Thursday, 30 January 2014

Three Writers

I have in the past written about some of my personal hero's. There is one however that I have only touched lightly on in the past. I'm not sure why, but I have never gone into any detail of why I admire this particular individual so much. There is something about left wing politics that seems to produce outstanding writers. As a writer you soon learn to recognise certain traits and styles that other writers possess. It my be their great eloquence on a particular subject. Or it might be their broad depth of knowledge. There are few writers in the world that can command the respect of other writers purely through their raw indefatigable integrity. One such writer was Paul Foot.

My list of favourite writers is a long one. The list of those that I admire for other than their writing is a bit shorter. The list however includes two people we would refer to today as investigative reporters and one as a career politician.
Ludovic Kennedy, a well known campaigning, investigative reporter and broadcaster. Kennedy often wrote for a number of leading publications of the day. Kennedy was also particularly interested in miscarriages of justice. He wrote and broadcast on the subject on numerous occasions. Private Eye magazine sometimes referred to him as 'Ludicrous Kennedy' an accolade that he enjoyed. In the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, bigoted Alf Garnett referred to him as a Russian Mick. Kennedy questioned several criminal convictions. Including the conviction and hanging of Timothy Evans. Kennedy contended that Evans was innocent. That the murders of his wife and baby had been committed by John Christie. Serial killer Christie was hanged three years after the hanging of Evans, following the discovery of six more bodies. After a long campaign, Evans was posthumously pardoned in 1966. The scandal helped in the abolition of the death penalty in the UK. His book '36 Murders and two Immoral Earnings' is recommended reading and available on Amazon.

Paul Foot, is my favourite amongst the investigative reporters. Paul actually hated the investigative title. He told Tony Harcup, who was researching a book on journalism. "It's a complete fraud. The idea that there is a race apart called investigative journalists. It leads to hierarchical notions of grand journalists, as opposed to less good ones." Paul spotted a simple and very elementary fact, which is that the world we live in is run by hypocrites and humbugs who are mainly helping themselves to money that has been provided by someone else and then slapping themselves on the back. Whatever his political approach, he recognised that the most powerful weapon to use against such people is mockery. Paul was a life long member of the Socialist Workers Party. Whilst my own brand of politics did not align with the SWP. I did go along to public meetings where Paul was the invited speaker. My one abiding memory of Paul was at a meeting in Sheffield where he did this curious double conversation. Each side of the conversation required him to face a different direction as he played two parts. The place was in complete meltdown with everyone in paroxysms of laughter. He was a member of staff at Private Eye where he ran the 'In The Back' pages. Where he would highlight the shortcomings of the leading lights of  politics and business. Eventually a close friend of both of us did an introduction. I was to find that he was a genial and friendly character. I remember that I was desolate when I heard of his untimely death. Richard Ingrams delivered a fine tribute to Paul Foot in his book 'My Friend Footy: a Memoir of Paul Foot' Is recommended reading and available on Amazon.

Tony Benn, is formerly Viscount Stansgate, and a retired British Labour Party politician. Benn's campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act. He held the position of Postmaster General, Minister of Technology then Secretary of State for Industry, before being made Secretary of State for Energy. Benn has topped several polls as the most popular politician in Britain. Since leaving Parliament, Benn has become involved in the grass-roots politics, and has been the President of the Stop the War Coalition for the last decade. His book 'Letters to my grand children' is recommended reading and available on Amazon. I have written about Tony Benn before. Click Here

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