Michael Meacher dies at 75

The longstanding MP for Oldham West and Royton has died after a short illness. 

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Michael Meacher, the Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, has died following a short illness.

Meacher, who entered politics as a candidate in the 1968 by-election in Oldham West following the death of Labour MP Charles Hale, was a senior figure on the left of the party. Although he was defeated on a 17% swing in the by-election, he went on to regain the seat in the 1970 general election, and in 2015 held the seat with a majority of over 14,000.

Meacher served as a junior minister under both Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, and sat in the Shadow Cabinet from 1983 to 1997, where he was a strong advocate for the party's left flank. He went on to serving as a junior minister in the government of Tony Blair until he was dismissed in 2003. Following his dismissal, Meacher continued to argue for left-wing politics, writing intermittently for the New Statesman, and helping to set up Left Futures, the influential blog of the Labour left. In the 2007 leadership election, Meacher attempted to stand against Gordon Brown but was unable to secure the nominations necessary to make the ballot. 

He nominated and supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership race, although his age meant he was not recalled to the frontbench. His death will trigger a by-election that will likely be a routine hold for the Labour party. 

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. He also co-hosts the New Statesman podcast.

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