Friday, January 27, 2017

A true man of the people: former Labour MP Tam Dalyell dies at 84 years old after a short illness, he will be remembered for the "West Lothian Question" but his real legacy is his dedication to public service and making people’s lives better, he was one of the last of the Scottish political giants

Dear All

There seems to be a decline in Scotland of what passes the benchmark of a great politician but one of the people who scored above the mark was Tam Dalyell.

Tam Dalyell was a former Labour MP who gained fame for posing what became known as the "West Lothian Question".

The "West Lothian Question" concerns what the role of Scottish MPs would be after the establishment of the Scottish parliament. This question maybe making a comeback as the question of should there be a federal UK, if that issue becomes live then the role of Scottish MPs would be further restricted to foreign affairs and defence. Toss in English votes for English laws and a Scottish MP in Westminster is nothing more than an interested spectator who gets to occasionally play.

Tam Dalyell died at the age of 84 after a short illness, we shouldn’t forget that he had made an enormous contribution and "devoted his life" to public service, something which is entirely lacking in much of the political class in Scotland at present. Public service effectively ended in Scotland decades ago as the Blair years started, it was the tipping point which brought in the ineffective political representatives which we know today and which people power has removed in part.

Scotland’s journey to get political representation isn’t over; there is a long way to go to get back to where we need to be …… public service.

Tam Dalyell family said:

"Tam Dalyell devoted his life to public service in Scotland, in the UK, and beyond. He made an enormous contribution in many spheres. He will be much missed both publicly, and more importantly personally, by his family and many friends."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Dalyell had been a "good friend and comrade".

He added:

"Tam was a titan of parliamentary scrutiny, fearless in pursuit of the truth. From Iraq to the miners' strike, he doggedly fought to expose official wrongdoing and cover-ups. "The title of his autobiography summed Tam up to a tee: 'The Importance of Being Awkward.' But he was much more than that: Tam was an outstanding parliamentarian, a socialist and internationalist, and a champion of the underdog, here and abroad."

Tam Dalyell was elected to the House of Commons in 1962, his career is a shining example a politician needs to challenge the status quo and not simply go along with it or put on an act that they are railing against it as some people do.  

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

"For four decades, Tam Dalyell was one of the truly great characters of Scottish political life.
"He was widely respected and admired for his insight, his integrity and his eloquence. My thoughts are with his family.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

"The Labour movement has lost a giant. Tam Dalyell was one of the most influential MPs, writers and thinkers of his generation. Tam served the people of West Lothian tirelessly for decades through periods of great change. He truly was their champion. As Father of the House his wisdom was passed on to countless MPs, serving as a parliamentarian while Britain had eight Prime Ministers”.

She added:

"A man of peace and a man of principle, his legacy will live on in the Commons for decades to come. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this time."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson added:

"Tam Dalyell will be remembered as one of this country's greatest ever campaigning MPs.
"Throughout his long career, he championed a countless array of causes, giving voice to people who otherwise would not have been heard. He was unique - thoughtful, gracious, decent and utterly tenacious. All political parties today will mourn his loss while celebrating a great political life."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

"Tam Dalyell was one of those huge political characters who will leave an even bigger impression on public life well beyond his life."

When the history of Scotland’s politician class is written an updated Tam Dalyell will go down as a brilliant parliamentarian.

What made him brilliant was the ability to follow a simple concept, be first and foremost, a representative of people and ensure that the government is accountable to the people through parliament.

Scotland is poorer for the loss of Tam Dalyell and equally sad is that people of his calibre are few and far between.

For his family, this is a difficult time but they should take comfort that his work and life will be celebrated and remembered, he done a great job as a public servant because he wanted to make a difference.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University  


RMR said...

A fitting tribute George, although, like many, I only new him through the Media, I have the greatest respect for him. He seemed to me to be a man of intelligence, true integrity and dedication to public service for the greater good. I believe he came from an affluent back ground and i`m guessing he could have chosen an easier life than fighting injustice where he found it, as you say, a true Scottish political giant.

S said...

Very sad,,, RIP Tam.