Mike Perkins, a long standing supporter of Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty, died on 9 November aged 88.
Mike joined shortly after his retirement from work, some 20 years ago. Through his union, Unison, he was on the trade union education course at Southampton College. Run by a socialist tutor, the course was lively, relevant and political, rooted in the class struggle and related political issues. It was 1997. The Labour Party had won the election, but were led by pink-Tory Blairites who had captured control. These issues were discussed on the course, with a number of members continuing that discussion directly with Workers’ Liberty. Mike was part of that group and joined our fight as a result.
When the college victimised the trade union education tutor shortly afterwards, there was a strike. Mike, despite health issues affecting his mobility and living outside Southampton City, attended the strong picket line throughout the dispute.
Mike, a lifelong Labour Party and trade union member, was particularly impressed and convinced by John O’Mahony’s 'The Labour Party in perspective' (Workers’ Liberty 28, February 1996), and the conclusion of the need to link up and knit together the three main fronts of the class struggle — trade unionism, politics and ideas — into a coherent strategy and activity. Mike acted on this as best he could — both in the local labour movement, including the Southampton Trades Council, and also in Southampton Workers’ Liberty forums, which attracted significant numbers of local trade unionists in the same way that Mike had been attracted in 1997.
Mike’s commitment and thirst for political ideas remained undimmed, despite failing health that prevented him continuing to attend national Workers’ Liberty events for the last few years. But locally he was able to respond to the “Corbyn surge” situation in the Labour Party, and although now in a wheel chair was a keen attender — with the help of his daughter, Susan — at the large Southampton Momentum meetings.
Quiet and unassuming, Mike’s commitment to socialism, the labour movement and workers’ liberty remained undimmed until the end. His daughter Susan wrote to Workers’ Liberty after his death: “He was a great believer in your cause and I took great comfort in your ideals.” Our condolences to her.
Mike was a lovely man, a warm comrade and friend, who will be greatly missed.