Loving tributes paid to two-time former mayor Danny McCarthy

News Desk (09 February, 2017)

“He never tried to climb the greasy poll of politics... he saw himself as wanting to stay true to the people he represented”

14860Former Southwark mayor Danny McCarthy

Politicians have been queueing up to pay tribute to two-time former mayor of Southwark Daniel McCarthy, who died on February 1.

“Immaculately dressed”, “cheeky” and “loved by everyone” are just a few of the kind words left for the 69-year-old Bermondsey boy.

Mr McCarthy served as a councillor for the former Liddle ward in Peckham between 1982 and 1998, and the Cathedrals ward in SE1 between 2002 and 2010, when he stood down.

The retired electrician from Bermondsey was mayor of Southwark for the year 1991-92, and then again from 1994-95.

“Danny was my best friend at the council,” said Aubyn Graham, who became mayor after Mr McCarthy in 1995.

“I didn’t grow up in politics or trade union circles, but I clicked with him and he made you feel very comfortable with any group.

“He taught me how to work with council officers. And I think I taught him about working with the BME community.

“I cannot remember him getting angry or having a cross word with anyone. He was noble and just,” the 74-year-old said.

Mr McCarthy’s fellow Liddle ward councillor, Mary Ellery, said she had recently spoken to his widow and close friend Christine McCarthy, before he died in hospital.

It was well known that Mr McCarthy had battled with bowl disease, colitis and diverticulitis, but the News has yet to learn his official cause of death.

Mary, 75, told the News: “Danny and I go way back. We were ward councillors together for thirteen years.

“My husband and him went to Millwall matches together. We used to go dancing at the New Cross Social Club, and have Christmas dinners. Danny didn’t dance, he would leave that to the girls. He would watch the boxing or the football in the television room.

“But he was always immaculately dressed, and represented the working classes in the days when men would be suited and booted. And he was well-built, and helped deal with people who had a go at me at surgeries.”

Mary added: “Him and all the others called me little legs, because I was only 4’ 11”. He was a bit cheeky. But he was so hard working, and such a likeable person. People loved him.”

Southwark’s Cabinet member for housing, Richard Livingstone, outside Caroline Gardens Estate

Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark’s cabinet member for adult care and financial inclusion, told the News: “He would give me lifts home from town hall meetings. He was a cheerful bloke and there was a sharp intellect behind that moustached grin.”

Cllr Livingstone recalled an evening when Mr McCarthy was dropped off at the town hall by an ambulance on the evening of a council assembly vote.

“He had come from hospital. He still had tubes coming out of him. It was a startling image that really stayed with you.”

Unusually, Danny twice “crossed the floor” to join the Lib Dems, and then back to Labour again in 2006.

“Even with the Lib Dems he would profess to being a socialist. I think in his younger years he was a Community Party member,” Cllr Livingstone said.

“When the Lib Dems went into coalition with the Tories he was very unhappy. In 2006 he came over to us again, which I think felt like a homecoming to him.”

Cllr Livingstone said although he was “well connected” around the country within the trade union movement, and was a Unite member for over 45 years, Danny stuck with being an electrician.

“He never tried to climb the greasy poll of politics,” he said. “Within the Labour group he saw himself as wanting to stay true to the people he represented.”

Council leader Peter John remarked: “He ended his political life as a committed trade unionist and Labour Party member.  I am one of many who will really miss him.”

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