Ontario, November 28: United Kingdom's noted anti-austerity activist and World War-II veteran, Harry Leslie Smith, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Canada's Ontario. Smith was admitted last week after fall inside his residence. The 95-year-old's health had subsequently deteriorated, which led to his demise today.
Widely known as "world's oldest rebel", Smith lived up to the tag even at his deathbed, narrates his son. When his health dropped beyond the point of recovery, Smith quenched his thirst with a beer even though he was unable to eat anything.
The late activist, who had over 250,000 followers on Twitter, was one of the loudest voice across the world against what he described the cocktail of "greed and globalisation". Smith had reiterated that the combination was based on exploitation, and responsible for stripping away the advances wrought by his generation.
Smit shot to prominence in recent years with his advocacy of the National Health Service and the need to protect refugees. He was also a strong critic of Britain's austerity program. He had toured refugee camps to highlight their plight. He said he had witnessed scenes like that in his youth and couldn't bear to see them repeated in his old age without speaking out.
He argued that greed and globalism were stripping away the advances wrought by his generation, which had survived the Great Depression and World War II and built a more just society.
Smith was the son of a coal miner who described the 1920s in Britain as a "barbarous" and "bleak" time in part because of the lack of health care. His sister died of tuberculosis at 3.
He started work at 7 doing manual labour at a brewery. His speech at the 2014 Labour Party conference about the difficulties of life before the NHS moved many to tears.
Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband tweeted that Smith was "one of a kind who never wavered in his fight for equality and justice. We should all carry his passion, optimism and spirit forward."
(With PTI inputs)