Sunday, 3 July 2016

Remembering Eddie Truman

This is a post I didn't want to write, never expected to write. My good friend and former internet-sparring partner Eddie Truman passed away on Friday morning. He was just 53. I knew Eddie was in hospital but had no idea how seriously ill he was, so this came like a bolt from the blue. Shocked and numb just about described my feelings on hearing this dreadful news.

Eddie was a long-time socialist activist from Leith. After a troubled time as a teenager, he helped himself out of a hole by getting involved with Militant. Cutting his teeth on the miners' strike and who-knows-how-many paper sales, Eddie later threw himself into the fight against the Poll Tax. Readers will remember that Thatcher "piloted" it in Scotland before unleashing this attack on England and Wales, and you can more or less date the divergence between Scottish and rest-of-the-UK politics from about this time. He was an activist with Scottish Militant Labour, as this part of Militant came to be known after decamping from Labour, and fully supported it becoming the nucleus of the Scottish Socialist Party, which was founded in 1999. As the party's press officer, Eddie was responsible for this famous (and much copied) image.

It was around this time that I got to know Eddie via the infamous UK Left Network discussion list. As I was an earnest Weekly Worker supporter and Eddie was, in the parlance, a "left nationalist" we had a few ding-dongs over the first couple of years. At times his baiting would drive me up the wall, as I'm sure mine and others' contributions did him. But in the end, we became more friendly and less adversarial, which was the lot of all who fought in the UKLN's gladiatorial pit. I also came to respect his activity as the anti-Iraq war movement took off as well as the SSP itself. I recall one protest stunt he had a hand in arranging whereby oil barrels were assembled, unplugged, and torrents of blood coloured water coursed down the road until they were empty. If only YouTube was around then.

Unfortunately with the ups came the downs. Anyone on the UKLN between late 2004 and 2006 had a ringside seat as Tommy Sheridan tore apart the most successful extra-Labour left party since the old Communist Party's hay day. The good-natured banter about Hibs' footballing prowess and the like took a backseat as Eddie participated in the blood-letting. For those of us south of the border (then) committed to building an alternative to Blair's Labour, it was a depressing spectacle indeed.

As the SSP spiraled downwards after losing all its MSPs in 2007, Eddie found things other than politics to concentrate on - not that it stopped him from working in the Yes campaign around the Scottish independence referendum. Latterly he was a doting grandad to his four beautiful granddaughters and enthusiastic parent to the late Missy Dug, but I'd still occasionally get a message from him denouncing something I'd written as "fucking shit". There was the odd tip off about top new tunes too. Eddie, apart from being a fine human being, also shared with me an exquisite taste in music. And, I have to mention it now, the reason why I run occasional April Fools here - and on the UKLN previously - was because I knew he found them intensely irritating. Yes, it was that kind of relationship.

Getting used to writing and thinking about Eddie in the past tense will be hard, and our comrade will be much missed by everyone who knew him. All my love and sympathies to his partner Cat, his daughter Holly, and his grandkids Pippa, Daisy, Poppy, and Ella.


Bill Scott said...

Thanks Phil a lovely obituary for a lovely man - Bill Scott, ex-SSP Parliamentary Researcher.

Neil Scott said...

Yes, Eddie and I squabbled on the internet over the years- but he and I buried the hatchet over the past year and a half as we both looked on at the farce that was SSP/Rise. The last interaction we had- a few weeks back- was him telling me he was ill and would get back to me when he was better about some point or another regarding the failing left project we both had loved. Eddie was always brilliant to ask about middle eastern politics. And was always scathing when he disagreed! I'll miss him a lot.

Anonymous said...

They broke the mould after Eddie. And that's no platitude. He was an honest, sincere socialist and, although he cpuld at times succumb to rithteous anger, he was, essentially, a caring and gentle human being. eddie will be sorely missed and will leave a gap in the lives of all who knew him that will be hard to fill. Salve atque vale, Eddie.

Jim Keegans

Jim Bollan said...

Just back from Manchester and heard the terrible news of Eddie passing. The movement has lost one of it's best. Heart goes out to Cat and all the family. Rest in peace Comrade x

Steve Kaczynski said...

I had an Internet "exchange" with him not all that long ago, but he was certainly not one of the bad guys on the left. Sad to see his passing so relatively young.

robin yassin-kassab said...

How sad. I met Eddie briefly at a Syria event in Edinburgh, and knew him on social media. He came across immediately as a lovely man. Far too young to die. My sympathies and solidarity to his family and friends.

TonyC said...

Damn, I've just heard about this today. I worked in IT with Eddie many years ago. We bumped into each other on Twitter a while back and I was always interested to see what he was up to. I had noticed fewer tweets from him recently but had never imagined he was seriously ill. Do you know what took him from us?

So sorry for his family and friends.