7 Feb 2009

Why We Fight

Bashir Ahmad, the SNP list MSP for Glasgow has died

I met Bashir only a few times but thought he was great.

I first met him in 1988 when together as then Labour party supporters we helped get Mohammed Sarwar, now MP for Glasgow Central, get elected to the Glasgow City Council ward of Pollocksheilds East ( the East was so , so apt)

And an achievement I am still proud of, and Bashir too.

And whilst we all got the symbolism then - a Scots -Asian winning in 'till then true blue Pollocksheilds, (and on an up front anti-poll tax ticket) , we all got it even more when almost 20 years on, Bashir, then SNP councillor for Pollocksheilds East became an MSP fo the City og Glasgow - the whole city - on 3rd May 2007. The first Scots-Asian ( first ever Scots ethnic ) to sit in the Parliament of Scotland - and under the SNP's banner.

And on that great, day of days and - with respect to all the other winners - he provided that vital vote that made the difference

He will be greatly missed and sadly missed , but will go down in history for all the best of reasons

Indeed, I have just recalled the last time I heard him speak - maybe it was the last time he spoke in the chamber. It was during a Dignity for Palestine debate just before Christmas, and led off by two of Bashir’s fellow Glasgow MSPS, Pauline McNeil ( Labour) and Sandra White ( SNP) , both recently returned from Gaza on a high risk parliamentary delegation. I stayed in the chamber to watch it all after FMQs. There were some great speeches, and Bashir’s, whilst not the best, was the most effective. Read it in full here

I was sitting right next to a some young “Scots Asians for Independence” activists from an organisation Bashir had himself founded in 1995; They'd come through for Glasgow , I think with Bashir.

And whilst we said nothing to each other, we nodded and applauded together - being rebuked by the Presiding Officer for doing so. In this impossed silence, I could almost feel their pride as Bashir rose to speak.

I remember saying to myself , "this is what we all fought for - Bashir fought for" - our own free and democratic parliament, reaching out to the world.

And I also wondered what the folks of Gaza would have thought when via holyrood.tv they watched one of their own tribe rise to speak for them in our parly. ( very difficult to accees in gaza, but for surely it would have gotten though to someone there)

They have lost one of their best fighters today.

Scotland too

Bashir Ahmed 1940-2009

Born in pre partition India ( now part of Pakistan), Bashir came to Scotland aged 21 and worked as a bus conductor and bus driver before buying his own shop. He subsequently owned shops, restaurants and a hotel before retiring from business.

He was elected five times as president of the Pakistan Welfare Association. In 1995 he founded Scots Asians for Independence, and he had been a member of the SNP's national executive committee since 1998. In 2003 he was elected as councillor for the Pollokshields East ward of Glasgow City Council.

He was elected as an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament for the Glasgow region and Scotland's first and only Asian MSP at the 2007 election. He served on Cross Party Groups for Carers, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Older People, Age and Ageing, Palestine and Tartan Day

As well as his political interests Bashir was an active member of the Asian and Muslim communities in Glasgow attending a number of the committees of various mosques in the city.


Diddlyhup Saturday, February 07, 2009  

You said it all. The day he took the oath is the day we came of age.

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