Remember Steve Cohen

I am sad to announce the death of Steve Cohen, a long-standing socialist and fighter against all forms of racism and immigration controls. Sadly Steve died, peacefully, at about 5 on Sunday morning.

Steve had been suffering from rheumatoid artritis for about 15 years. There won’t be a funeral – he left his body for medical research; it may yield new knowledge that will help other sufferers from this cruel affliction in future.

A commemoration for Steve will take place on Thursday at 5pm. The venue is still to be confirmed but will most likely be Machester Town Hall.

12 comments on “Remember Steve Cohen

  1. David Rosenberg on said:

    This is very sad news. Ironically when I last spoke with Steve a couple of months ago, he was talking to me about an article he planned to write for Jewish Socialist magazine about Jewish funerals. Knowing that his illness would do for him sooner rather than later, he had been struggling with the surreal rules and regs of the authorities in this sphere about trying to organise a Jewish humanist funeral.

    I knew Steve from 1978 when he joined the JSG, and one of the first impacts he had on us, and later on other groups within the left and anti-racist movements, was the importance of the history of immigration control.

    He did a lot of original research unearthing aspects of the 1905 Aliens Act and from this research he wrote about how every key principle of racist immigration practice and the machinery to implement them, was enshrined in that first act of 1905 – the idea that some people were considered “undesirable”, the use of medical criteria to exclude, and powers of deportation after people were permitted entry.

    When I first met Steve he was also promoting a self-published book of his sharp and very humorous poetry entitled “The Jews and the Genitals”. Unfortunately I lost track of where my copy went to but we republished one of the poems in the mid 80s in the second issue of our magazine, called “the Epsteins and the Frankensteins: an everyday story of Jewish family life” in which he wrote about
    “fascism, zionism, the Jewish family – the triple polarities of Jewish sadness”. Still true!

    My condolences to his family, friends and comrades.

  2. cliff foot on said:

    a real shame, steve was a smashing chap and very principled.

    another sad loss is the very untimely death of alan walter.

    glyn robbins has written a lovely obituary via morning star


    like many, whrn i heard of alan walter’s death i was shocked that someone so vital and active has been taken

    from us. talking with others who also knew alan, none of us

    can quite believe the news. as glyn rightly says, alan’s

    death is a huge blow to the movement. i had the pleasure

    to work with alan over several years and always found him

    sharp, thoughtful and a briiliant strategist.

    he stands in the finest traditions of those such as Harry

    McShane, no mean fighter over housing and so much else,

    just like alan, of course.

    he was one of the best rooted socialists there was, walk

    down the street with alan in Camden and it seem ed he knew

    half the population…by first name, testimony to his

    tireless efforts. No doubt the Camden New Journal will

    reflect alan’s popularity and respect by many locally,

    had we been able to persuade him alan would probably have

    won a seat as a councillor in Kentish Town, such was the

    measure of sup[port he had.

    Defend Council Housing, the SWP, alan’s union and many

    others have lost a collossus. he was a genuine working class hero, though alan probably would have been embarrassed by that.

    We have lost a lovely, modest comrade whose efforts will

    live on in many organisations work and whose memory will

    never fade, farewell dear comrade, thanks for everything,

    alan…… lutte continue

  3. Dr Paul on said:

    Farewell to a Comrade. We’ll be running Steve’s article on the trade unions and immigration in the next issue of New Interventions.

  4. John Tummon on said:

    Steve was passionate and imaginative to a point beyond the rest of his generation of socialists. Everyone I’ve spoken to today recalls that they disagreed with him on something or other, which is also part of the truth. He once derailed an anti-racist meeting I helped organise in Manchester Town Hall – in front of about 200 young people- by getting a discussion going about whether the windows should be opened or not (it was a hot night). He then re-fuelled that discussion with a further intervention. He will be sorely missed!

  5. sara lucas on said:

    I have just heard of Steves death, I am so blessed that I
    knew him, having met him in the 70’s and sharing ahome with
    and several others in Longsite Manchester when he worked
    for the law center there,
    I helped him with the title of the ‘jews and the genitals’
    his book of poetry. I got back in touch with him a couple of
    years ago, and he was able to email me here in the US with
    one finger and one eye.
    I send my love and blessing to his family and all his
    extended family, we all loved him,
    I am so glad I knew you Steve all my love

  6. Phil Taylor on said:

    They certainly are taking the good ones. Very sorry to hear this news. My memories of Steve from the late 1970s to mid 1980s were of lively argument, disagreement and solidarity. Oh, and he nearly got me off once!!

  7. Aly McIntyre on said:

    Steve, I went to your memorial meeting tonight (12/3/09).
    To see jews, muslims and socialists together, remembering
    you, said it all.

    Our day will come, Venceremos – TAL.


  8. John Tummon on said:

    For those who did not go, Steve’s memorial in Manchester Town Hall was stunning in every way, The contributions from his family & closest friends were exceptional – close to the bone, and to him, with no false nostalgia. I think the meaning within his injunction for us to mourn, not organise, is about realising the importance of having questioning minds within the Left who don’t follow the obvious approaches, lines and directions – we need to nurture more pluralism than some traditions on the Left have time for.

    Seven hundred of us singing the Internationale in his memory will stay with me and the others who were there; like Steve would have done, I suggested to some people that we had the numbers and should occupy the old neo-Gothic pile, but it wasn’t the day for that.

  9. Kamran Mashadi on said:

    He rescued my life as a when working witht the law ceneter. Great loss for all good humans of this plant, Humble he was, rest in peace Steve.

  10. Judith Evans on said:

    In memory of Steve Cohen 1945-2009
    I remember Steve from his IMG years in Manchester: it was he who brought me in to political activism through selling Red Mole on the streets of Manchester and campaigning outside power stations, marches and demos. He was a beautiful gentle idealist. I respect his memory and give thanks for his life. I am proud to have known him and the small but remarkable group of individuals around him at the time, including Sheila, Mark and his young son Tom. He seized his time!
    Judi (Evans)