Jean Parkin, my mother, died peacefully on 20 November 2018.
For the purpose of this tribute I shall refer to her as Jean, the name her comrades and many of her friends knew her by.
As the daughter to an impoverished docker’s family in Bootle, Merseyside, Jean knew all too well about poverty and inequality.
And it was in this environment of hardship that she learned the realities of life under capitalism and the British class system.
By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, Jean was already a committed socialist.
She joined the army in 1941—ostensibly to fight Hitler and Nazism.
But she soon realised that wars were bloody contests of the rich and powerful in which the innocent paid with their lives.
Consequently, she became a fervent anti-war activist, firstly with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and later with the Stop the War coalition.
But it was racism and fascism that Jean detested most.
Her rage over South African apartheid and the US Civil Rights movement’s heroism and dignity were cornerstones of her political consciousness.
She would proudly recall meeting her hero, US Communist and singer Paul Robeson, at the Leeds Odeon in the early 1960s.
In 1971 she was one of the founders of the South Leeds branch of the International Socialists, forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party.
Over the years this found her involved in the Troops Out Movement during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Anti Nazi League, and later solidarity work during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5.
Jean and her husband Bill raised seven children.
She was an incredibly brave and inspiring woman with a warm infectious humour.
Solidarity, the love of humanity, and socialism coursed through her very veins.