Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Lord Russell-Johnston

A recent email from the "Make Votes Count" campaign (and please join in at their web site) reminds me that I haven't yet posted about the death a fortnight ago of Russell Johnston. The connection? Well, he had the distinction of holding, in 1992, a uniquely four-way marginal seat. It is arguable that he was successful because of the First Past The Post system, although his local connections were obviously important.

Obituaries in the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian rightly stress his European credentials. There is mention of his oratorical skill, but not of his wit - and the two do not necessarily go together. He had that rare ability to skewer a political opponent with a phrase.

Nor do the obituaries mention his literary tastes, which must have included Walter Scott or Charles Dickens, or both. Certainly, his vivid description (in a speech to the Liberal Democrat history society) of the pre-revival Liberal Party headquarters in Edinburgh, as like something out of "Bleak House", will live in my memory for a long time.

No comments: