for the Labour Party“, adding: “On behalf of the whole Labour Party, I want to pay tribute to Glenys Kinnock on the sad news of her passing. Glenys was a passionate lifelong campaigner for social justice at home and abroad.
“She supported Neil through his leadership and went on to have an impressive political career of her own as a member of the European Parliament, in the House of Lords and as a minister in the last Labour government, focused on Europe and Africa. Neil and Glenys had the most wonderful partnership, there for each other through thick and thin, with a love and commitment that was instantly obvious when you saw them together. As the family have detailed, in recent years that meant looking after Glenys as Alzheimer’s did its worst.
“But what we will all remember is Glenys as a true fighter for the Labour Party and the values of the labour movement, a pioneering woman, to whom we owe an enormous debt. My sincere condolences to Neil, Stephen, Rachel and all the family at this sad time.”
She met her future husband at university and they were married in 1967. Baroness Kinnock subsequently worked as a teacher in secondary, primary, infant and nursery schools.
She became an MEP in 1994 and was a prominent member of several committees and for a period was Labour’s spokeswoman on international development in the European Parliament. But it was not all plain sailing.
In 2004, she was caught up in an expenses scandal in which she was one of scores of MEPs who allegedly signed in for the day at the European Parliament (to qualify for the £175 daily allowance) and then promptly left the building. And in November, 2006 she was criticised in the press for taking what was described as “a junket” in Barbados to discuss world poverty issues.
She had the unenviable reputation as “the most travelled British MEP” and, along with her husband, also acquired the no less enviable title as Brussels’ “very own Lord and Lady Expenses”. Baroness Kinnock was required to leave the European Parliament in 2009, when then Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed her minister for Europe, following the resignation from that post of Caroline Flint.
Although, when her husband was ennobled some years earlier, she was entitled to be called Lady Kinnock, it was a title she never used. However, on her appointment as minister for Europe she became a peeress in her own right.
She is survived by her husband of 56 years, who was with her in her final moments, and her children Stephen, a Labour MP, and Rachel.