Alan Woodward 1939-2012

The Tottenham working class activist/campaigner Alan Woodward passed away on Saturday 20th October.

Alan had a stroke and fall on Tuesday 16th October and was admitted to the North Middlesex Hospital the following day. His close family had rallied round during his hospital stay and were with him when he died peacefully.

Alan Woodward was a lifelong working class revolutionary immersed in support for workplace struggles and other anti-capitalist movements. He started with the International Socialists (later the Socialist Workers Party). He was then very active in the Haringey Trades Union Council. In recent years he gravitated towards independent libertarian politics, including the Haringey Solidarity Group, believing it was necessary for workers to take direct control of all workplaces and through workers’ coordination councils thereby create a new economy and society without capitalism or governments. In his writings he explained he was drawing on what he saw as the best traditions of revolutionary socialism and anarchism.

He actively supported and tried to attend every local workers picket line in Haringey, either as the organiser for the Trades Council or as part of local campaigns. In the last few years this included strikes by postal workers, local bakery workers, public sector pension disputes, railworkers picket lines and anti-cuts campaigning. When the Visteon Ford Car Parts factory in Enfield was due to be closed he joined in the workers’ week-long occupation of the site and later wrote a pamphlet on the experience.

At the same time he helped set up the Radical History Network of NE London* and as the RaHN Convenor he organised and wrote up summaries of dozens of local talks and meetings on a whole range of past disputes and struggles to ensure that the voices of those who took part in them would continue to reverberate and help us all in our struggles and movements today. He took RaHN stalls to many local and national events.

He produced a huge body of agitational, campaigning and radical literature, leaflets, strike bulletins, newsletters, historical snapshots, pamphlets and recently an autobiography.** Yet he underplayed his own role as he preferred to promote the collective self-activity of those involved in industrial strikes, disputes and working class movements.

He is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed, but his influence will remain with us all as the struggle for a new society continues unabated.

Dave Morris (Tottenham, 21.10.2102)

* Radical History of NE London -

** Alan’s autobiography ‘Poor Boy’s Tale’ (Vol 1 – ‘the first 60 years’) is available from Housmans Bookshop – as are some of his pamphlets on Workers Councils, Shop Stewards movements, NHS history, Visteon Factory Occupation, and on other London working class activists like Joe Jacobs and Joe Thomas. All were self-published by Alan under the name of Gorter Press. Many can be found, summarised or reviewed on the RAHN site (see above).

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