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. 

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“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.