Mike Marqusee 1953-2015
January 15, 2015 — News
Written by Jenny Bourne
The movement has lost a unique and inspiring campaigner for justice.
We have, over the years, had to note the passing of many fighters and of many writers; but it is rare to find a writer who fights or a fighter who writes, rarer still to find someone taking on popular culture and politicising it, taking on the grand ideologies of the day and personalising them. All of life was grist to his political mill – music, sport, family, illness.
He wrote perceptively on his formative cultural icons – Bob Dylan (Chimes of Freedom and Wicked Messenger) and Muhammad Ali (Redemption Song); wrote acerbically and politically on the sport of his adopted country (War minus the Shooting and Anyone but England). Later he courageously tackled the thorny issue of Zionism and his own family’s take on being a Jew (If I am not for myself). And finally, as he endured years of treatment for a form of bone marrow cancer, he proudly discussed that fight and the struggle to maintain the NHS (The price of experience).
When embroiled in sports writing and with a certain reputation in the cricket world, he founded the campaign ‘Hit racism for Six’. He was also a founder of the Stop the War Coalition and then Iraq Occupation Focus. He campaigned continually around left politics, against racism and imperialism which included Zionism and for the rights of Palestinians.
A campaigner who never flagged, a writer who never missed the meaning of an experience, his loss is immeasurable.
The funeral will take place in the week starting 19 January, and there will be a memorial event in a few months time. Contributions can be made in Mike’s memory to Medical Aid for Palestinians, a cause close to Mike’s heart, and/or to St Joseph’s Hospice. Messages can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.