Joel Lane, 1963-2013

It is with great sadness that we report the death of our comrade Joel Lane.

Joel joined the Socialist Party along with his mother Ella in 2009 and immediately became one of the familiar faces at Birmingham branch meetings and on stalls.

During branch discussions Joel made meticulous notes and always made insightful contributions. He was a gifted writer, and whenever he was asked to introduce a discussion would provide thought provoking and well-researched material.

After meetings he would often apologise for not volunteering to do more activity, we needed to remind him that he was in fact one of the stalwarts of the branch and was one of our most solid and consistent activists.

Two areas in which Joel had a particular interest were the government’s attacks on the NHS, and literature.

Numerous pieces of his work have been published and he has received awards for his writing, much of which explored the theme of urban decay in post-industrial cities.

He contributed excellent articles to the Socialist and Socialism Today, one which sticks out in my mind being a piece on the well-known writer of noir fiction, Dashiell Hammett.

Joel came from a family steeped in the traditions of struggle and the labour movement: his grandfather was a socialist who, as a member of the Communist Party, was expelled from the US in the 1920s.

Joel’s parents met in the ‘Committee of 100’, a direct action group which grew from CND in the 1960s.

Joel himself didn’t become politically active until relatively late in his life, joining the Labour Party for a brief period in the 1990s but eventually finding his political home in the Socialist Party.

A fine example of Joel’s creative abilities was his last contribution to the Socialist: a short but powerful poem, published in the issue following Margaret Thatcher’s death:

Iron Rations

Rust finally stopped your mouth.

But your pieces are buried

in our streets, offices and playgrounds,

coiling like barbed wire, cutting

like knives, and their poison

has a half-life of forever.

Joel recognised that in order to rid society of poison we must struggle for socialist change. We are proud to have worked alongside him in bringing that change a step closer.

The funeral will be from 3-4pm on 23 December at Robin Hood Crematorium, Solihull. Family request no flowers but any donations to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Joel’s two novels remain available from Amazon, whilst his article for Socialism Today no. 132 can be read here


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