Jenny Little, for 13 years international secretary of the British Labour Party, died on 20 July. Born in 1947 in Cairo where her father was a British diplomat, she took her first job in the civil service before moving in 1972 to Labour Party headquarters, then in Transport House in Westminster.

The 1973 coup against the Chilean President Salvador Allende by General Augusto Pinochet was a defining moment in her political thinking: she was among the many who ensured then and in subsequent years that Chilean refugees were well received in Britain and that the acts of the dictatorship received their due condemnation. She was appointed international secretary in 1974 and was responsible for briefing senior party officers about foreign matters.

She often attended Socialist International gatherings and on her 40th birthday the then SI President Willy Brandt attended a party in her honour.

In 1987 she left the party headquarters and later went to work for Gwyneth Dunwoody, member of parliament and a former Vice-President of Socialist International Women. In that position she helped in the commemoration of Bernt Carlsson who died in the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie in December 1988 and whom she had known well during his time as SI secretary general.

She went back to British government service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office conference centre at Wilton Park near Brighton.

Commenting on her death, Gwyneth Dunwoody said: "Jenny spent much of her life fighting the battles of others with vigour and commitment."

 


Lane Kirkland, 77, President Emeritus of the American Federation of Labour/Congress of Industrial Organisations, AFL/CIO, died on 14 August. He had guided the fortunes of the organisation from 1979 to 1995.

 

His first career was at sea in the Pacific and aboard the vessels which were bringing US supplies to Europe during the Second World War. Thereafter he sought entry into the State Department, having completed a course at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. In post-war politics he became a speech writer for Adlai Stevenson as the Senator attempted to win the US presidency. There he was spotted by the then AFL/CIO president George Meany as a man of his own political persuasions and was taken on as his assistant.

When Meany retired, Kirkland was elected unanimously as his successor.

During his term as president he obtained some notable successes in a US labour movement which could not at the time boast many. For instance, he brought back the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters and the Mine Workers into the AFL/CIO. Nevertheless he concentrated to a large extent on foreign affairs and was instrumental in channelling financial support to the Polish Solidarity union federation.

In view of his closeness to the Poles, President Clinton offered him the ambassadorship in Warsaw. He did not take up this offer and was defeated in his bid for a new term at the ALF/CIO in 1992.

John J. Sweeney, current President of the organisation said, "Lane Kirkland was a man of courage who stood for the rights of working people around the globe."

 


Yannos Kranidiotis, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece with special responsibility for European and Cypriot affairs, was killed in an aircraft accident on September 15 while flying over Romania to a meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Bucharest. Severe turbulence during which the aircraft fell from 23,000 to 4,000 in a few minutes caused the death of a total of six people on board, including Kranidiotis' only son Nikos, 23.

 

Kranidiotis, 51, born a British citizen in Cyprus, was the son of a distinguished intellectual who served as the right-hand man of Archbishop Makarios, a leader of the Cypriot struggle against British colonial rule and the first president of an independent Cyprus. The Kranidiotis house in Cyprus was the venue for secret talks between the archbishop and the British authorities in the last days of colonial rule.

After serving in the national guard of Cyprus he accompanied his father Nikos to Athens where he had been appointed ambassador of Cyprus. Yannos studied law at Athens University before going on to Sussex University for a doctorate and later to Harvard.

Having been one of the early members of EDEK, the SI member party in Cyprus, he moved permanently to Athens in 1976 where he joined PASOK, the Greek member party of the International.

In recent years he helped frame Cyprus' successful bid to be accepted as a future member of the European Union.

He was rare in that he was as much at home in the politics of his native island, where his death was regarded as a national loss, as in those of Greece.

Costas Simitis, Prime Minister of Greece, commented that his passing "creates a great void which is difficult to fill".

He was a frequent participant in the International's activities.

 

 


© 1999 Socialist Affairs. All rights reserved.

 

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