We were horrified to learn of the loss of Alison Stoddart (1980 – 2012), a fighter against injustice and oppression gone much too soon. Our thoughts are with all of her family and friends.Alison came from a family with a long history of activism and campaigning in Dunedin. Her granny, Christina, travels to Palestine regularly in solidarity work with the Society of Friends, while her mother has worked in campaigns over everything from criminal injustice to the environment to beneficiaries’ rights.
Alison was, briefly, a member of our organization at the end of the 1990s. Political differences, and time in the UK, convinced her that she disagreed with our Leninism, but she stayed for the rest of her life a passionate supporter of socialist politics. Alison was a regular at all the major protests and demonstrations in Dunedin, and played and important part in mobilizing for the protests against the Iraq war and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that took place during the 2000s.
Her attitude towards our organization was always comradely and intensely engaged. She had comments and criticisms on every magazine or pamphlet we produced: for a tiny group like ours, these criticisms meant a huge amount – she took our ideas seriously enough to argue with them, and to demand better from us. Her constructive engagement gestured at exactly the kind of world we hoped to build.
Politics were central to her life. She was arrested protesting against nuclear submarines at Faslane in Scotland during her OE; as a teenager she built demonstrations and direct action against French nuclear testing in Mururoa Atol. Two more personal memories: as school students we heckled the Tory scum Jenny Shipley when she made an unwise attempt at a walkabout in Dunedin one afternoon in 1998; my first sit-down protest was with Alison as unions responded to Max Bradford’s attacks on holidays. More recently we have spent many hours over the phone debating the Mana Movement’s prospects and problems.
For many of us Alison was a dear personal friend; for the rest of our organization she was a comrade and fellow fighter. The way she lived her life demonstrates what makes the victory of working-class politics essential: she lived a life of unsentimental solidarity, connection with the weak and oppressed, union politics, and anti-capitalist energy. Alison hated the capitalist system, and was disgusted at the lies of Paula Bennett and others slandering beneficiaries and working women.
We honour her memory by building an organisation that can fight capitalism and oppression in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Ah, how good to sense the first awakening flicker of
muscularity in the trees’ arms. Indeed, how magical they seem in the
street lights with spring fuzz bursting all over and thinning
to delicate twigs – scratch marks in a bland sky.
(Hone Tuwhare, “Street March and Demonstration, Dunedin, 14th October 1977”)