Obituary: Death of Harry Martin
Through the medium of a correspondent we have learnt with regret of the death of Harry Martin, who was a familiar speaker to those in London who attended meetings at Tower Hill and similar spots.
He was one of the small group that took part in the foundation of our party forty-seven years ago and fought out the problems the solution of which helped to clear our vision and reinforce the soundness of our general attitude.
In the early years of the Party he came into conflict with the majority on the question of the attitude to be adopted by a delegate if elected to Parliament. He held the view that such a member should be so unswerving in his hostility that he must vote against every measure, from whatever source, that came before parliament—except of course the measure to introduce Socialism. He held that whatever the nature of such a measure voting for it or even abstaining from voting would constitute pandering to reformism. Thus, according to his view, a Party Delegate would be committed, without examination, to voting against any measures designed to improve educational facilities, safety facilities in mines and factories, the removal of disabilities on trade unionism. and even a proposal, however fatuous it might be. to abandon the prosecution of a war.
As the Party would not accept his view he resigned his membership and never rejoined although, in his propaganda, he supported the Party’s outlook, sold our literature and urged listeners to join with us. Those who knew him well believed that his reason for not rejoining was simply that he preferred to remain a free-lance speaker.
He propagated socialist ideas sedulously, during a long life-time, on the outdoor platform in all weathers and was a familiar figure to those interested in change. Though his knowledge was not wide he had a firm grasp of the essentials, of the socialist position and was indefatigable in pounding away with rough humour and a fierce scorn of all that was put forward to patch up and support the system that exploited the workers. He was the means of helping many workers to an understanding of Socialism and there are many, including some who opposed his ideas, that will be genuinely sorry to hear of his passing.
He died in St. James’ Hospital, Balham, on the 2nd February at the age of 87 and was buried in Garret Lane Cemetery. Up to the last he remained what he had always been—a fierce and resolute opponent of Capitalism and a staunch advocate of Socialism.