The former Labour MP for Walthamstow today hailed the late veteran Labour politician Tony Benn as one of the most courteous, polite and influential figures in British politics.

Neil Gerrard, who served as MP for Walthamstow from 1992 until 2010 when he was succeeded by Stella Creasy, told the Guardian that Mr Benn had supported his general election campaign in 2005 by speaking in at a Labour party meeting in Walthamstow.

Tony Benn died on Friday, aged 88, at his family home in west London.

Speaking to the Guardian Mr Gerrard said: “It’s obvious when you look at what’s been said over the last few days what an impact he had on British politics over the last 50 years.

“He’s somebody, I think, who always had interesting ideas and things to say. I can’t think of many other politicians who would’ve been able to draw in the sort of packed audiences that he did since retiring in 2001. That tells you something, he’s someone people wanted to listen to.

“Sometimes, when someone dies, you get comments from across the political spectrum which I’m not convinced are always absolutely sincere, but in this case I think they are.

“The other thing you always noticed about Tony was how incredibly courteous and polite he was to everybody and the time he’d make to speak to people. People in the audience would want to come and talk to him and he found time to speak to everybody, and that’s not that common.”