Monday, 11 May 2009

John McDonnell, MP

Malcolm was respected as a dedicated socialist and trade unionist by all who knew him. For me he was one of the finest examples of what a socialist should be. Someone who works selflessly to better the lives of others whilst passing on an explanation of the world so that they themselves could participate in their own liberation. We have all lost a tremendous comrade and friend but gained so much by knowing him. I am proud to have called him a comrade and will cherish his memory.

Laurie Pocock

Those people who went to Malcolm's funeral yesterday will aready know that many of us were unable to get inside the chapel for the service.

I was a long standing colleague of Malcolm in the Croydon Unison Branch. I would affirm comments already made regarding his steadfastness, and devotion to the cause of trade unionism.

However, I felt his trade union minded instincts came from a sensce of fairness generally, and a deep humanity.

My first contact with Malcolm was that when I had recently started work at Croydon Council and having been made aware of the existence of a UNISON Social Club I went down there with another colleague. Neither of us were at that time UNISON members.

I had only just started work at the Council and was considering which union to join (having been previously a member of a print union) I wasn't sure that UNISON was for me.

Malcolm was sitting by a desk as we came in to the bar, there was a UNISON sponsored disco on that night, and he was checking membership at the door. He couldn't have been busy as only a small handful of people were there, and it was already quite late. He had a pile of cards which could be exchanged for a drink, and despite the fact we really had no right to be there at all, he signed us in and and gave us a card for a free drink. That was the sort of man he was generous and kind to strangers, (the slogan of the CIU) in practice. My mind was made up that night to join UNISON and since then I had many dealings with him as a Steward, Branch officer and as a member of the Social Club Committee.

I'm not sure it was the case, as somebody elsewhere in the tributes made to say that "Malcolm was not a joiner of things" he not only joined things he also joined them up himself and with considerable energy.

Above all, he had a great spirit of community be it at work, or at home or in the branch. I was personally aware yesterday that the pub we went to afterwards had that spirit of community.

I'm personally saddened that the community we have has lost such a great asset.

Laurie Pocock Croydon UNISON

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Cllr Karen Jewitt (Lab Croydon)

As a Councillor in Croydon I worked closely with Malcolm for years on the Council and Joint Staff Committee, his fire and fight on behalf of his colleagues was second to none.

There were many times when I agreed with him and found myself sitting on the employee's fence and not the employer's for which I offer no apology, but it was all to Malcolm's amusement watching my Councillor colleagues and Chief Officers faces when I sided with the Unions. I remember once the then Director of Finance storming out of a meeting because I would not back down over the her lack of consultation with the Unions. Malcolm watched in stunned silence as she slammed her papers on the table and marched out the room with me quick on her heels. Malcolm and I had a laugh and a pint later discussing the whole debacle. We were proven right CFI was a disaster..... a bitter victory.

Malcolm once referred to me as Croydon Labour Councils token leftie!

I will miss his commitment for the underdogs rights and his belief that every single person had something to add to society.

Malcolm was a true socialist and comrade. The world is a poorer place without his like.

Councillor Karen Jewitt

Rosalind Hardie Ejiohuo

I remember the enthusiasm with which Malcolm attended the Croydon Equalities Unit's Burns Suppers in Taberner House, apologising profusely for his "Glencoe" surname. Thanks for keeping the union spirit strong.
For a' that, and a' that
It's coming yet, for a' that
That man tae man the world ower
Shall brithers be, and a' that

Malcolm was a diamond

This is what I said at the service for Malcolm on Thursday;

I won’t be the first or last today to observe that Malcolm was a diamond.

And like a diamond he had many facets, all of them important to the warm and wonderful human being that he was.

I want to say a few words about just one of those facets – Malcolm’s passionate, committed and effective political engagement in the wider trade union beyond his branch.

Looking into the diamond of our memories of Malcolm we can all see different reflections.

I can see Malcolm stood in front of people speaking – challenging standing orders at UNISON Conference maybe, or asking questions on the Annual Report.

Malcolm liked precision in the use of language and if that made him a pedant sometimes, then he was the sort of pedant we need many more of, because if the people in power in an organisation can make sure that a decision is vague and imprecise then they can escape accountability for its implementation.

It’s because Malcolm knew this so well that we, his friends, consigned him to the Standing Orders Committee for Local Government Conference, where he had to spend years arguing in private and against the odds so that UNISON members would have a fair chance to express our views.
To most people this would have been purgatory. I don’t think that those of us who sent him back there year after year should feel guilty though.

I think Malcolm enjoyed those arguments in the no-longer-smoke-filled rooms where the real decisions are so often taken. In fact the last words he ever spoke to me were to tell me to get along to a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee last Monday for an argument about a branch motion.

I hope he would have forgiven me for not having been able to make it.

Another way in which, looking through the diamond, I can see Malcolm is sat in a Committee – it must be our Regional Committee as I can see the bemused look with which he would greet a particularly poorly argued or inarticulate contributions which he knew nevertheless stood to win a majority of votes from those who probably weren’t even listening to the argument.

A friend observed last week that Malcolm could remain calm and continue to argue reasonably in the face of such provocation. I rarely saw Malcolm lose his temper in circumstances in which to have done so might have weakened the argument he was trying to make or support.

But I did see Malcolm’s anger from time to time – and I can see it now as another facet in the diamond.

Less than a month ago, Malcolm replied to an email forwarded on from another friend. He was commenting on something that had been said by a union official and I want to quote his words; “The idea that we hold off for what we ultimately want and don’t pursue something that is clearly more achievable in the short term seems to me to be a bit daft. And how on earth does it weaken our bargaining position in the future?”

You don’t need to know what the disagreement was about to know from those words that Malcolm was angry, as he was when he crossed London to Barnet to support the Fremantle strikers on more than one occasion.

I saw that same anger from Malcolm when Conference speakers who couldn’t win an argument would resort to personal and political attacks upon their opponents, or when he saw bullies abusing their power – whether that was at work, in the trade union or in the Labour Party.

However, an angry Malcolm Campbell is a small aspect of my many memories. A larger facet of the diamond of memory is of Malcolm supporting fellow activists, as a friend sharing a pint over lunch at Conference, after a meeting in Central London or at a festival.

In the few short days since the shocking news that we had lost Malcolm a number of us on UNISON’s left-wing have been sharing our recollections and what stands out as a constant theme is of Malcolm as a true and loyal friend.

These aren’t my words, but I share these sentiments;

You were more than a good comrade and friend to me and gave me so much support over the last few years;

Malcolm was a mentor as well as a friend to me;

I was proud to have you as a comrade in arms fighting for the rights of UNISON members and so many others. I was equally proud to call you friend;

Malcolm was a great friend and comrade of mine;

The movement has lost huge asset and I have lost a friend;

Thanks so very much for being such a good friend and a canny marra.

Malcolm was a diamond; a rare, beautiful and valuable treasure – and whilst we do, and always will, remember the political activity which was so important to him - most importantly of all we remember Malcolm today as our friend.

Malcolm, we love you.

Peter Howard

Whilst I sometimes disagreed with Malcolm I had great respect for him & the very hard work he did for others.He will be a hard act to follow.

Peter Howard Retired Members Joint Secretary. Croydon UNISON

Courtney Selwood

haven’t known Malcolm for very long but when I went away for my first conference he was encouraging and dedicated. As a young member I was confused with the whole process of things but he soon put that right and guided me through the ropes with the rest of the team.
He will be missed greatly and my condolences go out to his partner, family and friends.

Courtney Selwood

Dr Peter Latham

I first got to know and respect Malcolm as a full-time official in NATFHE (now UCU) when we represented our members at Croydon College during contract and redundancy negotiations and I was a GMB delegate to Croydon Trades Council. Since retiring 18 months ago I have continued to work with Malcolm on the Trades Council and am now on its EC.

The Croydon Save our Schools ant-academies Campaign (SOS) was set up in October 2008 by the Trades Council and Malcolm played a key role in SOS right up until his death. SOS started a 10 Downing Street e-petition just before Malcolm died. We now have 106 signatures excluding Malcolm's: but need at least 200 by 20 May. Please, therefore, if you have not already done so, sign it at Malcolm would expect no less; and get your work colleagues and friends also to sign.

Before becoming a full-time official I taught housing policy to students working in the public sector and was Secretary of the Labour Campaign for Open Local Government (LCOLG). I have also just completed the first draft of a new book on New Labour's neoliberal 'local governance project which is dedicated to key activists in LCOLG: but I would now like to include Malcolm.

I did not know Malcolm's family so I offer my deepest condolences to them and his Unison members at the Town Hall.

It will take the Croydon Labour Movement a long time to recover from Malcolm's premature death when he had so much still to give: but - as we know he would have wanted - we will continue the fight in his memory. La lutta continua!

(Dr.) Peter Latham (Communist Party of Britain, South London Branch)

PS I will also send a donation in memory of Malcolm to the Morning Star - which reported the struggles he was involved in.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Rachel Pankhurst

A week on and I still find it hard to believe that Malcolm has actually gone. With National Conference only a few weeks away - it is very hard to even think about conference - knowing Malcolm won't be leading our delegation.

Malcolm was always there for advice and was a calming influence when you thought things were going wrong. He will be sorely missed by the branch but will never be forgotten.

His memory lives on ... particularly in the Green Dragon... where he would often spend his lunchtimes making the most of their "soup and sarnie" offer! Every time I go in there - I expect to see him sitting at a table with his newspaper and a pint of ale.

I shall miss you Malcolm.

My sincere condolences go to his partner Jayne and his family.

Rachel Pankhurst, Magazine Editor/Steward, Croydon Unison

David Finch

Malcolm's death is a sad and terrible blow to all who knew him. I knew him as a valuable trades unionist and negotiator and a consistent socialist. As a delegate to the Croydon trades Union Council from the Croydon Teachers Association I valued his ideas and his chairmanship as President. He will be missed there and also. of course, as an important member of Unison, I do not know his family but I am sure his death was a catastrophic blow and I wish to convey my sympathy and commisertion to them.

David Finch

Yunus Bakhsh

A warm decent caring human being ,a priviledge to have known him . Our movement can ill afford to lose such a fighter as Malcolm.
He was a man you knew you could always rely upon to stand up for what is right
My deepest condolences to his family

Yunus Bakhsh

Bola Kosoko

This came as a total surprise just as I was getting to know you better. I can still picture your face encouraging me for the elections and it's been so hard to take in. You will surely be missed and your memory shall live on. Such a great chap. Rest in peace comrade

Allen Reilly

I'm absolutely shocked at the sudden death of Malcolm, its very hard to comprehend the passing of my fellow Croydon UNISON'S Branch Secretary


Roger Bannister

Steadfast to the end, Malcolm put members first, and in the process took on the employers and on occasions the union hierarchy. It is a privileged to have walked the same road with him.

Glenn Kelly

Having worked alongside malcolm for many years, It is hard to believe that he is not going to walk into the next regional meeting or be in the line of delegates ready to challenge standing orders in a few weeks time.
Having been with Malcolm in the regional local governent committee on the Friday before he died it now seems fitting that the last words I heard Malcolm speak was to demand that the union lead a fight over the threat to local government workers pay.
Malcolm was a genuine fighter in the union who always understood that for the union to suceed it had to be in the hands of the ordinary members not unelected paid officals.
Malcolm always understood that democracy was not a secondry issue but was the life blood of the union and that's why he fought so hard for it.
Malcolm voice and cry for democracy will be heard once again in court next week as he will give evidence by video in my case with socialist party members fight for justice against those who want to silence voices of opposition that don't like.
The best tribute I can can pay to Malcolm is to re-dedicate myself to all that he held dear in the union for a fighting and democratic union led by and for the members.
To his family and friends that loved him no words can bring solace at this time but as long as there is just one person who remembers him he will live on.
Glenn Kelly
Nec member

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

John McLoughlin

John McLoughlin, Branch Secretary, Tower Hamlets UNISON

Even more than a week after the terrible news the overwhelming reaction I feel, probably like everyone else, to Malc’s sudden death is shock. That must be even greater for those closest to him and I add my deepest condolences to Jane and Malc’s family.

Malc was one of those people you just felt you could rely on, who was always there to offer support and encouragement. Malc personally embodied the values he held passionately. He always had time for people; he took time to listen to their problems and concerns. He wanted to get people together to do something to make things better whether at work, in the trade union movement, or in the wider community.

He managed to do an amazing amount in representing people in Croydon and playing a leading role in UNISON more widely and in building Croydon Trades Council but Malc was also, perhaps above all, fun. I was trying to describe Malc to someone the other day. Malc was no Brad Pitt. You might even say he had something of a hangdog look. But can you think of anyone whose presence could cheer people up as much, who could bring love and laughter even to discussions on standing orders?

Others have commented on Malc’s many passions, including music, football and beer. The ones where you differed mattered little - with Malc you always knew what you shared was far more important than any minor disputes over millionaire football clubs. I was lucky enough to share a pint or two with Malc. Malc enjoyed a pint as much as anyone but more importantly he liked company, he liked people. Malc had a rare talent to bring people together. He was a uniter. What a loss for UNISON that he didn’t become our Greater London Regional Convenor.

But Malc was also a fighter, who didn’t bow to employers' attacks, threats from the far right, or those who misuse their power inside our movement.

It is hard to accept that Malc is gone. It seems the good die (too) young.

We have lost a friend and a comrade. A good man who lived a good life and changed for the better the lives of those lucky enough to know and work with him. In our memories Malc lives on and inspires us to fight for the better world he strived for.

Elane Heffernan

I just watched the YouTube of Malc and wanted to say;

it made me smile and want to cry in equal measure.

How can you sum up a life with a few words? there are those across croydon and the trade union movement whose lives were enriched by Malc and who can say much better than me what a glorious person he was.

I just wanted to say that Malc was one of those who made you proud to be a trade unionist and a leftie. inthe short time i knew him he seemed to bear every adversity with good humour. he just loved life--he always stood for the right things and the right people and he always did it with music and a little bit of cheek!

we are poorer without him in so many ways


Phoebe Watkins

It is hard to find the words to describe how i felt when i heard the sudden tragic news of Malcolm's death. My deepest condolences to Jane and his family. Malcolm was one of those people who reflected the best of trade unionist and socialist principles - he was open, approachable, principled and prepared to fight for what was right time and time again. Like many who have written about him,
I got to know him through the UUL and union conferences where our delegation were always sat next to Croydon (I am Camden branch) but what he did outside the conference hall, orgainsing and taking forward the important struggles is how I will remember him and his sense of urgency and being on the ball about many issues will be sorely missed. But I also remember many,many years ago when we were still Nalgo members, and Croydon were on strike (residential Social Workers I think back in the 80's) Malcolm leafletting and collecting money outside meetings - his beard and hair were longer (and probably thicker too!) but his passion for the cause was something you could not pass without getting involved in, and remembering that it is the individuals who take these fights on are those who stay in our memorys.
We will all miss you Malcolm, but will not forget what you brought to the whole movement - unity, to fight for justice, and for being a really nice bloke!
Phoebe XX

Sue Plain

Whilst I only worked with Malcolm in the last couple of years it was very apparent to me straight away that here was someone who had earned the respect and affection of his comrades. Malcolm had the rare trick of not taking himself too seriously whilst taking the issue incredibly seriously. He impressed everyone who knew him enormously with his eye for detail, resilience, analysis, sense of humour and pragmatism. It has been an honour for me to have known and worked with Malcolm and I shall try hard to keep hold of the inspiration he provided through his own impressive example. I'm sure all of his comrades will be doing the same.

Katrina Hoogendam

It’s strange and sad to be at this time of year knowing that I won’t be emailing Malcolm about the festivals we would be planning to go to –and deciding on the logistics of who can fit into what car. Equally strange that he won’t be at the summer conferences -where I usually ended up attaching myself to the Croydon branch delegation for pub quizzes and meals.

It’s strange and sad to know that someone who I relied on –just for being there –has gone and that I won’t hear his laughter again, or see the quizzical look on his face again when I launch myself fully clothed into the cold waters of Lulworth Cove, or get us all totally lost on a walk.
He was a gentle and admirable man –always there for so many of us - and I guess we always assumed he would be with us for the years to come - making us laugh, helping us out, and not minding when we were all being a bit daft at festivals or at conference.

Malcolm –thanks so very much for being such a good friend and a canny marra. So many of us loved you.

Mandy Berger

I am so sad so sad about the loss of Malcolm. He is not just a massive loss to his family and friends but to the trade union movement as a whole.
I loved Malcolm so much he became a dear friend as soon as I met him in the united left caucus in Unison. This is because he was the kindest, most helpful and committed man that I had met in a very long time. He was the man at conferences that made me laugh and get through the gruelling week year after year with a smile. Although I am an avid Arsenal supporter we still referred to each other as the dream team when we stood hand in hand for the convenor and deputy convenor of the London Region. I would always text him after a Chelsea game to congratulate him especially this season and I just can’t believe I won’t be doing that again and I can’t take his number off my phone either.

When my mum died two years ago my uncle wrote to me saying he hoped I would be able to bear the “goneness” and that must be true for all of us who knew and loved Malc. I got through by constantly remembering her in all the wonderful experiences we shared together and I know we all will do the same with our memories of lovely Malcolm.

Mandy Berger

Mervyn D'Cruze

Mervyn D’Cruze
Croydon UNISON LG Branch

Firstly let me begin by saying my sympathies and condolences at this moment are with the people closest to Malcolm, they are of course Jane Malcolm’s partner and both there families. There friends and of course Malcolm’s office and T.U colleagues, all of who I have no doubt are devastated by the sudden loss of Malcolm as I am as well.

I’ve know Malcolm or as I called him Malc since just after he became branch secretary of Croydon UNISON LG, I was new to Croydon council but was previously a steward in Lambeth where I worked as a school keeper so joint the Croydon branch and that’s where the adventure began. Of conference’s demo’s marches rallies fringes socials Tolpuddle footy and cricket talk and the occasional jar of ale, not to mention the representations negotiations and long conversations all of which I’ve tried to sum up in a poem? /prose for Malc.

Back to Blue Bayou

I feel so sad I lost my friend that day, I so lonesome I wish he had stayed he made me laugh he made me cry I never thought that he may die. Many things we talked about and he new that some were true but one thing he knew to be true that I would always be a friend through and through.

We drank the drink sometimes wine we danced the dance all through the night sometimes even that old soft shoe oh Malc how I’ll miss you, that old Malc blue. Ok you weren’t born in Macon Georgia a poor boy without shoes but you had your dreams that maybe some day we’ll make come true. Malcolm, Malcolm Campbell’s his name his fame and notoriety will on in the Union hall of fame.

Yeah he walked the walk and boy could he talk that talk, he’ll be missed by one and all, so it’s bye bye bye one last time my old red and blue till I see you on the bayou where we’ll sing the song and dance the dance once again.


Nick Venedi

Malcolm was a fellow Branch Secretary who was a friend and supporter to those he represented. I knew Malcolm from Regional events, and national conferences. In fact I got to know him better at the Bournemouth conference when the European cup was on and Greece (my country of origin) was doing quite well in the games. He did not believe that we could win the Euro cup so we had a few friendly arguments about that which was followed by Greece winning the championship and Malcolm having to buy me a few drinks!
He was a lovely guy and a true trade unionist. I often used to have a go stating that as a Croydon charge payer ( I live in Croydon) he was costing me too much and would often 'instruct' him to go back to work as every hour he spend at regional Council was costing me. It was a joke that went on for ever. But we also had discussions and compared notes on the Branch Secretary front and both agreed that it was a tough job.
I don't want to say that I will miss Malcolm and prefer to say that I will always remember the brave, genuine, kind man who cared more for others than himself. May he rest in peace.
Nick Venedi
Branch Secretary
Lambeth Unison

Rahul Patel

Dear Jayne and Croydon UNISON,
I was deeply shocked and upset to hear the news of Malcolm's death.
I want to especially pass my condolences to Jane, Malcolm's family and friends.
I got to know Malcolm when he became branch secretary of Croydon UNISON. I did not get to know much of his other life except as a fellow Chelsea supporter.
For me, Malcolm was one of the best branch secretaries in London UNISON. It would be a cliché to say that he fought tirelessly for his trade union members and justice but this was seriously true.
He was a extremely approachable, sympathetic, compassionate, warm and tender person and always humorous in difficult and dire circumstances.
Malcolm was a socialist and he stuck to his socialist principals not only in talk but also in deed.
Malcolm and I most recently worked together in the campaign to thwart the BNP establishing in Croydon and he came up trumps in contacting people when we at late notice had to mobilise against the BNP demonstration.
Malcolm was a committed anti-racist and over the years when I got to know him, as a fellow branch secretary, we discussed at length how to effectively to challenge racism and also sort the best ways to put this into action.
I will miss Malcolm terribly. With the rest of the trade union and socialist movement in Croydon I wish to salute Malcolm as one of the best.
Rahul Patel
ex-Branch Secretary Westminster UNISON
Lambeth Socialist Workers Party

Helen Davies

I'm still p***ed off that Malcolm is not with us anymore. Last Friday I kept thinking I saw him out of the corner of my eye but when I looked properly it was always someone else. I guess it indicates just how normal it is to have Malcolm with us at UNISON gatherings. I can't say I was a close friend but Malcolm was just fundamentally important. It was so easy to talk to him and easier still to respect and like him. He was a lovely guy. He was a great example of how trade unionists can work positively together. It is particularly his positivity I'll miss. I am missing him.


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Three things about Malcolm

I have been wanting to say more about Malcolm but somehow have been failing to find the words over the past few days.

There are three things I want to say now.

The first thing I want to say is something about the ways in which I didn’t know Malcolm – or rather about aspects of his social life which I wasn’t part of – his local, Chelsea and (until the last year) the festivals. I really admired the way in which Malcolm was so utterly committed to his trade unionism and yet also managed to live life beyond that activism. It’s all too easy for those of us who are really involved in the Union to get so sucked into trade union, and associated political, activity that we can do nothing else. Malcolm had – and has – a lesson for a number of us in this regard. Malcolm managed to do the activism while being a regular bloke – and a brilliant bloke.

Of course, however, Malcolm was also one of the very best trade unionists I have ever met, which leads me to the second thing I want to say. Malcolm had as passionate a commitment to the cause of our movement as anyone else I have met on the left and matched this to an intellectual (and emotional) understanding which made him an excellent advocate for democracy and the rights of trade union members – and a dangerous adversary for those who didn’t share his beliefs. Malcolm was, for example, one of an all too small number who understood both why it is important to defend Conference democracy and how to fight to do this. That’s why he was so valuable to our members whether on a Standing Orders Committee or representing local government members on the Regional Committee. Amongst those of us who know why these things matter – and how hard this work can be if done properly – Malcolm Campbell is legend. He was one of the very few comrades who, when he disagreed with me, was generally right!

The third thing I want to say is that Malcolm Campbell was my friend and a comrade in the best and truest sense. He wasn’t just there to provide political support, though he would do that whenever necessary. He also looked out for those of us he worked with, cared for us and supported us personally as well as politically. Malcolm comforted and supported me when I was low – and reassured me when I needed that too. Malcolm was someone I knew I could trust and rely upon. I hope and believe that he had the wisdom and insight to know how much that meant to me. And that I loved him.

George Binette

I came to know Malcolm largely through our shared involvement in UNISON's United Left in London and later through the shared misery of the union's national conferences.For me he embodied a profound decency - generous to a fault to his foes and loyal - albeit constructively critical - to his friends. His trade union militancy was tempered, like the best steel, rarely yielding to anger yet persistent and ultimately often effective. I think in his quiet, self-effacing way Malcolm left a fine legacy for this battered movement of ours, not least in Croydon and London as a whole. Like many others, I shall miss him personally over the weeks and months ahead, not least during conference lunch-times when we managed to somehow avoid a worthy fringe meeting and sneak off for an all to hurried pint (or two) given him the chance to impart something of his knowledge of real ale and latter-day English folk and for me to wax more or less lyrical about The Clash, whom he actually appreciated.

Andrew Berry

The movement has lost huge asset and I have lost a friend:

Someone rightly commented that there are so many empty seats; one of those seats will be Regional Committee. You get some strange arguments and justifications put forward by some on that committee some times feels like a parallel universe. When rest of us would be getting frustrated Malcolm would always be so calm and rational when dealing with such arguments even when those argument didn’t make sense. It is not by any stretch easiest committee to be on but Malcolm helped to make them bearable. I wish I had thanked him more for his support on that committee, I will miss him.

On a lighter note I was recalling when he stayed the night at my house with others as we were all going to Birmingham for a conference the next day, in the morning he went out to get some breakfast and came back with Pizzas much to the disgust of others. He argued it just bread with cheese and sausage not particularly unusual for breakfast they remained unconvinced however I loved the idea of pizza for breakfast. Malcolm and me obviously share a taste for unusual breakfasts. On Thursday I think I will have pizza for breakfast again in his memory.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Stephen Smellie UNISON Scotland

I knew Malcolm through UNISON's Local Government Standing Orders Committee over the past 4 years.
a committee like this, where it is one delegate from each region, can be quite intimidating the first time. You don't know anyone, you're not sure of the procedures, you're scared of making a prat of yourself.
The first time I attended I travelled down from Scotland and got there bright and early.
Malcolm strolled in either just in time or a little late (I later got used to this) but I remember he spotted the 'new boy,' welcomed me and within minutes of the meeting starting we had established that I would usually support what he was saying and vice versa.
Often his was the only supporting vote I got and mine was the only one he got!
That didn't mean we were not right, we just didn't always get enough votes.

In getting to know Malcolm at these brief meetings that only took place a few times a year I warmed to a man who was not only of similar politics to me but was also a genuinely good comrade.

On the Standing Orders Committee we have a job to do to ensure that business at conference is conducted within the rules and that branches are able to participate in the democracy of the union. This is open to interpretation and therefore different opinions.

Malcolm was consistent. He believed that members of the union should be able to participate fully. That there was no place for bureaucratic games to stifle debate. He would argue for the widest debate possible - within the rules.

When Malcolm put forward a proposal we all knew that he would have a clear and coherent argument, that he would be dogged in putting it forward and that, almost always, he would put it forward with humour and always in the spirit of fraternal debate.

I am sad that I never got to know Malcolm better and that coming from Scotland I never had the chance to work with him on many of the issues that he held dear.

I will miss him on the Standing Orders Committee. (I realised this at the recent meeting when I had no-one to support me when I argued that the Lambeth motion should be admitted back onto the agenda!) However the Committee as a whole will miss his contribution, his integrity, his humour and his grammatical pedantry (the thought of all those motions that will now slip through without the benefit of getting corrected by Malcolm - standards will decline!)

My thoughts are with his partner, family and his comrades.
Stephen SmellieUNISON Scotland