Very, very sad today. Went to David Rebak’s funeral. David died aged 82. David is one of those unsung heroes that you get in all parties. A man who is totally and utterly committed and passionate to the values of the party and spend their life in the party structures – organising, supporting, galvanising and encouraging others to continue the good fight.
Such an interesting man with a history of serving in the British Army, and then the Israeli Army before coming back here in 1960 to a lifetime of activism in the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats.
He did serve as a councillor and he did stand for Parliament – but his real gift to our party was this lifetime of working to keep the flames of liberalism alight and advancing. He was deeply involved in Simon Hughes’s original campaign to get elected in Southwark and was loyal to him through the years in his leadership and Mayoral bids.
Loyalty was his strong suit – to his family first and foremost (and they are the sort of family you envy – warm and loving and close); loyalty to the way he believed you should conduct yourself and live your life (i.e. have principles and live by them) and loyalty to the tenets of liberalism – freedom, fairness, internationalism and equality.
Being next door to me almost in Enfield, over the years we had quite a lot of contact and overlap. He was overjoyed when I got elected. I suppose the idea that a Lib Dem might storm Labour Haringey was so remote over the years – must have seemed like an impossible dream. But hey – nothing’s impossible.
I remember David sitting in my lounge and asking me how I would manage standing for Parliament (this was before my first outing in ’97) given I was a single parent with two children. Never politically correct (you just don’t ask that of potential candidates) he was quite determined to make sure that family considerations were taken into my equation.
It is impossible to imagine seeing his wife Maurine (also a lifetime Lib Dem activist) at party conferences without him. For so many years wherever you saw David you saw Maurine. But I am sure she will go on fighting for this party comforted and supported by her two sons and daughter Marianne. There closeness as a family made me almost envious. We are losing the matriarchs and patriarchs of that era – an era where the family was all.
Marianne, who is a teacher (and Deputy Head) in a local primary school in my constituency, read out a letter from ‘Uri’ who had met David when he (Uri) was fifteen. David didn’t just teach Uri, but he left such an impression that clearly this relationship had been so strong and so important to him. And that had stayed with him all these years to be written down in a letter of condolence to his family.
As I said – a very sad passing of a man of principle.