It was with great sadness that I heard about the passing of Dr Wim Kok at the weekend.
Wim was both an incredible politician and a great friend. His energy and vision were one of the driving forces behind the emergence of the ‘third way’ in the 1990s.
Shortly before his re-election in 1998 I said publicly that he was “one of the greatest people in politics today”. With the benefit that only hindsight can provide it is clear to me that Wim was truly one of the greatest people and politicians of our era.
While I know this will be an incredibly sad time for his friends and loved ones—and I of course send them my deepest condolences—I hope at least it can be an opportunity for his record to be looked at afresh and his approach to politics be reconsidered.
In the intervening years between Wim leaving office, the end of my time as prime minister and the present day, I think the evidence is clear that the need for progressive politics that reaches out to voters across the political divide is stronger than ever. I hope politicians of Wim’s courage, character and vision will emerge to honour his legacy and drive positive, progressive change again across Europe.