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Stalwarts of the community united by desire to help others

PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 September 2010

TO LOSE one stalwart of the community is always a blow. To lose two in the same week is something more. In the age of the career politicians, the loss of former Camden Council leader Roy Shaw and long-serving Fortune Green councillor Jane Schopflin, has

TO LOSE one stalwart of the community is always a blow. To lose two in the same week is something more.

In the age of the career politicians, the loss of former Camden Council leader Roy Shaw and long-serving Fortune Green councillor Jane Schopflin, has in many minds rekindled memories of a time when politics was less about spin and image, and more about rolling up your sleeves and doing what you could for your community.

Commitment to the community was the important thing these two long-serving politicians had in common, for in most other respects they were diametrically opposed. Likewise, their contribution to Camden Council was made from very different vantage points.

Roy Shaw served the area he lived in for an unparalleled 51 years and for most of them, Labour was untouchable as a political force in Camden.

During what Roy would fondly describe as 'those halcyon years' (though he often at odds with the leadership) the array of Labour politicians who interacted with, or were closely aligned to Camden, read like a who's who of party greats. Yet Roy never lost touch with the people who really matter - those who elected him to serve their interests.

Anyone looking for an outstanding example of a politician who put voters ahead of self - and so few of them do - could find no better example. Had Roy's health not failed him, it is likely that he would still be serving his constituents in the same dedicated way.

Jane Schopflin's council experience was from a very different perspective. For 16 years she battled against the status quo at a time when the opposition had the greatest difficulty in having their voices heard, or being treated seriously - a far cry from the last victorious election campaign when to her great delight the Lib Dems became the largest party on the council. She was a real fighter, and this was evident both in the way she fought for her beliefs in the council chamber, and in her long battle with cancer.

Politicians nowadays get a bad press, some of it undeserved. But their collective image would be a great deal better if only more of them were like Roy Shaw and Jane Schopflin. We'll miss them both.

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