Friday, 20 May 2011

Tributes paid to Tom Howe

Tributes have been paid by leading SNP representatives following the sudden death of Moray SNP President and party stalwart Tom Howe.

A former Moray Councillor and prominent campaigner for Independence over many decades, Tom died suddenly and unexpectedly while on holiday in Germany with his wife Margo.

Tom was a prominent member of the SNP both locally in Moray and nationally for many years and campaigned vigorously for the party in every election since the 1960s , including this year’s Scottish Parliament election where he was out and about in Moray speaking to voters in support of re-elected MSP Richard Lochhead.

In the 1970 General Election Tom Howe became the first SNP candidate to stand in the Moray & Nairn Constituency and took nearly 8,000 votes, setting the scene for Winnie Ewing to win the seat for the SNP in 1974.

Tom was later elected as an SNP Councillor in Moray District Council and then in The Moray Council following the reorganisation of Grampian Region. Tom stepped down from Council work in 2003 but continued campaigning even in retirement.

First Minister of Scotland and SNP Party Leader Alex Salmond said:

" Tom Howe was a wonderful man, and will be hugely missed.

" Tom was a tireless servant of his beloved Moray and of Scotland - he played an enormous role in public life in representing the people, and advancing the cause of the SNP and independence.

" My thoughts are with Margo, who has the comfort of knowing that Tom was held in the highest possible esteem both among his ain folk and people across Scotland."

Convener of Moray SNP Constituency Association, Cllr Mike Shand, said:

“ I first met Tom Howe in 1970. I was living at home in Bishopmill, furiously writing CVs trying to return to work after having spent six months travelling abroad. Knowing that I was an SNP supporter – a source of great argument in our family – my Dad pointed out a notice in the local paper that the SNP candidate was to speak our local hall. So off I toddled to the Bishopmill Hall annexe to hear Tom. I honestly can’t remember much about what Tom said, but I do remember how he said it. We talked after the meeting, and I found him to be a couthy, passionate and engaging man. Soon afterwards I found work in Dundee and at the General Election that June the Moray result was the one that really mattered to me. It was a delight to see that Tom had done so magnificently, in the first election that the SNP ever fought in Moray.

“ Many years later, I returned to live in my home town of Elgin. As a young(ish) activist I was asked to do the vote of thanks at the prestigious Moray SNP Burns Supper. Each speaker was superb, and I kept thinking “Thank goodness I’m not following him/her.” I constantly re-checked the speech order, reassuring myself that everything would be OK as I was “only” following Tom’s rendition of Tam o’Shanter. Little did I know. How young and naive I was. Tom gave the funniest and most energetic Burns performance that I have seen, before or since. He brought the house down. As he sat down next to me he gave one of those wee smiles, and a wee wink that said “Follow that!””

Richard Lochhead MSP said:

“ Tom was Moray SNP’s elder statesman who was very active in our recent election campaign and he will be sorely missed by us all. In particular, I will miss his wise advice, his sense of humour and of course his sense of style. Tom commanded huge respect given that as a charismatic parliamentary candidate he was largely responsible for the SNP’s breakthrough in Moray in 1970. People continue to talk fondly of Tom on the doorsteps.

“ Just last week, Tom and his wife Margo were my guests at the swearing in ceremony for the new MSPs at Holyrood and he was overflowing with pride after meeting so many of his old friends many of whom thanked him for helping to get the party to where it is today. I am so glad that Tom was able to experience the massive success of the cause he loved and to which his life was devoted.”

Angus Robertson MP said:

“ Tom has been a trailblazer for the SNP both here in Moray and in Scotland as a whole. With his 1970 candidacy for the Moray & Nairn Westminster seat he established the SNP as a credible political force and created the conditions for Winnie Ewing to win the Moray Constituency in 1974.

“ He was a fantastic advocate for Scottish Independence and has inspired many others to campaign for the SNP’s cause throughout his life. He was a true patriot of Scotland and will be very sorely missed.”

Moray SNP Council Group Leader, Pearl Paul, said:

“ In nearly 20 years as a Councillor Tom was one of the best colleagues I had the pleasure of working with. He was greatly respected by the public, his fellow councillors and by the staff of The Moray Council.

“ The first vote I ever cast for the SNP was for Tom when he stood in the 1970 General Election where he really set Moray SNP on the road to where we are today. Tom’s passing has saddened us all but we have been left with many wonderful memories.”
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