When a young person dies it is common to say that “they were taken too early.” Stuart McCready may no longer have been young but the wretched news of his passing nonetheless still comes far too early.
Stuart’s time as a Liberal Democrat Councillor roughly coincided with my own. We both joined Oxford City Council in 2008 and stood down from it earlier this year. I had the pleasure of working closely with him when he was group secretary and I was first deputy leader and then chair of our group.
And it was a pleasure. Stuart had an unusually congenial temperament for a local politician. Collectively we are characterised by big egos chaffing against the modest horizons of our roles. But Stuart was an exception. He delivered what he promised with a minimum of fuss and consistent good humour. I tend to think of him as being rather taciturn but he wasn’t shy. Rather it was that – in another departure from the norm for councillors – he wasn’t going to insist on having his say, instead deciding when to speak by the admirable metric of whether he had something constructive to add. He also exhibited that sure fire sign of intelligence and personal security: being willing to volunteer that he did not understand something and asking if it could be explained more clearly.
Unsurprisingly, Stuart was well liked well beyond the Liberal Democrats. In his autobiography, Colin Powell opined that to (paraphrase) a politician who is not pissing off at least some people is not doing their job properly. General Powell clearly never met Stuart. As a councillor, Stuart had clear goals he was pursuing, both around helping his constituents in Summertown and improving the Council’s housing policy. But he pursued them with such consistent amiability and honesty that I strongly doubt he made a single enemy doing so.
Farewell Stuart, you were one of the good guys.