Photo by Simon Oosterman

by Daphna Whitmore

Margaret Jones died on 19 June aged 96. She was a fun-loving, colourful and committed communist. She was invariably seen at demonstrations with her trusty Workers of the World Unite placard strung around her neck. It was the best slogan of all she reckoned. She was also an animal rights activist and supporter of the organics movement. She loved jazz and dancing. She grew more beautiful as she got older, and was a groovy dresser who looked great in black leather pants and red lipstick, a look she could still pull off in her nineties. She was a teacher and never quite retired.

Her parents were communists; her father Leo Sim was jailed for sedition in the 1930s, and became the general secretary of the Communist Party. Margaret’s nephew – Lindsay Perigo – tells of how Leo became a communist as a First World War veteran reflecting on the war, “and an encounter in Ireland with the legendary revolutionary James Connolly.” Perigo, whose politics are the polar opposite of Marg’s, has written a tribute to his aunt that is well worth reading.

Marg liked to tell us younger activists how her parents would head out to a meeting and say to their kids “look if we don’t come home tonight we’ve been arrested, so get your own dinner”. Her mother May was a staunch Leninist. Marg’s brother Karl was a talented painter, later discovered to be a masterful Goldie forger. Her son Marx, also a communist, spent time in prison for his part flying a plane and flour-bombing the Springbok-All Blacks rugby game in 1981 at Eden park as part of the mass protests against apartheid.

Margaret didn’t let cold wet weather or old age stop her. On nasty winter’s nights she’d come along to protests and say I’m not doing any good if I stay at home in front of the TV.

She was widely admired and her example touched many people. The Te Atatu RSA was packed in the weekend with family, friends, political activists and students who came to her send-off.

  1. Well done for this Daphna as the “celebration” was organised by the youngsters of the family which was a good thing I felt some of the history got left out, you have certainly addressed this. Yes you are right Perigo in his own strange way does so too, the prick!!!.
    As the great scots bard Robbie Burns said “Like a snow flake on a river one moment bright (in her case very bright in every way) then gone for ever”. Of course this is not quite true, her memory will endure and inspire.

    All the best,

    “Workers of the world unite”

  2. Thanks for your words about Mum. Mered says we should have a get together soon…….. excellent idea. Will organise soon.

    No fortress a bolshevic cannot capture.

    Marx x