Week 39: Hero – Harry Smith

by Jackie_South on September 29, 2014

Hero-Labour1This week, 91 year old Harry Smith scoops our award for the greatest hero of the last seven days for his speech at the Labour Party Conference

I have asked numerous Labour Party members who made the journey to Manchester for this year’s conference what their opinion of it all was. Whether Blairite or leftie, however loyal to the leadership, to a person the first adjective that left their lips was “flat”.

Ed Miliband has already won our Prat of the Week award for his woeful conference speech (although he has had some luck in the timing of Cameron’s “purring” comments about the Queen and the Tories’ poor start to their own jamboree). But he was not alone: Ed Balls promises of austerity depressed, as did Rachel Reeves. Harriet Harman’s closing speech lacked its normal pazzaz and wee Dougie Alexander’s campaign briefing inspired none. The only frontbench speakers that those conference goers enjoyed and seemed capable of rising to the occasion were Andy Burnham and Gloria de Piero.

But one speaker did electrify the audience: a 91 year old member from Barnsley. He told the rapt throng of life before the NHS, painting a picture of pre-war poverty and the heart-breaking story of how his sister slowly died before the family who could not afford healthcare. The final indignity for Marion was a burial in a pauper’s pit.

Harry made sure the party knew what it was fighting for: for better affordable healthcare, for decent education, for the poor and the many. In doing so, he taught Labour’s entire frontbench a lesson in political purpose.

With eight months to go until the next general election, we can only hope that they take notice before it is too late.

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