It is with great sorrow that Socialist Worker says goodbye to Linda Smith.
Linda was a great friend of the paper, a terrific comedian and a truly lovely person. She emerged as one of the left wing “alternative comedians” of the early 1980s, alongside the likes of Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy and Mark Thomas.
Before then, the world of stand up comedy was largely a male preserve. The alternative scene set out to tear down many of the tired old cliches and stereotypes.
Linda’s stand up shows were always very very funny, delivered in a style that suggested whimsy, but with a rapier like cutting edge.
She first caught the eye of many while performing benefits for the families of striking miners.
She would later perform at benefits supporting a wide range of struggles and causes. In the 1990s she was a central part of the Red Sauce tour, organised by Mark Steel to raise money for the Socialist Worker appeal.
Linda’s fame and success increased over the years and she became the star of BBC radio shows such as I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and The News Quiz.
She was also to be seen on TV, making a number of appearances on Have I Got News For You, where she always struck me as one of the most successful and relaxed guests.
I particularly remember her appearing on the show when Neil Kinnock was a guest.
Kinnock was performing very well for a politician, and was looking very pleased with himself—when suddenly, and in a disarming friendly way, Linda asked him how the hell he’d lost the 1992 election.
Suddenly the Welsh Windbag was lost for words, and as he struggled to regain his composure Linda added, “You know if you had left the country and put a kitten in charge Labour would have won that election.”
Kinnock never recovered his composure.
On a personal level I remember way back when the SWP used to hold an annual Easter rally in Skegness, packed with political discussion and debate. I got extremely drunk with Linda after her show and we had a long running argument, involving one or two others, about… the correct lyrics to the Rolf Harris classic Two Little Boys.
Once we reached an agreement we rambled through the campsite bellowing the song out and no doubt disturbing the sleep of many.
She will be missed badly by all who knew her, and our deepest condolences go to Warren, her partner for many years.
However any thoughts and memories of her can only produce a smile—she made fighting back fun.