Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 May 2008

Obituary: Ray Apps

The death of Ray Apps at the age of 77 is the loss of a great fighter.

Ray was born and brought up in London but moved to Brighton in the 1950s where he met his future wife Joyce. He worked in many jobs - from market porter to bus conductor - and became active in Brighton Labour Party where, in the 1960s he came into contact with the 'Militant' group (now the Socialist Party).

After long and deep discussions, he became a Marxist and joined Militant; from then on discussion and debate in our ranks, to which he made a major input, informed his work.

Ray was an active trade unionist all his life. When working for the Brighton Evening Argus, he led the van drivers' branch of the print union NATSOPA. Under his leadership, this disregarded part of the workforce gave management an unwelcome lesson - the editing and printing of a newspaper was nothing if it could not be delivered to newsagents!

But Ray's main arena for 20 years was the Labour Party. From the 1960s Brighton Labour Party had been a left wing beacon, organising campaign after campaign, putting forward resolution after resolution to the Labour Party conference - in those days a genuine forum for debate, unlike today's corporate beanfeast.

As delegate from Brighton Kemptown, Ray was probably the best-known rank and file delegate. The high point came when after turmoil following attempts by Labour Party members to unseat MP Reg Prentice, who later defected to the Tories, Labour's NEC was forced to appoint a special committee to consider a constitutional amendment on this issue.

Ray was delegate to this committee, representing rank and file members, and his debating skill and attention to detail won over the committee. He convinced them to ask the conference to approve a rule change so that local constituency Labour parties would have the right to reselect MPs between elections.

As a regional full-time worker for Militant, and part of its national leadership, Ray was an inspiring leader, prepared to make sacrifices and expecting others to do likewise. Although the kindest of individuals he could be scathing, especially to those he referred to as 'sick hamster comrades' after a (possibly mythical) comrade who excused his absence from an important meeting by "Sorry Ray, my hamster was sick".

The 1980s saw a continuing battle between Militant comrades, who fought to keep the socialist flag flying, and those who wanted to turn Labour into an 'electable', big business friendly party.

When Labour won control of Brighton council, three Militant members were among the newly elected councillors. With other left-wingers they formed a 'rebel' group who opposed the council's implementation of the Poll Tax and use of bailiffs, as well as defending the interests of council tenants and workers against the right-wing policies of the Labour group led by Steve Bassam (now Lord Bassam of Brighton). Ray insisted on weekly meetings with the Militant councillors to discuss every issue.

On the instruction of Labour leader Neil Kinnock (now Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty), Brighton Labour Party was suspended and 'investigated' by party organiser Joyce Gould (now Baroness Gould of Potternewtown). When Ray and six other Militant supporters were subsequently expelled, an editorial in The Times crowed: "Now the Labour Party Conference is an Apps-Free Zone".

Ray also recognised that when conditions change, Marxists have to change tactics. The collapse of the Labour Party from a workers' party at bottom into the "grotesque chaos" of Blair and Brown's openly capitalist New Labour "project" saw Ray on the side of those, like the present Socialist Party, who recognised this and changed course.

Although this meant rupturing relations with long-term acquaintances, like the late Ted Grant, he fully supported the independent tactics of the Socialist Party and the idea of a new, mass workers' party.

Ray was always a riveting speaker. In 1969, at a student-led squatter group meeting held upstairs in a pub, Ray - the lone Militant supporter - lambasted the speakers as a gang of petty-bourgeois intellectuals, betraying desperate working class people.

Job done, he decided to slip down for a pint. To his horror, as he walked downstairs he heard the tramp of feet behind him - a large proportion of the 100-strong meeting had taken him to be leading a walkout, and followed him!

Ray is honoured as a working-class leader, a Marxist and a Trotskyist until the day he died. His memory will be cherished by those privileged to know him. He was predeceased by his wife Joyce who had supported him and worked with him for 52 years. We send our condolences to his sons John and Chris and all his family.

Geoff Jones

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 7 May 2008:

Coventry: Socialist election success shows the way forward

Meltdown for Brown - but he won't change course

Elections round-up and results

Election victories for class fighters

Racist BNP have no solutions!

Socialist Party news and analysis

Grangemouth refinery: Oil strike wins concessions

May Day marches

Defend abortion rights

TUC attacks Labour on working poverty

Bangor Socialist Students fight tuition fees

Obituary: Ray Apps

Album review: The Bright Lights of America

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

France 1968: Capitalism brought to its knees

How workers and youth are building a Left alternative in France

Sri Lanka: 25 years of war and conflict

May Day Greetings

May Day Greetings 2008 in The Socialist (p4)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p6)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p7)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p9)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p10)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p11)

May Day Greetings 2008, The Socialist (p15)

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison witch-hunt: Defend the four, come to the lobby!

Mark Thomas condemns witch-hunt

'Raising the roof' at Usdaw conference

Support Shelter workers

National Shop Stewards Network second conference

Come to the 2008 Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference


Home   |   The Socialist 7 May 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleBrighton victory

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

triangleStrike together for better pay

triangleBrighton: NSSN rally at the TUC Congress


triangleLabour council Blairites deselected

triangleNew ebook: Liverpool A City That Dared To Fight

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Socialist Party:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleLabour 'purge' furore really just democracy

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Unite protest against blacklisting



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

More ...

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice