July 14, 2024

John Fitzmaurice Lecture

About John Fitzmaurice

John Fitzmaurice was an administrator, academic and writer, and a founding father of Brussels Labour. He was an author of numerous books and articles on politics, as well as an official at the European Commission and a lecturer at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

John was born in 1947 in Copenhagen – the country of his birth being the subject of one of his many works. He wrote extensively about Europe, its institutions, and its politics, including works on the European Parliament (an institution he knew well from his work in the European Parliament liaison department of the Commission), on politics in Belgium, in Austria, and in the Baltic region.

John was also secretary of Brussels Labour and Vice-chair of the Brussels Co-operative Party. He contested three general elections for the Labour Party – in Yeovil (1987) and North Dorset (1992 and 1997).

John died suddenly in 2003. Neil Kinnock led the tributes that followed his death:

John must have been one of the sweetest men that ever breathed. Not “soft” or over-emollient. Simply generous in spirit and deed, and a true progressive, free of spite or selfishness.

His work in the Commission was, of course, seminal… but [his] professional qualities were particularly special when manifested by someone who was such a dedicated partisan for Labour that he fought the Tories in their rural Bible belt of Dorset – “tying them down”, as he put it, “so that they can do less mischief elsewhere” (…)

John was a bone-marrow democratic socialist who firmly – even fiercely – believed that the triumph of ideals has to be organised, and then got on with the slog.

His life was continually productive. His sudden death is an awful tragedy. A very good man has gone, and we have lost a fine friend and comrade.

About the lecture

In memory of John, and his unique contribution to democracy, socialism and Europe, Brussels Labour established an annual lecture around these themes, inviting a leading figure from the Left in Europe.

Previous speakers

Neil Kinnock, Vice-President of the European Commission, former leader of the Labour Party, and Honorary President of Brussels Labour, gave the inaugural lecture in October 2004.

He has been followed by a number of other distinguished speakers:

24 September 2014  Joaquin Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission: see the account in Germinal.

16 October 2013  Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. See the report in Germinal.

26 February 2013 (2012 lecture)Douglas AlexanderShadow Foreign Secretary: read the text of the speech.

13 October 2011: Jan RoyallShadow Leader of the House of Lords, on ‘Social democracy and the European Union’: read the text of the speechsummary in Germinal of March 2011 and see photos at our Flickr page.

29 November 2010: Martin WestlakeSecretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), on ‘It’s the people, stupid!’: read the text of the speech, read the blog entry, and see photos at our Flickr page.

14 October 2009: John Monks, General-Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), on ‘Europe: what now?’: read the report in Germinal and the text of the speech.

14 October 2008: Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission, on ‘Europe on the eve of the 2009 European Parliament elections’: read the report in Germinal and the text of the speech.

17 October 2007: Julian Priestley, Former Secretary-General of the European Parliament, on ‘Labour and Europe: the mixed experience’: read the report in Germinal.

22 January 2007 (2006 lecture)Geoff Hoon, Minister for Europe, on ‘Labour and European values: a synergy at the heart of Europe’: read the report in Germinal and the text of the speech.

25 January 2006 (2005 lecture)Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of European Socialists, on ‘Building a political Europe: the role of the PES’: read the report in Germinal.