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.

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