Saturday, July 12, 2014

Farewell Stuart Barber

I have blogged before about the sad loss of our former Regional Organiser, Stuart Barber, earlier this year. Today I went to his memorial service.

UNISON’s Vice President Eric Roberts, spoke of Stuart’s time as NUPE’s organiser in the London Ambulance Service, which was as eventful as Stuart was combative.

Later, in UNISON, Stuart made a name for himself as someone who was not afraid to stand up to authority to resist racism in particular, as he did in Brent. Indeed, Stuart was prepared to take up cudgels against the senior officials of the Union which employed him when he felt it necessary.

During his years working with the Lambeth branch – when we did not always see eye to eye – Stuart was forthright in exposing the mismanagement of our members employed by OFSTED – taking their concerns all the way to Parliament.

Stuart was part of a generation of worker militants trained by the trade union movement to become full time officials, for whom the politics of the “official left” of the movement (i.e. the then Communist Party) were axiomatic and who therefore understood the essential importance of the independence of the trade union from the employer (whilst perhaps failing to analyse the “relative autonomy” of the employees of the trade unions from their membership).

Stuart did not always endear himself to Lambeth’s activists – and it may have been a weakness that he did not see that some younger worker militants, whose politics he did not share, were in many ways his successors in different times. Nevertheless he was an example of the commitment and dedication which our movement will always need.

I miss our arguments and disagreements and respect the memory of a fine trade union official.


Roulla Xyrizos said...

I have only just heard about the passing of Stuart Barber and I am extremely sad for the loss of this great giant of an activist. Stuart was indeed a true legend and the type of 'old style' activist that I respect and admire. They broke the mould with Stuart. He is sorely missed. Bless you Stuart. You will ALWAYS have my undying respect for everything you did for me personally and for the members that I represented. You will not be forgotten. I hope that you are raising merry hell up there! May your soul rest in peace. Thanks Jon for this lovely tribute to a man who touched so many lives, and who was a TRUE activist through and through. Roulla XYRIZOS

Jennifer Dimond said...

He was an admirable activist & a good mate. I have fond memories of occupying the Sociology Dept @ Cardiff University and also, when I was Editor of Peace News, breaking into an operating theatre at a hospital where we were promised they weren't using the army to break the strike; they were!

Stuart will be much missed. My condolences to Hannah & all family, friends & colleagues.

Dave Grill said...

I knew Stuart on a personal level through my sister and I am just hearing of his sad and untimely death earlier this year.
He allowed me to stay with him back in the late
his work home with him.
My fondest memories though will be the laughter we had through the show "Spitting Image" I think it gave him and I so much validation and the Scargill and Kinnock puppets had us in stitches.
And not's let his proud Scotish roots either, not many men you would see in a Putney pub on NYE in a kilt but every year he'd be there telling us he had nothing on underneath.
Nice blog Jon, you summed him up perfectly.
RIP you Stuart.