Comrade Steve Wallis, well known on the Manchester left and stalwart of the city’s Left Unity branch, died of a heart attack last week. Having first met Steve at an LU meeting only late last year, I cannot claim to have known him well. But Steve had a frank disposition – that rare type who really do wear their heart on their sleeve – and it did not take long to work out what motivated him.
Steve will be remembered for his lifelong commitment to the struggle for a truly human society, for socialism. Despite persistent mental health issues, Steve usually managed to maintain a packed activist’s diary. He was well known around the worker’s movement through involvement in a variety of campaigns and left-wing parties over the course of his life. Like many of us, he felt frustrated at the failure of the far left to make a breakthrough in society.
Whatever his own mood, Steve was consistently warm and respectful toward others – even when wondering aloud if you were a police spy! And occasional paranoia aside, he made for a frank and intelligent sparring partner in debate. We often disagreed on questions of tactics and strategy, but were united on one fundamental point: the necessity of political honesty, and this is why the Communist Platform recommended a vote for Steve when he stood in Left Unity’s regional elections.
In addition to his passion for politics, Steve was a musician and had wide-ranging interests including programming, artificial intelligence, and much else besides. His website (socialiststeve.me.uk) and blog give some idea of the scope of his inquisitiveness, but it was a cause of regret for Steve that problems with concentration and memory meant he found sustained study of a single topic difficult. Despite his health problems and conspiratorial thinking he could have a remarkably sharp sense of humour, was a reliably cheery presence at any political event you happened to be at, and a particularly enthusiastic champion of Left Unity. He will be sorely missed.