"Philip Gould was an exceptional man and his death is an exceptional loss. He was Labour to his core, and today, as the Labour Party, we mourn for one of our own. He was rightly known as a pathbreaking political strategist. His friends will also remember an extraordinary human being. Warm, funny, engaging, deeply emotional and loving to all those he knew. Nowhere was he more extraordinary than in the final years of his life: battling his cancer like a political campaign that could be mastered and won. Then accepting death with courage and bravery.
"His contribution to Labour politics was enormous. His work and commitment helped change the lives of millions of his fellow citizens for the better. By helping Labour to win three elections, he helped rebuild our schools, save our NHS and repair the fabric of Britain. Many who benefit will never know his name but will have better lives in part because of his work. In an age when people are cynical about politics, he was someone who was in it for the best of reasons: because of his deep rooted concern for the people of Britain and his wish to make Labour their voice.
"I know from our conversations over the last year he would have made a big contribution to Labour in the years ahead because he had an extraordinary ability to understand changing times and how politics could and should respond to that call. He taught those fortunate enough to know him much about how to live, and in the years of his illness, much about how to die. His memory will live on in his wonderful family and all those who had the privilege to call him their friend."
"He was a team player, and his team was Labour. ‘Pollster’ doesn’t really say the half of it. He was an integral member of the inner team that worked to get Labour back into power, and stay there for more than the usual single Parliament breathing space for the Tories. His focus groups, far from being an exercise in PR, were a way of making sure that the kind of people he felt Labour forgot in the wilderness years had a direct voice to the top of politics. He was not a speechwriter but he was the most brilliant analyst of speech drafts. His notes on them always improved the final product. He was also great in a crisis, and always able to lift people and campaigns when they were low. He was that rare thing in politics – someone who was strategic, tactical and empathetic all in one. He was a rock.
But it is not Philip Gould the strategist, nor Philip Gould the gutsy fighter against cancer that I mourn today, but Philip Gould the friend who made our lives better, and Philip Gould the positive life force who brought hope and energy to all he did.
Gould "was always a constant advocate for the British people, their hopes and anxieties", and a man whose "political contribution was immense".
The former prime minister added: "But then as his illness gripped him, he became something more. In facing death, he grew emotionally and spiritually into this remarkable witness to life's meaning and purpose.
"No-one who saw him in those last months was unchanged by him. And the bond between him and his wonderful family was a joy to see. I feel very proud and privileged to have known him and to have been his friend."
"I am really gutted that we have lost Philip Gould to cancer at such a young age. He was a great personal friend and support, across a generational divide, first for me, then for Louise and I, then for the two of us and the boys. I will miss his humanity and passion for finding and doing the right thing – and his ceaseless determination to elect Labour governments, because he never forgot that one day of Labour in government was worth a 1000 in Opposition.
"Philip has been described – and maligned – as a pollster, because in the 1980s he brought a dose of focus group reality to Labour’s other-worldly musings about the state and future of the country. I suppose the professional category is “political consultant”. But he was much than that. He was a sociologist and strategist, always trying to think through the world’s trends, and chart a political course through them. He was onto disillusion with politics before anyone else; he was fascinated by how power was shifting; he was hungry to know how other people did things (better).
"Philip was also tremendously brave in a personal way. It may sound corny, but frankly it was brave not to say mad to stake your reputation in 1985 on a political consultancy with the Labour Party as a key client. He was not a cab for hire; he was someone deeply committed to a view of the good society, and so the rejuvenation of the Labour Party was the only place for him to be. His courage was most evident in his battle with cancer, described in extraordinary detail in a series for The Times earlier this year.
"The afterword of the reissued version of The Unfinished Revolution was a ‘Letter to the Next Generation’ because he wanted his life’s work to put down roots that would eventually grow into tall trees. He ends by saying “I want you to be proud of what we did, but impatient about what we did not do.” That is an injunction we should heed."
And some reactions from Twitter:
Bob Ainsworth: "So sad about Philip. It was an enormous privilege to work with him, especially in those exciting early days. He will be much missed."
Rachel Reeves: "Philip Gould's death is a big loss to Labour and to the country. I'm thinking of his family at this time."
Tony McNulty: "Very sad to hear of the death of Philip Gould. A great loss. Thoughts go out to his family."
Daniel Finkelstein: "I will miss Philip Gould terribly. As a man and a public figure he was an inspiration and I loved and admired him."