Saturday, July 1, 2023

'Wild Isles' (2023)

TV Review from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

David Attenborough had, among his no doubt many friends, the Queen, so this and his advanced years, which cast him of another generation with all the expectations that brings, might excuse him from being too reactionary. I have to confess that he is, to me, the Bruce Forsyth of television nature programmes – a safe bet and someone the BBC can place before the viewing public in the knowledge that he is not going to ‘say it as it is’ and upset anyone.

I must also confess that I do not have a television and have not ever felt the need to own one; of course if you mention this people are quick to tell you how you are missing out on ‘all the wonderful documentaries’… maybe, but I take the view that I like to do things myself all the time I am physically able and not sit back eating a pizza with a remote in one hand watching someone else even if it is to see a wildebeest getting ripped to bits by a lion with the commentator telling you that ‘the wildebeest is getting ripped to bits by a lion’. It was, therefore, with some effort that I managed to find a friend who was happy for me to go over to his house and watch the ‘controversial sixth episode’ of the latest of David Attenborough’s wildlife documentary series. Despite not having looked at the media or listened to the news for the last nine months it was physically impossible not to have heard of ‘Wild Isles’ – his latest series in which he looks at nature ‘at home’. I suppose even the legendary Mr Attenborough can’t carry on lying around among a harem of gorillas forever, particularly in his mid-nineties.

Episode 6 was not shown on mainstream television and the word had it that it was ‘too controversial’. This, of course, fired up my interest; at last! Sir David was going to put things straight and he was going to catch me, King Charles and the BBC totally unprepared and whilst lying in some long grass in Epping Forest, hugging a badger, would say ‘The capitalist system is both dangerous to wildlife and to people. The wealthy are becoming more wealthy and the only way we can ensure that wildlife on our planet will thrive is to end the profit system now and smash the capitalists…. Workers of the World Unite!’

This sadly was absolutely not the case. I sat down as my friend fiddled with iPlayer and as the programme began I tensed up waiting for a purple-faced Attenborough railing against the system but on came the beautifully shot dolphins, flowers, eagles and ancient oak trees. The photography was, as always, absolutely stunning but no even slightly ‘edgy’ comment. It was like a balloon that you find behind the sofa 10 months after the New Year’s Eve party….

I am baffled as to why this episode was not shown… a little research suggested that the BBC had only ever intended five episodes, odd… then why make six? Others say that they could not be seen to show an episode linked to charities. Apparently the WWF, National Trust and Greenpeace were involved. Well, I suppose the National Trust do have some very revolutionary coffee cakes, perhaps that’s why? While the viewer was entertained with wonderful camera work Sir David spoke in short simple statements: ‘The Cairngorms are a wonderful place’…. (20 second dramatic pause)…’Just enough of the natural world remains to recover’… (20 second pause)…’It starts with us’…. (20 second pause) … ‘Vast swathes of countryside are now silent’… (20 second pause). Rachel Carson was saying that over 60 years ago, I wanted to shout, and nothing’s bloody changed…! And so it went on, tame, totally dumbed down – nothing that could be considered a rallying call or reason to do anything other than scoff the pizza and call for another lager.

I’d like to say more but what can you say… ? Okay, perhaps I should try… the programme left me feeling the same old way, once again here we are faced with a person who has nothing to lose (at his age) and who is in a prime position to get a message over, to really say some hard-hitting truths but instead, like so many people who really could exploit their privileged platform, squanders the chance with some meaningless platitudes.

Am I being unreasonable? Can capitalism really be made to work in the interests of nature and wildlife? Surely the answer is staring us in the face – everywhere I look, everything I hear, ALL the evidence points to the profit motive coming before the environment, so, clearly, no!

I have no doubt that Sir David cares for the life he has so deeply involved himself with over all those years but why is it that such an obvious answer to the plight of all the animals he has talked about and seen during his long life has not occurred to him? Like so many others he believes that reforms are the answer.

I decided to look a bit deeper and see if he really had not considered how the system itself was the cause of the decline wildlife. A quick search reveals that, indeed, he has expressed thoughts on the system and, indeed on capitalism itself, so here are a few:
‘Human beings have overrun the world’
‘Greed does not lead to joy’
‘Our system is based on profit but capitalism is not dead’
Make of these what you will. Furthermore, and in the series itself, he does, as is often the case in the media, resort to the ‘guilt trip’ approach. I have to admit that this is one of my pet hates and I have railed against it before; he says things like ‘Do we really not care for nature’ or ‘Our blind assault’ (on nature) or ‘We have just enough nature (left) to save our wildlife’ and ‘Real success can only come if there is change in our societies (note the plural here – he is not saying society as a whole) and in our economics and in our politics’.

The latter says both all and nothing and still begs the question – well what do you want to replace it with? The former do the usual thing of turning the problem to the sort of abstract ‘we’ or ‘our’ as if we as individuals are personally responsible for albatrosses choking to death on plastic or ancient woodlands being cut down to shave 5 minutes off a train journey to Birmingham… Maybe Sir David really does want to explain the real problem but has his wings clipped… just as he is straightening his tie and the makeup artist dabs on the last of the greasepaint the producer says ‘steady on with the socialist stuff Dave, we don’t want a bloody revolution, just give them the cuddly take, and remember the series is running a hefty profit so stay off the red, eh?’

It really doesn’t take a naturalist to tell us that nature is endangered but it will take socialism to put it right.
Glenn Morris

Human history as economic growth (2023)

Book Review from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Someone has described Oded Galor’s The Journey of Humanity. The Origins of Wealth and Inequality as ‘a powerful mixture of fact, theory and interpretation’. And that’s just about right. It’s basically an attempt at an economic history of humankind, seeking to explain the complex forces behind economic development from when groups of modern human beings first began spreading from their original homeland of Africa to other parts of the planet. The author presents us with a multi-faceted narrative of ‘long-term’ history that seeks to explain why different social, technological and economic developments have taken place in different parts of the world at different times in the whole span of the 2-300,000 year ‘journey’ of homo sapiens. Much, he argues, can be explained by the environmental conditions prevailing in the earliest times whose influence on ‘the fundamental forces that have swept humanity across its voyage’ have been and remain seminal. This is the basis of the method of interpreting history he calls ‘Unified Growth Theory’.

Industrial development
In attempting to identify and trace the forces that have governed the process of human economic development, he differentiates between what he calls ‘the Malthusian epoch’ (i.e., pre-industrial revolution) and the period since (ie, the development of modern capitalist production). The distinction he makes is as follows. Before the nineteenth century the productive forces and hence the wealth of society and its ability to support more people were ever developing, but, as they did so, this progress was offset by increasing population growth, so confirming the argument of late 18th century economist Thomas Malthus in his ‘Essay on the Principles of Population’ (1798) that the human population will tend to grow more rapidly than the food supply causing poverty for the majority to remain inevitable. However, continues Galor, the industrial production of the last two centuries has allowed the human species to escape from the Malthusian ‘poverty trap’ by ushering in an ongoing era of sustained economic growth. In this era the growing need for and emphasis on what he calls ‘human capital’ (ie, education) has meant that human beings have increasingly developed the knowledge and consciousness necessary to put a relative brake on population growth and so not to fall back into a situation of increased production exceeded by the number of mouths to feed, creating, he tells us, ‘a long-term rise in human prosperity’. It is this development of ‘human capital’ in the last 200 years and the fertility decline that has gone with it that the author sees as most ‘revolutionary’ in driving the overwhelming changes that have taken place in the way human society has organised itself.

He then seeks to explain why these changes have taken root more or less quickly and profoundly in certain parts of the world than in others and to do this he uses his theory to examine early but in his view deep-rooted, almost ‘ingrained’ factors causing these differentiations. These are factors such as landscape fragmentation, soil types, population diversity, family size and cultural institutions, which, though they may at first glance seem minor or secondary, he sees as intrinsic and long acting. Emphasis on these factors may at first sight not seem to sit easily with the Marxist materialist view that it is the development of the forces of the production that drives the historical development of human societies. Yet there can nevertheless be perceived an implicit recognition that what underlies all this development are in fact the productive forces and that the other factors on which he lays emphasis are part of the superstructure which is perpetually interacting with those forces – as per materialist theory.

In other ways too Galor’s narrative seems compatible with the materialist view of history, in particular in its account of the gradual and stuttering move from hunter-gatherer society to settled agriculture (the ‘Agricultural Revolution’). This confirms that, though this change enabled increases in production, population and goods available, it did so at the cost of subservience of the majority of populations to small ruling castes and probably shorter lives and lower living standards than before for that majority. The author synthesises it most effectively: ‘As societies … grew larger, it became essential for individuals to collaborate on a regional basis outside their kinship group. To facilitate wide-scale cooperation, these more complex societies were characterised by persistent and often hereditary political leadership, social stratification and centralised decision-making. With significant disparities in wealth, authority and status came class divisions and a ruling class, consisting of a hereditary nobility, whose interest lay in maintaining the social hierarchy and unequal distribution of wealth. The distinctions in status were reinforced and maintained by cultural norms, beliefs and practices, often religious in nature.’

But no class struggle
But if we can perceive a broadly materialist thrust to his Unified Growth Theory, Galor is to say the least equivocal towards the founder of the materialist conception of history, Karl Marx. Though referring to Marx at one stage as a ‘great thinker’, he writes off his key concept of the class struggle on the grounds that the idea that ‘ever intensifying competition among capitalists could only result in a reduction in their profits, inducing them to deepen the exploitation of workers’ has not come to pass. In fact, however, Marx never argued that intensifying competition would result in a reduction in profits, but rather that it would more likely lead to the ruin of the less competitive and to the concentration of capital in fewer and fewer hands (which has in fact happened). Galor also rejects what he calls ‘the central pillar of the Marxist thesis … the unavoidable power struggle between capitalists and workers that would lead ultimately to a revolution and the shattering of the class-based society’, on the grounds that ‘the communist revolution Marx and Engels foresaw happened in 1917 in Russia of all places’, ie, not in the industrialised nations they saw as fertile ground for revolution. It will of course be clear to anyone who has read Marx attentively that the Leninist revolution in Russia bore no relation, except in the label falsely attributed to it, to the kind of democratic revolution of a class-conscious majority of workers that Marx advocated and foresaw. So the author is, to say the least, mixed up about Marx, and his ‘vulgar’ Marxism is all the more surprising given the exceptional scholarship and erudition which characterises this book as a whole. Perhaps it is instructive in this regard that nowhere does Marx’s name appear in the book’s extensive bibliography.

Nevertheless, the author’s description of capitalism (though he never uses the word) as ‘splendour and misery’ is strikingly apt. His thrust is that developments of all kinds must be weighed in the balance and even the worst tragedies have ‘limited long-term impact on the grand arc of human development’. So he owns that there have been massive humanitarian crises – wars, genocides, depressions, pandemics, atrocities, mass exoduses of refugees – in the last 200 years but at the same time points to continually increased prosperity or at least less poverty for billions and the hope that this will continue ‘to create, promote equality of opportunity, reduce human misery and build a better world’. He also however mentions – if briefly – global warming and climate crisis and wonders whether this will be a ‘short-lived’ phenomenon resolvable via ‘revolutionary technologies’ or whether it will be ‘the single historical event that derails humanity from its journey thus far, bringing the most catastrophic long-lasting consequences of all’.

The author’s intentions are clearly laudable. He states the need ‘to decipher the Mystery of Inequality and foster global prosperity’ and to address ‘the misery and injustice that continue to affect a large portion of humanity’. He writes that ‘education, tolerance and greater gender equality hold the keys to our species’ flourishing in the decades and centuries to come’. But none of this contemplates or allows for the obvious way out of the strife and suffering he recognises or a solution to the very incomplete flourishing of human development that the profit system, with all its splendour and technology, has proved capable of offering. None of this contemplates either an end to that strife or the complete human flourishing that a leaderless, stateless, classless society of voluntary cooperation and free access can offer once the majority of the world’s workers choose to establish it peacefully and democratically.
Howard Moss

The dark religion of bourgeois economics (2023)

From the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

After acquiring political dominance in England during the revolutions of the 17th century in the name of the Jesus Myth, the capitalist class would come to nurture an even more malevolent ideology centred on an equally fictitious myth called ‘the free market’. With the help of that luminary of the Enlightenment, Adam Smith, the economics of exploitation were elevated to a force of nature which rivalled Christianity in its malignancy and the suffering it would sanction. His infamous remark concerning ‘the invisible hand’ implied a kind of transcendental force that was superior to mere human judgement and that directly contradicted the Enlightenment project of subjecting all knowledge to human reason thus casting aside all such superstition. The Enlightenment would, in terms of science, help guide humanity out of the darkness of religion only to, in the hands of bourgeois economic propagandists, replace it with the cult of worshipping at the altar of the free market. Like Napoleon the English bourgeoisie were not interested in reason, science or logic but only in an ideology that would serve their never-ending hunger for wealth and power.

This mystical force is a manifestation of the bourgeois need for an ultimate source of authority. In the absence of a deity they substituted another non-human entity to reinforce the ‘truth’ of their ideology. In their defence of the capitalist system against any perceived threat from ‘socialism’ its defenders give the impression that their preferred economic mechanism was conceived and created with a meticulous precision that was motivated purely by the health of society. In fact, historically speaking, this ruling class had no idea of the shape and evolution of capitalism once they freed it from feudal shackles. Like a monstrous juggernaut its momentum was unstoppable as it covered the planet with pollution, war, economic depressions and shattered the lives of all those who were enslaved by its overwhelming need for profit. Those who worshipped at its altar explained the failures and disasters in terms of government betrayal of free market principles or the immoral activities of renegade monopolists and financial pirates etc. Indeed, how could anyone criticise such a powerhouse of technical innovation and wealth creation?

But those who created the wealth were beginning to become sullen and bitter about their lack of a share of it all. The politically more astute among the bourgeois intelligentsia recognised that the system was unable to provide even the most basic necessities of life for workers and so decided to create an infrastructure and welfare system that would forestall any revolutionary inclinations among the masses. It was not only the fear of insurrection but also the need to maintain a healthy workforce together with a dread of the creation of monopolies, which might hold them all to ransom, in transport, raw materials and power etc that brought into being the nationalised or ‘public’ sector. This arrangement, in its turn, created further problems because, as it was financed by taxation, it was always strapped for cash due to that other commandment of capitalist religion: ‘Thou shall not financially burden the wealthy’. Although this ‘mixed economy’ has been the model for most advanced capitalist states ever since whenever things go wrong, as the inevitable instability of production for profit always does, the political and economic debate is invariably split between those who blame too much state interference (the Right) and those who claim that free market deregulation is at the heart of the problem (the Left). We still live with a stalemate produced by the failure of both.

Marx had proved that profit was nothing more than theft. The value of labour power as incarnated in its price (wages) is considerably less than the value it produces. Since the capitalist can sell the products of labour at their full value he could pocket the difference as ‘profit’. This is the inevitable logic of the labour theory of value that was embraced by the ‘classical economics’ of Smith and others. This unpalatable moral and political truth did not fit the needs of the ideology, and bourgeois economists have desperately tried to disprove it ever since the publication of Marx’s Capital. Almost the whole body of contemporary economics is an attempt to justify exploitation in various and ingenious ways and so discredit Marx’s definitive theory. It is the height of irony to try and dismiss the Marxian model as an anachronistic Victorian economic theory when those who oppose it have nothing more to offer as an alternative than a version of ‘laissez-faire’ which predates Marx by a hundred years and more!

With the denial of Marx’s discoveries it would seem that economics as a science has not progressed like the other disciplines dignified by that title. For all the power generated by the latest computer programs available to the City and other financial institutions the system continues to crash and burn periodically, and even when it does ‘work’ the exploitation of the many by the few produces endless industrial struggle and alienation. The programmers are still directed to search for ever better ways to increase profit margins and the shiny modern computer interfaces and endless economic double-talk cannot disguise the ancient inhuman God of greed that motivates it all and so disfigures our species.

Letter: Philosophical debate (2023)

Letter to the Editors from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors

There is a world beyond the senses, SJW informs us (May Socialist Standard) (true!) but ‘we are only ever speaking of our experience of it’. This is pure empiricism, the phenomenalism of Kant, the logical positivists (Mach, Carnap) and the phenomenologists (Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida et al) Karl Marx was not a phenomenalist but a dialectical materialist who embraced a ratio-empiricist epistemology (a critical realism or science) that sought to understand the reality of the material world (including capitalism) by going beyond immediate experience of appearances (phenomena). Nobody has ever experienced a dinosaur, or photosynthesis.
Brian Morris, 

PS. In my Anthropology and Dialectical Naturalism (Black Rose 2022) I defend philosophical materialism as a metaphysic against its current detractors, especially the postmodernists and phenomenalists like Latour.

SJW writes: 
Marx was a skeptic by confession – his motto was ‘Doubt everything’. He was ‘no Marxist’, but criticised the entire edifice of philosophy that defends the brutal experience of private property with bewildering flights of fancy. The ‘Marxists’ that followed bewailed the fact that Marx did not leave them a philosophy. Engels and Kautsky provided their thoughts as substitute, and the entire edifice of dialectical and other materialisms is based on their works and later the likes of Lukacs and Bukharin. It is my argument that dialectical materialism and other ‘isms’ sometimes mangle the position that Marx took. I don’t claim to know Marx’s mind, as Brian Morris does, or to install him in the pantheon of capitalist thinkers: only to think clearly, as a worker in capitalism, and come to similar conclusions to Marx in the present day. We should expect to do our own thinking, as workers, simple yet profoundly different from capitalist teachings, being more daring than complex.

Fake History (2023)

Book Review from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped The World. By Otto English, Wellbeck, 2022

Anyone who has seen a big enough expanse of water will be able to see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon. The bizarre notion that pre-Colombian people thought the earth was flat was started by Washington Irving, author of Sleepy Hollow, the Rip Van Winkle stories and a biography of Columbus published in 1828. According to Irving, Columbus sailed west from Spain to prove that the Earth was spherical and ‘discovered’ America in the process. However, there is no evidence that Columbus had that intention and there were already, in 1492, some 60 million people living in America. The founding myth of America and many other states is that of ‘exceptionalism’, the belief that they are a special people and, by inference, that others are inferior.

Abraham Lincoln did not believe that all men were created equal. In 1861 Lincoln became the first Republican Party President. Shortly afterwards a Civil War began which killed an estimated 618,000 people (a greater number than British dead, military and civilian, in the Second World War). In his Gettysburg Address of 1863 Lincoln declared that the American nation was founded on the proposition that ‘all men are created equal’. What he meant was ‘all white men’. In a debate in 1858 Lincoln said that he was ‘not, nor have ever been, in favour of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races’. He was opposed to ‘mixed race’ marriages but he was strongly in favour of ‘repatriating’ black people to Africa. He didn’t believe black people should have the vote, though he did eventually agree to extending suffrage to black Americans who had served on the Union side in the Civil War. But not to other black Americans.

Queen Victoria married a German, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, in 1840. They continued with that family name, Saxe-Coburg Gotha, until the First World War with Germany, when overnight it became the House of Windsor. The insinuation has long been held that the royal family is German. This is rather like Donald Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama couldn’t be a ‘real American’ because he wasn’t born in America and his father was born in Kenya. Barack was born in America and his father was born in Kenya, but that didn’t matter to the racist meme. The arch-opponent of immigration Nigel Farage is the great-great grandson of German refugees in the 1860s. He may be a hypocrite, but it would be absurd to claim that he is really a German.

There was never a realistic prospect of Nazi Germany invading Britain during the Second World War. Although their air forces were more or less evenly matched, the Kriegsmarine was massively outgunned by the Royal Navy. That alone made invasion extremely unlikely. German General Alfred Jodl said that an invasion would be like ‘sending troops into a mincing machine’. And Field Marshal von Rundstedt later claimed that Hitler never had a serious plan to invade. But that doesn’t stop the relentless propaganda being pumped out that Britain could have lost the war if not for those who gave their lives in its defence.

Many falsehoods have been told by and about Churchill, some of which have been repeated by his biographer and wannabe Churchillian PM, Andrew Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Among the many things Churchill never actually said: ‘If you’re not a Liberal by 25 you don’t have a heart’ and that ‘if you’re not a Conservative by 35, you don’t have a brain’ (he was a Conservative MP at 25 and a Liberal MP at 35). Born into the ruling class, Churchill’s reputation was forged when he became Prime Minister of the wartime coalition in 1940. Like Abraham Lincoln, he has acquired a cult status, seemingly beyond criticism. But his defence of Empire is less well known. For instance, writing in the 1930s of aborigines in Australia: ‘I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place’. How much longer will his statue remain in Parliament Square? Upon hearing of a suggestion to remove the statue, Boris Johnson said that he would ‘fight with every breath in his body’ to keep the statue up. A more likely scenario would be — taking a cue from his hero — that he would give the order for others to do the fighting.

And there’s much more fake history exposed in this recommended book by Otto English. Some hostile reviewers have gleefully seized upon the fact that this name is fake. His real name is Andrew Scott, which is also the name of an actor. To avoid confusion, and possible legal consequences, he adopted a pen name. Nothing unusual about that for authors.
Lew Higgins

Missing Class (2023)

Book Review from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

No Politics But Class Politics. By Walter Benn Michaels and Adolph Reed, Jr. Edited by Anton J├Ąger and Daniel Zamora. Eris £20.

This volume consists of a number of essays written individually by the two authors over the period from 1997 to 2020, together with a foreword by the editors and a conclusion by the authors. There are also four interviews of the authors, conducted by the editors.

The main argument presented is that focus on inequality in terms of ‘race’ distracts attention from the more general inequality that exists. As economic inequality in general increases, so (it seems) does the enthusiasm for addressing every non-economic kind of inequality. The US is less racist, sexist and homophobic than it was several decades ago, but it is also more unequal. Neoliberalism, the dominant capitalist ideology, is opposed to discrimination but perfectly happy with economic inequality. Equality of opportunity, while good for business, justifies inequality. Equality of race and gender is in no way contradictory to inequality of class.

Most white people are badly off, with sixty million white Americans having basically no wealth at all. Would it really benefit black people if roughly one in eight of the top one per cent were black, in keeping with the proportion of black people in the whole population? Gains for a few do not help the many, but are part of a system that hurts the many. Universities have become more diverse as far as students are concerned, though Latinos and Latinas are underrepresented, and poorer students struggle to get accepted. Professors are also more diversified, but increasingly teaching is being done by people who do not have full-time or ‘permanent’ contracts (adjunct faculty, as they are known). Adjunct staff are not so diversified, but the problem lies really in their low pay and poor working conditions.

The authors are of course not against resistance to discrimination in terms of ‘race’ or gender, and they give a good account of racism; rather, they see this as less fundamental than struggle against inequality and for a world where nobody lives below the poverty line. The problem with the book, however, is that not much at all is said about the class politics mentioned in the title, in terms of what the classes are or what its aim should be. There are a number of vague references to particular classes, such as ‘the black professional-managerial class’, an ‘upper-class professor’ and an ‘upper middle class’, and to the one percent. It is all very well saying that ‘class matters more than race or sex’ (in the context of personal care aides, who are very badly paid and are mostly women of colour), but more needs to be said in terms of how class is defined and what classes exist under capitalism. As is said, fighting exploitation is a way of fighting the effects of discrimination, but fighting discrimination is not a way of fighting exploitation: ‘if nobody were the victim of racism or sexism, lots of people would still be poor’. A reference to Marx’s solution of abolishing (private) property is not enough to show the kind of system the authors stand for.

So an interesting text, though it does not quite deliver what might be expected.
Paul Bennett

Obituary: John Lee (2023)

Obituary from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

John Lee, an active member of the Party for many decades, died in April at the age of 92. He joined the old Tottenham branch in 1949 as a teenager and was involved in its various successor branches. He worked as a clerical officer in Customs and Excise, his only job and it was whilst working there that he heard our speakers at Tower Hill. He managed to avoid National Service about this time because of defective eyesight.

In the ‘60s he was active on our Executive and Publicity Committees. He was a very regular attendee at branch meetings, apart from during a period when he was in hospital for a detached retina operation, and later, in 1980, when he took himself off for a week’s touring holiday in Italy.

In the Party, after retirement, he picked up the basics of computer work, and for years he dealt with general enquiries and requests for the Socialist Standard, working at our Head Office on a weekly basis until a few years ago. He was always ready to leaflet demonstrations or help out at a branch street stall. A quiet but thoughtful man, he was well read. He admitted that he was somewhat terrified of getting up to address an audience, which he sometimes had to do when answering questions about a Committee report to Party Conference. Never a speaker nor a writer, he would only chip in on a discussion if he felt he had something relevant to contribute, and then typically only briefly. The Party has lost a long-serving and hard-working stalwart.