A week ago, former East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrat Council leader John Morrison died soon after being assaulted in Glasgow. In today’s Herald, Liberal Democrat chief whip in the House of Commons Alistair Carmichael, a close friend of John’s for 30 years, has written an appreciation of his life. He takes us through John’s university days as a top debater, through his professional life as a solicitor, and his role as a senior councillor in rescuing East Dunbartonshire Council from a dire financial situation. For our chief whip, John was
a friend and a 30-year source of support, honest advice and, above all else, fun.
He describes John’s early success as a school and then university debater:
He competed in a prestigious schools debating competition, taking the scalps of many private school teams along the way to the 1980 competition final. At Glasgow University, debating offered him a niche in the life of the union which he took and made his own. His reception from a full gallery in the union debating chamber would have fazed a less able man but for John the shouts of “Stand up!” (mocking his height) only fired him up.
He goes on to talk about the respect John earned as a Councillor:
The situation which the party inherited in 1999 was not a healthy one with the council in serious financial difficulty. By taking difficult decisions they were able to turn it round, earning John the respect of both fellow councillors and officials. It was other less significant decisions that were to cause greater difficulty for John and his colleagues and in 2007, along with several others, he lost his seat on the council. After leaving elected office he renewed his focus on his professional career as a solicitor and at the time of his death was legal services manager for Glasgow City Council.
His conclusion sums up the John Morrison we all knew:
His sudden death was as shocking as it was unexpected. His many friends have spoken about a man who was kind and witty and always went out of his way to make outsiders feel included – using his natural gift for mimicry to put people at their ease. We are all left with a 5′ 3″ Hobbit-shaped hole in our lives that we know we shall never fill.
You can read the full article here.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings