Today, sadly, we said our virtual goodbye to a stalwart of our movement.  Ian Miller’s funeral took place this afternoon.  Ian’s sudden passing was very sad and the fact that the hundreds who would surely have attended his funeral were denied the opportunity to give him the send off he deserved compounds the sadness.

Whilst our thoughts must be primarily with Ian’s family and friends.  The response to the news of Ian’s sad passing has been overwhelming for us as a political party.  Ian was certainly loved by the wider labour and co-operative movement in Scotland and beyond.

He was a long-standing, cheery, presence on our stalls at events across the co-operative, labour, and trade union movement.  He remembered people and they remembered him and his offer of Fairtrade chocolate.

As our Scottish Chair, Rita Miller, said, ‘Ian was a real people person. He always made it his business to welcome and encourage us all in our shared mission to take forward co-operative values and principles.’

Jim McMahon MP, the Chair of the Co-operative Party was right when he said that, ‘Ian was a passionate co-operator and tireless in his efforts for the Labour and Co-operative movements.’

Without the pandemic Ian Miller would have become the Chair of the Scottish Labour Party earlier this year.  Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard MSP reflected on this missed opportunity, ‘It is a matter of huge regret that Ian never became chair of his cherished Scottish Labour Party, a position he was due to take up this year but for the intervention of the Covid restrictions. A great character, with a big heart, and an unquenchable passion for a better world, once met he was never forgotten. He will be greatly missed. The best way to honour his memory is to keep fighting for the co-operative ideal and the cause of labour that was such a central part of his life.’

Labour and Co-operative politicians past and present were fulsome in their praise for Ian and in their sadness at his passing.  He would have been embarrassed but even former Tory, Lib Dem, Green and SNP opponents were sorry to hear of his passing.

Ian’s politics came from his roots in the co-operative movement, and his beloved Scotmid Co-operative.  Ian had served the society over a very long period of time as a member, employee, Regional Committee member and latterly Director.  For many people Ian was ‘Mr Scotmid.’

Scotmid President, Harry Cairney, and Chief Executive, John Brodie, were correct to reflect that Ian, ‘was widely known and respected within the co-operative movement and in his local community.   It is difficult to quantify the contribution which he made both to Scotmid and the co-operative movement over many years.  He represented the Society on a wide range of Boards and Committees over the years and was a founder member of Fairtrade Midlothian.  He was a true gentleman with a firm belief in co-operation and the benefits of the co-operative movement and would champion these at every occasion.’

Ian’s commitment to Fairtrade was marked posthumously by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum giving Ian a lifetime achievement award.  It is sad that he was not able to see how well thought of he was by people who had met him whilst he made the case for Fairtrade.

Ian was proud of his home town of Penicuik and his contribution to a wide range of organisations in the town was well known.  The minute’s silence observed by Penicuik Athletic Football Club was particularly poignant.  Ian had played a role in reviving the team and served on their committee for a number of years.

As we say goodbye to Ian our thoughts should be with his family and friends but surely his political and co-operative family and friends will gather at some point in the near future to mark the passing of this wee man who was a giant of the labour and co-operative movements.

Rest in peace Ian.