Mike Phipps

Ken Stratford 1949-2016

Mike Phipps

Socialists who knew him will be deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ken Stratford in early February. Ken was a man of great humanity whose whole life was devoted to socialist activity.

At 14 he joined the Young Communist League in Ealing, but with dozens of others was expelled for Trotskyism. Active in anti-fascist street activity in Southall, he passed through a number of far left organisations before becoming a supporter of the international tendency led by French Trotskyist Pierre Lambert and a founder member of the Socialist Labour Group (SLG) in 1980. During these years he was an active trade unionist in a variety of manual jobs before doing a degree at Thames Polytechnic and becoming president of its students union and a member of the executive of the National Organisation of Labour Students.

After the SLG broke with Lambert at the end of the 1980s, Ken remained active in revolutionary politics. In the early 1990s he moved with his young family to Leeds, where he got involved in community politics in Kirkstall. After Jeremy Corbyn became Party leader last year, Ken became Membership Secretary of West Leeds CLP, believing strongly that in order to engage the hundreds of new members joining locally, the Party had to look outwards and become a campaigning organisation. He worked hard in recent months to revitalise some of the moribund branches, also getting involved in Momentum locally.

A brief summary of a life of activity can’t really convey the essence of someone. Ken was a kind, generous and solidly dependable person. I have many memories, on not always peaceful demonstrations, or in political clashes with opponents, of his quiet courage and utter reliability. His lifelong commitment and his modest demeanour will be sorely missed by many.