Friday, 27 January 2017

Another giant passes

Tam Dalyell will probably be most remembered for raising the West Lothian question and for his harrying of Margaret Thatcher over the Belgrano affair. However, in his heyday he was one of the few bridges between politicians and scientists (I came to know of him through his long-running New Scientist column). He would have been appalled at the logic-free decisions taken by the current administrations in London and Washington, He was a spokesman for the ordinary serviceman and an ardent European, both resulting from being a cavalryman in the wasted Germany after the second world war. He had not only seen Belsen, but saw it in context.

He also contributed mightily to the Independent's library of obituaries (where is it now?) not only revealing, from personal acquaintance, facets of celebrity politicians, but also bringing to our attention lesser-known MPs (not all of his own party), engineers and scientists and worthies barely recognised south of the border. If he had a fault, it was taking to heart the motto De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Even allowing for this, Dalyell genuinely appreciated the qualities of many Conservative and Liberal MPs of his generation. He was one of the least tribal of socialists. It is appropriate that the much-reduced online Indy gives him a send-off of the calibre of his own contributions.

I cannot help shedding a tear.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

I believe he also asked the shortest parliamentary question on record: "Why?".