Next in my series of discussing members of other political parties I admire I thought I'd take a look at some of the lefties standing at this election. I hate to disappoint any Tories reading but whilst I've met plenty of Tory supporters I like I could not for the life of me put together a similar post about Conservative politicians.
My admiration for George Galloway I'll leave aside for the moment as I know some people find him hard to take and I'll focus on three others that I've discussed less often on this blog.
McCann is standing for People Before Profit in Foyle, a seat he got 12.3% in in 1969, and the last time he stood there he managed to beat the Ulster Unionists.
Eamonn McCann is a long-serving socialist warhorse of the most excellent, humane sort. Having been consistently active in politics in the north of Ireland for decades it's fair to say he's been there and done that, this and the other.
From his involvement in the very early days of the civil rights movement alongside the likes of Bernadette Devlin right up to his acquittal after direct action against multinational arms company Raytheon in 2008 he has been a constant radical presence.
I thought his book Dear God: The Price of Religion in Ireland was absolutely breath taking, hilarious and shocking by turns and his attempts to bring socialist politics to Ireland, free from the debilitating sectarianism that has plagued the country, is much to be admired.
McCann argued in the Sunday Journal: "When market forces drive the poor into destitution, we must roll with the punches. But when hard times discomfit the super-rich, the State weighs in to make a mattress for them stuffed with our money."
No-one will be surprised to see Ms Yaqoob on my love list. After all I've spoken about her before and even interviewed her a little while back.
Salma is part of the New Left camp site (as opposed to big tent) who has been been willing to back the Greens when appropriate (like last year's Euro elections) and has always been someone who has approached others on the left in an open and thoughtful way.
She has rightly received many admirers from outside of Respect in return. As she said in The Guardian a little while ago; "Labour's mantra on the need to make others more "British", rather than making ourselves less racist, has helped undermine concepts of national identity that celebrate pluralism and diversity."
More importantly she points out that; "On the economy, [Labour, Lib Dems and Tories] have for years embraced and celebrated the neo-liberal free market dogma responsible for record levels of wealth inequality and the worst recession in over fifty years. They are also united on the necessity of vicious cuts as the solution to the crisis and are divided only on the timescale for the implementation of those cuts."
That's why she is an important part of the left alternatives.
Co-speaker of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) Colin Fox has had a hard decade. Or at least it must seem hard having been part of a team that led the SSP to six MSPs and a real chance to hit the big time he had to see it all fall apart and fall back to square one.
However, where lesser mortals would have given up in despair, and certainly if it had happened to me I'd have been trailing stuffing behind me for years, he's made of far better stuff than me and kept ploughing on. After all he was a leading campaigner against the poll tax and had to go through the indignity of the Labour Party so I guess he'd done it all before.
When I interviewed him a little while ago he said that; "The SSP has been in favour of an independent socialist Scotland since our inception ten years ago. We believe that working people in Scotland will be economically, socially, politically and culturally better off if able to control all our revenues and all our own decision making. It is clear to us that if this were the case then Scotland would be a radically different country from the one we live in today. There is no doubt whatsoever that an Independent Scotland would not have sent troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, would not have nuclear weapons stationed on the Clyde, would not have entertained the privatisation of our hospitals and schools and, since a majority here are in favour of a modern democratic republic, we would not have the Queen as our head of state either."
And I rather enjoyed that - but most of all I admire the man's stamina to keep fighting the good fight, regardless of how hard it gets.