I want to mark briefly the death of a man for whom I had enormous respect, Eric Lubbock, Lord Avebury. I knew him on and off since 1976 and he was an inspirational man. He devoted fairly well his every waking moment to attempting to fight injustice all over the world, with his focus often falling on deeply unfashionable human rights causes, including the Uzbeks, the Uighurs and the majority population of Bahrain. He was an unstinting opponent of specifically British injustices, and a dedicated campaigner for the Chagos islanders.
He never fell for the neo-imperialism of Blair and the astonishing claim that to improve other countries we should invade them. He opposed all Blair’s interventions, most notably in Sierra Leone where he saw through the propaganda of “victory”, and as I recount in The Catholic Orangemen he was the catalyst for revealing the Arms to Africa scandal and the Blairite involvement with mercenaries.
In the days when the UK had a political culture of respect for opposition parliamentarians and of public service, FCO ministers feared Avebury’s extraordinary persistent and acute questioning, to which they gave evasive answers at their peril. Sadly nowadays this culture of accountability has been abolished by the armies of taxpayer paid party PR men.
Eric Lubbock’s involvement in public life was motivated purely by a desire to make the world a better place for other people. I believe the concept of personal gain was alien to him and he certainly gave a great deal more than he ever got back, in terms either of finance or of public appreciation. The world may not esteem him a great man in terms of achievement; but the world was a much better place for his being in it.