Labour MP Harry Harpham dies of cancer aged 61

Labour MP Harry Harpham, who entered the Commons only last year, has died after a battle with cancer.

The former miner replaced David Blunkett as the member for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough at the last general election, winning the seat with a majority of 13,807.

Harpham, 61, was diagnosed with cancer after his party’s autumn conference last year and was treated in hospital a short time later. He was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and stood firm on the picket line for a full year during the miners’ strike at the Nottinghamshire pit where he worked.

He then enjoyed a long career in local public service, including a stint as deputy leader of Sheffield council.

Harpham was appointed a parliamentary aide to shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy after being elected with a 56.6% share of the vote – 1.2 percentage points higher than Blunkett achieved in 2010.

Last month he backed the No Cold Homes campaign:

Labour figures paid tribute to the MP on Thursday night.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The news of the death of Harry Harpham is extremely sad and I send my deepest condolences to his family. Harry was a proud socialist who had also been a proud miner.

“To the very end he was fighting for working people in parliament. What a decent man he was and he will be sadly missed by all his friends in the Labour party.”

Deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted:

John Mann tweeted:

Dan Jarvis tweeted:

Harpham’s final contribution in the Commons took place only a fortnight ago.

As his Facebook page relates: “In typically blunt fashion he took the prime minister to task for ‘warm words, hand wringing and some crocodile tears’ when it came to local job losses at Forgemasters and the future of our city’s iconic steel industry. To the very last, he was passionate about Sheffield.”

He had long served as political agent for Blunkett in Sheffield and defeated a host of contenders to be selected as the Labour candidate after the former home secretary decided in 2014 to leave the Commons at the next election.

Harpham leaves behind his wife Gill and children Annie, Kieron, Dan, Emily and Victoria.

Powered by article was written by Chris Johnston, for The Guardian on Friday 5th February 2016 00.10 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010