Saluting a much-valued and longstanding comrade
The passing of Geoff Jones, after a long illness, has been met with sadness, but also pride and appreciation amongst those Socialist Party members in the Swansea and West Wales branch, throughout Socialist Party Wales and across the rest of the party, who had the opportunity of politically engaging with our longstanding comrade. This was particularily the case in Brighton, where Geoff began his lifelong commitment to Marxism within the Militant Tendency.
Geoff was among a small group of Marxist activists at Sussex University in the early 1960s who pioneered and formed the bedrock of what was to become known as the Militant Tendency in the Labour Party, now the Socialist Party.
Michael Crick, the witch-hunting political journalist, wrote in his infamous 1986 book, ‘The March of Militant’: “Another important figure at Sussex [University] was a physics lecturer, Geoff Jones, who provided continuity and an important link with the [Labour] party in Brighton Kemptown, which was eventually taken over by Militant in the 1970s and chose a Militant member, Rod Fitch as it’s parliamentary candidate for the 1983 election.”
Geoff played a key role in Brighton for more than 30 years before retiring to the Mid-Wales village of Llanwrtyd Wells with his partner, our late comrade Kate Jones, and their young son Bryn.
Wherever Geoff lived became the centre of activity for Militant in Brighton – even more so when he got a house with a large basement which became a Militant meeting place and office for Militant’s first full-time organiser in Brighton, the legendary Ray Apps.
Geoff was the only Militant supporter ever to be chair of Brighton Labour Party, and was also an active trade unionist in ASTMS (later MSF) and president of Brighton Trades Council from 1991 to 1996.
These proud socialist credentials inevitably meant that Geoff, alongside many other Militant class fighters, was expelled from a right-wing, degenerating Labour Party.
As well as writing his socialist political pamphlets, reviews and articles for our publications, Geoff, in his ‘daytime job’ as a physics lecturer, contributed physics notes to the Encyclopaedia Britannic Yearbook and wrote short technical introductions to subjects including ‘Atomic Physics’.
To Geoff’s surprise, his book on ‘Computers’ was translated and widely circulated in China. Of course, there’s no truth whatsoever in the rumours that Geoff had unwittingly contributed to the rise of China’s economic powerhouse!
After retiring to the depths of mid-Wales in the late 1990s, it inevitably meant there was a certain physical isolation away from our day-to-day activities. But, nevertheless, both Geoff and Kate would drive as often as possible the 100-mile round trip to attend a Llanelli branch meeting or a Saturday paper sale.
Geoff continued his political work by setting up our first Socialist Party Wales website and becoming the editor of our four-page quarterly, Socialist Party Wales supplement, which we published for a number of years in order to take account of the new political landscape of the devolved Welsh Assembly that was established at Cardiff Bay.
After their move to Swansea, Geoff was able to participate more fully in our party branch and trade union activities, attending the Swansea and West Wales branch meetings on a regular basis, and passing on his experience and socialist understanding to many of the younger comrades, who were always inspired by his Marxist analysis.
However, ill health restricted Geoff’s ability to be as fully active as he wanted to be. But on all the important protests, rallies and meetings in Swansea, Cardiff, and our annual ‘Socialism’ events, Geoff would make every effort to attend, flying our Socialist Party flag high!
His short pamphlet on the ‘Working-class history of Wales’ was not only a best seller among Socialist Party members, but was also more widely read among activists throughout the movement, and was stocked in many Welsh bookshops.
Geoff also assisted in encouraging our younger comrades to write and produce their own articles and pamphlets, providing not just a socialist analysis but also raising the much-needed cash from the sales that went towards our fighting fund.
Geoff’s almost 60 years of membership seem to have flown by because of the enormous amount of struggle, solidarity and socialism that’s ingrained in the life of a revolutionary.
All our comrades greatly appreciate the role and dedication of Geoff Jones in our collective struggle for socialism. We salute the passing of a much-valued comrade and pledge to continue the fight for a socialist world!
We send our condolences to Geoff’s son, Bryn, his daughter-in-law Baru, granddaughter Emilia, his family, comrades and friends.