Michael Meacher has died aged 75 following a short bout of illness, his office has confirmed. The veteran Labour MP, who held on to his seat in Oldham West and Royton seat since 1970, retained it yet again in the May general election with a majority of more than 14,000.
Meacher had previously held roles in the Labour Party as shadow secretary of state for transport, environment, employment and health and social services in a career spanning 45 years, and he also stood as a candidate for Labour leader in 2007 against Gordon Brown.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to the veteran MP on Twitter. He said: "Very sad to hear of the death of Michael Meacher. He was principled, kind, thoughtful and deeply committed to a fairer, more just world." Zac Goldsmith, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London, added: "Extremely sad to hear about Michael Meacher. An independent thinker, Parliamentary reformer, committed campaigner & environmental champion."
Lucy Powell, the shadow education secretary, described him as a "politician of real principle and conviction" Chris Bryant MP tweeted: "Sorry to hear that Michael Meacher MP has died. He was a cordial, charming and compassionate colleague. RIP".
Chuka Umunna also paid his respects on Twitter, adding: "Very sad and shocked to hear of the sudden death of Michael Meacher MP. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family. RIP".
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: "It is with great sadness that we learn of Michael's death. He was a tremendous figure in the Labour movement, devoting his life to the advancement of working people and for that he will always be remembered with deep fondness.
"As a personal friend I always welcomed his views and guidance as well as his optimism and commitment to improving ordinary people's lives. He was a true friend of the trade union movement."
Peter Dean, Meacher's PA and office manager, told the Oldham Chronicle: "We are extremely sad and it has been quite a short illness he has had and we just don't know the details at present. He was such a well-respected person and we will just try to deal with any problems people in the area have ongoing. We will still try to assist in any way we can.
"We are extremely sad for his family but all of his staff here at his office have worked with him for 20 years so it is almost like a family bereavement for us. Our office usually deals with around 5,000 cases every year so he has impacted on an enormous amount of people's lives."