Walsall Labour group were saddened to learn that longstanding former Labour MP for Walsall South Bruce George has passed away at the age of 77.
Bruce George was the first Labour MP to represent Walsall South winning it in February 1974, and then holding the seat in eight general elections before retiring in 2010.
He served as a member of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, and went on to become Chair in 1997. He held that post through two parliaments until 2005.
Walsall Labour group leader Cllr Aftab Nawaz (St Matthews) said: “Bruce George was an excellent MP who had total empathy with the people of Walsall.
“He has been missed since he retired because he was one of the best constituency MPs you could ever wish for. Walsall has lost a huge part of it’s history but he leaves a great legacy of helping and supporting the people. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Labour MP for Walsall South Valerie Vaz, said: “It was an honour to follow Bruce as the MP for Walsall South.
“Bruce made an important contribution to the life of Walsall and Parliament over 36 years, especially in his work as Chair of the Defence Select Committee and securing the rebuilding of the Manor Hospital. My thoughts are with Lisa at this very difficult time.”
Walsall Deputy Mayor Cllr Rose Burley (Bentley & Darlaston North), who worked for Mr George for 11 years, said: “I am deeply saddened by his death.
“I worked with him for many years and I became close friends with him and Lisa and not just colleagues and members of the Labour Party.
“He was a permanent fixture in the town and a dedicated member of parliament. He always put his constituents first.
“People in Walsall South are very fortunate to have had him represent them because he was so passionate about the area.
“Of course, he was a huge Walsall FC fan and supported them through all the good and bad times. And he never lost an election after being voted in in 1974, it was Bruce who decided to retire from parliament. He is going to be sorely missed by me personally and by many other people who knew him.”
Cllr Sean Coughlan (Willenhall South), the former Labour leader of Walsall Council, said improvements to the town centre and Walsall railway station would form part of Mr George’s legacy in the borough.
“Bruce was a hard-working MP who always held an open house for the people of Walsall South,” he added. “He was an honest individual who fought extremely hard for Walsall. He will be sadly missed.”
David Winnick, who was MP for Walsall North for 38 years until 2017, said: “Bruce was recognised, including by his opponents, if not at all times, as an excellent Walsall Member of Parliament.
“In addition he played a leading role over a number of years as the Chair of the Commons Defence Committee.
“It’s known amongst some of the Labour movement locally that Bruce and I, on occasion, didn’t agree, but I think both of us accepted we were very different kinds of people.
“As a Member of Parliament for some 36 years Bruce carried out his duties in an exemplary manner and that was undoubtedly a factor in the recognition given to him in Freedom of the Borough.”
Details of the funeral which will be held at St Matthews Church, Walsall will be released in next few days.