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Posted on 7 May 2018 at 15:04 GMT

Roger Shrives selling the Militant, photo Andy Walker

Roger Shrives selling the Militant, photo Andy Walker   (Click to enlarge)

Obituary: Roger Shrives, 5 April 1947 - 1 May 2018

Roger Shrives, a very long standing member of the Socialist Party in south London, has sadly passed away.

He had been a full-time organiser for Militant and the Socialist Party for 39 years, of which he was a member of the editorial team of the Militant and the Socialist newspapers for 37 years.

Roger became active in socialist politics as one of the first students at the New University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, in 1968 - at the very beginning of 'the Troubles'. It was here that Roger was introduced to Militant.

In December 1969 he helped establish the left-wing Coleraine Labour Party. In May 1971 Roger joined Militant.

That same month he campaigned in a council byelection in which the Northern Ireland Labour Party stood a local factory worker in a straight contest with the Unionists - securing 40% of the vote on a fighting, working class programme.

Returning to London after graduating, Roger resumed work at Lewisham social services where he became an active member of the Nalgo union.

He also helped establish the Labour Party Young Socialists Irish solidarity campaign at this time.

In November 1975 he and three other members who shared a rented flat in south London were accused in a witch-hunting Sunday Express article on Militant of being 'bed-sit Trotskyist infiltrators' of Labour under the, hilarious to Roger, headline: "Why the secret of 13 Elsiemaud Road shocked Mrs Box" (she being the landlady).

This article was a precursor of a generalised witch-hunt against Militant (see The Rise of Militant, by Peter Taaffe).

In 1976 Roger became a full-time organiser for Militant, working at our then central offices in Hackney, east London.

He was an incredibly industrious party worker, never missing an important demo or party activity, and was a stalwart of our successful council election campaigns in Telegraph Hill, Lewisham, in the 1990s and 2000s - where he tutored a younger generation of members in sound methods of party building.

He possessed razor-sharp proofreading skills, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the party and almost everything else, and an amazing ability for remembering dates - give him your date of birth and he would instantly tell you what day of the week you were born - as well as knowing all the London postcodes!

He did, however, exhibit disdain for modern technology and would frequently curse his misbehaving computer in scenes reminiscent of the character Basil in the sitcom Fawlty Towers!

Unfortunately, Roger had many long-term health problems, including the legacy of a stroke, and he finally retired as a sub-editor in October 2015.

But as an old trooper he continued to be an active member of Lewisham branch, all too often ignoring advice from fellow comrades to take it easy.

He set high standards for selling the Socialist - even in the ambulance taking him to hospital the day before he died Roger complained to an accompanying comrade about a reported low sale of the paper on a branch activity!

He enjoyed a pint, he liked listening to jazz and he possessed a wit which, when joking about fellow comrades, bordered on the rude!

He will be missed.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 5 May 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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