Mick Woods died on 19 July at the age of 63. He was an activist of the tendency which is now Workers’ Liberty from the mid 70s to 1984, and remained a committed socialist until his death.
As all the tributes since his death have testified, Mick combined commitment with wit, critical thinking, and unpretentiousness. The tribute from Roger Welch, an ex-activist of the same vintage, says it well: “a genuine revolutionary but also one with an irreverent sense of humour and healthy cynicism regarding the sort of lefties who reek of self importance”.
Mick went with the group around Alan Thornett in the split we had in early 1984. Although he largely agreed with the majority on the big-picture political issues then, he took sides because he disagreed with our organisational measures to resolve the “cold split” which had developed.
That parting of the ways was definitive. The group with which he had split scattered — a remnant is now in Socialist Resistance — and Mick moved to Denmark, where he was a member until his death of the small “Mandelite” group SAP, part of the Red Green Alliance in that country.
I made contact with him again only in 2016, when another ex-activist from his time told me that Mick was very ill, and indicated how I might be able to contact him. I traced an address and sent Mick a get-well card and, later, a copy of one of our books.
Early this year I heard back from Mick, sounding more hopeful: “a very belated note to thank you and Sean [Matgamna] for the get-well cards you sent me about a year ago. I was very sick with endocarditis and then reacted very badly to the antibiotics... forgot about the cards until I dug them out of a pile of papers...
“I have moved to a reasonably handicap-friendly pensioner flat last October and have my house up for sale. Hope all is good with you. Pass this on to Sean...”
Even at the worst, Mick did not give up. He fought for socialism, according to his best understanding, with all the energy he had and all the years he was allowed.