Friday, November 11, 2011

Mary Rosser: a formidable Marxist fighter and organiser

Mike Hicks pays tribute to Mary Rosser's work
 by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES and friends of Mary Rosser assembled last Thursday evening at the Marx Memorial Library (MML) to pay tribute to a lifetime of work and struggle given by the late Mary Rosser to communism and the cause of the working class.
 The event was chaired by John Aitkin, chair of the MML and platform speakers included the library’s president, David McLellan, who is a Marxist scholar and writer, veteran communist and MML supporter Joan Bellamy, former MML librarian Tish Collins and current librarian John Callow.
 But the keynote speaker was Mike Hicks, Mary’s partner and veteran trade unionist, who led the fight against the Murdoch empire in the battle of Wapping.
 All paid tribute to the work Mary had done, both for the library and for the Morning Star, through the dark days of the late 1980s and 90s, when world communism was in retreat and Marxism-Leninism was under heavy attack, beset by revisionists, liquidationists, debts and bailiffs.
 Mary, educated in a Catholic girls school, had an inner core of steel and a capacity for relentless work and organisation that saw off many threats.
 From the floor Ivan Beavis, who had on occasions crossed swords with Mary, acknowledged the work she had done in securing the continued existence of both the MML and the Morning Star in very difficult times.
 Mary and Mike retired a few years ago to live in Bournemouth, her home town. But they did not stop fighting; they revitalised and reorganised their local Labour Party – and a large delegation from that party, led by Pete Willsman, was there to add their tribute last Thursday.
 David McLellan paraphrased Christopher Wren: “If you want to see Mary’s memorial, look around you.” The library is now thriving, thanks to charity status funding organised by Mary and now by trade union funds as well. But it would probably have been bankrupted, sold off and lost to the movement without Mary’s efforts.
 The event finished with Mike Hicks unveiling a plaque to Mary in the entrance to the library.

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