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Jim Cronin: 1942 -2014

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Ian Birchall, Jack Robertson and Andy Strouthous remember Jim Cronin, a long standing International Socialist and Socialist Workers Party member, who has died.
Issue 2434
Jim Cronin

Jim Cronin

Jim Cronin, who died on 15 December 2014 after a long illness, was a stalwart of the International Socialists (IS) and the Socialist Workers Party for nearly five decades.

Born in 1942 into a Catholic family, he became an apprentice engineer on leaving school at fifteen, and later a watchmaker. By the time he was eighteen Jim had become an atheist and was involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Labour Party Young Socialists in Islington, north London.

At a CND meeting he heard IS founder Tony Cliff speaking on capitalism and the bomb and was bowled over.

Cliff took Jim under his wing after he joined IS, lent him books and encouraged him to chair meetings. In 1964 Jim moved to Tottenham and helped lay the foundations of the group there.

He became a fine mentor to new and young comrades, including myself (Andy Strouthous). We met at an IS meeting during the 1974 miners’ strikes that brought down Edward Heath’s Tory government.

In 1976 Jim was building support for the equal pay strike by women at the Trico factory in west London, organising delegations to visit workplaces across north London.

Jim was also active in many other campaigns that the party was involved in at that time. Foremost among them were the long-running fight by Asian women trade unionists at Grunwick, the firefighters’ strike of 1977, the constant battles against the National Front, and the formation of the Anti Nazi League.

He was also very active during the Great Miners’ Strike in 1984-5, joining in support work and twinning with pit villages.

As a member of the engineers’ union and active in Haringey Trades Council, Jim was part of a London-based team that organised the engineering workers’ rank & file group, the Engineers Charter.

It produced a regular bulletin and held conferences around the country.

Jim was the sort of local activist that the party was absolutely dependent on.

Although he received no formal education after leaving school, Jim was a true working class intellectual. Books, culture, and ideas were always central to his practice.

He was a generous man – and an excellent photographer – with a great sense of humour, who hated racism and all forms of oppression.

He remained an active member of the Socialist Workers Party until his contracting an illness called Dementia with Lewy Body that cruelly made that impossible.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his friends and comrades, especially to his three daughters Ellie, Anna and Laura, and to Cathy.

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