Blair at 10 Downing Street
A regional political journalist who became one of the most respected figures in the Westminster lobby has died at the age of 64.
Ian Craig, who was political editor of the Manchester Evening News for 25 years until earlier this year, was found dead on Friday at his home in London.
Former premier Tony Blair – one of five Prime Ministers to be interviewed by Ian in the course of his career – today led the tributes to a man he decribed as “a credit to his profession and to Manchester.”
Mr Blair said: “It is truly shocking to hear this news. Ian interviewed me on a number of occasions and always struck me as a very talented journalist and a true gentleman.”
Ian began his career in journalism on the Liverpool Echo, and covered the rise of the Militant Tendency as that paper’s local government correspondent in the 1970s and early 80s.
He became the MEN’s political editor in 1984 and remained at Westminster for the rest of his career.
Although Ian had left the staff of the MEN earlier this year, he continued to work for the paper in a freelance capacity.
Friends raised the alarm last Friday after becoming concerned that Ian had not been seen around the Commons for several days.
Jon Smith, political editor of the Press Association, said: “I knew Ian at Westminster for more than 20 years and he was always the consummate professional who knew where the stories were and worked hard to get them.
“He was also a personal friend and his death is a great shock to everyone here as he was such a well loved member of the Lobby who always made time to help colleagues, as he did on many occasions.”
David Hencke, chairman of the press gallery, added: “Ian will be sorely missed in Parliament – he was a great guy- and his sudden death comes as a big shock to everyone in the lobby.
“I always enjoyed chatting with him and he was incredibly friendly to everyone. He had a great nose for news and kept well abreast of everything happening in Westminster.”
Acting MEN editor Maria McGeoghan said Ian was “a true gentleman and a terrific journalist with a deep understanding of the workings of Westminster.”
“Ian had a fantastic ability to read the political weather. He always knew what was going to be on the agenda – if he wasn’t setting the agenda himself.
“Throughout his distinguished career he showed a passion for political news and a pride in both the work he produced and the newspapers he worked for.
“He cut through the spin and provided MEN readers with the stories that really mattered. He will be sadly missed.”
Former MEN editor Mike Unger described Ian as “one of the great political journalists of his generation, with an outstanding record in both local and national politics.
“He was quiet, thoughtful, intelligent and hugely calm under pressure. It was a privilege to be friends with him for more than 35 years. He will be truly missed,” he added.
Outside of his newspaper work, he co-wrote a book with Brendan O’Malley about the 1974 conflict in Cyprus entitled The Cyprus Conspiracy.
With his friend Paul Desmond, he also made a film about the demise of the old Press Gallery bar at the House of Commons which was converted to offices two years ago.
Alan Salter (26/10/2009 10:01:32)
A kind and gentle man.
Rodger Clark (26/10/2009 16:20:05)
You could not wish to meet a finer journalist or a finer gentleman. Ian will be sorely missed.