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Obituary: Simeon Andrews

SIMEON ANDREWS was one of the unsung heroes of the Labour movement, whose tireless and unglamorous work helped to lay the foundations for the Corbyn insurgency.

Having already had his spell in the limelight, as an actor for the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and with a number of TV credits, he wasn’t seeking any personal recognition from his involvement with politics and was content to work behind the scenes.

Living in Lambeth, where he’d been through the titanic struggles of the ’80s where Ted Knight led a courageous rate-capping dispute, he would later challenge Chuka Umunna for the parliamentary selection in Streatham and despair at the Blairite dominance of local politics.

Simeon was a “red” in football, as a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC, just as much as in politics. He attended the match at Hillsborough in 1989 where 96 fans were killed by the actions of South Yorkshire Police and then subjected to disgusting smears in the national press.

His passion for the club and its supporters was only matched by his contempt for the Establishment that tried to thwart the families’ campaign for justice.

Having first volunteered as press officer for the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, Simeon worked closely with John McDonnell to change how many of the trade unions worked in Parliament.

Rather than simply “sponsoring” MPs and getting nothing in return, unions such as RMT, PCS, FBU and BFAWU brought MPs together on the basis that they were willing to fight around a common programme of aims, without promise of reward.

This work brought many of the smaller and more radical unions together as the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group to amplify the voice for socialist leadership within the TUC, and was instrumental in consolidating an alternative political platform in opposition to New Labour.

Simeon would become a crucial player in the founding of the Labour Representation Committee, and sought to challenge the bureaucratic grip over our movement to re-empower rank-and-file activists.

He was as surprised as anyone at the rapidity and extent of the capture of the leadership but was under no illusions about the scale of the internal obstacles the Corbyn project still faces.

Above all, Simeon’s politics were driven by a belief in solidarity. He wanted a labour movement which told people, in the words of his terrace anthem, “You’ll never walk alone.”


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