Socialist Worker

Pete Gillard, 1949-2020

Issue No. 2703

Pete Gillard

Pete Gillard


Pete Gillard, who died recently, was a longtime Socialist Workers Party (SWP) member, Unite union activist and NHS campaigner.

He joined the International Socialists, the forerunner of the SWP, in 1969 while a student in Durham.

Almost from the beginning, Pete impressed people in the party with his knowledge of Marxism and how he tried to engage others and not show off his abilities. 

Pete moved to London and began working in the fledgling computer industry, a career that he would remain in almost throughout his life. He took part in building the IS/SWP and in key battles, such as the Grunwick strike and the fight against the fascist National Front.

In the early 1980s he moved to the US, where he was active and influential in the International Socialist Organisation, and then to the Netherlands. There he was important in developing the new revolutionary Internationale Socialist group.

Back in Britain in the late 1990s, Pete was an outstanding union activist in the MSF, Amicus and then Unite unions. He was inventive, good at working out ways to assemble alliances against the bureaucrats, and always capable of seeing the bigger political picture.

Pete was elected to the union’s standing orders committee and became its chair. Throughout his union work he argued for principled left policies and for democracy.  He helped build opposition to the right wing and impressed people who were far from his natural political allies.

Pete also became involved in battles in the NHS, an area of work that accelerated after he retired and moved to Shropshire. 

In 2013 Pete had left the SWP and joined the RS21 group. 

Even those who disagreed with him have the highest respect for Pete’s work and know that the socialist movement will miss him greatly. Condolences to his partner Gill and all those who knew and loved him.


Article information

Obituary
Tue 5 May 2020, 11:04 BST
Issue No. 2703
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