Bailie Soryia Siddique; Councillor Maggie McTernan, Maria Fyfe and Councillor Eva Murray at the unveiling of the statue of Mary Barbour in Govan.

What to say about Maria Fyfe, a woman of so many talents and interests? It is hard to capture all the wonderful elements that made up this precious woman.

Maria Fyfe, who has died at the age of 82, was a Labour councillor, a Labour MP, an active trade unionist and a great friend of the Co-operative movement. Maria was loved by Labour  and Co-operative Party members, admired and respected across politics and beyond. Partick Thistle Football Club paid tribute to her as a champion of the underdog – and not just in football.

Maria had strong political beliefs, committed to equality, justice and a peaceful world. As a young woman, she campaigned against nuclear weapons and against apartheid, for fair work and educational opportunity – and these passions remained with her all her life. She never lost the optimism and conviction that it is possible to change the world.  And the test of her politics – like that of the Co-operative movement – was not just to have ideals but to distil them into practical action, making a real difference in people’s lives.

Maria was born in the Gorbals but the family moved to a new council estate when she was a young girl. The difference in space in the house and in the neighbourhood was marked; that ensured that Maria was a lifelong champion of the right to a secure and warm home. She was a great supporter of housing co-operatives, giving tenants more control and understanding that housing is about the environment as well the buildings.

As an MP, Maria played a key role in the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, determined that it would be more open and responsive and have its decisions shaped by those who would live with their consequences. She was a champion of 50:50 representation of men and women and in that the Labour Party proudly led the way.

Maria was wonderfully kind, thoughtful energetic, her work rooted in her determination to tackle the inequality and injustice suffered by all too many men and women in her beloved city.

As a Councillor and as an MP, she always spoke up and spoke out – on women’s rights, on child poverty, on education, on blacklisting amongst so many others. And in her retirement, the energy remained. She inspired whole new generations of young people, welcoming, generous with her time and wisdom.

Maria was a doting mother and grandmother, proud beyond measure of her family and of the achievements of her sons and grandchildren. It was a great sadness that her husband Jim, whom she first met at anti-apartheid rally, did not live to share that pride.

And late in life, she established the Remember Mary Barbour campaign. Maria wanted to have a statue created and placed at Govan Cross to mark the – largely unremembered – life and achievements of Mary Barbour, a woman who led a rent strike during World War One against the greedy landlords, who wanted to take advantage of the fact that most of the men were away at the Front, to hike the rents. The rent strike was successful and resulted in a change in the law. Mary Barbour subsequently served as a Labour and Co-operative Councillor. Maria revelled in researching Mary’s life and visited schools, local groups, Labour branches, Co-op branches, trade union meetings, went on TV and radio, to raise funds and to share her inspiring story. The statue now stands proud in Govan, testament to a Labour and Co-operative councillor Mary Barbour, a true champion of the poor.

And it stands testament to Maria too. Maria fought for equality with every fibre of her being. And not for herself or by herself. She believed in Labour as a power for change.

Maria had strong opinions but she knew how to reach beyond division and groupings within the movement  – she could argue without mercy but still have a laugh and a joke with those with whom she disagreed.

Maria Fyfe. A force of nature in life. Her values will live on in all who had the privilege to know her.