Tributes pour in for much-loved Sheffield councillor and Bassetlaw MP who died today at the age of 86

Tributes have poured in for Joe Ashton - a much loved former councillor and long-serving MP who died today at the age of 86.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 5:04 pm

Joe grew up in Attercliffe and went on to be a Sheffield councillor, before representing Bassetlaw as an MP for 33 years.

He was also an award-winning national newspaper columnist, author, playwright and director of Sheffield Wednesday football club.

David Blunkett, former MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said his contribution to the wellbeing of others was "massive".

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Veteran former Labour MP Joe Ashton has died today (30/03/20) at the age of 86

“Joe was one of those characters, who was grounded and had a real sense of humour that has been so missing from frontline politics for too long.

“After retiring from parliament and before his prolonged illness, he was responsible for a hardship scheme that helped so many older, former members of parliament when salaries, allowances and even travel so often made politics a rich man's game.

“In better times, it will be good to celebrate his memory."

Richard Caborn former MP for Sheffield Central, was a friend of Joe's for more than 50 years and said he had many fond memories of him – including times spent sharing lifts to and from parliament with Joe and Dennis Skinner.

The Right Honourable David Blunkett in Sheffield Picture by Dean Atkins

“He was a typical Sheffield lad who always stood up for what he believed was right.

“There’s no doubt he was a street fighter, was Joe. He took his values into his politics and took them into the national government as well. He’d fight the establishment - which he did quite successfully - but he’d also fight to defend the rights of members of parliament when they were being attacked.

“He was honest, you got what you saw with Joe. He was an east end lad, he was brought up with the basic values and they shone through, he never deviated from that.

“We had a great rivalry in sport, him being a Wednesdayite and me being a Sheffield United fan so there was always banter. Sport was a big part of Joe’s life, as it was in mine.

Richard is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Central from 1983 to 2010

“He represented ordinary people very well whether in the local authority or down in Westminster.”

Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, also paid tribute and said: “Joe was a lifelong and faithful servant of the Labour Party and the people of Bassetlaw and Sheffield, where he was a councillor.

“He grew up in poverty in Sheffield and never lost sight of the suffering and struggles people endure in and out of work and this guided his political life.

“He was a huge character and leaves a rich and lasting legacy. He will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time – his daughter Lucy and son in law Kevin and their two children.”

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has also paid tribute to Joe Ashton. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

John Mann, Mr Ashton's successor as MP for Bassetlaw, tweeted: "Joe Ashton, who died today, Bassetlaw MP 1968-01. One of his last constituent MP letters began: 'you are a pillock and a prat'. Old school, plain speaking, honest."

Many others also expressed condolences on social media, saying he was a "big-hearted" and "remarkable" man who lived an amazing life.

Posting on social media, Linda De-burgh said: “I had the greatest pleasure to work along side of him in the elections. Fantastic man who fought very hard to help others. R I P.”

Mary Marsden said: “Excellent MP for many years.”

Geoff Wilcock added: “RIP fella, one of the (most) honest and best.”

Both Philip Andrew Wilson and Suzanne McLaughlin described Joe as a “great man” too.

Joe was suffering from dementia and his death was unrelated to coronavirus. He was married to his late wife Maggie for 57 years and they leave a daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

There will be no public funeral due to Covid-19 but a memorial service will take place later in the year.