Tuesday, 10 May 2011

David Cairns - a love Labour's lost

Hard to let the long day end without reflecting on dear David Cairns, the Greenock and Inverclyde MP whose death has been announced, aged just 44.

His good friend Tom Harris has written a fine obituary over on his own site.

Other people knew David better but my lasting memory will be standing with him in Greenock, just less than a decade ago, as he pointed out the houses and streets that had been wrecked by their inhabitants' addiction to heroin.

He wasn't making a point about the scourge of smack, although that was implicit, he was persuading me of the necessity of Britain's war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan heroin trail,that wound its way out of the valleys through Turkey and Europe, found its end user point in his postcode, in the town he grew up in.

David,as he stood there explaining that connection, displayed a great skill, not possessed by many politicians. He was weaving a remote, geopolitical issue into a vivid narrative that could be understood and seen in the ordinary lives of the people he represented. My article virtually wrote itself, thanks to him.

Perhaps it was his background as a trained priest that gave him this ability to communicate so well. Maybe that's what gave him a feel for what people were thinking and gave him a sense of moral purpose.

Certainly he was brave politician. He did not just whisper the truth about the Labour party, he spoke it, and with his name attached. And when he resigned as a Scotland Office Minister over Gordon Brown's handling of the party and the government in 2008, when it was still not too late, no one could seriously accuse him of betrayal.

Though the Brownite machine attempted to destroy him, he remained loyal to the party, after he saw the last chance to change leader was gone. He was Labour in his heart, and no one could take that away.

He was clever and witty and always had a good laugh, and he stuck me as a thoroughly decent man. Just the kind of person politicians ought to be.

He had a massive majority in his Greenock and Inverclyde seat, some 56 per cent of the vote. That was reduced to a Labour lead of just over 500 votes over the SNP in last Thursday's Scottish election. The by-election will be will be a test of both parties but none of that will be his concern. Beanneachd leat, a Dhaibhidh.

No comments:

Post a Comment