Last night brought the sad news of the death of Jack Jones at the age of 96.
Jack lived an incredible and inspiring life: fighting fascism in Spain; leading the T & G at the height of its membership and influence; and a staunch voice for pensioners through his work with the NPC.
Many people who knew Jack closely will no doubt pay tribute to him more eloquently than I can – but I thought I’d just share two memories of Jack. The first is watching him speak at a pensioners meeting in Newcastle some 8 or 9 years back when I was the TUC’s regional secretary in the North. As he made his way to the podium you could see Jack was quite frail, but that frailty disappeared the moment he took hold of the podium’s sides, before he gave a moving and powerful speech. It literally was as if the years had dropped away and you could see what a powerful and inspirational advocate he had been on behalf of working people and their families throughout his life.
A few years later I had the privilege of sitting next to Jack and his son at a dinner – and it was incredible to spend a couple of hours talking to him about everything from his views of modern politicians and politics to his work in the pensioners movement. What really struck me about Jack was his genuine warmth, and a sense of commitment to working people and socialism that was as far away from rhetoric or political posturing as its possible to be.
A truly great man, and a truly great trade unionist. He will be sadly missed, but I have no doubt he will continue to be an inspiration for trade unionists for many years and decades to come.