Socialist Worker

Dennis Martin 1927-2010

by Mary Phillips and Dave Sellers
Issue No. 2216

Comrades will be sad to hear of the death of Dennis Martin, who died in hospital aged 83. Dennis was a great seller of Socialist Worker, believing that it was a must read for all working people.

He was able to communicate this to people passing on the streets and on the buses of south London.

He was selling papers practically to the end of his life, finding the one and a half hour shift a bit long but taking the odd break on a bench when he got too tired.

Dennis was born in 1927 and his early years were shaped by the Great Depression.

He came from a communist family, joined the Young Communist League in the 1940s and spent some 50 years in the Communist Party (CP).

In later years he used to explain to his Socialist Workers Party (SWP) comrades that the CP offered what seemed to him the best alternative at the time, despite its faults.

He was a member of the CP’s Peckham branch, which at its height numbered hundreds and drew in the best militants.

One explanation Dennis had for its decline was that the CP failed to respond to the needs of immigrants from the West Indies and other countries.

In the mid-1990s Dennis came into contact with the SWP and soon joined. He explained later that he felt he had found his political home.

He was very active and well into his seventies he was on the streets of south London, opposing the National Front.

His sister Audrey recalls the two of them facing police horses to stop Oswald Mosley’s fascists in east London in the 1930s.

He was proud that he was dismissed from the Navy as being “incapable of obeying orders” and that just about summed him up. He was not one to toe the party line unless convinced.

He was interested in art, literature and architecture, with a wide knowledge of detective stories and scientific works by left wing writers.

Despite his attachment to Peckham he had a keen interest in the world around him.

When he was too old to travel he took to systematically visiting restaurants representative of the cooking of different countries.

He loved the diversity of modern London.

Comrades in the party and the wider movement in Southwark will miss him.

His funeral will be on Friday 3 September at 3.15pm at Honor Oak Crematorium.

Article information

Tue 24 Aug 2010, 17:30 BST
Issue No. 2216
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