Tag Archives: Socialism

Tony Benn – the Vegetarian

Tony receiving the Lord Parshvanath Award at Trafalgar Square. It is being presented by late Sudha Mehta and Kumudbhai Mehta

Tony receiving the Lord Parshvanath Award at Trafalgar Square from the late Sudha Mehta and Kumudbhai Mehta

Tony Benn passed away on 14th March 2014 aged 86. Tony had been a vegetarian for many years and was present at the Vegetarian rally held on 22nd July 1990 in Hyde Park. The event had massive media coverage. Many newspapers reported the event titled,’Veggie Benn’. Tony became a vegetarian after his son told him about the colossal use of crops used in feeding animals to produce meat. At the rally Tony said that he felt very healthy as a vegetarian and he opposed animal exploitation as much as he opposes human exploitation. Tony often mentioned that he had met Mahatma Gandhi when he was a child. Gandhi had made a great impact on young Tony which shaped his concern for social justice and inequality. He was also a passionate campaigner for stopping all wars and advocated pacifism. The following quote from Tony shows his concern for animals:

‘The case for animal testing is now being directly challenged by scientists and doctors and their judgement must be taken seriously.’

By Nitin Mehta, who is the founder of the Indian Cultural Centre in Croydon and of the Indian Vegetarian Society.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Gandhi Foundation.

Mary Mather 1926 – 2009

Mary Mather

Mary Mather was a tireless campaigner for the rights of women and disadvantaged people in Britain and abroad. Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, she attended Folkstone county school for girls in Kent and went to study English at Girton College, Cambridge in 1944. She edited the Cambridge University socialist club bulletin. During the holidays she worked as a volunteer at Kingsley Hall in Bromley-by-Bow where she fell under the spell of the Lester sisters, Muriel and Doris, who had founded the community settlement with the aim of bringing people together regardless of class, race or religion.

In 1949 she was appointed lecturer in English at the University of Hong Kong. She had wanted to go to China from a young age, particularly having heard Muriel Lester’s travel stories. Her plans to travel into mainland China were thwarted by the communist revolution. The friendships she formed with her Chinese students and the writer Han Suyin did not endear her to the university authorities. She returned to London in 1953 to live in Canning Town women’s settlement in Plaistow, working in a sugar factory and teaching at the Keir Hardie primary school.

Active in the West Ham Labour Party during the 1950s and 60s, she got to know Elwyn Jones, who was appointed attorney general by Harold Wilson in 1964, and wrote speeches for him. She also ran equal opportunities courses for magistrates, but was turned down as a magistrate herself because MI5 had a file about her leftwing activities in Hong Kong.

In 1960, after another failed attempt to get into China during the Hundred Flowers campaign, she travelled in India with her father and joined Vinoba Bhave and other Gandhians trying to persuade landowners to give some of their land to those who had none (Bhoodan movement).

From 1966 to 1994 she lectured at the South Bank Polytechnic. In West Ham she established the first community relations council in the country, and for many years she ran a club which met twice a week for girls whose parents had recently arrived from the Indian subcontinent. Their crowning glory was a famine lunch where their meeting place, Durning Hall in Forest Gate, was transformed into an Indian Village complete with sand and saris. John Rowley remembers her:

“I met Mary first at a Summer School in the Abbey in the mid 90s. Thereafter, we had a few words at many Gandhi Foundation events and each time I felt an instant rapport with her. She was always quick to smile, ready to banter and very perceptive. I thought of her as a dedicated, radical, academic, practical, social reformer.”

Mary became actively involved with the Gandhi Foundation at the beginning of the new millennium when she suggested we might like to support a group of five villages in Orissa whose inhabitants had been displaced by a dam. She had come across them when she inquired of Bhoodan villages from Vinoba’s time. The GF gave financial support until 2005 when Mary felt that sufficient progress had been made by the villagers for them to no longer need outside help.

Her nephew Ian Mather (whose obituary of Mary in The Guardian supplied much of this appreciation) said of her: “Constantly fascinated by what was going on in the world, yet frequently absent-minded when it came to day-to-day practicalities, she had a unique ability to make people feel special and was adored by family and friends alike”.

Book Review – Biography of Aldo Capitini

Aldo Capitani

The Nonviolent Revolution: An Intellectual Biography of Aldo Capitini
by Rocco Altieri
trans. by Gerry Blaylock
IGINP 2008, pp182
$10

Aldo Capitini (1895-1968) was probably the most important advocate of nonviolence in 20th century Italy. He was born in modest circumstances in Perugia and went to a technical school although his passion was literature. His health was poor but he drove himself to study and won a scholarship to study philosophy and literature in Pisa.

Capitini took up active politics when he observed the Concordat between the Roman Catholic Church and the state in 1929. He believed that the Church could have brought down the fascist regime by noncooperation but disgracefully compromised. From then on he made a sharp distinction between religious institutions and a free religious faith exemplified by Jesus, St Francis and the Buddha.

He was dismissed from his teaching post in Pisa because he would not join the Fascist Party and returned to Perugia where he began writing and got his first book published in 1937. In it he wrote: “Pain, remorse, the thought of death are always real; and it is here that religion springs up”.

Gandhi’s autobiography had been published in Italy in 1929 and he had visited Europe including Italy in 1931 and this had an impact. Altieri writes:

“Nonviolence seems the highest spiritual teaching, a religious idea of absolute purity, to love for its own sake, the only power able to defeat fascism. If Mussolini in order to assert himself resorted to sinister means – deceit, lies, murder – Capitini counterposes the highest values of truth, non-mendacity, nonkilling”.

Capitini believed that nonviolence should embrace all creation and he consequently became a vegetarian.

Capitini developed a political ideology called liberal-socialism which did not develop into a political party but was a very decentralised movement which attracted many young people. He was imprisoned three times in 1943-4 as were other activists. A Party of Action now developed in the movement but Capitini kept apart from it as he saw the movement as an ‘orientation of conscience’ not a political party. In danger of arrest and deportation by the Germans when they occupied northern Italy he hid in the countryside.

In the post-war period Capitini refused to support any party, declaring himself a free religious and left-wing independent. He started to set up Social Orientation Centres around the country to counterbalance central power and encourage democracy. He also turned his attention to education for a renewal of culture and he taught in universities. The recent tragic history of Italy, he believed, was due to cultural and religious backwardness and the absence of collective moral conscience. He was nominated Rector in Perugia but was moved due to pressure from the Catholic Church.

In 1952 he set up a Centre for Nonviolence in Perugia and also promoted conscientious objection to conscription. He regarded Gandhi’s approach as a third way between communism and capitalism. Crucial is the primacy of means in social change. Gandhi’s way was revolutionary but it did not just change the structures as Marxism intended, but also a person’s being.

Capitini became aware of Danilo Dolci, who settled in Sicily to help the poor in their struggle against the Mafia, and gave him his full support. Dolci’s outlook and actions were essentially Gandhian.

Capitini held up Gandhi and Jesus as examples of those who detach themselves from the world, though remaining in the midst of humanity in order to transform society. Conflict cannot be avoided but responding with nonviolent action can create new positive relationships.

A march for Peace and the Brotherhood of People was organised by Capitini in 1961; walking from Perugia to Assisi it attracted large numbers. Capitini’s programme is a radical one indeed: abolition of armies, of borders, of property. A few days before his death in 1968 he wrote: “… Today’s utopia can be tomorrow’s reality”. He recommended a green and nonviolent society with a rejection of consumerism and admired the Community of the Ark which was set up by Lanza del Vasto in France after he met Gandhi in India.

Altieri’s study is called “An Intellectual Biography” and there is much more philosophy here than this review might indicate. Capitini was a deeply religious or mystical person although he rejected religious institutions. We should be grateful to the International Gandhian Institute for Nonviolence and Peace (IGINP) which has published this English version and brought to non-Italian readers the life and thought of a person who ought to be much better known than he is.

George Paxton, Editor of The Gandhi Way

The Address of IGINP is CESCI, Majagram, Kadavur, Madurai – 625 014, TN, India
They also publish a journal in English called Ahimsa Nonviolence.

Surur Hoda (1928-2003)

Surur Hoda and friend at The Gandhi Foundation Summer School

Surur Hoda and friend at The Gandhi Foundation Summer School

For 25 years Surur Hoda was international secretary of the civil aviation section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF). He was also chief executive of the London-based India Development Group (IDG) and the founder of the Gandhi Foundation. A democratic socialist — he formed the India Socialist Group in London in 1960 and was an active member of Socialist International — his work for the world’s rural poor was based on the precepts of Mahatma Gandhi, Fritz Schumacher and J P Narayan.

Surur was born near Chopra, in Bihar, India, the eldest son of a middle-class Muslim family. He attended Patna University, graduated as a railway engineer and joined the railwaymen’s union. His union activities made it prudent to move to London in 1962, where three years later he joined the ITWF as secretary for railways and civil aviation. Meanwhile, he had become active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, forming lifelong friendships with Fenner Brockway, Philip Noel-Baker and David Ennals.

In the 1970S, when J P Narayan the socialist leader was jailed by the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi during her ‘emergency’, Noel-Baker chaired Surur’s Free JP campaign, which contributed to the effort to restore democracy in India.

By 1970, Surur had joined forces with his brother Mansur, who was with Schumacher’s Intermediate Technology Group. Together they formed the IDG, supported by Indian business and professional people in London, with the aim of equipping Indian villagers with simple technologies.

The birth of independent Bangladesh out of East Pakistan in 1971 led to many Bihari Pakistanis being stranded in the new state. Surur organised a delegation, headed by Ennals and Ben Whitaker, which contributed to nearly 200,000 folk returning to Pakistan. Surur and Ennals also worked to promote Tibetan self-determination and the restoration of Fiji’s democratic government.

After working with the ITWF civil aviation section, Surur headed its Asia/Pacific region. There he fought many cases of human and trade union rights violations.

In 1983 Surur created the Gandhi Foundation in Britain, to promote knowledge about Gandhi’s teaching and relate them to problems of violence, social injustice, environmental destruction and racial and cultural conflict. This, and the IDG, were the focus of his activities in the last 10 years.

His wife Elizabeth’s role in all of Surur’s work was invaluable, and his achievements owe her much. The help of their son Mark was also increasingly important. A man of great charm and warmth, inspired by the teachings and example of great men, Surur inspired his friends and colleagues. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE. He is survived by Elizabeth and Mark, and by his son Firoz and daughter Afshan from his first marriage.

George McRobie

Tributes to Surur Hoda

Richard Attenborough writes:

There would have been no Gandhi Foundation without Surur Hoda. The very concept was his and indeed the inspiration for its creation was his. During the 20 years of our existence there have been both successes and crises. He has always been steadfast believing passionately in the advocacy of all that Gandhiji stood for. Everyone here today will miss him greatly. We all owe him an incalculable gratitude. I knew Surur well, both as a colleague and friend and I shall miss him during the rest of my life.

Diana Schumacher writes:

It is difficult to express the sense of inestimable sorrow and loss all Surur’s friends have experienced at his untimely death in June this year just after his 75th birthday.

I met Surur Hoda together with Lord Ennals and Cecil Evans at the first meeting of the Gandhi Foundation in London in 1983. Subsequently I was asked to serve as a Trustee of both the Gandhi Foundation and the India Development Group (originally founded by Mansur and Surur Hoda together with George McRobie and my late father-in-law, Fritz Schumacher). To have known each of these remarkable men has been an exceptional privilege and in each case one is rnpted to quote M K Gandhi:

“When people walk their own truth with compassion there are no religious boundaries and nothing can impede change.”

Surur, as many of know, was a true Gandhian in spirit and in action — modest, compassionate, courageous, wise and forever championing the cause of the poor, the dispossessed and the marginalised. It was with great reluctance that he was persuaded to take over the Chairmanship of the Gandhi Foundation earlier this year, although through his illness he was unable to attend his first meeting as Chair in February.

Surur had persuaded me, as a guest of the India Development Group to give the first Mansur Hoda Memorial Lecture in New Delhi in January this year in memory of his brother Mansur who had died just over a year earlier. though in extreme pain himself through a back injury, Surur masterminded the entire 16 day visit, even accompanying myself and others to the Schumacher Institute of Appropriate Technology in Lucknow against the advice all his medics and colleagues. He was, however, unable to complete the rest our itinerary and after the main Lecture was over, I and others had to continue with the rest of the programme without Surur. However, it was typical his generosity of spirit that on my last day back in Delhi, on yet another cold grey evening, Surur had staged a farewell party and dinner at the hotel where I was staying and insisted on accompanying me to the airport at some unearthly hour of the morning. That was, poignantly, the last time I saw him, although we had several productive telephone conversations after his return to the UK.

On July 31st in Bristol at the latest meeting of the Board of Directors of the IDG, Dick Gupwell (Delegated Chair) made the following statement:

“The Board of Directors expresses its heartfelt appreciation for the vision, inspiration, Leadership, courage and tireless hard work given by M S Hoda over many years striving to uplift the conditions of the deprived rural population of India on basis of M K Gandhi and E F Schumacher. Expresses its determination to ntinue the work of M S Hoda in promoting the ideals of E F Schumacher with regard to rural development and appropriate technology in India and, thereby, preserve the legacy of its colleague and friend M S Hoda.”

Thank you, Surur, for your generosity of spirit and your spirit of self-sacrifice. We who remain must now all strive with renewed vigour to fulfil the universal vision of the social and environmental justice which your life exemplified at such cost to yourself and family.

Martin Polden writes:

I met Surur some 20 years ago when I became involved and participated in the formation of the original Trust. His energy and devotion to its inception and determination to guide the organisation through days of difficulty as well as those of impressive success, served, in turn to energise us all. He was ever, and so remains, a beacon of light whose life and work exemplified the instruction of the prophet Micah,

“to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God”.

Godric Bader writes:

The immediate compassionate warmth that Surur brought always gave me the necessary support in my often difficult endeavours to pursue Gandhian Trusteeship principles in the growth and development of the Scott Bader Commonwealth. Gandhian Trusteeship purposes gave our Commonwealth foundation its basic building blocks, and to have had the understanding and support of the Gandhi Foundation through its leading light Surur was so valuable and inspiring over the years and continues to be, particularly now in these days of world crisis. Whilst we all sorely miss his bodily presence, his spirit and what he stood for will never be lost.

Arya Bhardwaj writes:

The void created by the sudden demise of dear friend Surur Hoda is an irreparable loss to all those who have had the good luck to come in contact with him during the long spell of his public life of more than half a century. I came in close contact with Surur from the time of the formation of the Gandhi Foundation, UK, but I knew him from 1974 when the JP-led movement for Total Revolution was at its peak and Surur was supporting it from Britain. Surur had been very close to JP ever since he became a socialist in his student days. He became a socialist youth leader in his native Bihar and had then risen at the national and international level when he joined the International Transport union. I was actively involved in the JP movement, being a Sarvodaya worker. During the Emergency when I was in jail, I used to listen on the BBC about the Free JP Campaign launched by Surur with the help of human rights activists like Michael Foot.

When The Gandhi Foundation started a Summer School in 1985, I had the good luck of attending as a resource person invited by Surur. On my visits his home became my home. Surur, Elizabeth and son Mark made me a part of their family during more than 20 visits to their home in Purley. It was here that I came to know Surur’s multifaceted qualities of head and heart. In one line if I have to sum up his life I would say that he was a man of Conscience. He would not leave any stone unturned in serving the cause of others, whether it was the question of Indo-Pak relations, the cause of industrial workers, of the Bihari Muslims discarded by both Pakistan and Bangladesh, of human rights and civil liberties, promoting communal harmony, international understanding, world peace and nonviolence.

Mark Hoda writes:

My family has taken great comfort from the number of tributes from friends and colleagues following Surur Hoda’s passing. Reading through the messages of condolence it is clear that he is remembered for his kindness and commitment to the various people, organisations and causes he worked for during his life. The sentiments expressed also very much reflect the feelings of his family.

I think one of the main reasons for this congruence of emotions is that the affection and commitment Surur showed members of his large family was also very present in his relationships with friends and colleagues.

Surur was born in Chopra, Bihar, India in 1928. As the eldest of six brothers and three sisters he took the responsibility placed on him to look after his siblings and their families very seriously throughout his life. However, he also relied heavily on their love, support and advice.

Settling in London in 1962, some of his family later followed him there, but he remained very close to his extended family which is spread all over the world. Surur led an extremely active life and travelled the world working tirelessly for a large number of organisations and causes. However, his family was extremely important to him and he always found time to be with them.

I have vivid memories from a very early age of always having uncles, aunts, cousins and other relations visiting our home and also visiting family members and friends in the UK and around the world. This left me in no doubt that for Surur and his family spending time together was one of the most important things in life.

This is why Surur’s passing has created a huge void in the lives of his family members. Being the eldest of his generation put him at the apex of the family. We have lost a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle and with it an invaluable source of love, support and advice.

However, we are very conscious and comforted by the feeling that he touched many other people’s lives and that friends and colleagues with whom he worked will miss him greatly but also remember him with a lot of affection.

Cecil Evans writes:

The inspiration for setting up The Gandhi Foundation in 1983 and subsequently sustaining it was largely provided by Surur Hoda. Characteristically, he would claim that the support of many others was also important. His brother, Mansur, for example, was one of the early team until he had to return to India to pursue his interest in intermediate technology.

Richard Attenborough’s film, Gandhi, was, and still is, a constant source of inspiration and he agreed to serve as President. David Ennals, formerly a government minister, was our first Chairman. He had collaborated with Surur on efforts to help the Bihari refugees to return to Pakistan. Hoping to enlist the support of Quakers, Surur and Mansur approached me at Friends House.

Surur told me that friends in India had hoped that a Gandhi Foundation could be established here in the UK, similar to the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. We hoped that Richard Attenborough’s film would succeed in capturing the imagination of the public, and particularly young people, for Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. While this goal has not yet been realised, it has never been abandoned!

Surur worked tirelessly through summer schools, lectures and an annual inter-faith service to help make Gandhian ideals a reality. Our lives have indeed been enriched by his pioneering spirit and his friendship. The best tribute we can make to his memory is to continue to work for the objectives of peace, social justice and good inter-faith and community relations, which have been so integral a part of his active life.

Betty Clarke writes:

I was so sad to learn of the death of Surur Hoda, without whom The Gandhi Foundation would never have existed. It was his brainchild, and together with Cecil Evans they worked tirelessly to raise funds. Richard Attenborough became involved because of the depth of his feeling for Gandhi after making his famous film, and thanks to his generous donation of £5000, Surur and Cecil were able to engage me as very part-time secretary (with small ‘s’) and later as Treasurer. We had to beg the corner of a desk and an old typewriter from Kingsley Hall and then we were ‘in business’. I typed the Newsletter from Kathleen Jannaway’s hand written scripts, and together Surur and I photocopied them and posted them to our new members. Meanwhile Cecil was busy fundraising, particularly amongst his Quaker friends.

I worked with Surur for about 10 years, meeting him at least once a week and never, during all that time, saw him other than calm, sweet natured and considerate, although this hid a steely resolve never to accept failure. He was always full of faith and optimism that projects would turn out well.

His commitment to the Gandhi Foundation was shared by his many family commitments, by his active support for his local Labour party and for Gandhian projects in India together with his brother Mansur, who died over two years ago.

How much he is missed by his close family I cannot begin to imagine. He was my dear friend, and will never forget him.

Peter Cadogan writes:

Surur had a rare and special genius for people, for finding the right people to do things and then never interfering in the way they did them. He worked on trust, a great virtue long in decline. I long wondered how he did it, until one day, sitting in a small group of three or four people he told us. He told us the story of his childhood, of the big house he lived in with his grandmother, her sons, their wives and children, a classic extended family. The grandmother was guv’nor. She never gave orders, she simply said what was to be, and so it was. It was the rule of love. It was in that context that he grew up and how his remarkable character was formed. Then the grandmother died, and one by one the families went their separate ways and a great extended family slowly dissolved. But its memory and example did not dissolve, as Surur’s subsequent life and record are our witness.

Peter Cadogan (1921-2007)

Peter Cadogan, who has died at 86, was once called ‘the most expelled socialist in England’. He campaigned effectively on many fronts for peace, justice and human rights in print, on the streets and through teams of like-minded thinkers.

He moved from radical politics [Labour, Communist, Workers Revolutionary and Socialist Worker Parties] to radical spirituality as he came to the conclusion that William Blake, Gandhi and John MacMurray were his greatest mentors for living a compassionate life. He died a happy man.

Peter Cadogan was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1921 where he witnessed the poverty and humiliation of workers during the Depression. The images of war veterans and unemployed miners begging on street corners stayed with him and drove him all his life.

After working briefly as an insurance clerk, he went on to serve in the Air Sea Rescue Service from 1941 to 1946. This proved to be a profound experience. Desperate attempts to save lives, during which he found authentic friendship with the men under his command, were separated by long periods of inactivity in which he read Shaw, Wells, John MacMurray, Laski and, most importantly, Lenin’s State and Revolution. He realised much later that this book “was a lethal confidence-trick”.

On demobilisation, he immediately joined the Communist Party to which he gave 10 devoted years, thrilling to the ideas buzzing around the Historian’s Group of the CP with Christopher Hill, E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm and others. In the meantime, he studied history at Newcastle University, married, had a daughter and moved to Northampton and then Cambridge to teach history in Secondary Modern schools. He is still remembered in both as an inspiring teacher.

In 1956, Khruschev’s demolition of Stalin came as a blow and, when the USSR invaded Hungary, his sharp criticisms of the CP found their way into the national press. He was suspended and then quit, quickly joining the Labour Party. Two years later, he organised for them the first nuclear base demonstration against the American Thor missiles at Mepal, near Ely.

He became a founder member of the Socialist Labour League which later became the Workers Revolutionary Party and was expelled by the Cambridge Labour Party. Other joinings and expulsions of factions on the Left followed.

In 1960, Bertrand Russell proposed non-violent civil disobedience against nuclear weapons. Cadogan joined his Committee of 100 and their campaign climaxed in September 1961 with a vast but banned demonstration in Trafalgar Square. Russell was arrested along with 1300 others. Early in 1962, Russell sent him and others to the World Peace Council in Moscow where they “staged a free, unlicensed demonstration in Red Square against all Bombs including those of the Soviet Union. The police moved in immediately. It was the first free demo in that Square since the 1920s and made world headlines”.

Within days of the Biafran War starting in May 1968, Cadogan had set up the Save Biafra Campaign and worked vigorously for 18 months getting a lot of national coverage. All to no avail as the Foreign Office “was stuck with the Lugard doctrine of ‘one Nigeria’ and the Wilson Government, as usual, did what it was told. London supplied Lagos with all its arms, ammunition and military advisers. Moscow provided its Air Force and trained its pilots – an unholy alliance to end all such alliances”. About a million innocent people died of starvation.

From 1970 to 1981, he was the General Secretary of the South Place Ethical Society at Conway Hall, known as London’s ‘temple of dissent’. He saw his main task there as defending ‘the rational religious sentiment’, each individual’s ‘sense of the sacred’, and to this end conducted over 50 weddings and funerals. In 1975, he wrote “Direct Democracy: An Appeal to the Professional Classes, to the Politically Disenchanted and to the Deprived. The Case for An England of Sovereign Regional Republics, Extra-Parliamentary Democracy and a New Active Non-Violence of the Centre”, modelling his title on The Levellers and integrating his “revelatory discovery” of William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche. In it, he pioneered the idea of the gift economy.

This led to him co-founding the organisation and journal Turning Point with economist James Robertson which was published for over 25 years. From 1981 until his retirement in 1993, Peter was Tutor in the History of Ideas in the Extra-Mural Department of London University and the Workers Education Association.

By 1987 he had become disillusioned with all forms of protest and put his energies into what he called positive and practical solutions. From 1993, he worked for The Gandhi Foundation, leading their project in Northern Ireland and advocating Non-Violent Direct Action. He set up Values and Vision and Save London Alliance in his home on the base of his conviction that authentic national democracy can only emerge from local democracies. He became well-known in Kilburn for saving a local park, for Xmas lights on the High Road, his letters to the press and his garden. Local kids called him ‘Mr. Peter’.

During the 1990s he became the subject of great interest to historians, pre-eminent amongst them Professor Kevin Morgan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at Manchester University, who interviewed Peter in depth, placed the recordings in the National Sound Archives and anthologised his papers on the CP.

Peter continued to e-mail and write articles and letters to the very end. Throughout 65 years of radical activism, he was never afraid to speak his mind, to challenge and question his own and other people’s thinking. This seemed at first to many as intolerance, even arrogance. In fact, all soon discovered that it was no more than his passion for accuracy and clear thinking in the overall pursuit of justice.

Like Gandhi, he became and remained friends with all his temporary enemies. Over 70 people, old comrades and new friends, came to his bedside in St Mary’s Paddington or sent him messages of love and respect. Peter had co-founded The Blake Society in 1985, was its President for the first four years before becoming Life Vice-President. So it was appropriate that his last days fell during the month of Blake’s 250th anniversary. He quoted Blake’s poems to those around his bed and told us that Blake’s “Jerusalem” ‘said it all’. His dying words were Blake’s moral imperative “Live differently”! Peter did just that, his integrity intact.
John Rowley

Instead of ending his copious and challenging notes, letters and writings “with all good wishes” or something, Peter would say “oxygen, peace, flowers”. I loved that ending: oxygen for the life we breathe in and out; peace, we all yearn for whether secretly or openly; flowers, symbolising nature which surrounds and nourishes. Peter first introduced me to the Northern Ireland Working Group in London which he and I represented within the GF. In the 1980s, we joined a group to visit Dublin to discover more about “the Troubles” from across the border. He was indefatigable in his work and writings, giving great support to those he believed had “got it right” in Northern Ireland. He was a warrior of the right kind and he leaves a gap behind him. Go ye well, Peter. It was rich knowing you.
Denise Moll

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