An obituary by Andy McDonald
We are reeling from the news of the death of our much loved colleague and comrade Bernie Taylor.
Many of us in Middlesbrough Labour have had the privilege to have known Bernie for decades and the term "stalwart" can be much over used but not in Bernie's case.
There is now a huge gap in our Labour family. It's been strange in the last few weeks not having Bernie or "Ted", as Joan so fondly called him, knocking on doors with us because of his illness. Whenever we had elections Bernie would be at the forefront. A true foot soldier in the struggle.
And in the Council and elsewhere how many times did we hear Bernie start his detailed analysis or demolition of a Tory policy with the words: " I'm only a boilermaker but.....".? He did that to deliberately disarm those who were not convinced of his arguments or his ability to make them, which he then delivered to withering effect.
Bernie had seen at first hand the decline in our precious core industries and was never found wanting in pointing out the failure of Tory governments to address the needs and aspirations of the people of Teesside and beyond. A particular Prime Minister and her attack on steel, our coalfields and our industrial base was a regular target for his criticism and as long term parishioner of St Francis of Assisi in Acklam, I know that her recital of St Francis's prayer on the steps of Downing Street in 1979 was very difficult for Bernie to bear. He was not alone.
Bernie was a man of great faith. There was a golden thread that ran right through from his Christian values and devoutly held beliefs, his compassion and care for fellow our citizens, of not walking by on the other side, all of which directly translated into his trade unionism and his democratic socialist beliefs to deliver a better, a more equal society.
Joan and family will be inundated with heartfelt and the most sincere condolences and the family's loss will feel unbearable. He was undoubtedly a much loved friend to so many people but it is his family we feel for today. But hopefully they will take some solace in knowing just how highly Bernie was regarded and that in the Labour family, his legacy will endure for many a year to come.
A true son of Middlesbrough, a true friend and a real hero.