John Purvis RIP

I am sorry to have to write to you to record the death of John Purvis, my Co-President of the European Movement in Scotland, who was a strong and significant voice for Scotland in Brussels and beyond, EMiS co-president Mike Russell says.

This last weekend John lost his battle with cancer and our first thoughts are of course with his family and close friends who knew well his kindness, energy and humour. As a movement we extend our most sincere condolences to them and offer our support to them at this difficult time of grieving.

 A lifelong and active Conservative, John became the MEP for the old Mid Scotland and Fife Region at the start of direct elections to the Parliament in 1979. He quickly applied his intelligence and his experience in the financial sector to the emerging issues of the time, particular as a founding member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee where he contributed to the growing alignment of standards which was the foundation of the later Single European Act and the Single Market. 

He left the Parliament in 1984 but, unusually in politics, returned to the same institution fifteen years later and served a further two terms as one of the members for the whole of Scotland, before retiring from the Parliament in 2009. During that period, he became Vice Chair of the EMFC, served on delegations to the Gulf States and the Middle East, and continued his concern for financial regulation and telecommunications.

Team Scotland

 John was one of the pioneers of the “Team Scotland” approach which saw the representatives of the different Scottish parties working together in Scotland’s interests in Europe, an approach echoed in the European Movement. After leaving representative politics he continued to seek ways to work constructively with others, and was the European Chair of the Financial Future Forum which sought to bridge the gap between those working in the financial sector and Europe’s legislators.

 He was a strong voice for the whole of Scotland, but particularly for Fife, seeing the clear connection between the interests of ordinary Scots in the area he knew best and the responsibilities and concerns of the European Parliament and the other EU institutions. He was also passionate believer in common European values and found their denial and negation in the Brexit process to be painful and wrong-headed. 

Following the Brexit referendum, John intensified his support for constructive engagement with Europe and used his campaigning skills, experience and contacts to further the cause he regarded as a major element in preserving the peace and prosperity of Europe. He was an enthusiast for the informed approach taken by the European Movement in Scotland and worked tirelessly for it.

 John, above all, demonstrated in his actions and life the need to promote our European values and strive for closer engagement with our European neighbours both because of our shared concerns and because we were stronger for such willing pooling of sovereignty.

Last year I was proud to be nominated alongside him as Co-President of the European Movement in Scotland to replace Menzies Campbell and I am sorry that I will not be able to campaign alongside him again, as we did on occasion during the Brexit process.

However, by honouring and being faithful to his legacy and his ideals we can take forward the concerns on which he remained focused and ensure that the current situation in which we are on the fringes of decision making and influence in Europe is only temporary. 

John Purvis was a great man, a fine representative and a brave champion of what is best on our continent. I know he will be much missed by friends and former colleagues across the nations of the EU and further afield, but he will be specially missed here in Scotland by those who gained so much from his work, particularly our movement. 

Yours Michael Russell

President The European Movement in Scotland