Veteran left-wing political activist, vocal critic of austerity, and World War II veteran Harry Leslie Smith has passed away at the age of 95.
Leslie, who grew up in poverty and described himself as 'the world's oldest rebel', rose to prominence in 2014, after he delivered an impassioned speech about his life and his support of the NHS at the annual Labour Party Conference.
The author of a number of books about the Great Depression, the war, and post-war austerity, Leslie also had a large Twitter following of more than 250,000, and he consistently used the platform to expose bigotry and fight for the causes he believed in.
In 2015, he did just that.
After Jeremy Corbyn refused to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, his first ceremonial event after being elected leader of the Labour Party, Leslie took to the platform to express his support for the move.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote:
As a RAF veteran of WW2 I'm not offended by Corbyn not singing #nationalanthem but I am offended by politicians who sell guns to tyrants
Needless to say, a troll took the opportunity to bite back, and to slander refugees in the process.
In a now deleted tweet from a suspended account, Huff Post reports that 'daz', or @captainroony responded:
@harryslaststand i feel sorry for you harry, risked your life for this country now we let anyone in
But, Smith was having absolutely none of it.
Quoting the tweet, he said:
Actually I'm more upset that passive/aggressive racism tries to co-opt the heroic deeds of my generation #refugees
People took to Twitter to express their support for his anti-racist position.
In his last years of life, Leslie dedicated his time to highlighting the plight of refugees, visiting camps across Europe. As a young soldier, he witnessed floods of refugees abandoning their homes in the hopes of finding safety.
There was a stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees coming south.
I can still see them. Absolutely pitiful. Hungry. Starving.
He also set up a GoFundMe campaign to fund his last expedition, Harry's Last Stand Refugee Tour, to help with the refugee crisis.
HT Huff Post