Jack Dromey obituary: the life of leading trade unionist and ‘principled politician’

Jack Dromey passed away on Friday, 7 January

Tributes continued to pour in for Shadow Minister Jack Dromey over the weekend, who died suddenly in his flat in Erdington on Friday (7 January).

It is understood that the Labour MP (Erdington), aged 73, died from natural causes.

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A family statement said: “Jack Dromey MP died suddenly this morning aged 73 in his flat in Erdington.

“He had been a dedicated Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington since 2010.

“He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather, and he will be greatly missed.”

Tributes paid to ‘great humanitarian’

Andy Street, Conservative West Midlands Mayor, said the country had lost “a true democrat” and a “principled politician”.

While Jeremy Corbyn said he was “shocked” by the death of Mr Dromey.

The former Labour Party leader wrote in a tweet: “Shocked at the sad loss of Jack Dromey, who was involved in the Labour movement for decades – first in the TGWU union and then as an MP – speaking out passionately on many issues, from supporting the Grunswick (sic) dispute to council housing.

“My condolences to his family and friends”.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to Mr Dromey as a “great humanitarian” who never gave up the fight for social justice.

“Mourning the death of a friend, colleague and great humanitarian who never stopped fighting for social justice, Jack Dromey, who will be sorely missed,” he tweeted.

In a post on Twitter, a Birmingham teacher paid tribute to Mr Dromey, writing: “He worked tirelessly for the schools in Erdington, he visited and created opportunities for my students many times. Jack Dromey was a fantastic constituency MP.”

And a tweet from the St Edmund Campion Catholic School’s Twitter account, read: “Saddened to hear the news of Jack Dromey’s passing. A real advocate for Erdington and our schools. ‘Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.’”

Obituary

The son of Irish parents from Cork and Tipperary, Jack Dromey was born in Brent, Middlesex, and raised in London.

His father was a train driver and his mother worked as a cleaner.

Growing up in the capital, Mr Dromey attended the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.

Dedicated trade unionist

Mr Dromey dedicated much of his life to standing up for working people, and became one of the leading trade unionists during his career.

He began working at the Brent Law Centre in the early 1970s where he was elected chairman of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) and as a delegate to the Brent Trades Council.

He spent 25 years working for the TGWU and a further seven years as deputy general secretary.

Mr Dromey built his reputation as a strong speaker and organiser in the trade union movement.

British Labour Party politician and trade unionist Jack Dromey, UK, 28th March 1978. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As secretary of the Brent Trades Council, he also had a major role in supporting the strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratory which lasted from 1976 to 1978.

For 10 years, he was a member of the executive committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties.

Mr Dromey was also appointed Deputy General Secretary of Unite from 2003 to 2010.

He was also the elected Labour party treasurer from 2004, until he entered parliament in 2010.

More recently, he had supported factory workers at the GKN engineering plant in Erdington, who had planned strike action to prevent the factory’s closure.

Jack Dromey at a Labour Party conference, in Manchester on September 28, 2010. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Parliamentary career

Mr Dromey’s parliamentary career began in 1997 when he stood for Labour at the general election, but he didn’t make the shortlist for the Pontefract and Castleford constituency.

He had hoped to contest a safe seat in 2007 if a general election was to be called when Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister.

In 2010, Siôn Simon, Labour MP for Erdington since June 2001, announced he would stand down at the next general election.

After Mr Dromey was confirmed to have made the open shortlist, on 27 February 2010, it was announced that he had been selected as the Labour Party candidate and he was elected MP on 6 May 2010.

He was also appointed Shadow Minister for Housing in 2010 by party leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Dromey had supported Owen Smith in his failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour leadership election.

At the 2019 general election, Mr Dromey defended his seat by 3,601 over the Conservatives in second place - winning more than 50% of the vote.

In January last year, he joined the Shadow Cabinet Office team, and was made Shadow Paymaster General by Keir Starmer and in December 2021, he became Shadow Minister for Immigration.

Harriet Harman with her husband Jack Dromey at a Labour Party Autumn Conference on September 27, 2015 in (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Family life

Mr Dromey married Harriet Harman - the current MP for Camberwell and Peckham, and longest serving female MP - in 1982.

Harriett had also been deputy leader of the Labour Party.

They met on the picket line of the Grunwick Dispute, and Harriet worked as legal office for the National Council for Civil Liberties, where Mr Dromey served for ten years as an executive.

They have three children: Harry, Joseph and Amy.

Joseph was a councillor in Lewisham between 2014 and 2021.

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