A tribute to Stan Newens

Jeremy Corbyn MP salutes a lifelong campaigner for internationalism and justice 

It is so sad to hear of the death of Stan Newens, former MP, MEP, and lifelong campaigner for internationalism, justice, and the people of his former constituencies of Epping, Harlow, and then Central London (MEP).

I first met Stan in 1970 when he was campaigning for Labour in Shropshire, and I got to know him very well as one of the leading lights of the London Cooperative Society, then as Chair of Liberation, and much later as the Member of the European Parliament for Central London, which included Islington North.

Stan was born in the East End and was a conscientious objector against National Service in the 1940s and was thus sent to work in a coalmine in North Staffordshire. During his years down the pit there, he became a local activist in the National Union of Miners (NUM), and was finally thanked by the NUM for his work as their representative in the mine he had been working in.

Stan was very much a self-taught historian and a brilliant teacher in schools in Hackney before he became the Member of Parliament for Epping, in 1964. During the Parliaments up to 1970 he was a trenchant critic of the Vietnam war, and a great supporter of peace and social justice.

He returned to Parliament as MP for Harlow and knew and loved every blade of grass, every tree, every paving stone and every turning in his much-loved home town. He later wrote a wonderful history of Essex, along with many other historical works that he undertook. He self-published his own book on his life, and we presented it to the House of Commons Library, entitled In Quest of a Fairer Society: My Life in Politics.

Stan had personal sadness when his first wife, Anne, died at a young age.
His marriage to Sandra has been long and happy and I send my deepest condolences to all the family.

Stan’s home is full of books, and Stan was a great collector of labour movement history. To attend a socialist history school with Stan was an education in itself.

Whilst an MEP, Stan did so much to speak up for the people of Iraq, Iran, and so many other places. He brought a sense of humanity and internationalism to all of the debates he spoke in.

As a former chair of Liberation, the wonderful internationalist organisation founded by Fenner Brockway in 1954, Stan was always active and supportive and very generous with gifts and donations.

Stan brought to us all much knowledge of so many different parts of the world from his mini-travels, and via his meetings of people living in exile, hoping for better times in their home countries.

It was my honour to host a 90th birthday party for Stan in the Leader of the Opposition’s office in February 2020.

I am so sad at his passing. He was a man who gave his life to social justice, the labour movement, and the people who elected him to Parliament and the European parliament.

I want to put on record my thanks to Stan Newens and to all his family for supporting him in all his good work.

Reproduced from Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook page. Earlier this year, Jeremy Corbyn launched the Peace and Justice Project. You can sign up to its campaigns at thecorbynproject.com/action   

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