Mick Gosling a friend and comrade for many years died on 7 April. His funeral was held at St Marylebone Crematorium, in North London on 19 April. For many years we were both members of the NUJ Press and PR Branch in London which Mick chaired, and I was secretary. However, it was his work for the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF), which campaigned for media reform from 1979 to 2018 when it closed down due to lack of money that he was also well known for.
As a national organiser to the CPBF from 1997 to 2016, I was privileged to make the following tribute to Mick at his funeral.
“I have received many tributes to Mick from former Campaign for Press and Broadcasting (CPBF) colleagues. They are best summed up in one received from Jonathan Hardy secretary of the CPBF until its closure in 2018 who has written: ‘This is terribly sad news and a very great loss. I helped Mick move the CPBF from 9 Poland Street to the Unity Club, Dalston, E8 where he and assistant Angela, my then partner, ran the office. Mick was a neighbour in Hackney. Mick was brilliant at radiating energy and encouraging everyone to keep going with the same political passion as he always showed. He carried this all with an immense amount of humour, generosity and friendliness. Something in that experience organising Ford workers at Dagenham, encouraging, persuading (never posturing or puritanical) was a fantastic model for campaigning and political activism and was there in all his work for CPBF, Hackney Council press office and beyond…’
There is not enough time today to mention all the important contributions Mick made to the work of the CPBF. In its early days he edited a number of editions of our journal Free Press and was instrumental in building the organisation through links with the TU movement.
Granville Williams, a founder of the CPBF reminds me that in 1990, the Daily Mirror, then edited by Roy Greenslade, claimed that at the height of the miners’ strike NUM president Arthur Scargill had paid for his mortgage with money donated by Libya. There was also the ‘Cook Report’ on Central TV which was synchronised to go out with the Mirror ‘exclusive’.
Mick was CPBF national organiser at the time and Granville remembers at that year’s TUC in Blackpool Mick organised a petition in support of Arthur Scargill. It wasn’t all that popular with some trade unionists – it was the sort of ‘dirt’ they wanted to believe – but he remembers a packed fringe meeting which Mick organised.
This is what Mick stood for; it was the right thing to do; go out and challenge them and stand in solidarity with Arthur and those defending their jobs and communities.
Mick was also the CPBF treasurer from 2007 to 2012, an unenviable role more akin to pushing a boulder up a mountain! But he kept the Campaign financially viable and able to continue its work for a more democratic and accountable media.
I’m sure Mick would want me to finish on a lighter note, so here goes. The CPBF produced many books and pamphlets and in 2009 Granville Williams (a founder member of the Campaign) edited a book on the media, the miners’ strike and the aftermath, to mark the 25th anniversary of the dispute. What to call the book exercised the minds of a meeting of the CPBF’s governing body, the National Council, but before the discussion sank into the morass that is often the hallmark of such debates, Mick, quick as a flash came to the rescue. Call it ‘Shafted’ he exclaimed, and Shafted it was, as was the second edition published by CPBF North 10 years later in 2019. Hours of tedious debate were averted by Mick at a stroke!
Speaking at the May Day Rally in Chesterfield in 1993 Tony Benn said: ‘You can’t obliterate from the human spirit two things – the flame of anger at injustice and the flame of hope for a better world.’
These sentiments were central to Mick’s life, which we will never forget and lives on in all of us. Farewell Comrade.”
This posting has been delayed as my web site was ‘down’ for over two months and was finally transferred to a new site in mid-July.