THERE was a minor spot of disagreement, a delicate one, behind the scenes at Monday’s full council meeting. Although councillors spoke with great eloquence and care about a world figure who has been an inspiration to all, there were a few puzzled minds as to why members were devoting part of Camden’s all-member meeting on paying a lengthy-ish tribute to Nelson Mandela at this stage.
In a special extra item, three councillors spoke of their heartfelt admiration for the stricken former South African president, who historically had a special connection with anti-apartheid campaigners in Camden. But some quietly felt that while it is appropriate to honour Mandela’s unique importance with some local recognition and the tributes were nothing but well meant, it might have waited until news of his death.
It’s a delicate thing for anybody to suggest and people who thought the gun had been jumped – especially at a meeting which Camden routinely fails to reach its business end – said they thought any questioning of this part of the meeting would have resulted in unfair accusations that they did not appreciate Mandela’s contribution.
“He’s not dead yet. It felt a bit like we were getting in a bit early, giving him the last rites from another continent,” said one councillor, who then repeatedly asked for their name not to be mentioned.
It’s a hard one to call. Elsewhere, top-ranking figures said that on balance it was the right thing to do as Mandela is perhaps the only world figure able to unite the squabbling council chamber under one tribute. And from their moving speeches, you could see that those who did take part felt there was a deeply-felt need to say something, especially as there is not another full council meeting until September.
All of the motions didn’t get heard, however, and the structure and function of the full council meeting is currently under review in Camden.
NELSON MANDELA PIC: SOUTH AFRICA/THE GOOD NEWS