Obituaries: Alec Hart and Alf Crisp

Alec Hart (1924-2004)

Alec Hart died in his 80th year in South Africa where he had lived for almost 50 years. Alec came across the Socialist Party when he heard a young speaker, Doug Verity, at a meeting in Finsbury Park, North London. He was so impressed with the case for Socialism that he arranged for Doug to
address the youth club he attended, and politically, Alec never looked back.

He joined the Party in 1944 and influenced some of his siblings, two of whom (including the writer at the age of 16) also joined. Alec was a member of the old Islington branch and was sometime branch treasurer. He much valued the Education Classes held in the 1940’s at the Rugby Chambers Head Office, especially the Economics Classes. He always challenged non- or anti-socialist comments and arguments and often crossed political swords with Father and other members of the family. In 1956 he followed and later married a girlfriend when she went to live in South Africa, and although they eventually parted, he couldn’t face returning to the English climate and the problems of resettling there.

Throughout the repressive regime of apartheid he remained staunchly socialist, even though the South African Special Branch paid attention to him, by visiting him and also examining his
mail, and at one time the Socialist Standard and Party pamphlets were gazetted in South Africa as prohibited literature. However, at Alec’s insistence, and with little concern about the risk this posed for him, the Socialist Standard was sent to him regularly as well as Party pamphlets etc. as they were published. He wrote and often had published, letters to the South African press giving the socialist view on current topics and replying to other correspondents in the press.

He was very knowledgeable about classical music and built up a large collection of records. A keen cyclist, he took many holidays touring by bike in the UK and in South Africa. Ill-health in his last few years took him into residential care where he shared a room with a very deaf old Trotskyite, and political arguments between them usually ended with Alec’s opponent removing his deaf-aid when he’d “had enough”. Alec though never gave up.
Phyllis Hart


Alf Crisp (1908-2003)

We are sad to announce the death in November of Alf Crisp at the age of 95. Alf was a Londoner who for most of his life lived in Forest Gate. He joined West Ham Branch in August 1930, and remained in that Branch, though the name changed, until moving to Cambridgeshire in 1991 to be near his son Malcolm. Thereafter in Central Branch he maintained his close interest in Socialism and friendship with members. His wife died in 1967 so Alf had 36 years on his own.

Until the age of 75 he worked as a printer, for many years in his own business, but subsequently for other printers – colleagues. Printing was more than a job, his attitude was that of a craftsman, but he never made a fortune at it. He undertook printing for the party which included membership cards and posters for meetings. In most cases no charge was made.

Alf was a conscientious objector during WW2, as was his brother. West Ham Branch made the most of the post-war environment, and Alf joined in with the activities. In later years his contribution would be in the form of regular support for Branch meetings. He is remembered as a pleasant and thoughtful comrade who would on occasion express his opinion in a forthright manner. He would make his political views known whenever an opportunity was presented. Malcolm tells of an incident not many years ago when his father was virtually ejected from the afternoon tea session at the Day Centre in Over; he had made loud protestations when the National Anthem was sung there to mark some royal event.

He made new friends in Cambridgeshire and was able to pursue his hobbies, notably woodwork and music. Alf was a skilled pianist and had a lifelong interest in musical instruments, making a hammered dulcimer in his eighties. We extend sympathy to Malcolm and his family.


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