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Iain Banks: the left loses a great supporter

RIP Iain Banks, a true supporter of the Scottish left

All here at the Reid Foundation share the sense of loss of many in Scotland at the death of Iain Banks. Iain was a patron of the Foundation and has been a great – though modest and quiet – supporter of many left causes in Scotland. If you talk to different organisations across the left in Scotland you will probably find that many received an unsolicited cheque or message of good will from a man who was passionate about his political views.

It is particularly noticeable that in doing this, Iain did not seek the public profile of many well-known public figures. His support and his donations were given in conviction, but personally and discreetly. And while his belief in social justice – in fact, more often than not his rage at social injustice – could be found in many places in his fiction, he did not seek a career as a political commentator nor generally did he use his position as an incredibly popular writer to intervene overtly in the national political debate.

It is to be hoped that there is a proper recognition of his political views in the many appreciations and obituaries to follow. But, even if they don’t, extracts from his next book would appear to suggest it is virtually impossible to miss:

“I shall consider myself well rid of this island’s pathetic, grovelling population of celebrity-obsessed, superficiality-fixated wankers. I shall not miss the institutionalised servility that is the worship of the royals – or the cringing respect accorded to the shiteing out of value-bereft Ruritanian ‘honours’ by the government of the fucking day, or the hounding of the poor and disabled and the cosseting of the rich and privileged.”

Our thoughts are with his family.

Robin McAlpine