Lives Remembered: Harry Baldwin
Tuesday 06 April 2010
When Harry Baldwin was growing up in south London, political meetings on Sunday mornings and evenings were a feature of social life. His father introduced him to these popular events, in which the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) held up to 1,000 meetings a year. Harry, who was born in Brixton on 17 October 1930 and was a conscientious objector to National Service, became a party member in 1950. He was a plumber by trade throughout his working life.
For the next 28 years he was an active party member and spoke at SPGB meetings, particularly at East Street in Walworth, Trebovir Road in Earls Court and in Hyde Park. His mentors were speakers such as Tony Turner and Harry Young, whose oratorical skills attracted large crowds. On the day the Second World War was declared, Turner addressed a Hyde Park crowd of 10,000.
The popularity of such outdoor events declined in the 1950s and '60s, though the SPGB fielded 14 candidates in both the 1967 and 1970 Greater London Council Elections. At the first they polled 3,694 votes or 0.2 per cent of the total cast; at the second there was a decline to 1,656 or 0.1 per cent. Harry achieved the highest number of votes for an individual candidate, but modestly claimed that this was due to the "alphabetical effect", with his surname being close to the top of the ballot paper.
He left the SPGB in 1978, but returned some time after a split in the Party in 1991. His allegiance was to the "reconstituted" party based on a group of members in the Camden and North West Branch. His style as a speaker was in the soap-box tradition of confidence, quick-witted thoughtfulness and occasional abrasiveness. He became a regular attraction on Sunday afternoons at Speakers' Corner and at the Conway Hall lectures.
Harry George Baldwin's quest for a society encompassing peace, socialism and common ownership was evident throughout his political life. The death of his partner, Pat Andrews, three years ago, sapped some of his personal vigour. He died on 14 January, and at his funeral his brother Leslie and Pat's daughter-in-law, Jan, recalled a man who had a great passion for family values, a compelling desire for fairness in society and an absorbing delight in the music of Elvis Presley.
If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, family member or colleague, please send a piece of no more than 500 words to Obituaries, 'The Independent', 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, by fax to 020 7005 2399 or by email to email@example.com. We reserve the right to edit copy for length and style.
- 3 Alton Towers crash: Four seriously injured and 16 guests trapped as Smiler ride carriages collide
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Alton Towers crash: Four seriously injured and 16 guests trapped as Smiler ride carriages collide
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...