JEREMY CORBYN remembers his friend and fellow peace activist Alan Mackinnon
LABOUR Party conference opens tomorrow in Brighton. The issue of Trident and nuclear weapons is one of intense discussion, both on the conference floor and around the conference hall.
Last week all of us heard the tragic news of the death of Alan Mackinnon who had been a friend to many of us.
I don’t recall our first meeting but I was always impressed by his presence, knowledge, politeness and contribution to CND meetings in London and at our annual conferences and in Scotland.
Alan combined an enormous knowledge of peace and disarmament issues with his work as a doctor, and was committed to good-quality healthcare free for all as a human right.
I last met Alan in Glasgow when we held the last of our Scottish rallies as part of my election campaign.
It was a huge affair with over 200 people present and concluded with the singing of Bandiera Rossa.
I was proud to start my speech by recognising Alan and his wife Karin’s presence on the front row.
I was able to thank him and Karin for all the work they’d done for the peace movement over many years. Alan seemed embarrassed by this attention. That was exactly my intention.
After the rally I took the opportunity of going to a bar with our supporters and later went to Alan’s house in order to have some supper with him and talk about issues facing the peace movement.
It was clear he was very ill but was coping well after the amputation of his left leg. The following morning he drove me to the station, wished us well on the journey and assured me that we were going to win the election because of the support of so many young people and so many coming back to Labour politics after having been driven away by New Labour and the war in Iraq.
He assured me that he would give me any help I needed and I took up this offer with alacrity.
A couple of days later I phoned him and asked if he would be good enough to draft me an outline for the establishment of a defence diversification agency to cope with the job security problems of those who work on the Trident nuclear missile system and the submarines designed to carry them.
His document was timely, excellent and very valuable and in all the work I am putting forward for this agency I will always think of Alan’s crucial contribution.
His life was one of principle, decency and success because he inspired many more to think differently about the way we look at the world, to think of the human consequences of war, and the inequality of disease and healthcare around the world.
Apart from working in Glasgow as an iconic GP, he also volunteered to work in west Africa to help with the training of doctors and medical staff.
Cancer took Alan far too soon and far too young but we are all the richer for having known him and many thanks to him.
The world is the better for having had him in it. Deepest sympathies to Karin, Maeve and Ian and all his wider family and friends.
Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North and leader of the Labour Party.