Moving words show that Jeremy Hardy never stopped speaking truth to power

Jeremy hardy
Fréa Lockley

Sadly, it was reported on 1 February that comedian and activist Jeremy Hardy had died. Since then, tributes have poured in to honour and celebrate his incredible work. Because as well as his wit and comedic brilliance, Hardy also worked tirelessly on vitally important political issues.

“Truth to power”

Hardy was a fierce anti-war campaigner. After the release of the Chilcott report in 2016, which examined the UK’s role in the Iraq war, Hardy truly did speak truth to power. At an anti-war demo, Hardy summed up how many people felt, and feel, about Tony Blair:

It’s time for him to shut up and leave us alone… I hope… Blair will jump off a boat so we don’t have to send him to the international criminal court. 

Hardy never “sold out”:

He fiercely opposed nuclear weapons, including Trident. As he wrote in Red Pepper in 2016:

We could make millionaires of all those employed on Trident and still have money left over to turn Faslane into affordable housing.

In a film recorded for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Hardy showed perfectly how to combine comedic genius with vital political issues saying:

You’ve got to be insane enough to use a nuclear weapon and the other person’s got to be insane enough as well. But neither of you have got to be so insane that you actually use it. So you’ve only got to be insane enough to be prepared to use it.

Hardy was also “an ardent critic of the Israeli occupation and a champion of Palestinian rights”.

As Middle East Eye said, he was “Palestine’s funniest champion”:

Hardy didn’t just speak about Palestine. In 2002, he travelled there to make a film called Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army. During filming, he faced Israeli gunfire and was “trapped along with six other British activists in Bethlehem as the town was placed under siege by the Israelis”.

“You made us all smile. You made us all think”

Hardy supported Jeremy Corbyn both before, and after, he became Labour leader. Fellow comedian Pete Sinclair said:

I remember talking to Jeremy in the pub after I’d watched him doing a gig to celebrate Corbyn becoming leader. “Blimey, I suppose we’ll have to join the Labour Party now,” he said.

And when the news of Hardy’s death broke, Corbyn paid a touching tribute:

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell also gave a brilliant reminder of some of the other political issues Hardy supported:

CWU, the Communications Union, called Hardy a “giant of the movement”. It shared another clip of Hardy using his comedic skill to point out just how ludicrous and foolish privatising national companies really is:

Fellow comedian Sandi Toksvig summed Hardy up in her tribute. She said he “was a political activist who never wavered in his beliefs, no matter what path the rest of society was taking”:

Hardy’s warmth, wit and wisdom will be sorely missed. Not only was he so brilliantly funny, he never stopped speaking truth to power. Rest in Peace.

Featured image via screengrab

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Thanks for making it possible to watch the hour long show of ” Jeremy Harding in Israel in 2002-3.”
      The Israeli army were doing the same things ISIS did before ISIS was even in existence. Shooting at the Virgin Mary statue, the hospital attack, and showing a violent disrespect for the town of Bethlehem.
      A movie thanks to Jeremy which outdid all the media editorials for decades with a credible experience replete with humour.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.