Harrington: Illtyd, the pass master

Friday, 6th May

Illtyd Harrington freedom pass

Illtyd Harrington shows off his Freedom Pass

THIS diary column, you may know, is named in honour of Illtyd Harrington, our former literary editor.

It’s by no means an attempt to guess what he would’ve written if he was still alive, but simply a tribute to one of the city’s most underappreciated politicians.

Too few know that it was Illtyd, during his time as the deputy leader of the old GLC, who pioneered the creation of the Freedom Pass for the elderly. Whenever this dispensation was threatened by governments of all political colours, Illtyd, an ex-Westminster councillor, rode back to the scene to be part of the defence.

So his ashes would be turning in the earth if he could have heard the prime minister waffling – for it was waffle – on Good Morning Britain this week.

Asked what he could say to a 77-year-old woman who was keeping warm in this “cost of living” crisis – that’s a neat title for the meltdown most of us are heading for, but doesn’t really touch the sides of the real scale of this crisis – Boris Johnson padded on inexplicably about how he had been instrumental in providing a 24-hour pass.

So this time it’s not hard to guess what Illtyd would have thought – he’d have been furious for pensioner Elsie’s predicament, the irrelevant response and furious about Johnson’s errant boasting.

It really has been astonishing, as polling day approached this week, that none of Westminster’s candidates and councillors, was prepared to call any of this out, even though a fair few MPs clearly feel able to do so.

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