IN his latest column for the Globe Birkenhead MP Frank Field pays tribute to Wirral Labour veteran Walter Smith, who passed away on Novemebr 9.

Can there ever be a better person than Walter Smith in Wirral and far beyond? I doubt it.

But the blessings bestowed on Walter, which he naturally cultivated through the whole of his life, cannot be summed up by ‘a better person’. Who can rank alongside him with his kindness and his genuine considerateness of others, putting their needs before those of himself?

Who has given this borough a greater public commitment over 60 years in public life that can equal Walter’s? For so many of those years Walter was a borough councillor on Birkenhead Borough Council and then on Wirral Borough Council.

People recognised Walter’s qualities as he campaigned with Jerry Williams and Christina Muspratt.

They turned a Tory ward into an ultra-safe Labour ward. People came out and voted with their feet in appreciation of this hugely remarkable person.

But Walter’s qualities simply don’t stop there. Who was more affectionate than Walter?

That beaming face greeting one for the nearly forty years that I have known him.

I’d never seen Walter with a scowl on his face, even when he radically disagreed with my political position. He wanted to talk, to discuss, to understand, to try and persuade me, or, naturally, be persuaded himself.

Walter, and his beloved partner Betty of 60 years, were wonderful neighbours as any group of neighbours wherever they lived testify.

He was altruistic in the true sense of the word- giving himself without any thought that it might be advantageous to him or those he immediately loved.

At my first meeting with Walter I didn’t recognise him. I was called before the Claughton ward, meeting in the Labour Club in Laird Street. The candidates were pushed upstairs on that Sunday afternoon, with no heating, and with broken windows! I didn’t recognise Walter because of the extent of the smoke in the Labour club.

But Walter called together Claughton members on the eve of the selection conference to let me talk and see whether I could persuade them that I might be the right person to represent Birkenhead.

Walter chaired this selection conference and began the proceedings “here is the candidate we’ve all been waiting for!”

I was the last candidate in and I thought somehow that Walter had decided that I wasn’t going to be the right candidate, hence this genuine expression of support which of course a chairman shouldn’t show.

A first Providential blessing for me was to represent the town that I’ve had such a privilege to do so for nearly 40 years, but also a blessing to get to know Walter and those beautiful qualities that go under the collective term of character.

Over the years we had our differences but only on politics. Every time we strongly disagreed we’ve always been able to go off and laugh, either immediately afterwards, or at our next meeting.

Here was somebody who knew how to practice politics that also strengthened friendships rather than dividing people.

What a tribute to this beautiful man and this glorious example of what fellowship really means as he practiced it over the whole of his life through the Labour Party, his church, work and other societies.

Lucky old Labour Party to have somebody of this quality. Lucky old Birkenhead, and then Bebington to have a public representative of such golden qualities.

They don’t come better than Walter.