I am currently in Stockton on a photo shoot and the news of the death of Ashok Kumar, MP for nearby Middlesbrough South arrived by email. I announced it to the Lib Dems for whom I was doing the photos and there was general, all round sadness. He was genuinely liked across all parties.
I remember the Langbaugh by-election in November 1991 when he was first elected, winning his seat from the Conservatives. The Conservative candidate was Michael Bates who came from Gateshead and who had stood a few times for Gateshead Council.
I have interesting memories of driving around the constituency with Gerald Vernon-Jackson in a Transit van delivering thousands of leaflets. We would start first thing in the morning and keep going til we dropped in the evening.
Ashok Kumar lost in 1992 but this short tenure as an MP was overturned when he won back the seat in 1997 and held it comfortably ever since. The constituency was one of those which needs to be won by the Conservatives but looks unlikely to go back to Cameron's lot this time.
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