Family, friends and comrades of Phil Mitchinson gathered in Cardiff on Saturday 13th January for a memorial meeting. We came together to celebrate his life that ended so tragically.
The meeting was opened and chaired by a long time comrade of Phil, Mark Turner, who expressed the sadness of all present at the loss of such a dear comrade.
Mark related the events of Phil's too short life, talking about his cultural, linguistic, political and human development from a sixteen year old Young Socialist to the all round man that he became.
Mark then introduced Rob Sewell of the editorial board of Socialist Appeal. Rob and Phil had worked together on the journal for more than 10 years. Rob told of the difficult years through which the Socialist Appeal group had come since the separation from Militant fifteen years ago. He told about the huge contribution that Phil had made in overcoming these difficulties and in preparing for the great events which lie ahead. We had all been shocked and saddened by Phil's death, he said. It would be very difficult to replace Phil's contribution, but much of that contribution had been to lay the basis for our future work. Phil was very keen on promoting Marxist theory, especially to the young comrades, and he did this with enormous enthusiasm. Rob went on to quote Trotsky, who at the age of 18 wrote: "'Dum spiro spero' [As long as I breathe I hope]. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!" Each and every comrade would now take on a little more to help fill the gap left by our loss of Phil.
After Rob's speech a collection was held for Phil's Memorial Fund. The money raised by the fund will be used to help young supporters to travel to political and educational events internationally. The collection raised £505. Anyone unable to be at the meeting can still contribute to the fund by sending money to Socialist Appeal.
The meeting then heard from many comrades and friends who related anecdotes about Phil. We laughed and cried in turn. We loudly applauded Phil's young son Jack when he said it wasn't so much that Dad had left us a legacy but a base from which to advance.
The meeting closed after a rousing singing of The Red Flag and The Internationale.
I'd like to finish with these lines often quoted by V.I.Lenin and never more appropriate. "We have only one life to live and we should live it so that dying we can say that all my life and all my work were devoted to the greatest cause in the world: the liberation of mankind."
If you would like to contribute to the Phil Mitchinson Memorial fund please send a cheque payable to Well Red book club at PO Box 50525