Christchurch socialist activist Jim Lamb died, in his early 50s, on Monday.
During the ’80s, Lamb worked on the railways in Christchurch and was active in the union movement. By 1989 he was prominent in the Christchurch Unemployed Rights collective. The CURC was a motley collection of anarchists and radicals, influenced to some degree by Communist Party members such as Ralph Blacklock and Socialist Unity Party linked activists like Peter Hall-Jones and Roy Wilkie.
By 1991 Lamb was working in the Coalition Against Benefit Cuts, alongside SUP activist Paul (Raz) Wratten.
Lamb was a scourge of the National Party…
In March 1991 he organised an anti-welfare cuts protest outside an NZ Institute of Management meeting where Jenny Shipley was speaking.
In May that year he organised a bus tour to Philip Burdon and Gail McIntosh’s homes respectively. He also organised a soup kitchen outside Ruth Richardson’s house
Lamb told the Communist Party’s Peoples Voice of May 20th “We went to their homes to bring home to them the impact of what they’re doing“.
In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the Workers Communist League set up People’s Centres in Auckland, Palmerston North and Wellington.
The WCL presence in Christchurch was very small, but by 1992, Jim Lamb was coordinator of the Christchurch Peoples Resource Centre.
Aligned to the WCL controlled centres, Lamb’s outfit acted as a lobby group for beneficiaries “concentrating on the areas of benefit entitlement.”
In 1993, former members of the WCL (which had dissolved in 1990) such as Sue bradford and Robert reid, together with some Marxist “Christians” convened “Peoples Assemblies” in several centres.
These evolved into a nationwide “People’s Network“, linking Maoist leaning former WCL members, Marxist “Christians”, Maori radicals and “social activists”.
This initiative was in response to the People’s Plan for the 21st Century (PP21), a pan Asia Pacific socialist initiative coordinated by both Maoist and Soviet/KGB linked NGO’s.
By 1996, Lamb was the Christchurch contact for the Peoples Network, with Pakistani Maoist Aziz Choudhry.
Lamb was a very busy comrade. He was a founder member and director of Community Energy Action, a committee member of the Christchurch Tenants Protection Association, a core group member of the Aotearoa Network of Unemployed and Beneficiaries, head of the beneficiaries Advisory Service, president of the Canterbury Council of Civil Liberties, a director of leftist internet group PlaNet Canterbury and in 1998 was an executive member of the Marxist controlled, UNITE union.
In 2002 Lamb worked to oppose sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The Christchurch revolutionary movement has suffered a major loss.