Anna, my partner, was one in a million. Her school friends recall a strong character who stood up to bullies and looked out for the vulnerable. These characteristics remained constants of Anna’s joyous personality.
Anna came to London after growing up in Ireland then Kirkby, near Liverpool.
Being a rebel who opposed oppression informed her politics. She never backed away from a fight.
Many from the time recall a confident, articulate activist in the CPSA, forerunner to the PCS union.
In the late 1980s she got stuck into a strike to stop Malcom Skeggs, a fascist, working in Soho. She delighted in telling how actors Christopher Reeve and Paul Eddington supported strikers by not crossing their picket line, which was adjacent to an acting studio.
Anna worked in Bloomsbury, central London. She was involved in militant action which led the then right wing leadership of the CPSA to close Inner London branch down. They hadn’t reckoned with Anna and co and received a hell of a fightback.
Anna was victimised by bosses in August 1993 over her campaigning for Justice for Joy Gardner, who died in a police raid to deport her.
She was under huge pressure to drop the issue. But she won respect in the union because to her great credit she didn’t.
Many tributes from fellow PCS members say that Anna’s activity and speeches, for example at many PCS conferences, inspired them.
Anna loved sticking it to the other side, whether humiliating racists or organising strikes at her last workplace, Euston Tower. She was a longstanding Socialist Workers Party member.
Anna was a relentless fighter for Unite against Fascism. Her union branch banner and a delegation from her workplace were constants at many anti-fascist demos.
She was well known as “Anna with the banner”.
She never sought glory or acclaim for herself.
Many workmates tell of Anna’s tireless endeavour on their behalf. As a rank and file activist she on principle wouldn’t take a higher grade.
She was a working class intellectual who loved literature and music. Anna loved life. As seriously as she took the struggle, Anna was the life and soul of a party and a riot to be at live gigs with.
The cancer that took her was aggressive and extremely painful. She didn’t want others to worry and rarely complained.
On our last night out, surrounded by friends, she was in intermittent pain, but never let on and had a fine time.
Anna was fearless, and full of the best qualities of the human spirit. She showed us how to think through and fight to get the most out of this often rotten world.
She will always, always be in our hearts.
Karol Modzelewski, 1937-2019,
Anwar Ditta, a heroic anti-racist campaigner, died last week.