Obituary from the March 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard
We regret to have to report the death, in January, of our comrade Terry Lawlor at the age of 84. Terry joined the Party in 1942 when he was just 17. From a working class background, he studied hard to become a medical student and it was because of this that he was exempt from military service during the Second World War and served instead as an air raid fire warden on the roof of Chatham House, the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Within a short time he had established himself as one of the Party’s many notable characters in this period, becoming a prominent and vociferous Party speaker, particularly on the outdoor platform in his main stomping grounds of South London, such as at East Street, Walworth.
The rumbustious image he had in the Party (immortalised in Barltrop’s The Monument) was in some ways at odds with both his gentler, private persona and the career he developed as a consultant psychiatrist, even if at one point in the 1970s he was at the centre of a national controversy about the running of a psychiatric hospital in London, his supposed role in which he strongly denied.
Never one to shy away from public debate, Terry became known in the Party as probably the most prominent advocate of the view that as the contradictions of capitalism must sharpen over time, then so must wars and world economic crises become progressively worse. When a major slump had failed to appear after the Second World War, the Party became more cautious about such pronouncements than it had been in the period when Terry had first joined, and he eventually left the Party in 1953 after a dispute over the issue.
He remained in contact with the Party, however, for decades, reading (and often selling) the Socialist Standard, before eventually rejoining in 1991. He then served on the Party’s World Economic Crisis Committee (set up to re-examine the issue closest to his heart) and resumed speaking for the Party and writing occasionally for the Standard on economic issues, being influenced by his understanding of Marxian economics and also the views of business analysts like the ‘bearish’ investment guru Bob Beckman. It is a sad irony - not lost on his comrades - that Terry died in the middle of the major financial crisis he had long predicted.