Tributes to Isla Robertson
Calls for a plaque for former councillor in City Hall
02 February, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary
THE dark days of Shirley Porter’s leadership of Westminster Council were recalled at a special tribute on Burns Night to a woman whose tireless work went a long way towards both unearthing and holding to account those responsible for the homes-for-votes scandal of the period.
Isla Robertson, who has died aged 84, was a dedicated Labour councillor in Little Venice and continued her sterling, campaigning work when she retired and moved to Brighton.
Porter was ordered to pay £27million for her part in the plot to manipulate constituency boundaries and force some council tenants from their homes, an act of gerrymandering and skulduggery that has gone down in the annals of local government for its shamelessness.
Councillors and comrades from Westminster headed to the south coast to join in the celebration of Isla’s life – and what a life well lived!
Diary hears that the Purple Playhouse Theatre, in Montefiore Road, was full to the brim with childhood friends from Scotland, fellow campaigners from the Brighton and Hove Pensioners’ Association, as well as those who had served with her while she held the seat in the Little Venice ward between 1986 and 1990.
And while she served her constituents, she took a special interest in planning: it meant Porter was constantly in her sights. Her friend Jean Calder writes in her blog about Isla that one colleague recalled: “Porter absolutely hated Isla, but I can’t imagine anyone hating her… she was forthright, honest, and did not suffer fools gladly. She was a force of nature.” Isla was born in Scotland and trained as a teacher. Later in life she became a trustee for Age UK and then the chairwoman of her local pensioners’ association.
Now an idea has been floated to get Brighton and Hove council to name a bus after her, as they do for those who have contributed to civic life. It is an idea Diary would heartily welcome – and suggests that a plaque in her memory graces Westminster City Hall.
It would be a handy reminder to those who sit on the benches that they are there to work selflessly for others, as Isla spent a life time doing.