Ted Knight at Croydon Assembly Manifesto Meeting 2018
It is with much sadness that the news began to go round that Ted Knight, the controversial former leader of Lambeth Council, died today. Ted was known to many people in Croydon as Secretary of Croydon Unite Retired Members branch, Chair of Croydon Assembly, and supporter of Ruskin House.
I first got to know Ted when he was Leader and I was Secretary of the Community Police Consultative Group for Lambeth (1984-9) initially based in the Town Hall until after the 1985 riots. I arranged for him to speak at the Wandsworth Labour Group appealing for donations go the fighting fund to support the surcharged Lambeth Labour Councillors , one of whom Joan Whalley (later MP) had been sacked as part of the Community Development Team by the Conservatives when they came to power in Wandsworth in 1978. I got to know Ted again when I moved into Croydon and started attending the Retired Members branch which meets at Ruskin House. He was a first class Secretary and a man whose sharp intellect not only got to the heart of the challenges on a wide range of issues but also spoke in a way that re-charged listeners batteries.
Tribute by John McDonnell
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer describes him as ‘A giant of our movement ‘ in an appreciation of Ted on his website written with the journalist Paul Feldman, who first got to know at University in the late 1960s.
John says that ‘A memorial meeting will be organised later in the year. In the meantime, an online meeting will be held shortly to allow people to pay their respects.’
Retired Members Comments
Comments from members of the Retired Members branch who I have been able to tell are:
- ‘Sad day!”
- ‘That’s a great loss. We must just console ourselves that it was a great life and try to carry forward his ideas and enthusiasms.’
- ‘I’m so sad and shocked. ‘How can we commemorate , in this time of virus, Ted’s enormous contribution to Ruskin’s activities and to socialism more widely? He will be greatly missed by so many people.’
- ‘Very sad. His energy was prodigious in fighting for many good causes.’
Plus from an active supporter of events at Ruskin House:
‘Very sad. I liked Ted a lot – he was a lovely bloke. Please keep me informed if there is any public or collective way of saying our goodbyes to him.’
Chris Williamson has Tweeted:
‘I was privileged to get to know Ted a few years ago and honoured to call him a friend. He never lost his passion & backed my campaign to democratise @UKLabour’
Williamson’s Tweet has been replied to by others:, including Ken Livingstone:
‘Sad to hear of the passing of my old comrade Ted Knight. He was an intransigent fighter for working people; a thorn in the side of both Thatcher’s Tories & those who didn’t want to fight them. We will keep fighting for a socialist future.’
Richard Burgon. MP, has Tweeted:
‘Sad to hear of the passing of Ted Knight. Ted dedicated his life to fighting for the working class. He was a champion of socialist theory and socialist practice. He was one of those who fought back. I last saw him at an event just a few weeks ago – in typically fine form.
The author of the forthcoming book Radical Lambeth has posted the start of Chapter 1 which introduces Ted.
Additional Comment added 31 March
‘So very sad to hear about Ted Knight, and I only really got to know him in the last ten years or so …. I enjoyed going to the Croydon Assembly events and speaking to him on several occasions in Ruskin House. One year, he went as a delegate to the Annual Trade Union Councils conference on behalf of Croydon TUC and certainly electrified the conference when he spoke. You could definitely tell that he was professional politician….if that is the correct way of describing him. …. Hopefully there will be an event for Ted at Ruskin house, when it is safe to organise and hold.