Jane James
Jane James on a demo (centre)

Two weeks ago the Socialist carried a fitting and moving obituary of former Socialist Party executive committee (EC) member Jane James, written by her brother and party comrade Mark Pickersgill.

Subsequently, several members of the current Socialist Party EC attended the 28 March funeral celebration of Jane’s life that took place in Stevenage, and welcomed the opportunity to add to the tributes that have been paid to her.

Socialist Party general secretary Hannah Sell opened the ceremony by welcoming Jane’s family, friends and comrades to celebrate the life of a “wonderful woman”. Hannah said: “I worked together with Jane in the Socialist Party for many years, and considered her a good friend.

“She was small in stature and was not a loud person, but it would have been a big mistake to be fooled by that. She was immensely strong, determined, kind, and dependable – in the very best sense of the word. There is no one you’d rather face a difficult situation with than Jane”.

Socialist Party EC member Judy Beishon spoke about Jane’s considerable contribution to the work of the party and to building support for socialist ideas. Judy drew attention to the various roles Jane had played, including as a regional party organiser, national treasurer, a national industrial organiser, and a leader of the party’s work among women.  Judy also reminded those present of the wide range of subjects Jane had written articles on for Militant and later the Socialist.

Jane was always willing to do what was necessary and “approached everything with a professional and methodical approach, an admirable lack of fuss”. 

She was hardworking and dedicated; and her good humour and cheerful personality meant she was a pleasure to work with. Also, “very importantly, she was always willing to make the sacrifices she asked for from others, the mark of a true leader of our party”.

Jane didn’t step away from the party work in the end – it was forced on her by illness.  She stayed active as a revolutionary socialist for as long as she could.

The attendees also greatly welcomed the touching contributions made by Jane’s daughter Sarah on behalf of herself and siblings Clare, Jade and Fern; Steve Glennon on behalf of Stevenage Socialist Party; Teresa Mackay, a long-time friend and comrade of Jane; Mark Pickersgill, on behalf of Jane’s siblings and close family, including Mark’s partner Clare Doyle; and Jim Horton, Jane’s long-term partner.

The event was closed by singing the international song of the socialist movement – the Internationale – to aptly reflect the socialist conviction to which Jane was so dedicated.