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Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband pay respects at Michael Meacher's funeral

Published 13/11/2015

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his predecessor Ed Miliband attend the funeral of former Labour MP Michael Meacher
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his predecessor Ed Miliband attend the funeral of former Labour MP Michael Meacher

Labour leaders past and present were among key political figures to pay their respects at the funeral of the party's stalwart Michael Meacher today.

Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband attended the service, alongside figures such as union leader Len McCluskey and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, which filled every pew at St Mary's Anglican church in Wimbledon Village.

The former MP for Oldham West - and later Royton - died on October 21 aged 75.

In eulogies from family, friends and Reverend Mary Bide he was described as a man of "great integrity" with "huge intellect and learning" and a "wonderfully dry sense of humour".

The father of six and grandfather was first elected to Parliament in 1970 and continued in the position for the next 45 years, during which time he acted as environment minister and pioneered the "right to roam" rule.

He wrote several political books, including one which he finished writing only days before he died and did not have time to publish.

But while his political career spanned most of his working life, he originally considered joining the priesthood and spent some time teaching social administration.

His son David told mourners that even in the days before he died, his father insisted that he had to recover to "fight the tax credit cuts".

He added: "He approached work and life with boundless enthusiasm. He would be moved to real anger and sorrow to hear about people who were suffering from benefit cuts.

"Someone once described him as Tony Benn's vicar on earth. We will all miss you terribly."

Former Labour MP Chris Mullin also spoke at the funeral and jokingly referred to Mr Meacher as a "serial dissident," who was "razor sharp, had a boyish charm and a naivety that never left him".

"He had been calling for a national living wage since 1970. Almost to the day of his death he was thinking of ways to resist tax credit cuts and making plans. He never lost his radical streak or infectious good humour."

Mourners arrived at the church to the sounds of Pachelbel's Canon, Albinoni's Adagio, Bach: Air On A G string, and joined in singing some of Mr Meacher's favourite hymns, Lord Of All Hopefulness, I Vow To Thee my Country and Thine Be The Glory.

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