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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2017

Obituary: John Pickett - 1954-2017

John Pickett out campaigning for TUSC, photo by B Norman

John Pickett out campaigning for TUSC, photo by B Norman   (Click to enlarge)

Alison Hill

John Pickett, Socialist Party comrade and postal worker, has died very suddenly at the age of 63. I first met John in the early 1980s, just after he returned to Portsmouth after being at college in Stoke.

He and his brother Chris played a vital role in reinvigorating Militant (the Socialist Party's predecessor) in Portsmouth and paving the way for a victorious battle against the Tory poll tax. He spoke at many public meetings, building the mass movement which destroyed Thatcher's political career.

John had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Marxist classics and his contributions at branch meetings and discussion groups were invaluable. He always had a fresh and interesting way of explaining Marxist ideas. He recently wrote 'A Movement of Our Own' about the early Labour Party, which is a gem of clarity and information.

John had many interests. He taught himself to play the piano after watching a TV masterclass. These were the days before You Tube so he had to get a bloke down the pub to show him the correct fingering!

He was an excellent chess player and was a member of the Royal Mail national team. He went to Hungary for an international competition.

He was fascinated by science, cricket and music of all kinds. He was modest and unassuming but an absolute stalwart of Marxism. He will be sorely missed.

Nick Chaffey adds:

John sold the Militant and its successor, the Socialist, to his workmates and sympathisers every week for decades. Active in the Communications Workers' Union he was a long standing delegate to Portsmouth TUC.

In 2009 John, along with the Portsmouth SP, actively supported the Vestas factory workers' occupation on the Isle of Wight, making regular visits to their evening rallies after a long day at work.

In the same year he took part in successful discussions with Portsmouth RMT transport union to build support for the left 'No2EU-Yes2Democracy' platform in the EU elections.

He also stood as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate on several occasions in Fratton Ward, strengthening support for the idea of a new workers' party and our ties to the RMT.

Just recently he was pleased to bring his CWU rep from work to the Socialist Party branch to join in discussing Brexit, Corbyn and the fight for socialism.

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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.
  • 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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In The Socialist 22 February 2017:


Save our NHS!

Support the NHS? Join the march!

Health cuts responsible for rise in deaths - reverse all austerity now

Stop victimising NHS whistleblowers


International socialist news and analysis

Dublin: #JobstownNotGuilty


Fighting the cuts

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Bristol: Hundreds march against council cuts

Tower Hamlets anti-cuts budget lobby


Socialist Party news and analysis

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Stop the student loan sell-off - scrap all fees

Argos fails to pay staff minimum wage - taxman cuts fine in half!

What we saw


February Revolution 1917

February revolution 1917 - what lessons for today?


Socialist Party workplace news

Aslef members reject Southern deal - now for coordinated action to fight to win

Tata pension deal: 'Gun to the head' offer accepted

Unison Women's Conference

Workplace news in brief


Socialism not Trumpism

Socialism not Trumpism: Thousands more protest and plan to walkout


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

A world to win - give us the resources!

Socialist Party regional conference reports

Obituary: John Pickett - 1954-2017

Wallasey Labour remains suspended despite collapse of allegations


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Worried about fake news? Start with Labour councils' budget lies

Organise to reverse 28% rise in violence against retail workers

The Socialist Inbox

Web series review: Cooked - "How capitalism ruined eating"


 

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