Baroness Glenys Kinnock, a former minister, MEP and wife of ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock, died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, her family said today.
The former teacher, 79, served as an MEP for Wales between 1994 and 2009, and was made a peer in 2009 to allow her to become a minister in Gordon Brown’s Government. She was married to the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock for 56 years and her son Stephen Kinnock is the Labour MP for Aberavon.
Her family said they were “devastated” by her passing, which comes six years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite her illness, she sustained “her merriment and endless capacity for love,” they said.
In a statement, the Kinnock 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.
Neil Kinnock with his wife Glenys as he celebrated winning the Labour Party leadership election in 1983
“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.”
Baroness Kinnock was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Her children Stephen and Rachel described the “agony” of watching her deteriorate in an article for the Sunday Times last year. “She’s gone, but she’s standing right there,” they said.
Her family said today: “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.”
Neil Kinnock with his wife Glenys and son Stephen Kinnock MP in 2015
Labour leader Keir Starmer led tributes to a “true fighter for the Labour Party”. He said: “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.”
He said the Kinnocks had “the most wonderful partnership”, with a love and commitment that was “instantly obvious when you saw them together”. Mr Starmer added: “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.”
Sir Tony Blair said Baroness Kinnock’s death would be “mourned in many countries and corners of the Earth”.
In a statement, the former Labour PM said: “Cherie and I are so sad the hear the news about Glenys. She was a huge figure in progressive politics for decades: incredibly smart, brave, determined and resolute in standing up for what she believed was right.
“Whether in fighting the cause of development, and the eradication of global poverty, social justice in Britain, equality for women or making the case for a European Union of weight and influence in the world, Glenys was passionate and persuasive. She was of course an enormous support to Neil but she was a leader in her own right. And as a couple, they were a joy to be near, full of fun, the life and soul of any gathering.
“In her last years, as Stephen and Rachel have written, she took her illness with the same steadfastness which had governed her life. Our deepest condolences to Neil, to Rachel and to Stephen and to all the wider Kinnock family. Glenys will be mourned in many countries and corners of the earth.”
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