2000s >> 2008 >> no-1246-june-2008

Obituaries: Ron Cook, Robert Russel

Ron Cook

Members were saddened to hear of the death of Ron Cook, of Birmingham branch, at the beginning of May. He was born in 1927 and joined the Party in 1948 while he was a student at Ruskin College from where he won entry to Cambridge University. At the end of the war he had been a teenage sailor on the battleship HMS Illustrious. He worked as a teacher and later as a tutor for the Open University.

He was an active member both at local and national level, a regular delegate to Conference until recent years. He had his own viewpoint on a number of issues. A keen student of Marxian economics, he argued that crises under capitalism tended to get worse and worse. He was also impressed by Herbert Marcuses 1955 work Eros and Civilization and was inclined to be take on board more of Freuds theories than most members. In 2001 he published a book Yes Utopia! We have the Technology in which he presented the case against capitalism and for the sort of society he would like to see established, including his own personal preferences, for instance that people in socialism would live in something akin to hotels.

Besides being a speaker and debater for the Party, he wrote for the Socialist Standard (sometimes under the pseudonym of S. Stafford) and drafted pamphlets including the latest edition of Socialist Principles Explained. In 1994 he represented the Party in the elections to the European Parliament, standing in the Birmingham East constituency. Until last year he organised the annual Party summer school at Fircroft College in Birmingham. Members were expecting to meet him there this year but his friendly and encouraging presence is going to be missed from now on. A party representative spoke at his non-religious, humanist funeral where John Lennons song Imagine was played.

Our condolences go to his wife and family.


Robert Russell

Robert Russell joined the Socialist Party during the second world war. He was born in 1925 and came from a deprived area of Glasgow called Anderson but despite an impoverished background he managed to obtain a bursary grant and attended the fee-paying Allan Glen’s school. He was an extremely intelligent man and after some time working in the shipping trade he qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

Bobby, as he was known to his friends was to become something of a Marxist scholar inside the Glasgow branch of the SPGB. He was particularly adept at conveying this knowledge to younger members of the branch. I for one am grateful for the time he took encouraging me to read the Marxist classics and for his arguments and discussion.

He was a very active branch member and during his membership he must have held about every post in the branch. As a regular branch attender he could always be relied upon to make worthwhile contributions to the branch’s activities. He was a modest sort of man and could often be self-depreciatory about his abilities as a speaker.

Despite this he was a regular indoor speaker and an excellent tutor at many of Glasgow branch’s study classes. During the sixties when Glasgow branch conducted many electoral campaigns he stood as a candidate for the SPGB at local elections.

Bobby was an extremely kind and generous person and when he married later on in his life he was especially kind to his new adopted family. When he retired from work he was the Managing Director of a Glasgow Iron Works and used his pension with great generosity towards his family. He was especially good at dealing with children as many of the young in his family can attest to.

Bobby was in many ways the embodiment of what is called a “self-educated” man. He took a lively interest in politics, science and language, but what he will be remembered for by his Glasgow comrades was his friendliness and generosity.


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