Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Albert Booth's funeral

Albert's funeral took place yesterday.

Jim Mortimer, former Labour Party General Secretary, spoke of how he had first met Albert sixty years ago, when he was a young delegate to the annual conference of the engineering draughtsmen's union (now part of Unite), and of the legislative progress Albert had delivered when a minister of state, sadly repealed later by Thatcher and never restored by New Labour.

My dad gave a terrific speech thanking various people and telling some tales of events that shaped young Albert's politics and made him the socialist that he was.

My cousin Ian added some more, including Albert's choosing to fight a marginal rather than accept a safe seat in 1987, and his refusal of a seat in the House of Lords on the grounds that he would not accept any seat to which he had not been elected. My sister-in-law Anne and cousin Graeme added some more poignant and moving points. And stalwarts of Beckenham Methodist Church added their tributes too.

All in all, a pretty good send-off. I'll leave you with a letter from today's Guardian:

The death of Albert Booth (Obituary, 11 February) reminds us that he was one of the few Labour ex-ministers to refuse a peerage on socialist principles, which he shared with his mentor Michael Foot. He was also an active trade unionist in the old AUEW, worked as a marine engineer, served as a local councillor for many years and was never parachuted into a safe seat. He was one of the best representatives of old Labour sadly missing from the party today.
Tony Judge
Twickenham, Middlesex