Terry Liddle 1948-2012 RIP

 

It is sad to report on the death of Terry Liddle, friend, comrade and fighter for republican socialism and the working class. For those of us who knew Terry it is difficult to put one label on his politics and ideas which had many sides. He was passionate in promoting the ideas of socialism, Marxism, environmentalism, communism, atheism, secularism, libertarianism, internationalism and not forgetting vegetarianism and support for animal rights. This wasn’t about words or isms but politics which informed his practical activity and the way he led his life.

 

He was dedicated to the working class: he had belief in its future and its potential to change society in the process of changing itself. For Terry, what might seem an eclectic mix of ideas were all fused in the common struggle for class emancipation and liberation. He opposed all that divides us from ourselves and from the animals and the natural world with whom we share the planet.

 

Not surprisingly Terry was very interested in history. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of working class history. He was always ready with helpful advice which invariably opened up new opportunities and directions for research into the politics of the working class. He never failed to astound us with information about people we had never heard of who turned out have a role in the struggle. These were not the superstars or big name leaders but minor characters, perhaps like ourselves, on whom movements and struggles were built but whose names are long forgotten.

 

Terry ploughed his political furrow across a range of organizations. At various times he was a supporter or member of the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Revolutionary Democratic Group, the Socialist Alliance and the Alliance for Green Socialism. But in all of these he was an opponent of sectarianism, sometimes angry and frustrated with what he saw as the unnecessary divisions and tendency for the left to divide into rival factions.

 

From a republican socialist perspective we should pay Terry special tribute. He would describe himself as a republican socialist, a term rarely used on the left. He was one of the few who recognised the importance and significance of republicanism and its woeful neglect by the British left. He understood that the Labourist traditions of the British working class were in denial about our republican heritage which goes back to the Levellers, Tom Paine, the Chartists, and the republican movement of the 1870s. Among his many writings was a short pamphlet on the George Julian Harney, the left Chartist who edited the “Red Republican” and lived in Deptford.

 

Terry was not content to simply criticise Royal Labourism. In 1984 with Albert Stanley, he was a founder member of “Republic” which today has grown into the official spokesperson for British republicanism. It did not turn out as Terry had envisaged. Within a few years the organisation moved to the right as newer middle class supporters joined and reshaped the organisation. For Terry republicanism, socialism and the working class were bound together and the road to republicanism had to be different. Terry eventually left ‘Republic’ but not republican socialism which he continued to champion. 

 

For those of us who attended Terry’s Funeral at Eltham Crematorium on the 10th December 2012 it was an uplifting experience. In recent years Terry had many health issues and had thought about his death. He left us a few messages such as don’t hang about and get down the pub for a beer. He wrote us a moving poem about his death. His great friend, Gary Holden, gave a very moving tribute which made us laugh and feel sad in equal measure.

 

Naturally Terry had wanted us to sing the ‘Internationale’ but predicted we would make a mess of it. As if to confirm his prediction we ended with the worst rendition ever! The musical accompaniment was too slow and mourners went too fast, then some of us slowed down in an attempt to reconnect and others thought sod it we will carry on regardless. Terry had left us with a few extra verses most of us had never heard of. Terry would have been so proud to see his worst expectations of the British left finally confirmed.    

 

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