Obituaries: L. E. Weidberg and Stan C. Bathurst

L. E. Weidberg

It is with regret that we report the death, after a long illness, of L. E. Weidberg who first joined Manchester branch of The Socialist Party in the 1930s. He read a copy of the Socialist Standard in the public library and was convinced instantly.

Laurie was a socialist eccentric—infuriatingly rude and dogmatic, lovably sharp-witted and passionate. Rarely did I have a conversation with him without finding reasons to expel him from the Party and other reasons to admire him: he was a most appealing rascal, a fellow who could (and did) provoke vicars to swear at him and who always seemed to have riots imminent within the vicinity of his presence. I have never witnesses a better socialist heckler—he must have been given his training by Moses Baritz, the man who blew his clarinet down the ventilator shaft of an SDF meeting from which he had been barred. As a speaker on the outdoor platform at Hyde Park and Lincoln’s Inn, his oratory was always much to the point, usually funny, often vulgar and sometimes bloody offensive. His articles in the Socialist Standard possessed all of those characteristics, not least when he was laying in to his pet hate: the Guardian newspaper and its soggy bourgeois liberalism—or “half-baked lefty crap” as Laurie would put it. He worked hard for the Party as a tireless speaker, an EC member for one noisy year, a regular writer and a good friend to the new, younger members who were with him in Islington branch in which he spent his last years in the Party. In the branch he showed himself to possess unusual humility which allowed him to listen to and learn from others combined with the temper of one who took to co-operation like a duck takes to concrete.

For some years Laurie was very ill and knew that he was soon to die. It was this that led him to leave the Party, wrongly concluding that the working class are “a bleeding waste of time”. But as a healthy, active man he was second to few in his unrestrained effort to knock socialist sense into the heads of workers. He will be missed by those of us who remember, and persist in, those efforts and our sympathy goes to his widow, sister and three sons.

S.C.

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Stan C. Bathurst

It is with much regret that we report the death of Stan Bathurst, on 2 March, at the age of 80.

Between the wars, Stan’s active membership of the Labour Party inevitably brought him into contact with the real socialist message of the SPGB but it was not until the late forties that he came to understand and accept the Party’s principles. This came about through his association with the late comrade Bowie, when they were both employed as insurance agents in the south Essex area.

Membership of the Southend Branch in 1951 saw the commencement of Stan’s active involvement in the Party’s work for socialism. He took a full part in branch affairs and activities, acting as Treasurer for a number of years, canvassing and selling or distributing literature and worked hard during these special campaigns such as publicising the Party message in the run up to general or bye-elections.

Failing health since 1982 necessitated a decline in Stan’s activities but he continued writing to local newspapers and selling the Socialist Standard in Basildon and Stanford. Even in the last week of his life, Stan organised distribution of the Standard to his regular purchasers from his hospital bed.

Stan’s metier was the personal, one-to-one approach. Canvassing on countless doorsteps was his chief enjoyment and his employment as an insurance agent lent itself well to this type of activity. He derived much satisfaction from spreading the party message in the boss’s time.

Stan’s industrious and independent outlook led to a number of small but not insignificant achievements in his personal life. For example he built, more or less single-handed, two substantial family homes and made many improvements to a third. These and other achievements were realised mainly by dogged pegging away with limited resources to reach the desired target. Such an approach was mirrored in Stan’s Party work where he felt that persistence would get eventual rewards.

The funeral was a simple but moving affair. The Party was well represented and comrade Pat Wilson gave a valedictory address on Stan’s Party membership.

Stan leaves a widower and two sons, both of whom are Party members.