Austin Mitchell: Tributes pour in for former Grimsby MP and broadcaster

Austin Mitchell whilst working for Yorkshire Television. Credit: ITV Calendar

Tributes have been paid to the former Great Grimsby MP and ITV Calendar presenter Austin Mitchell, who has died at the age of 86.

His successor Melanie Onn said: "Austin will be greatly missed by many in Grimsby's Labour family and across the town where he was taken from the TV screen into the hearts of local people, always ready with a camera and amusing anecdote.

He was a larger than life character, secured lost pensions compensation for the last generation of Grimsby's fishermen and a vociferous opponent of council housing stock transfers to arms-length management organisations." She added: "Austin was unfailingly supportive to me as a new MP, still a bruising advocate of the Labour Party and gave his time, advice and expertise generously.

"It was a pleasure to get to know him and I send my heartfelt condolences to Linda, his family and close friends for their loss."

Labour leader Sir Keir Stamer also paid tribute saying: "I am saddened by the death of Austin Mitchell.

"Austin served his constituency of Great Grimsby with remarkable commitment for 38 years. There are few MPs whose dedication to their constituents would translate into changing their surname to ‘Haddock’ to promote local industry.

"His big sense of humour was matched by his deep Labour values. My thoughts are with his wife Linda and his children."

Great Grimsby Labour Party said: "His passion for Grimsby knew no bounds. His good humour, kind nature and booming laugh will never be forgotten in our town or our party."

The current MP for Great Grimsby, the Conservative Lia Nici, said that he "adored" Grimsby and worked so hard for the people of the town.

She added that he was "genuine, forthright and a great person to know".

She said that he also remarked upon her selection that she would be a great MP but that it was a shame she had chosen to join the Conservatives.

Former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said: "Austin was a larger than life figure – immense fun, a jovial manner often concealing an acute mind, a challenging colleague at times for sure but always warm-hearted and decent, and above totally committed to Grimsby!

"I never had a conversation with him without coming away with a new insight or perspective which is why even when disagreeing, I had to listen. Our deepest condolences to Linda and all his family."

Other tributes paid to Austin

Martin Boyers, who is the chief executive of Grimsby Fish Market and a close friend, said that the town couldn't have had a better local MP.

He praised Austin for "saying it as it is" and for getting straight to the point.

Other tributes have been paid to Mr Mitchell on social media by people from the world of politics and the media.

Austin was also remembered by former Calendar presenter, Geoff Druett, who joined the team following Austin's election as an MP.

He said that Austin "had it all" and that for most people in this part of the world he was simply "Calendar".

He added: "I joined the Calendar team when Austin became a member of Parliament and it really meant that for the next 40 years basically I was terrified that he was going to lose his seat and want his job back.

"But I needn't have worried, no one was going to take Grimsby off Austin until he was ready to go."