Shadow Chancellor leads tributes for Clapham’s “fine socialist”, Simeon Andrews
John McDonnell has told Lambeth Life of his sadness at the death of local activist and organiser,
Simeon Andrews in February.
In 2008, the former professional actor and Clapham resident stood against Chuka Umunna for Streatham’s Labour candidacy and had worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn as well as the Shadow Chancellor.
McDonnell said he was “devastated” at Andrew’s death, recalling work with him on the Socialist Campaign Group, the collection of left-wing Labour MPs formed in 1982.
McDonnell continued, “At a time when trade unions were struggling to be heard, we set up active groups in Parliament to take forward their campaigns. Simeon worked tirelessly behind the scenes and his contribution was immense. He was a fine socialist I was privileged to count as a close friend”.
For 15 years, Andrews increased the Parliamentary leverage of employee organisations with his Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG).
Union chiefs whose causes he advanced shared their tributes with Lambeth Life. Clapham-born Ian Lawrence, general secretary of NAPO, family court and probation staff union, dubbed Andrews “a great comrade, who supported our members at every turn.”
NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet called Andrews “an inspirational figure amongst trade unions” who worked “hard to boost our collective strength and impact.”
Steve Gillan, general secretary of prisons staff union, POA, said Andrews was “a true trade unionist who cared greatly about injustice and working people.”
Michael Calderbank, TUCG colleague said Andrews was “crucial in sustaining an alternative to the New Labour orthodoxy under Tony Blair, and prepared the way for Jeremy Corbyn’s later success,” while former colleague and musician, Denis Fernando, called Andews “passionately committed to making politics a better, more accessible and welcoming place.”
His funeral will take place at West Norwood Crematorium, Monday 26 March at 11am.