Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maverick Mourned by Many; TRIBUTES PAID TO VETERAN TYNESIDE LABOUR MP OF 26 YEARS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maverick Mourned by Many; TRIBUTES PAID TO VETERAN TYNESIDE LABOUR MP OF 26 YEARS

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB PATTINSON

TRIBUTES have been paid to maverick former Tyneside MP John McWilliam following his death.

The Labour politician, who was MP for Blaydon for 26-years between 1979 and 2005, died on Saturday, aged 68.

In the two-and-half decades he served, fun-loving Mr McWilliam earned a reputation as one of Westminster's more colourful characters.

He was married three times, divorced twice, and had an engagement broken-off.

And in 1992 he was at the centre of allegations involving a punch up in a bar at Gateshead Civic Centre.

Mr McWilliam was appointed shadow leader of the Commons in 1982, Opposition Chief Whip from 1983 to 1987, and deputy Speaker in October 1999.

Today tributes were led by his neighbouring MP and close friend, Doug Henderson.

The Newcastle North MP said: "He made an important contribution on the Speaker's Panel and he was one of the few people in the House of Commons, who understood IT.

"He set up a body which discussed technological development, which is still going to this day. He liked life and was full of fun."

Frank Earl, the MP's agent and office manager until 2005, said: "He was a great chap to us all. I worked for him for a period of six years. As well as being my own MP for 26 years he became a good friend and great employer." Mr McWilliam's successor Dave Anderson said: "He was extremely helpful to me and I know from those who knew him for a long time he was very respected for the work he did for the Labour party and his constituency.

He was someone who treated people properly."

The former MP died peacefully at Perth Royal Infirmary. Mr McWilliam was born in Falkirk in 1941 and educated at Leith Academy and Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

He worked as a telephone engineer for the Post Office, joined the Labour Party in 1966 and became a city councillor in Edinburgh in 1966. …

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