IT MUST HAVE BEEN A FIRST FOR JEREMY CORBYN to share a stage with top indie band Spector. But such was part of the line-up at the recent memorial meeting for Rachel Finke, the 16-year-old Young Labour activist and Briefing contributor, who took her own life in January.
Rachel had been suffering with depression for 15 months, an increasingly common condition among girls her age. Always politically precocious, she knew what was happening in the world, and sometimes found the bad things painful to come to terms with. It is no exaggeration to say that the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory in the US contributed to the way she was feeling.
But it shouldn’t be forgotten that she was often fun to be around, beautiful, clever, talented in many ways, and - it must be said - a typically cantankerous teenager at times. Rachel was born into the Labour Party. Her father David Osler and mother Sarah Finke are both members, and her stepmother Yvonne Maxwell is a Labour councillor in Hackney.
She was always ready to go on demos, hand out leaflets, and turn up for Saturday stalls, even when the weather saw many a more seasoned activist grab a few extra hours’ kip. But she was never one to take her political stance from the wrinklies, and was always quick to lambaste dad for his gross heteronormativity, cultural appropriation and general crimes against intersectional feminism. And just for being dad, really.
Rachel packed many achievements into her short life. She was a promising student, who achieved good GCSE grades a year early, despite her studies being interrupted by her illness.
She was also keen on rock music, particularly Nirvana and Bowie. A good musician herself, she co-wrote several political songs. One of them was a sardonic tribute to the time when David Cameron left his daughter in the pub.
It has since been recorded by her friend May, and will be available as a download single on the feminist label Loud Women. The proceeds will go to mental health charities.
With its catchy tune and rousing chorus of “Dear Dave, you’re such a little shit”, and now updated to take aim at Theresa May, it should be much to the taste of anybody reading this.
One of the saddest things about her passing is that Rachel would have been electrified by the women’s protests around the world that took place less than a fortnight after she left us. It fell to her younger sister Hannah to march in her place. It may just be that the month of Rachel's death will coincide with the rebirth of a mass modern feminist movement. Sadly, that movement will be missing someone who could have been a key activist.
Rachel Frieda Finke, Rebel Rebel, we will never forget you.