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An MP who broke the mould

Tributes poured in today for Ashok Kumar MP

The world of politics began to pay tribute this afternoon to Labour MP Ashok Kumar, who died at his home yesterday morning, at the age of 53.

Dr Kumar, a scientist before entering Westminster, was well respected across the political spectrum.

Simon Woolley, head of Operation Black Vote, said: “Ashok Kumar was one of the first Black MP’s to break the mold and win a parliamentary seat outside a predominantly BME area. Kumar used this unique position as his strength, highlighting that he was elected to serve his constituency.

“Although he rarely spoke openly about race issues he remained a role model and a symbol of hope that a Black candidate could stand and win in a predominantly white area.”

A former Middlesborough councillor, Dr Kumar entered parliament in 1991 as MP for Langbaurgh. A reorganisation of constituencies saw him return as Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in 1997.

A spokesperson said that his dead had come “as a huge shock to everyone.” It was a sudden but not suspicious death, his office has stated. Born in India in 1956, he became a research scientist for British Steel.

A keen follower of cricket and badminton, he also listed reading history and listening to jazz amongst his interests.

Fellow Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell, whose Middlesborough constituency neighboured Dr Kumar’s, said: “The death of Ashok Kumar at so young an age is tragic. He has been for many years a fine parliamentarian and good constituency MP.

“He built up his parliamentary majority and had every expectation of being returned to the House at the forthcoming election. “He will be mourned by his many friends and colleagues. He leaves behind an untarnished reputation.”



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