Yesterday we reported the sad death of Lord Bruce-Lockhart. Eric Pickles MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government, adds his own personal tribute to Sandy below:
"I last saw Sandy a couple of weeks ago at a Royal Garden Party, he was looking frail and he told me that his Doctors had stopped the treatment for his illness. He was a realistic man who knew what the natural consequences would be, yet his inner sparkle remained as constant as it was in his prime. We had an animated discussion about policy and the future and because of the freshness of his ideas it was possible, for a few brief moments, to forget how ill he was.
It is impossible to over estimate how influential Sandy was on local and national government. His influence extended beyond the Conservative Party and touched the thinking right across the political spectrum. I know a number of Labour Ministers who would seek his advice before making policy decisions; even the most partisan were not immune from his charms.
Urbane and erudite with the discipline of a diplomat, he would retain confidences and offer sage opinions but beneath that civilised exterior there was a steely determination to get things done. He transformed Kent County Council into a European Leader in tackling deprivation and poverty. He was among the first to break down the barriers between Districts and Counties to offer single gateways to services.
As the first Conservative Chairman of the Local Government Association he enhanced its reputation and its effectiveness, mainly because everyone trusted Sandy.
I have worked closely with Sandy for the best part of a decade and I think it is fair to say that we come from completely different backgrounds, but I have rarely met anyone that I have agreed with more. A few years ago I sought his help with some work I was doing on localism, trying to put a distinctive centre-right stamp on it. By the end of most meetings we were capable of ending each other’s sentences.
He helped set a course that will see the Conservative Party fundamentally shift power back to local communities.
I admired Sandy greatly and I mourn his loss."