Obituary: Walter Atkinson
When I was told of the death of Walter Atkinson I asked myself the question — should I rush up to Manchester? Or should I stay behind and sell literature, write letters and do the other mundane jobs that have to be done for socialism? I knew what Walter would have said, so I stayed behind.
Walter Atkinson died at the age of 81 after a lifetime devoted, often at great personal cost, in fighting the social system which creates today’s ills. For many years he was well known in Manchester as a member of the National Secular Society. However it is as a socialist that I remember him. He joined the Socialist Party, influenced by Moses Baritz. Arthur Mertons and other active SPGBers, in the late 1940s. He soon became a prominent figure on the Party platform — indoors and outdoors — at Platt Fields, the bombed site in Deansgate, in fact anywhere where the workers would listen to the socialist case. Members will remember him speaking at a Conference rally. His voice was heard in the pubs and on Kinder Scout when Manchester Branch took a weekend off to walk the Pennine Way.
Walter was no mean poet either. His poem, written at the time of the Hiroshima bombing, appeared in the winter edition of the World Socialist Journal 1985-6. which gave him immense pleasure.
Walter will be remembered and missed by his family, friends and comrades.
While ere I live, I still will hurl my shaft
Of what I may possess of intellectual light.
Against the power and ignorance that bars the way
To freedom of the common needs of life,
And holds back the dawning of that brighter day
When man shall cease at last from social strife.
Despair not. . . But let us carry on.
And by our efforts help the cause along.
Remains the movement after we have gone.
Its object sure, its principles still strong.
(Extract from For Socialism August 2 1948).