In Memory of Jim Dobbin MP
JIM DOBBIN was one of the most respected and decent MPs in Parliament. It was his passionate and deeply held views that everyone should have a fair chance in life, irrespective of their background or wealth, which brought Jim into politics and public life more than three decades ago.
He was much loved throughout the constituency as a man of gentle conviction, quiet determination and passionate commitment to social justice. Jim earned the respect of his constituents for loyally championing Heywood and Middleton both locally and on the national stage. He was one of the most hard-working MPs in Westminster who got things done and very rarely took a day off.
It was his tough upbringing in Kincardine, Scotland, the son of a coal miner, which forged his commitment to social justice and his overriding compassion and care for others. Jim went to Napier College, Edinburgh, qualifying as medical microbiologist. Before entering Parliament, he worked for the NHS as a microbiologist for 33 years, most of which were at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
It was this experience that led Jim to become a fierce defender of the NHS and a hard-hitting campaigner against government cuts to local hospitals and GP services. Jim became a local councillor in 1983, going on to become Leader of the Council, before becoming the Labour and Co-operative MP for Heywood and Middleton in 1997.
His commitment to child health saw him appointed the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for child health as he led the charge for better health care in the developing world to prevent diseases spreading. Jim was a driving force behind improving housing in Rochdale having fought for the largest co-operative in Britain, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, which announced it was becoming a co-operative after an overwhelming vote by tenants in 2011.
He was a committed Roman Catholic and in 2008 he was made a papal knight by Pope Benedict.
Jim was a tireless supporter of local community groups, regularly sponsoring sporting events, and campaigning on many local issues, including protecting green spaces
from over-development and bringing jobs to the area.
Just last Friday Jim was in Parliament voting against the Bedroom Tax, fighting for social justice until the last.
Jim was devoted to his family, and just a few months ago celebrated his golden wedding anniversary with his wife Pat, along with their children Patrick, Barry, Kerry and Mary and grandchildren.
A message from Pat Dobbin
"Jim was a dedicated and loving husband and father to our four children. He was proud to represent Heywood and Middleton for the last seventeen years. We loved him very much and will miss his kindness and his humour.
He will be sadly missed and we have been overwhelmed by the tributes that have been flooding in for Jim. Thank you to everyone, the tributes have provided us with some comfort that he was held in such high regard by his peers and his constituents."
Ed Miliband MP Leader of the Labour Party -“Jim’s death is a sad day for Parliament and the people of Heywood and Middleton. He was a dedicated public servant, speaking up for his constituents, both on the council and at Westminster, for three decades. Working in the NHS for more than 30 years, Jim had a deep passion for helping others. A lifelong committed Catholic, Jim always took a lead in fostering links between the Church and the Labour Party, and his strong faith informed every aspect of his political and public life. This was recognised by Pope Benedict XVI when he made Jim a Papal knight. I will miss Jim’s good friendship and decency. On behalf of the Labour Party, I offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Pat, and their children. We will all miss him.”
Christine Abbott, Demesme Community Association, Langley Middleton - “I’m devastated by his death. He was a gentleman; he was as much a community activist as he was a politician. He was a great supporter to us at the Demesme Community Association. He was a big supporter of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and I remember
going to London to meet him in parliament many times. He was not only my MP, he was my friend as well.”
Rochdale Council Leader Richard Farnell - “I knew Jim for 35 years. People called him ‘Gentleman Jim’ and it was true. He was a compassionate, caring and excellent constituency MP. Heywood and Middleton has lost an excellent Member of Parliament, he always worked tirelessly and rarely had a day off.”
MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams MP - “I have known Jim for several years and worked with him in Parliament on a number of health-related committees. He was a thoroughly decent man who saw politics as a public service. Hewill be sorely missed and I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Pat and his children.”
John Prescott, former Deputy Prime Minister - “Jim was an excellent local MP, a strong believer in Europe, a proud Scot and a passionate defender of the NHS. His passing is a tragic loss and he will be missed by the Labour movement. Jim was a great comrade.”
Gerry Sammon, Editor Rochdale Observer, Heywood Advertiser Middleton Guardian - “Jim was a tireless campaigner for the Co-op and Labour parties and a popular constituency MP. He looked after one of the largest constituencies in the
country since being elected in 1997 and chaired a number of all-party committees in Parliament. He was a hardworking and dedicated local MP, and a charming companion to be with at events. You will be greatly missed, Jim.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ivan Lewis MP - “Jim Dobbin was a man of great decency and integrity. He was an excellent constituency MP whose burning passion was the pursuit of social justice at home and in the poorest parts of the world. He was a wonderful friend who always offered wise counsel and total loyalty. I
will miss him greatly.”
David Crausby, MP for Bolton North East - “Jim Dobbin was a hard working independent minded politician who put the people of Heywood and Middleton first. He was a personal friend and will be missed by his family, his colleagues and most of all his constituents.”
General Secretary of the Co-operative Party Karin Christiansen - “Jim Dobbin was proud to represent the Heywood & Middleton constituency in the Borough of Rochdale – the birthplace of modern co-operation – as a Councillor and an MP for the
last 30 years. Jim will be missed as a dedicated public servant and someone who was proud of the co-operative movement’s past but also committed to ensuring it had a bright future.
Simon Danczuk MP - "Jim had a great passion for the Labour Party and he was a dedicated public servant. The NHS and tackling poverty at home and abroad were his big passions and he had a long record of work in this area. The fact that he died on a parliamentary trip spoke volumes, as he lived for his work. He will be sorely missed both in Parliament and in Rochdale."
Theresa Griffin MEP - "Jim Dobbin was a great, hardworking and principled MP who never forgot his roots. He will be deeply missed in the North West Labour Party, the local community and from Parliament"
Anna Hutchinson, Regional Director Labour North West- "Jim was a fantastic MP who gave everything for his constituents. He was a great friend to Labour North West and we will all miss him terribly"