Fight is over for Labour stalwart

PUBLISHED: 15:39 15 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

IPSWICH MP Jamie Cann has lost his battle for life. The 55-year-old former schoolteacher had been in Addenbrooke's Hospital for nine days. His family had been called to his bedside.

IPSWICH MP Jamie Cann lost his battle for life today.

The 55-year-old former schoolteacher had been in Addenbrooke's Hospital for nine days. His family had been called to his bedside.

Mr Cann was admitted to Ipswich Hospital for tests on Friday, October 5. The next day he was rushed to Addenbrooke's.

He had been admitted for specialist care, but despite all the efforts of the medical teams at the hospital, he died this morning.

He leaves a widow, Rosie – who was also his parliamentary secretary, and two sons – Andrew and Jamie.

Andrew's wife Saraid, is due to give birth to her first child any day and Mr Cann had been looking forward keenly to the birth of his first grandchild.

The family will be organising a private funeral over the next few days.

Addenbrooke's Hospital was due to issue a statement about Mr Cann's death later today, but Andrew said he had died peacefully.

"He was very peaceful. He could hear us until the end."

Mr Cann's death means there will be a by-election in Ipswich – the first in Suffolk for almost 40 years – in what is, after May's general election, a reasonably safe Labour seat.

It will also be the first by-election since the general election, and will be seen as a key barometer of public opinion of the government and the Conservative opposition under their new leader Iain Duncan Smith.

But the political jostling will not start yet.

As soon as news of his death came through, the tributes started to flow from politicians across the town.

Council leader Peter Gardiner said his thoughts were with Mr Cann and his family.

"A lot of people owe Mr Cann a great deal – many of us owe our political careers to his work," he said.

"But all our thoughts are now with Rosie and his sons, this is a very sad day for Ipswich."

Mr Cann was born in north Lincolnshire in 1946. When he grew up he trained as a teacher, and that brought him to Ipswich in the 1960s.

He started at the Bramford Road Primary school, in what is now the Suffolk Records Office. He moved with it when it became Handford Hall School – and was deputy head of that school when elected to parliament in 1992.

Mr Cann's early days as a teacher in Ipswich persuaded him to join the Labour Party and become active in politics.

He was elected to the council in 1973 and soon became chairman of the housing committee.

In 1976 Labour lost power – but Mr Cann became leader of the group. In 1979 when Labour regained power at Civic Centre, he became council leader – a position he held for 12 years.

In 1992 Mr Cann stood for Parliament and overturned the slim Conservative majority in Ipswich – but by only 265 votes.

Five years later the majority was boosted to more than 10,000, and in June this year he was returned with an 8,081 majority.

He has always been happy to be a backbench MP and has had no wish to chase ministerial office.

But he was a member of the important Defence Select Committee of the House of Commons until this year's General Election.

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