Remembering Comrade John Willock

A life-long fighter for socialism and the working class.

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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We were deeply saddened by the recent loss of a dear comrade and friend, John Willock, who passed away recently aged just 67.

An active and loyal member of the CPGB-ML, John was a deeply committed communist. He had great pride in his class and its revolutionary history, and was always at the front bearing the red flag aloft.

Before he was overtaken by ill health in the last few years, John took a leading role on many fronts of the labour movement, whether it was standing up for the rights of pensioners in his village of Llangenech, south Wales, protesting at cuts to the NHS or helping to organise the annual commemoration of the 1911 rail strike and the shooting dead by troops of two strikers in Llanelli.

For a number of years John served as chair of the Llanelli trades council, where he always sought to unite workers in the common struggle against capitalism.

An impediment to this aim was the sectarianism of Socialist Party members active in the trades council. Without a sectarian bone in his own body, John’s pride in the achievements of the Soviet Union, often expressed by his donning a t-shirt bearing the image of JV Stalin, brought out the worst in the SP sectarians.

When John had the trades council banner updated for the rail strike commemoration, he made sure that it included a cheering reference to the USSR. This was so offensive to members of the SP that they childishly refused to carry the banner. To John all this nonsense was so much water off a duck’s back – to be greeted with no more than a wry grimace.

A snippet from the Llanelli Star for 8 December 2010 reports a speech John gave to a local anti-cuts meeting, giving a flavour of his combative style. He said: “This meeting is the first step forward to coordinate the solidarity and resistance to the cuts and say ‘It isn’t our fault’. These cuts are not our making – we have got to fight and we are going to win. I’m here to fight and speak for my class – the working class,” adding: “I am in it for the long haul and I am prepared to go to jail.”

We in the CPGB-ML, who are indeed in it for the long haul, send a red salute to our dear departed comrade and friend, confident in the knowledge that John’s commitment to our communist cause will be an inspiration to others to pick up the red flag and continue the struggle for a better world.

Farewell friend, farewell comrade, farewell!