By Roger Cox
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Nigel Coward 1942-2021

This article is over 2 years, 10 months old
Issue 2763

Nigel Coward who has recently died was one of the comrades who joined the Socialist Review group, forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party, in the 1960s.

Although the group was small it found a ready audience among a layer of workers in the Labour Party Young Socialists and University students.

Nigel was a student at the LSE university in London, where there was a lively discussion group led by Socialist Review group founder Tony Cliff.

Cliff used to visit on a weekly basis to win an important group of students to our ideas.

His arguments around state capitalism and Russia, the explanation for the boom in the 1950s and 60s won an important layer of people.

Nigel became our first full timer, existing on the dole and getting meals from comrades.

He cut his organisational teeth by working with the few dockers we had then.

His first task was giving out leaflets early in the morning outside the dock gates against supporting Enoch Powell.

This came after dockers’ marches supporting Powell’s anti-immigration “Rivers of Blood” speech.

Nigel’s main role until he stopped being a full timer was to support the building of our fledgling rank and file groups in different industries.

He remained active as a teacher in further education and worked in the teaching unions, winning elections at regional level.

A long-term illness and immobility limited Nigel’s activities.

But he continued to support the Socialist Workers Party and never retreated from his original ideas about building it.

He was one of that generations of comrades that could have done well, using his talents to work for the system.

Instead he chose to work for a small organisation he saw as crucial in keeping alive the revolutionary tradition, and helped to build it into a real force.

To the end he remained enthusiastically interested in the party and keen to help make it stronger.

Condolences to his family and all who knew him.

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