Letter: Ian Aitken obituary

Giles Oakely writes: The first time I met Ian Aitken (obituary, 23 February), in 1995, it was obvious how much affection and admiration he had for Michael Foot

The first time I met Ian Aitken, in 1995, it was obvious how much affection and admiration he had for Michael Foot, the former leader of the Labour party. Ian was attending a preview of Michael’s polemical documentary Two Hours from London, made with his wife, Jill Craigie, to advocate intervention in former Yugoslavia.

We had given Michael a slot in our BBC2 series Open Space, and, introducing the film to the assembled journalists and friends, including the heavily protected Salman Rushdie, I appealed to everyone to do what they could to push the issue into the public arena.

I could see Ian nodding vigorously in agreement, especially when I said history would judge us harshly if the west sat back and did nothing to stop the violence “without it even being debated properly”. Afterwards I got talking to Michael, Jill and Salman and the cherubically pink-faced Ian, who was rubbing his hands with glee at the thought that Michael’s documentary would create a “huge row” over the BBC giving airtime to such a partisan film.

I truthfully told Ian how I had long enjoyed his writings in the Guardian, which always brought a touch of human warmth and good humour to his political analysis. He sweetly said he took that as a real compliment, coming after my “excellent speech”. I then sat back and enjoyed the gentle ribbing between the old friends, Ian and Michael, about the state of the Labour party.


Giles Oakley

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Letter: Ian Aitken obituary
Harold Jackson writes: An interruption to my nightly discussions with Ian Aitken

Harold Jackson

04, Mar, 2018 @5:40 PM

Article image
Ian Aitken obituary
Political editor of the Guardian in the 1970s and 80s who covered the fall of Ted Heath and the rise of Margaret Thatcher

David McKie

22, Feb, 2018 @1:11 PM

Article image
Gerald Isaaman obituary
Other lives: One of the last local newspaper editors who lived and breathed his “patch’

Phil Sommerich

26, May, 2019 @4:01 PM

Article image
Llew Smith obituary
Labour MP in the Welsh radical tradition with a clear view of the causes important to his constituents

Julia Langdon

22, Jun, 2021 @7:07 PM

Article image
Letter: Lord Carrington obituary
Dick Leonard writes: Peter Carrington bitterly regretted not having renounced his peerage in 1963, at the same time as Lords Home and Hailsham

Dick Leonard

27, Aug, 2018 @3:50 PM

Article image
Letter: Jack Dromey obituary
Danny Bryan writes: He knew how to make things happen

Danny Bryan

02, Feb, 2022 @3:38 PM

Article image
Letter: Lady Blood obituary
Mike O’Farrell writes: Lady Blood gave freely of her time on my university project

Mike O’Farrell

03, Nov, 2022 @2:42 PM

Article image
Letter: Josie Farrington obituary
Louise Ellman writes: Josie Farrington left an outstanding legacy in Lancashire, where she chaired the education committee of Lancashire county council

Louise Ellman

27, May, 2018 @2:27 PM

Article image
Letter: Janet Anderson obituary
Mary Southcott writes: Janet Anderson was a keen advocate of electoral reform

Mary Southcott

14, Mar, 2023 @5:19 PM

Article image
Letter: Shirley Williams obituary
Robin Parker writes: Shirley Williams had a passion for people and making sure that even non-voting teenagers could express their views

Robin Parker

10, May, 2021 @4:06 PM