6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

rob-windsor-349246747

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the sad and untimely death of our comrade Rob Windsor. Rob was well known throughout Coventry and further afield for his involvement in innumerable campaigns; from against cuts to local council services to helping to organise solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza under attack from the Israeli military. He was also for many years an outstanding Socialist Party Councillor representing St Michaels ward with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. However, his major role in the movement against the Poll Tax, which helped to bring down Thatcher was no doubt one which he will be remembered the most for.

The current political situation would no doubt have seen Rob throwing himself into action, helping to build resistance to austerity and popularising the ideas of revolutionary socialism and Marxism. Rob was a long time supporter of Militant, and member of Militant Labour and the Socialist Party, and an internationalist to his very core. The best thing we can do in Rob’s honour is to continue and step up the work of building a mass socialist movement, armed with Marxist ideas that Rob knew was necessary to defeat capitalism once and for all.

We are happy to post this video of Rob speaking at a demonstration in 2011 organised by Socialist Party youth members against the Coalition cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance. As ever, his comments were warmly received by this audience of young students. Rob’s speech begins at around 2 mins 18 seconds in.

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Rob speaking at the Day X student demo with Lenny

Today marks five years since the untimely passing of Socialist Party member and Coventry councillor Rob Windsor (1964-2012). The following tribute was written by Lenny Shail.

Rob was a well known stalwart of Militant and the Socialist Party who played a leading role in innumerable campaigns over the years, not least the monumental anti-Poll Tax campaign which helped to organise millions of people to defeat the tax and Thatcher. He was also an elected Socialist Party Councillor in St Michael’s ward in Coventry, a position he used with fellow Socialist Councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay to advance the interests of ordinary people in Coventry and further afield.

I was 18 when I first met Rob at a Socialist Party meeting in Hillfields, not really sure what exactly I had joined or what I was meant to do. Rob came darting over to me at the end to talk to me, he had just come back from the Isle of Wight where he had been supporting striking Vestas workers. I was amazed by his stories of what he had got up to and how he had been sleeping on a roundabout down there!

Rob speaking at Vestas in the Isle of Wight

Rob always took the time to talk and discuss with anyone who showed an interest in fighting for the working class or who was new to the Socialist Party. I was lucky to spend many hours – if not days! – pounding the streets of St Michaels and other working class areas of Coventry with Rob, and throughout 2009 and 2010 we built towards the 2010 general election and fought for Rob’s seat in the local election.

Rob led by example to the many new young members getting active at that time. While Rob was a tireless fighter for any improvement in the lives of working class people, however basic, he would always strive to raise and link any fight to need for a socialist change of society. I remember knocking doors and building for local public meetings on parking schemes, hospital parking charges and local service closures while in between doors Rob would be rabbiting on to me and other young comrades about Trotsky’s role in the struggle to defend the Russian Revolution after 1917 .

Rob had a tremendous talent to explain and convince anyone of of even the most complex of socialist ideas. Be it a strike, local community meeting, a complex international situation – Rob always seemed to know what had to be said and what needed to be done. At the many rallies, meetings, hustings he demonstrated to us young socialists coming through how to raise and make the ideas of socialist revolution as simple as clicking your fingers. I remember at one hustings he was asked if he was religious or believed in God. Rob’s answer was that he “believed in working class people, coming together in their millions to fight for a world run in their interests and needs”. Rob always hammered this confidence and potential in the working class to us “younguns” at the time and always pushed and encouraged us to speak ourselves rather than just leave it to him at any event.

As a fresh, energetic young activist working with Rob and others week in week out was always fun with some amazing laughs and experiences, but when needed to he would also be extremely detailed and serious. In his last few years despite his health affecting his ability to contribute to the day to day struggles, Rob still did whatever he could to help and especially to to assist me and other young comrades who were starting to play more leading roles and organising stuff ourselves.

Rob holding aloft unpaid Poll Tax bills outside the Council House!

In Autumn 2010 a huge student movement swept across Britain in response to the tripling of student fees and cut of EMA. In early October at Warwick Uni, on the day the Browne Review which announced the proposal was released, we took a punt and organised the first protest anywhere in country – no one knew at that stage how big the movement would become! I was nervous as hell, having never organised anything like it before. Rob rocked up out of the blue, having got out of work to come down and help us out. He gave us a blistering speech on the megaphone as he always did but it was the time he took to speak and advise us on what we should put forward, slogans and demands that made such an impression. Over the course of the next couple months, every week there was some sort of protest or demo we organised, at Warwick, Cov Uni and City College. Rob was at all of them, to help us out and back us up, but looking back it was clear he was also excited himself to see a whole new generation of fighters coming through and into activity. He was quite happy to stand back and just watch us get on with the job with his advice – but it was his contribution at the magnificent school student walkout we organised in Coventry on Day X, the day the vote went through parliament, that I pretty much base every talk or speech I do on!

We led a march of around 200 students through the City Centre and to Speakers Corner outside the Council House. The energy and excitement was nothing like we had experienced and we were sort of making it up as we went along, not knowing if anyone would even show up beforehand! After a few speeches from some of the students and the Socialist Students organisers, we passed the megaphone to Rob who I think gave us all goosebumps with his praise for what all those who had walked out had done and how we had “exploded onto the scene of history” and taken the first steps in the struggle to transform the world along socialist lines.

Rob was a reluctant leader, but his ability and talent to understand complex law and theories, to inspire and explain pushed him to the front of any meeting or protest. He was a great mate and mentor, but he could do your head in sometimes with his timing skills and ability to somehow crumple any paperwork you gave him!

He was a tremendous class fighter, Marxist and revolutionary who put fighting against the exploitation of others ahead of himself, someone who did all he could to inspire, develop and train a new generation of working class fighters and Marxists; ready, as Rob often put it, for the “mighty and bigger battles to come”.

Click here for an obituary written by Dave Griffiths, who worked with Rob for over 25 years.

If you would like to make a donation to the Socialist Party in memory of Rob, please click here.

Rob was a longstanding member of the Socialist Party. To find out more or join us please fill in the form below. 

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics 

Dave Nellist fighting his expulsion from the Labour Party (pic: BBC Sunday Politics)

Dave Nellist was on the Sunday Politics today discussing the application from 75 expelled Labour Party members, including himself, to rejoin the party and support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Dave was a Labour MP and was expelled in the early 90s for his support for backing the campaign to build non-payment of Thatcher’s Poll Tax. The Sunday Politics said he was “synonymous with the most radical side of Labour.”

During the feature a clip was shown from one of the many meetings held by Militant members fighting the witch-hunt within the party. Two of the speakers on the platform were Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn himself!

Some people in the Labour Party are apparently “terrified” of the prospect of our members being allowed to rejoin. Why is that? Why are our ideas so terrifying to the right-wing “moderates”? Apparently they are to John Spellar MP, who referred to us as “dedicated Trotskyists” with our own organisation.

He also claimed that we “caused trouble” in Coventry. What trouble would that be John? Having a Labour MP elected in 1983 and 1987 on an increased majority? Was it ‘causing trouble’ that Dave only took a workers wage, unlike the majority of politicians who take the massive salaries and claim huge expenses on top?

We are not ashamed of  our ideas or methods.
Are we Trotskyists? Guilty.
Are we organised? Guilty.
Do we support Jeremy Corbyn against the so called moderates? Guilty.
Are we Socialists? Guilty.
Are we committed to replacing capitalism with a new type of society that puts the needs of working people and the planet before private profit? Guilty – and proud of it!

We will continue to help organise campaigns against the capitalist austerity cuts that are damaging so many lives. All Labour MPs and Councillors should be doing the same!

Capitalism has long proven that it can not provide even the basics for the majority of the population here in the UK and around the world. We need socialist change more than ever and that explains why Jeremy Corbyn has gained so much support amongst people.

Agree with our ideas? Want to support the “organised Trotskyists” trying to change the world?  Get in touch by filling in the form below!

“I got three hours’ sleep out in the open on a roundabout. It was well worth it to support these brave workers.” Four years on – remembering Rob Windsor

“I got three hours’ sleep out in the open on a roundabout. It was well worth it to support these brave workers.”

Four years on – remembering Rob Windsor

rob windsor vesta

Comrade Rob Windsor

Today marks four years since the passing of Socialist Party member Rob Windsor.

Rob, who died in 2012, was a well known stalwart of Militant and the Socialist Party playing a leading role in innumerable campaigns over the years, not least the monumental anti-Poll Tax campaign which helped to organise millions of people to defeat the tax and Thatcher.

He was also an elected Socialist Party Councillor in St Michael’s ward in Coventry, a position he used with fellow Socialist Councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay to further the interests of ordinary people in Coventry and further afield.

Rob was an incredible Socialist, Marxist and human being, he continues to be sorely missed but at the same time he will inspire us all to continue to fight for socialism and against this rotten capitalist system.

As part of the fourth anniversary since his death, we reproduce an article from the Coventry Telegraph. It is a report of Rob visiting the occupation of Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight in 2009. Rob made the journey down there to support the workers in their struggle, donating money from his Councillor’s expenses and as the report says, sleeping on a roundabout!

Rob will continue to be missed by many people, but we will continue the struggle that he dedicated his life to. Click here to join us!

Article by Les Reid – original can be viewed here

Coventry councillor sleeps on roundabout to support protesters

A COVENTRY councillor visited the Isle of Wight to support workers occupying a wind turbine factory in protest at 600 job losses – and slept on a roundabout.

Socialist councillor Rob Windsor (St Michael’s ward) travelled to Newport at the weekend to the factory owned by the Dutch Company Vestas.

Despite a reported increase in orders, the company still wants to close it. The occupation by its employees has hit the national headlines.

Coun Windsor spent Saturday night at a camp of trades unionists and climate change activists and donated £50 of his council pay to the cause.

He said: “The management caved in a bit and allowed the 25 lads their first hot meal in a week on Saturday.

“I got three hours’ sleep out in the open on a roundabout. It was well worth it to support these brave workers.”

He added: “The government talk the talk about green energy but are not prepared to walk the walk when it comes to looking after the jobs of those who build the means to make it.

“The company say it’s not just a case of subsidy, but this shouldn’t be about subsidy. If the government is prepared to nationalise banks it should nationalise this factory tomorrow.”

The company was yesterday expected to go to court to evict the occupiers, but Coun Windsor says the occupation is likely to continue.

Coun Windsor urged people to send messages of support to savevestas@gmail.com.

Geoffrey Robinson to stand down?

Geoffrey Robinson to stand down?

Millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson

Millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson

Commenting on the rumour of the possible resignation of Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson, Dave Nellist, himself a former Coventry MP and now TUSC candidate for the constituency, said:

“It comes as little surprise that stories are appearing about Geoffrey Robinson standing down, or that local people face the imposition of an outside candidate, I predicted this some months ago.

The last thing the people of Coventry North West need is an establishment lackey from the political classes parachuted in to our city. But whoever the Labour candidate is, I won’t need a map or a chaffeur to get round the constituency, because I live here.

If they win the general election the Tories intend to increase the pain of austerity.  But Labour are no real alternative, as they have also signed up to similar levels of cuts.  Frankly, it makes little difference which big party you vote for. What Coventry needs is an MP who will oppose austerity from whichever party it comes, and stand up for local people against the Westminster establishment.”

Mr Nellist, who was the Labour MP for Coventry South East from 1983 to 1992, was expelled from the Labour Party for his socialist views and consistent opposition to Tory policies such as the Poll Tax.  He famously only took the same wage as a skilled factory worker in Coventry, a commitment he has again made if elected.

Mr Nellist said today:

“People say that all the establishment parties are the same. They are right. If elected I intend only to take the average wage of a skilled worker in the city – less than half the wage MPs currently get. I’ve always believed MPs should be prepared to live exactly the same as ordinary people in ordinary jobs – not on a wage that insulates or isolates them from day-to-day problems.

Let’s see whether Labour’s new candidate is coming to share the life and problems of Coventry people, or to use us as a rung on a career ladder to Westminster.”

Agree with Dave and want to help the Socialist campaign? Fill in the form below!

 

 

Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor - a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor

This week marks 3 years since we lost Rob Windsor to a serious illness. Rob, who passed away on 14th January, 2012, was a tireless fighter and campaigner for socialism and a former councillor in St Michaels ward for the Socialist Party. He played a major role in the anti-poll tax movement – a campaign which played a major role in the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. He was also a great friend and inspiration to many people and his legacy lives on in those who were inspired by Rob to fight against the capitalist system and for a socialist future. To read a full obituary of Rob, please click here

To mark 3 years since his passing, we are reproducing this article written by Rob in March, 2004. At the time Rob was a sitting councillor with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. In his work as a Socialist public representative he worked tirelessly for his constituents and working class people across the city and helped people get organised. He was a regular on any picket line and unlike any of the current crop of Labour or Tory councillors never voted for a single cut – quite a contrast to those Labour councillors today who shrug their shoulders and say ‘nothing can be done’ about these savage attacks on ordinary people.

The article was carried in The Socialist, the weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party. In the article Rob explains how he became a socialist, and why he joined the Militant, the forerunner of the Socialist Party. If you agree with Rob, we urge you to fill in the form at the end of the article and join us in the fight for socialism.

Campaigning To Change Society

By Rob Windsor

I was always “Socialist minded” from my late teens. I took part in CND marches. I had worked with the homeless in London aged 19 so had seen the results of capitalism at the sharp end. I used to get mad every time I saw Maggie Thatcher on the telly but then kick myself for doing nothing!

The biggest push towards joining a party was when I saw the contrast between policing at a CND mass trespass at the Trident base in Scotland, then under construction, and that used at the Wapping dispute over the sacking of 5,000 printers.

The former was low key, the latter the most brutal I had ever seen. I remember a horse charge and saw this mounted police officer peel an old guy off some railings with a long riot shield. Then a “snatch squad” of about six with short truncheons beat him to within an inch of his life.

It was then that I realised that a class war was going on and the lengths that the privileged would go to defend their interests. I became a Militant supporter (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) in 1987 after the successful campaign to get Dave Nellist, then a Labour MP, re-elected to Parliament.

Militant

Of all the groups on the Left, Militant was the most serious and disciplined. When something was fully discussed and decided, it got done. Within two years, I was playing a leading role in building the anti-poll tax campaign that beat Thatcher and her tax.

I am now one of three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry. Whilst there are only three of us we strive to show an alternative way of organising society in everything we do.

We have played a full part in the mass anti-war movement and set up a special council meeting to discuss the war, one of the few councils in Western Europe to do so.

A lot of our work involves fighting for people who the anti-war movement hasn’t touched – but the cost of the war certainly has! Every day we battle for funding for areas where local people are told that they can’t have even a few thousand quid for improvements – yet the £6.5 billion cost of war is made to seem like small change!

Fighting for people

We have fought housing privatisation and the break up of working class communities so that developers can profit from land deals. We got the council to oppose top-up fees. We saved council jobs, and through our determination to oppose at all costs, forced the council to put an extra £1 million into adult social services.

We work on individual issues and community campaigns every day of the week. Even one of Blair’s favourite think-tanks recognised us as good local representatives.

But we are not like this because we are nice individuals or specially gifted.

It is because we are members of a party with firm ideas about transforming society so that working people own and control the wealth created; a party that doesn’t allow its representatives to have lavish lifestyles way above those that we represent. We’re there to improve the lives of working people – not our bank balances.

The Socialist Party doesn’t stop at just complaining about capitalist society but strives every day to change it. In trades unions, in local areas, in mass campaigns like the anti-war movement, amongst the workers and youth. It is well worth joining.

Remembering Rob Windsor: socialist fighter and Coventry Socialist Party Councillor 1964-2012

Remembering Rob Windsor: socialist fighter and Coventry Socialist Party Councillor 1964-2012

To mark the second anniversary since the passing of Rob Windsor we re-publish below his obituary by longstanding fellow socialist fighter and friend Dave Griffiths of Coventry Socialist Party.

A Man Who Helped Melt The Iron Lady

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25 years ago a young lad walked into one of Dave Nellist’s campaign rooms. He wanted to get involved.

At that time Rob Windsor was built like a ‘human stick insect’ and worked helping the homeless. His cheerful, humorous and humble manner didn’t hide the steely determination within to fight the injustices of capitalist society.

He had concluded that society must be fundamentally changed to improve working people’s conditions. He had seen what Militant supporters had done in Coventry and nationwide and having checked we were serious, decidedhe would join us. Clearly a working class lad himself you could tell he was bright and meant business.

His job with Coventry Churches Housing was put in jeopardy when he supported our campaign to Save Whitley Hospital, the campaign that convinced him to join us.

It was no accident (having been fostered as a child) that he worked to help the homeless and most downtrodden and he passionately fought the abandonment by capitalist society of hundreds of thousands of people. At 18 he went to London and ran a 900 bed homeless hostel and did soup runs while living in a Notting Hill squat. He was an expert on housing and ran an inspired campaign against Council House privatisation, denouncing it in a well used pamphlet, with the aid of Nicholas Parsons’ photo, as the “Sale of the Century”

Rob became a leader of the anti poll tax campaign and later a Socialist councillor in St Michaels, Coventry. He would help others often to his own detriment, so much so that many of the ‘rough rogues and vagabonds’ from Coventry’s working class estates who joined the Anti Poll Tax campaign ran around ‘mothering’ him. But after being encouraged to eat, Rob developed a much fuller figure in later life! His body shape changed, but his passion to change society surged on. But now that is lost to us and working people have lost one of their true champions.

No-one who heard him could forget his wonderful and vivid way of explaining events and ideas. Almost like radio can, he could make the mind conjure up pictures. He was one of the best ‘ranters’ we’ve known, whose use of humour always made ideas accessible to people. Many comrades say they never tired of hearing him speak.

The Anti Poll Tax campaign revealed his huge talents. He gave up his job to focus on it. One day he went away with the hundreds of pages of Poll Tax legislation. 2 days later he returned with a summary of what it was and how to fight it in a mere ten page campaigning pamphlet, and not a word of it was ever found wanting.

Rob inspired many an anti Poll Tax meeting and the mass non-payment campaign. Others of us who rushed around to address one packed meeting after another would worry what could happen to people who refused to pay the tax. We would consult Rob who always had the legal answer, and always right!

He was a tiger defending the non-paying army. He baffled magistrates around the country and drove them to distraction. There was little as entertaining as Rob entangling them! And he taught others how to do it. Court after court was clogged up. He bamboozled, beat and chased off bailiffs as he cut a swathe across the Midlands. A famous headline “Mr Windsor beats Mrs Windsor” reported how Rob beat off thousands of wage attachments in the Courts.

Thatcher said the Poll Tax was “her flagship”, Rob always said it would be her Titanic and he was a significant part in beating Thatcher (who he always called the ‘tin woman’).

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But he didn’t stop there. He fought on to change the system itself. To his last he still led that fight and it is as good a measure of the man as his brilliant leadership of the anti Poll tax unions, that he advanced Marxist ideas in a period of political retreat including in difficult environments like the Council chamber.

In the early 90’s capitalism appeared to have triumphed. Within months of beating the Poll Tax, Rob faced expulsion from the Labour Party. His opposition to the Poll Tax proving he was a ‘Militant’! The Labour Party was moving to the right and abandoning any talk of Socialism. It was embracing the market that has brought us to the dire economic position we face today.

But while many were abandoning socialism and Marxism, Rob fought on to help establish the support and organisation we have today that will advance the struggle for change.

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It is the greatest compliment to say that when he became a councillor he was utterly politically reliable and down the line. He explained and advanced our ideas unflinchingly, be it in the Council House or anywhere else. His honesty and grasp of issues always shone through. And anyone under attack could rely on Rob on their side. From school-students on strike or pickets at Wapping (where he got an object personal lesson in the brutality of the state) or travelling to support Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight or to speak in support of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.

He was ‘a politician’, not because he wanted to be one, but because he knew we had to fight back. He could analyse issues in seconds, he was brilliant, but with no pretentions.

Rob lived for his politics but also loved walking hills (returning to supply many of us with oatcakes) and he’d planned to combine walking with visiting branches of the Socialist Party to speak. It is so hard to grasp that this won’t happen, that at only 47 he is lost to so many people who appreciated him.

But we’ll have to work to make up for it, and as Rob did many times, rededicate ourselves to the fight he carried so well and try to find people with the strengths and talents to advance ideas in the way he did.

The liver transplant in December had promised to renew Rob’s life, and as he was now ‘more comfortable in his skin’ the best of him was still to come. But complications arose and after 5 weeks struggle they could not be resisted. His surgeon said how hard he fought for life. That’s because he valued it and wanted everyone to have the chance to do so.

Isla loses a husband and we lose a brother. He was collaborative person, a human being who by his work inspired us and was inspired by those he fought alongside.

He is a huge loss to the Socialist Party. But we stand taller because of our association with him.

We’ll work to compensate for this loss as Rob would want, and as we make advances in the future we wish he was with us to share in it. He deserves to be there.

We will post details of his funeral when we have them.

Coventry Socialist Party will continue the work that Rob Windsor committed his entire adult life to – the struggle for a socialist future.

If you would like to contact us please email coventrysocialists@googlemail.com or call 07530 429441