I was lucky enough to cross paths with Christopher Hitchens on a few occasions back in the 80s and early 90s. We were both born in the same place and our careers and left leaning principles bought us and his brother Peter to the same places on occasions.
One of England's most famous and outspoken left wingers, he then went on to throw his dummy out the pram over the Salman Rushdie fatwa incident and defected to the right, a massive coup for that side of politics although they wisely kept him at arms length because one thing you could never do with Hitchens is slap a label on him.
Widely known and respected on the political scene, he recently came to attention again with his anti-religion book 'God Is Not Great' where he sets about dismantling the very idea of a Creator.
Even when he was a self confessed Trotskyite he was still not adverse to hammering the left over ideals he disagreed with and that has continued after his switch to the right with attacks on American involvement overseas and the right wing darling Ronald Reagan.
Another episode that bought him to attention was his argument that waterboarding did not constitutes torture but after being persuaded to experience it for himself, he concluded "if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture."
He may have his faults (heavy drinking, arguing with family members, an horrific need to obliterate anyone he argues with) but he is one of the most listenable speakers with clever, intelligent arguments even though they may come from the opposite side of the floor.
The right may lay claim to him even though he aims as many kicks in their direction as the lefts, but that's what is so admirable about him. He doesn't care what he says or who he says it to and i hope that he will go on throwing out his intelligently and well thought out barbs in all directions for many years yet.