Tributes paid to former Leeds MP Harold Best who 'changed the political map forever'

A former MP who was the first Labour parliamentarian to represent Leeds North West, has died aged 82.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 6:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 6:24 pm

Harold Best, who was MP for Leeds North West between 1997 and 2005, died this week.

The former electrician, who won his seat in the 1997 landslide, was the first Labour MP for the constituency.

And one of his many achievements for constituents before he retired in 2005 was to save the Wharfedale Hospital in Otley.

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Harold Best pictured at Meanwood Beck in 1999. Photo: JPI Media

Alex Sobel the current Labour MP for Leeds North West said: “My first ever tour of Parliament was with Harold and I wasn’t even a constituent, his example is something I now follow as the MP and my first ever canvassing session was with Harold on the Meanwood Valley Estate where Harold spoke to me about the difference a Labour Council could make.

“I now try and inspire young activists in the way Harold inspired me.

“Harold had Leeds North West flowing through his veins and did so much to bring government funding to our area and rebuilding the Wharfedale Hospital. As his successors we have a very high bar to meet.”

Mr Best studied at Meanwood County School Technical College and was also a full-time union trade union official during his career.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and former Leeds North West Parliamentary candidate said: “My thoughts go out to Glyn and all of his family at this difficult time.

“So many Labour Party members across Leeds will remember Harold with great respect and affection. His famous victory in the election of 1997 changed the political map forever. Harold served his constituents with great passion and conviction and his loss will be felt deeply by those who knew him.”

Mr Best had campaigned and voted against the war in Iraq, and was dubbed a “great humanitarian” by former Labour councillor John Eveleigh.

Mr Eveleigh added: “I well remember the euphoria that we all felt when he became the first Labour MP for Leeds North West - and I was always taken by the way he connected with people.”

Anne Cherry, chair of Leeds North West Labour Party, added: “Those of us who were privileged to work with Harold will remember him as a passionate supporter of the community he both lived in and represented, and a staunch defender of the best in traditional socialism.

“He will be sadly missed by the many people he helped and encouraged over the years.”