A Class Hero Who Showed Meaning of Real Nobility

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 12, 1999 | Go to article overview

A Class Hero Who Showed Meaning of Real Nobility


Byline: GEORGE GALLOWAY

I SPOKE in George Square Glasgow last week with a woman who is a heroine in every sense of the word.

Susan Wighton OBE, former Scotswoman of the Year was decorated for heroism under fire in the inferno of the Palestinian refugee camps of Beirut.

She operated in often pitch-dark theatres and through it all she never lost her Scottish stoicism and freckle-faced humour. Susan loved the Palestinians and married one of Yasser Arafat's bodyguards, but they are now divorced.

She lives quietly near Crieff and works in occupational health. In the Glasgow Lord Provost's room she spoke of her hopes for the Palestinians.

Lord Provost Mosson is visiting Palestine with Cardinal Winning in November and promised to convey her wishes. As she left I got to thinking she'd be a glorious angel who could light up the Scottish Parliament. ANGEL: Susan worked in Beirut refugee camps Family seat: Alan Clark and canine friend at Saltwood Castle NO SNOB: Alan Clark loved Scotland and admired its miners and ship builders Susan set to light up Holyrood?

Ice cool, that's our Alex ALAN CLARK, the son of Lord Clark of 'Civilisation' was the most civilised man I ever knew and Britain is a colder, less colourful place for his passing.

Someone once described him to me as 'arrogant'.

To which I replied, he and his family have a castle in the South of England at Saltwood, an estate at Eriboll in Sutherland and he has a residence in Piccadilly for which only bluebloods need apply.

He also has a chalet in the Swiss Alps, a [pounds sterling]27million fortune, one of the best collections of classic cars, was a Minister of State at the Defence Department, is one of the country's best war historians, wrote Britain's best book on the First World War The Donkeys, and the best book on the Second Barbarosa and his company is cherished by all but the brain dead; please don't confuse your envy with his 'arrogance'.

He loved Scotland, spending a lot of time in Skye, the family money was earned in Paisley at the spinning, and when Minister for Defence Procurement he opened a secret channel to me to help land a bumper order for frigates for Yarrow. Clark regarded miners and shipyard workers and those who made real things with their own hands as the country's true nobility. He was no snob.

That it was a tumour in his great and fine brain that has laid him in the cold earth of Saltwood really breaks my heart. Mind you, as Nye Bevan once said, 'where there's death there's hope'. …

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