Paul Goggins: Respected and admired Labour MP whose politics and social activism were fuelled by his Roman Catholic faith

 

The unusually subdued and non-partisan mood that came over MPs during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions was partly attributable to the shock caused by the early death of the conscientious and popular Labour MP, Paul Goggins. "He was a kind, brilliant man who believed profoundly in public service," David Cameron told the House, while Ed Miliband described him as "someone of the deepest principle."

Goggins was a Labour Party member for 38 years, and a Roman Catholic who believed that helping the poor and disadvantaged was a religious duty, which he put into practice as a social worker specialising in childcare before he became a full-time politician. He was a founder of the parliamentary group supporting the Catholic charity, Cafod.

Last February he was one of a handful of Labour MPs who voted against same-sex marriages. In a letter to a gay rights campaigner, he pointed out that he had supported civil partnerships, adding: "I know from personal experience that same sex couples can be excellent parents. I do not, however, believe that this can be a foundation for giving such relationships equivalence to marriage." By contrast, he was "named and shamed" by the Catholic Herald in June 1998 for his "reprehensible" decision to vote in favour of equalising the age of consent for heterosexuals and homosexuals at 16, a move opposed by Basil Hume, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

During a BBC interview in 2004 he claimed that his uncle Edmund Goggins, a Manchester teacher, knew John Cunliffe, creator of Postman Pat, and gave him the inspiration for the character of Mrs Goggins, the grey-haired postmistress whose catchphrase was "Ee, it's a bad job." True or false, it was because of that story that during his time at the Home Office he was known in the department as "Mrs Goggins".

Paul Gerard Goggins was born in 1953. His father, John, was a headmaster, his mother, Rita, a medical secretary. After he left St Bede's Grammar School in Manchester he went to Ushaw College, Durham, which was then the main training ground for Catholic priests, but left when he was 20 to train as a social worker. He was working in childcare in Liverpool while he was still at college, and for eight years he ran a children's home in Wigan.

He entered national politics via the campaigning organisation, Church Action on Poverty, which appointed him its national co-ordinator in 1989. He made it his mission to dispel the idea that poverty was disappearing as general living standards went up, when, as he told The Independent in June 1989, anyone with "even minimal sensitivity" could see that the gap between rich and poor was widening. CAP was not a formal part of any church hierarchy, describing itself as being "in association" with the Council of Churches, and Goggins was not shy of political controversy. Before the 1992 general election he urged fellow Christians to vote for candidates who showed concern for the poor. In 1996 he took on the chairmanship of the UK Poverty Coalition, whose declared aim was to eradicate poverty – though he was accused by the Conservative MP Tim Yeo of "using the socialist and trade-union agenda and cloaking it in Christian garments."

By then his political loyalties were out in the open. He had joined the Labour Party in 1975 and was elected to Salford District Council in May 1990. In April 1996 the veteran Labour MP Alf Morris announced his intention to retire, setting off a selection contest that attracted a clutch of councillors and two former MPs. Goggins won, with the backing of the country's second biggest union, the TGWU, and in 1997 easily took the revised constituency of Wythenshawe and Sale East.

He was a backbench MP for only 15 months before being appointed parliamentary secretary to the social security minister, John Denham, and remained in government until Labour's defeat 12 years later. In December 2000 he was appointed PPS to the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, and moved with him to the Home Office after the 2001 election. In May 2003 he was made a junior Home Office minister, responsible for prisons and probation, and in 2006 he was moved to the Northern Ireland office, to take charge of health, security and prisons. In 2007, shortly before Tony Blair stepped down, he was promoted to Minister of State, with added responsibilities.

After the 2010 election he became a backbencher for the first time in 15 years and ran the unsuccessful leadership campaign of his friend Andy Burnham. He was a lifelong Manchester City fan. He collapsed while jogging with his son near his Salford home on 30 December and died a week later. He leaves a wife, Wyn, sons Matthew and Dominic, and a daughter, Theresa.

In 1996, Alf Morris told me that he had anointed his successor in Wythenshawe, who would continue his championship of the disabled, writes Tam Dalyell. And he did. In particular, he looked after David Blunkett. I often wondered, between 1997 and 2005, if Blunkett could have been the hugely successful Cabinet minister he was without Goggins' loyal and caring support.

Paul Gerard Goggins, campaigner and politician: born Manchester 16 June 1953; MP since 1997; married 1977 Wyn Bartley (two sons, one daughter); died Salford 7 January 2014.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Qualified Teacher Required to work with SEN - Nottingham

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are cur...

Senior Infrastructure Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure Ana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments