Baroness Glenys Kinnock, former minister and wife of ex-Labour leader, dies aged 79

Baroness Glenys Kinnock died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday with her husband and former Labour Party leader Lord Kinnock by her side, her family said.

She served as a minister in Sir Tony Blair’s Labour government and also represented Wales in the European parliament as an MEP.

Her family, which includes Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and daughter Rachel, said they were “devastated” by her death.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called her a “true fighter” for the party while former prime minister Sir Tony said she was “resolute in standing up for what she believed was right”, as both men paid tribute to her life and career.

The 79-year-old had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago.

Baroness Kinnock has been hailed as a ‘true fighter’ for the Labour Party (PA Wire)
Baroness Kinnock has been hailed as a ‘true fighter’ for the Labour Party (PA Wire)

In a statement, her family said: “It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Glenys Kinnock.

“Glenys died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning, at home in London. She was the beloved wife and life partner of Neil, the cherished mother of Steve and Rachel and an adored grandmother.

“Neil was with her in her final moments. They had been married for 56 years.

“A proud democratic socialist, she campaigned, in Britain and internationally, for justice and against poverty all her life.”

A former teacher, Baroness Kinnock served as an MEP for some 15 years before leaving Brussels in 2009 to take up a life peerage when then prime minister Gordon Brown appointed her minister for Europe.

In their statement, the family continued: “Passionate to the end about education, she was a valued and respected school teacher before she began her own political career, as a member of the European parliament, then being made a peer in the House of Lords from where she served as minister for three of the great passions of her life, Europe, Africa and the UN.

“She was a great friend to many people and causes and was truly loved.

“Glenys endured Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed in 2017 and, as long as she could, sustained her merriment and endless capacity for love, never complaining and with the innate courage with which she had confronted every challenge throughout her life.

“The family is of course devastated and would ask that their privacy be respected. Funeral details will be communicated in due course.”

Sir Keir said Baroness Kinnock was a “passionate lifelong campaigner for social justice at home and abroad” who had an “impressive political career” in her own right.

“Neil and Glenys had the most wonderful partnership, there for each other through thick and thin, with a love and commitment that was instantly obvious when you saw them together,” he said.

“As the family have detailed, in recent years that meant looking after Glenys as Alzheimer’s did its worst.

“But what we will all remember is Glenys as a true fighter for the Labour Party and the values of the labour movement, a pioneering woman, to whom we owe an enormous debt.

“My sincere condolences to Neil, Stephen, Rachel and all the family at this sad time.”

Sir Tony said Baroness Kinnock’s death would be “mourned in many countries and corners of the Earth”.

In a statement, the former Labour PM said: “Cherie and I are so sad the hear the news about Glenys. She was a huge figure in progressive politics for decades: incredibly smart, brave, determined and resolute in standing up for what she believed was right.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Such sad news about Glenys Kinnock – she was always wonderful, warm & inspirational, a true Labour hero, always encouraging others, always a fighter for social justice, a leading voice for international development.”

Describing his family as being “devastated” by the news, journalist and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell tweeted: “She has been a big part of our lives for forty years and a part of our children’s lives since they were born. There could be no more loving friend and counsel. Devastated today above all for Neil.

“It is impossible to think of one without the other. Their love was deep and unshakable and never more on display than during these recent years when her horrible illness increasingly took hold. Neil vowed to look after her till the end and that is exactly what he did.”