Socialist Worker

Martin Roiser 1945—2017

by Sarah Cox with help from Jude Roiser, Gareth Jenkins, Nick Grant, Saba Shiraz and others
Issue No. 2550

Martin disrupting the Davis Cup tennis match between England and apartheid South Africa in Bristol, July 1969

Martin disrupting the Davis Cup tennis match between England and apartheid South Africa in Bristol, July 1969

Martin Roiser died peacefully on Monday 10 April. He was brought up as a Quaker, but while a student of psychology at Bristol University, went to Ireland for a Civil Rights march.

He went as a peace activist,but returned as a supporter of the International Socialists (IS—forerunner of the SWP).

After a spell at Sheffield University, Martin became a lecturer at the Ealing College of Higher Education. He was very actively involved in the NATFHE lecturers’ union as well as in anti-Nazi work and organising IS and the SWP in West London.

Nick Grant describes how Martin, with other comrades, drove to Leamington Spa to steal the sign saying “For Sale - to an English family only” from outside fascist Robert Relf’s house, and brought it back to Southall to be ceremoniously burned.

Nick also describes how he first met Martin during the weekly stand-offs at Ealing Broadway shopping centre on Saturdays with fascists mainly in the National Front and how he kept the SWP going in West London, "booking the meeting rooms and speakers, leading paper sales, recruiting interested contacts, seeking united front partners for campaigns, and doing all the other essential SWP work.”


Gareth Jenkins writes that Martin was “an immensely kind and gentle man, with a sly, chuckling sense of humour, with whom it was always a pleasure to discuss politics, ideas and culture.”

At the age of 60, he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s which eventually led to him having to be cared for in a home and in hospital.

It was in Ealing Hospital that one of the nurses went beyond the call of duty in his attentiveness to Martin. He explained that when, as a student, he had been thinking of giving up his training, Martin had been prepared to listen and talk to him and had persuaded him to stick with the course.

Martin loved music and played guitar and mandolin.He also had a keen interest in the ecological aspects of Marxism and of the need to fight climate change.

Gareth Jenkins also writes, “Alzheimer’s is a terrible illness and it makes me angry to think that with a fraction of the money spent on weapons we could be finding a cure now.”

Martin's funeral will be on Tue 2 May, 1pm, Green Acres Chiltern, Potkiln Lane, Jordans, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 2XB. Bring banners and placards.

Article information

Tue 18 Apr 2017, 17:06 BST
Issue No. 2550
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