Activist and children’s author lost ‘gentle giant’ son Joe to a road accident in September 2018 and grieved by throwing himself into campaigning
Liverpool Walton CLP secretary Alan Gibbons is a Merseyside legend with organising and campaigning in his blood. When fascists tried to organise marches through Liverpool, Alan was at the forefront of organising to make sure they barely left Lime Street station before ‘squirming’ back inside and hiding until they all left again. He did it not once, but twice. He marches regularly in solidarity with the victims and survivors of Grenfell and is right at the heart of Black Lives Matter solidarity protests.
He’s also a renowned, prolific and prize-winning children’s author, though you’d never guess it when you talk to him, because he and his family are real ‘salt of the earth’ people and part of the working-class fabric of a working-class city – and all I’ve ever heard him talk about is either family or politics. His passion for those two things was thrown into an unwelcome spotlight when his son, Joe – a ‘gentle giant’ – was killed in a Kent traffic accident in September 2018, just before Labour’s conference was due to be held in Liverpool.
At the time of Joe’s death, Alan told Kent Online:
We don’t blame anyone, we don’t feel any anger.We just feel deep, deep sadness.
We just want to get our boy home now. We’re going to celebrate his life when we get him back and remember only the good things… We’re used to tragedy in Liverpool. I want to say to your readers to hold your loved ones close because life is fragile.
Only days later, I was surprised to see ‘Gibbo’ at a left event in the city, where he was busy planning Labour activities and rallying support for yet another show of solidarity and resistance to oppose an attempted fascist march in the city centre – resistance that was again successful and saw the racist right scurrying away. In a quiet moment of the event, I went to express my sadness at Joe’s death and offer any support if he needed it.
I told Alan that I hadn’t expected to see him and his family around so soon – and he responded simply that he was processing and balancing his grief the only way he could, by throwing himself into organising to help where it was needed.
A year later, he was on the stage in Brighton at the Labour party’s next conference, full of fire and making one of the outstanding speeches of the event in support of the party, calling on working-class people to remember who really represented their interests and speaking out, as ever, for the people the right treat with contempt.
Gibbo is also the secretary of Liverpool Walton Labour party (CLP) – though technically, at the moment, he isn’t. Labour suspended him on Tuesday without even bothering to provide any details about the reason for the suspension – although many believe it’s because he is being targeted as Walton secretary, because the members of the CLP dared to debate and pass a motion supporting former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against Keir Starmer’s interference in the party’s disciplinary processes.
I almost never write in the first person on SKWAWKBOX, but wanted to let people know that Labour has suspended a man who grieved for his son by campaigning and organising for the good of working-class people and those who suffer discrimination – and he’s one of many good, decent, honourable people being targeted by the Labour right because it thinks it has an opportunity.
Alan Gibbons and people like him are part of whatever hope this country has at the moment. Those who are hiding behind, exploiting and misrepresenting Jewish people as cover for political attacks are cowards and scum.