Obituary: Phil Mellor
Phil Mellor was 31 when he joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1943. He remained an active member for the remaining 54 years of his life. Outgoing, ebullient, energetic, he never tired of questioning and challenging but always with the terrific sense of humour which, whether you agreed with him or not, endeared you to him and, if you were his friend, made him an important part of your life.
It was the SPGB’s opposition to war during the second world slaughter which brought the Party to Phil’s attention and made him apply for membership. He would tell you. however, how he already had the Socialist idea of a moneyless, wageless, frontierless world before he met the Socialist Party. His own experience of life and work had led him to the “one world” idea and nationalism in particular he saw as an evil monster that set people against one another when what they needed was to be brought together.
When the public meeting was more popular than it is now. he would make a point of attending opponents’ gatherings and putting to their speakers questions which were awkward to answer to say the least. He had specific questions for specific parties and one in particular that sticks in the memory is his asking a Welsh Nationalist candidate whether, in the event of Wales gaining its independence. Wales would have its own army, navy and air force.
But his interests were by no means all political. He had a great love and admiration for animals, which translated itself, especially after the death of his wife, into his keeping (or at least feeding) several cats. He also loved sport of all description, but as for everything else he never accepted the status quo passively and was always advocating thought-provoking ways in which various sports, football for example, could be improved to increase what he call the “skill factor”.
He never wearied of putting the Socialist ease, often with great vehemence, to all those he met. But he used to say that, though he’d like to see Socialism established in his lifetime, even if it wasn’t he’d still have benefited enormously from being a socialist. The understanding of how things worked had taught him, he said, to make sense of what happened in the world and therefore gave him an inner serenity. He knew that life was not just a random set of happenings over which no-one could ever have any control. He firmly believed, in other words, that the understanding socialism gave you enabled you to live a better and more balanced life within the confines of capitalism. Despite his age, his death in early July after a short illness was a shock to all of us. He had always been fit and seemed immortal. And Phil himself always said that he was “completely anti-death”. His passing has left a hole in our lives and in the lives of so many other people, both inside and outside the Socialist Party.