17 MAY 2018

A Tribute to Tessa Jowell

Kent Messenger Column – 17-05-18

When I was first thinking of becoming involved in politics, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Dame Tessa Jowell. She was warm, funny and hugely engaging; the perfect role model for any woman wishing to enter Parliament and certainly an inspiration to me.

In particular, I will remember Tessa as one of the finest exponents of cross-party working I have ever encountered. She was fiercely loyal to her Party, but recognised the need to build consensus in order to achieve sustainable, positive outcomes for our country. Whether it was creating the 'Sure Start' programme or securing the 2012 Olympic Games for London, Tessa was willing to leave her party allegiances at the door in order to get the job done.

She set an example from which we can all learn, not least in tackling some of the biggest challenges we face here in Maidstone and the Weald, such as: reducing congestion, improving our air quality or championing the need for better train services. She showed we are stronger and more effective through developing consensus and working together as a team.

Whilst the London Olympics was historic, perhaps Tessa's greatest legacy will be the dignity and fortitude with which she confronted what proved to be her final campaign. Even when faced with the most testing of personal challenges, a diagnosis of aggressive brain cancer, she was far more concerned about how she could use her platform to help other people. I am pleased that, thanks to Tessa's brave campaign, the Government will double its investment for research into combatting brain cancer. This is much needed funding and is a fitting final testament to Tessa's enduring ability to persuade decision makers across the political spectrum.

My thoughts are very much with her family and friends at this most difficult time. I hope they will find some comfort from the wave of national recognition and respect following her passing.

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