Tributes flow for media guru Jim Innes

Respected guru; Jim Innes. PHOTO CREDIT: David Petrie

 ROME - Tributes have flowed in following the death, at the age of 69, of Jim Innes, a hugely respected media guru, a frequent visitor to Italy and pro bono adviser to his lifelong friend, David Petrie,  chairman of Association of Foreign Lecturers In Italy.

Born in Glasgow, he graduated in modern history at the University of Dundee in 1972 and along with Brian Wilson, was one of the founder members of the radical newspaper, The West Highland Free Press.

 Mr Wilson, a former minister in Tony Blair’s government, described him as “a life-enhancing man who knew the gulf between making a difference and simply talking about it”.

 Alasdair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, said “Scotland and Scottish Labour have lost one of the best”, while Adam Boulton of Scottish Television described him as “one of the best press officers and human beings”.

 He was a central figure in Labour’s 1983 UK election campaign and published a diary scathingly cataloguing Labour’s dilettante campaign.

 Media experts viewed the diary as a blueprint on how not run an election campaign. As always, eschewing the limelight and addressing his colleagues, Mr Innes posted the diary in The Journalist – when any national newspaper would have gladly paid a fat fee to publish it.

 Never interested in a political career, intellectually influenced by Canadian communications expert, Marshall McLuhan, Mr Innes found the back-seat much more stimulating.

 Prof. Petrie said “Jim was a superb teacher and coach, advising us at conferences in Bologna and Verona and in the European Parliament. A professional, he demanded that you were professional too and was scathing of the infantile left who were happier to lose everything rather than achieve attainable goals.

 "At an assembly in the Hague, I slipped a note to Peter (now Lord) Mandelson inviting him for a coffee. On mentioning Jim as our adviser, Mandelson chuckled and smiling broadly said – ‘you are in very very safe hands’.

 "Colleagues the length and breadth of Italy owe a great deal to the input of this warm, humourous, sagacious man, much loved by his friends and hugely respected by his political adversaries.”

 Mr Innes died at his home in Perthshire after a short illness with cancer. He is survived by his wife Rhoda and children Bess and Alick.