The tributes to former Mayor and Councillor Del Smith dominated this Council Meeting. As usual there were eulogies.1 On this occasion they weren’t pro forma crocodile tears.
Del was Harold Hill’s outstanding councillor during the 1980s and 90s. At the meeting, six councillors knew him personally, 23 years after he left council. This demonstrates Havering’s political stability.
Roger Ramsey, Havering’s classiest councillor, began. Roger’s an outstanding speaker and looks like a nice old gentleman. He’s a ruthless political operator though. Del wrecked the Labour Administration in 1996 over a matter of principle.2 Ignoring trivialities, Roger allied the Conservatives with Del’s Socialist group to get glittering prizes. Roger also did a deal with the Residents’ Association (RA). Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation3 became Havering’s Rainbow Alliance. Del was very witty.
Del created the ultimate political group. Very left-wing Socialists with Conservatives and crypto-Conservative RAs. It was hilarious. Del laughed for two years. His mastery of Havering’s politics equalled Arthur Latham4 and Roger. When Del became Mayor, Andrew Rosindell5 choked. But as Roger said, Del was a superb Mayor who orchestrated debate like a maestro.
All six eulogies were sincere and wonderful to hear for those of us who knew him. On a personal level I’ve lost a very dear friend who I mourn.
1 To watch the eulogies see Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) From 7 minutes to 26. This includes a minutes silence.
In speaking order: Roger Ramsey, Linda Hawthorne, Ron Ower, Keith Darvill, Brian Eagling and Denis O’Flynn. Ray Morgon and Jeff Tucker spoke but didn’t know Del personally.
2 For a massive blow-by-blow account see Del’s Arthur Latham, my part in his downfall (friendsofdagnampark.org.uk) For my critique of Roger see Havering Councillor: Roger Ramsey (Emerson Park) – Politics in Havering
3 Having Conservatives and RAs in a group, with Socialists, epitomised his style. For Tutu’s Rainbow Nation see Rainbow nation – Wikipedia
4 Arthur Latham was an ex-MP and Leader of the Council. He was a restless political operator who never accepted peace and quiet. He didn’t realise that other people were also cunning.
5 Andrew took the cowardly way out of his problem. He couldn’t vote for Del – a Socialist – and he couldn’t defy Group Leader, Roger Ramsey, so he left the chamber until after the vote. This amused Del.