FORMER Blaenau Gwent MP and Welsh MEP Llew Smith has died, Welsh Labour has announced.

A Labour stalwart, Mr Smith served in the European Parliament as representative for South Wales East from 1984 until 1994, and as MP for Blaenau Gwent from 1995 until 2005.

He died yesterday, Wednesday, following a battle with cancer. He was 77.

South Wales Argus:

Llew Smith pictured during the miners' strike in the mid-1980s

South Wales Argus:

Llew Smith pictured during the miners' strike in the mid-1980s

First minister Mark Drakeford paid tribute to Mr Smith, saying: “I’m saddened to hear of Llew’s passing.

“As a Member of the European Parliament and the Member of Parliament for Blaenau Gwent, Llew was a fierce advocate for the communities he represented. He was firm in his beliefs, and never shied from speaking out on the important issues of the day.

“Llew was a radical socialist in the Blaenau Gwent tradition.

“My thoughts are with Llew’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

South Wales Argus:

Llew Smith pictured with former Labour leader Michael Foot, who preceeded him as MP for Blaenau Gwent

South Wales Argus:

Llew Smith in his younger days

Lord Murphy, who, as MP for Torfaen from 1987 until 2015, served alongside Mr Smith in Parliament,

Speaking to the Argus he said: "I had known Llew for 40 years.

"He was a dedicated socialist and trade unionist, who became a successful MEP and the MP for Blaenau Gwent.

"We served together in the House of Commons, and he was a doughty fighter for his constituents.

"He would be constantly arguing the case for more jobs and investment for his constituency, and he never deviated from his strong socialist views. He will be widely missed."

Nick Smith - no relation - who today holds Llew Smith's former seat as MP for Blaenau Gwent, said: I’m very sad to hear that Llew Smith has passed away.

"Llew will be missed by many. He was a well-respected MP who battled for the constituency against the Conservatives every day. He was very sure of his principles and did his best by Blaenau Gwent. My condolences to his family."

Blenau Gwent MS Alun Davies added his tributes.

"Very sorry to hear that Llew Smith, former MP for Blaenau Gwent, passed away last night," he said.

"Llew was someone who always stood up for our borough and fought hard for everything that drove him in politics. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today."

Speaking as he announced his intention to stand down as an MP in 2002, Llew Smith said: "I'm not old Labour or new Labour - I'm just Labour, I'm a socialist.

"The ideas which I stood for when I was elected I've actually kept to. I've stayed the course."