Trib­utes to so­cial jus­tice ac­tivist Harry Leslie Smith

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS -

Jeremy Cor­byn has paid tribute to so­cial jus­tice ac­tivist and RAF vet­eran Harry Leslie Smith who has died aged 95, hail­ing him as “one of the gi­ants whose shoul­ders we stand on”.

Mr Smith, from Barns­ley in South York­shire, was a critic of aus­ter­ity and cham­pi­oned hu­man rights and the wel­fare state.

He ap­peared at the Labour Party con­fer­ence in 2014 to speak about life be­fore the NHS and moved lis­ten­ers to tears with his story.

A post on his Twit­ter ac­count, which has more than 250,000 fol­low­ers, an­nounced his death yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Labour leader Mr Cor­byn shared a video clip of Mr Smith speak­ing about the im­por­tance of the NHS, and wrote: “We will all miss Harry Leslie Smith – he was one of the gi­ants whose shoul­ders we stand on.

“A World War Two vet­eran who ded­i­cated his life to fight­ing for our Na­tional Health Ser­vice, a peace­ful world and for coun­tries to meet their moral re­spon­si­bil­ity by wel­com­ing refugees.”

Deputy Labour leader Tom Wat­son tweeted: “Harry Leslie Smith will re­main an in­spi­ra­tion to all in the Labour move­ment en­gaged in the fight for jus­tice and fair­ness.”

Mr Smith, an RAF vet­eran, sur­vived the Great De­pres­sion and Sec­ond World War, and rose to promi­nence in 2013 af­ter writ­ing an ar­ti­cle for the Guardian declar­ing that he would no longer wear a poppy.

The son of a coal miner, Mr Smith has spo­ken of grow­ing up in the “bar­barous” and “bleak” time of 1920s Barns­ley, say­ing “it was an un­civilised time be­cause pub­lic health­care didn’t ex­ist”.

He be­came a sought-af­ter com­men­ta­tor, writ­ing for na­tional news­pa­pers from his left-wing per­spec­tive, and his book, Harry’s Last Stand, was re­leased to crit­i­cal ac­claim in 2014.

Harry Leslie Smith was 95.

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