Real Lives: A lifelong Labour man and adviser to Government

Professor Sir Bernard Crick, professor of politics, former Government adviser, biographer of George Orwell and local campaigner, has died, aged 79.

Sir Bernard, who lived in Stockbridge, was a lifelong Labour supporter, adviser to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, mentor to former Home Secretary David Blunkett and author of a string of academic books as well as a biographer of George Orwell.

He was born in London and educated at Whitgift school, Croydon, before going to University College London, where he studied economics and gained a first-class degree.

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He did a doctorate at the London School of Economics, then went to the United States to teach at Harvard, 1952-54, moving on to McGill University, Montreal, 1954-55, and Berkeley, California, 1955-56.

He returned to the UK in 1957 as an assistant lecturer to the LSE, where he remained for eight years. In 1965, he was appointed professor of political theory and institutions at Sheffield University, where one of his students was the future Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

Sir Bernard became professor of politics at Birkbeck College, London, in 1973 and remained there until taking early retirement in 1984, when he moved to Edinburgh.

He served as an advisor to Labour leader Neil Kinnock during the 1980s and in 1997 was appointed by his former student, David Blunkett, to head up an advisory group on citizenship education, which led to the introduction of citizenship as a core subject in the national curriculum.

He was knighted in the 2002 New Year's honours list.

As well as playing his part on the national political stage, he threw himself into local campaigns, including the one to save Glenogle Baths, where he was a regular swimmer.

Before last year's elections, he launched a blistering attack on Edinburgh's Labour councillors for getting too close to developers.

He also fronted the Edinburgh At Risk Campaign, fighting plans such as the expansion of Edinburgh Zoo, building a new high school on parkland at Portobello and threats to the future of Meadowbank Stadium.

Terry Randell, secretary of Edinburgh North & Leith Labour party, said Professor Crick had remained an active member until very recently.

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"He always had a twinkle in his eye and a certain acerbic quality. He could be controversial right up to the end.

"He will be sorely missed.

"At our last annual dinner he gave the thanks to the speakers and was very sharp and witty in his speech.

"He chose to come to Edinburgh because he thought it was such a wonderful city.

"He was emeritus professor at the university and he had strong links with the academic community here but he kept in touch with colleagues in London."

Scottish musician and Stockbridge resident Aly Bain, who worked with Sir Bernard on the successful campaign to save Glenogle Baths, described him as "one of the brightest men I've ever met".

He said: "He had been swimming there for years, and so had I, so we collaborated to try to save the pool. He was a great help in that.

"I remember I was in the sauna and he came in with all his clothes on and sat there for ten minutes talking about it.

"They are fixing it now. I'm sure he was very pleased when he passed to see all the workers in there."

Sir Bernard had been ill for some time before he died and had spent the past few weeks in St Columba's Hospice.

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