1990s >> 1994 >> no-1081-september-1994

Obituary: Jimmy Doherty

We are sorry to learn of the death of our old comrade, Jimmy Doherty. Born in Ireland, Jimmy became a merchant seaman in the last world war and left the navy a political convert — not as a socialist, but as a member of the now defunct Commonwealth Party. Realising the futility of that particular path, Jimmy joined the Socialist Party in 1954, becoming an active member of the old Hackney branch. Jimmy’s main area of activity was Islington and it was there that he was active through to the end, distributing literature and supporting meetings.


Jimmy was quite a character. He had a stammer which never stood in the way of his tireless efforts to collar workers and tell them the basics of socialism; indeed, if a non-socialist could not be collared Jimmy would find himself a Party member and make it his business to take him through the ABC of socialist principles. Hard as nails on the importance of principles, Jimmy was no dogmatist, always stressing that socialists would only ever make an impact by relating to the day-to-day events of the capitalist world. Jimmy’s own involvements took him into the world of alternative health treatments; woe betide any unsuspecting comrade who complained of so much as a headache or a twinge in a muscle within Jimmy’s hearing, for quick as a flash he would be examining them and prescribing herbal concoctions and ancient Chinese remedies which would either kill or cure them. Jimmy was also a relentless book collector (he had worked for a year in the Library of the British Museum as a messenger) and the present writer’s book collection owes no small debt to Jimmy’s discerning sense of what every socialist ought to know. Next time I look at that old book on women in Irish history or the herbal recipe collection from Tibet I shall remember a friend and comrade whose commitment to fundamental socialist principles should be an example to us all.


Steve Coleman