Tribute to Mark Hanson
Mark was an early contributor to Total Politics and one of the first people to blog for us on a regular basis when we first launched. I’ve linked to some of his work below. I wish I wasn’t writing this tribute. I wish instead that I was drafting an email to Mark asking for him to contribute to an upcoming issue of Total Politics.
I don’t pretend to have known Mark fantastically well. Our paths crossed because of a mutual interest in campaigning. But on every occasion we shared a coffee and waxed lyrical about the latest developments in new media and political communication I was struck by his expertise and excitement about the subjects at hand.
But more importantly, I was struck by how easy Mark was to get along with. He was a genuinely friendly bloke, who could find humour in subjects more technical than most and who could make an hour feel like minutes. In a business packed with meetings, a meeting with Mark was one I looked forward to.
Mark’s untimely death is rendered all the more tragic by the knowledge that it was down to an ultimately unsuccessful battle against that most brutal of illnesses, depression. It’s an illness that few who suffer from it feel comfortable discussing for fear of what others might think. But it is ultimately an illness, and I can only hope that, if nothing else, the loss of Mark has placed a spotlight on a problem that all too often sits shrouded in darkness.
My thoughts are of course with Mark’s family at this time.
When I learned of Mark’s death yesterday, the world seemed to stand still. How could it have happened? I didn’t know Mark well, but he was one of those people who you feel enriched by knowing. He was an enthusiast. Someone who although a staunch Labour supporter, would happily put aside his tribal allegiances and engage with those on the other side of the political fence.
I first knew Mark when he was a regular contributor to the internet TV station, 18 Doughty Street. He brought humour and insight into any discussion and I always looked forward to his appearances. He had a certain northern bluntness, which translated well on TV and radio. He was the last person I’d have thought would suffer from depression, but it just shows, you never can tell.
Mental illness is still a taboo subject. Those who suffer from it are often embarrassed to discuss it even with close friends. It is a very lonely illness sometimes. I’ve never suffered from depression and often find it difficult to relate to those who do, or have. But I do know what a burden it can be. The burden was too much for Mark, something all those friends and family members he leaves behind will struggle to comprehend for a long time to come.
Mark enriched the lives of all who knew him. To die at such a young age is nothing short of a tragedy. But it is a death which unites all his friends from left and right. It unites us in genuine grief.
Please do share your memories of Mark in the comments.