Political world pays tribute to Claire Rayner

By Peter Wozniak

The agony aunt and health campaigner Claire Rayner has received tributes from the world of politics after she died today at the age of 79.

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, of which she was a member, had high praise for her work to support the NHS.

“Claire Rayner was a wonderful, no-nonsense, agony aunt to the nation, but also she was much more than that,” he said.

“Claire’s campaigning was an inspiration to millions and especially to Liberal Democrats, who were so proud that she was a member of our party.”

Ms Rayner was a journalist and author who became known for campaigning on medical issues, particularly the promotion of safe sex.

She was a frequent adviser to previous governments on nursing, elderly care and other medical issues. Her services were recognised with the award of an OBE in 1996.

Katie Ghose, the electoral reform society’s chief executive, added praise for her long-standing support of constitutional reform.

“Claire Rayner was known as the nation’s favourite agony aunt, but she also spent decades tackling the big questions of democratic and human rights,” she said.

“With her passing the Society has lost a valued Vice President, a tireless campaigner and a good friend.

“Her death comes just months before the system she spent so long railing against finally faces the judgement of the British public.

“The cause of political reform has lost one of its most passionate advocates.”

Ms Rayner reportedly died after a period of illness when she did not recover fully from intestinal surgery she had in May this year.

Mr Hughes added: “Continuous work and campaigning to improve our National Health Service for all our patients will be the best sort of tribute our country can give her.”

A staunch believer in social justice, Ms Rayner was a supporter of the Labour party until she left in protest at their policies towards old people.