Bill Deller 3.08.1949 – 17.10.2014
In my first memory of Bill he is sitting at my kitchen table telling me that he had loved reading my recently published book, Shifting Horizons, about women in the British Miner’s Strike. At the time few left wing men could be bothered to read a book about women, let alone claim it as one of their favourites.
I repeat this because it is so typical of the way Bill was. He loved a book about ordinary people, moved by political conditions around them to do extra-ordinary things. Over the years that followed we fought together in many struggles and discussed endlessly what we were doing, how we were doing it, how we should be doing it. We always tried to understand what we should be doing by understanding the world as it was unfolding around us and understanding the motion underlying events.
Bill became the Vice-President of the State Public Services Federation and extended a hand to farmers who were having their farms foreclosed on by banks. He talked, way before any one else of setting up a Red, Green and Black Alliance. He worked to establish a ‘Working People’s Charter for Justice’, we tried to build a broad left ‘Progressive Labour Party’. He helped build the massive peace movement of 2003 and to work on too many struggles to list. And in more recent years his work at 3CR is already legendary.
There were victories along the way, but there were more defeats. This was an era when the forces of reaction were on the rise and too strong for us to overcome. I believe that if born in a different time, Bill Deller would have been great leader, a household name around the world. In the time he was born he was limited by the conditions that favoured followers of fashion over advocates for change; obedience to the dominant ideology over the quest for truth; living the myth over understanding reality. Nevertheless all of us who knew him saw great leadership in Bill; the inspiring orator, the man whose energy was in abundance, the one who ceaselessly looked for opportunities to advance and broaden the struggle, who made connections with a wide range of people but at the same time never lost his own political or moral compass.
The strength of his commitment, the breadth of his vision, the power of his mind with his courage and incorruptibility were a powerful mix. We, as a movement will miss him, but we are stronger for having known him. As an individual I will miss him enormously because when he applied his mighty skills to friendship he was a mighty friend to have.