Members and supporters of Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Socialist Workers Party (SWP) are saddened to hear of the death of our friend and comrade Ray Holmes.
Ray was born in the pit village of Langwith in the North Derbyshire coalfield and went down the pit.
He became an NUM union activist and delegate for Shirebrook colliery.
Ray was one of a generation of rank and file miners who led and campaigned for militant strikes. This often brought them into conflict not just with managers but with the established leadership of the union.
Ray always said that a big part of shaping his ideas of “socialism from below” and which led him to join the International Socialists—the forerunner of the SWP— were the arguments he had with Communist Party members in 1968 after Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.
When Ray stopped working at the pit he went to Ruskin College and worked in adult and continuing education.
On moving back to Shirebrook he threw himself into community activism and became a key member in the local SWP branch.
He played a crucial role in leading local anti-fascist activity as the British National Party Nazis tried to gain a foothold in the area.
He also fought to challenge what he saw as the complacency and corruption of much of the local leadership of Labour Party.
In 2007 he stood as a campaigning socialist candidate for Respect in the local elections against the leader of Shirebrook council and won a stunning victory.
Ray used his position in the council chamber to campaign against cuts, academisation, privatisation, and to be a voice against racism.
He played an important role in the campaigns to expose the injustices at Sports Direct and to fight against attempts to vilify migrant workers. Above all Ray was someone engaged with revolutionary political ideas.
He loved coming to the annual Marxism Festival and was very distressed when his developing ill health meant he could no longer make it.
He was an avid reader and writer.
He really enjoyed our meetings, engaging and arguing with comrades and encouraging new members and activists.
He burned with anger against the injustice that capitalism inflicts on humanity.
He also would go out of his way to show support and solidarity to comrades, friends and anyone fighting back.
We send our condolences to his surviving children Nicky and Bradley and to his sisters Beryl and Elsie.
James Eaden for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire SWP