Obituary: J. E. Roe

Last month we heard with deep regret of the death of one of the Party’s oldest members, Comrade Jonathan Roe of High Wycombe. He joined more than sixty-six years ago. Before the 1914-18 war he was a regular speaker in London, and he was one of the candidates in the first election campaign contested by the Party in 1906. The election was for the Battersea Borough Council, and the results for his ward were Blewett 57, Roe 49, Witcher 45.

Later he moved to High Wycombe, and for many years carried on an unwavering courageous struggle to give the Socialist Party of Great Britain a footing there. In 1950 he was successful in getting a small branch formed, and for a time Party speakers went regularly to the town to hold outdoor meetings. Eventually the Branch had to close down, but “Johnny” continued his socialist work with as much determination as ever.

Occasionally he contributed short articles to the Socialist Standard, and he was a persistent letter-writer advocating Socialism to his local paper and other journals. One of his pet opponents was the late William Connors, “Cassandra” of the Daily Mirror, who lived in the same locality; and the signature “J. E. Roe” was well known on the correspondence pages of left-wing papers.

Until recent years he attended Party Conferences, and never lost his zest—at the time of his death he was sending Party literature to 17 contacts in the High Wycombe area. With his vehement manner and sharp eye went immense friendliness and dry humour. He was delighted to hear from or be visited by members. The writer has a special recollection of putting a letter to the Islington Branch Secretary and a letter to Jonathan in each other’s envelopes. The result was a short note from High Wycombe: “What’s this? Dear Phyllis? I advise you to pull yourself together, comrade.”

With his passing another of the remaining links with the Socialist Party’s early days has been broken, and a stalwart member lost. Jonathan Roe’s lifetime of work will not be forgotten, nor affection for him diminish.

Phyllis Howard