Sunday 8 April 2012

Paul Hodgkinson, 1958-2012

UAF expresses its great sorrow at the loss of Paul Hodgkinson, who died on Monday 2 April after a long fight with cancer.

We wish to extend our condolences to Paul’s family.

Paul’s socialist principles led him to understand the essential importance of opposing racism as part of a struggle towards a more just world.

Leading role

Paul played a leading role in the founding of Bradford UAF. Following the election of four British National Party councillors in 2004, he deployed his skills and experience to provide a critical link between UAF locally and regionally.

He also took significant responsibility for cementing the relationship between UAF, the Muslim community and students at Bradford University.

Despite his worsening health, he was the instigator and founding member of ‘We Are Bradford’ in response to the English Defence League’s demonstration in Bradford in August 2010.

He was a member of the ‘We Are Bradford’ team which negotiated with the police and the local authority a space to successfully celebrate multicultural society on the day the EDL tried to divide the city.

In response to the growth of the BNP, Paul made supporting the campaign to defeat it his number one political priority. He saw a breakthrough for fascism into the mainstream as a threat to the social progress that had taken place in his lifetime.

He also believed that an electoral breakthrough by the BNP in one place would give it the legitimacy to establish itself in new areas.

As a result, Paul was also very active in supporting the antifascist campaigns in Oldham, Burnley and Halifax.

Paul was determined that he would do his utmost to ensure that Bradford UAF would be a strong voice in the city to challenge the racist myths which had led to the BNP’s breakthrough. His many well argued contributions at public gatherings and committee meetings were always focused on working out the best way to strengthen the unity of the movement.

He passionately believed that the poison of fascism could only be defeated if there was unity between the labour movement and all those communities threatened by fascism, alongside consistent opposition to all forms of racism and bigotry.

His unrelenting campaigning against racism forms a lasting legacy for the antifascist movement both in Bradford and nationally.

Bradford UAF chair Mukhtar Ali said:

Paul was a dear friend. He held his principles in equality and fairness very strongly and firmly.

All the time I have known him he was there when there was anything to do about racism and the suffering of workers.

I will never forget that even though I left the Labour Party he would ring me up and ask about certain issues.

When the EDL was planning to come to Bradford he phoned me and asked if I knew – I said no. He asked me what should we do? He wanted to know if other members of the community would do anything. Everything started from that.

Paul was very inclusive. His work will be a great legacy for Bradford.

Ashiq Hussain, chair of ‘We Are Bradford’ added:

I first met Paul in 2010 after I contacted UAF about the EDL coming to Bradford. Out of that meeting developed ‘We Are Bradford’ which brought together trade unionists, people of faith and many others.

Paul was astonishing. He had a real feeling and heart for the work. He believed in standing up to fascist groups like the BNP and the EDL. He had massive will power and energy. He became a close friend and colleague. He gave me constant encouragement and support.

It is hard to find people like Paul. His death is a great loss to Bradford and to the country.

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