Globe, Movement, Politics, United Kingdom

Ernie Tate, a tribute to activism and the revolution

Marxist, trade union activist and revolutionary, he was one of the main organisers of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign and a founding member of the International Marxist Group in Britain. It is time to pay tribute to his memory and his work.


Elle McHale


The passing of Ernie Tate, on February 5th this year, has been felt in many parts of the world, especially in the UK.

Therefore Socialist Project and Spring Magazine have organised a virtual event via Zoom called: No life like it: A tribute to the revolutionary activism of Ernie Tate.

It is a call to people around the world to celebrate the life and achievements of the man John Riddell says was “An outstanding partisan of global anti-imperialist solidarity” who contributed with his partner Jess MacKenzie “to building revolutionary Marxist groups and to promoting socialist unity in Canada and Britain.”

Born in the heart of Protestant Belfast in 1934, he emigrated to Canada in 1955. A staunch Marxist, union activist and revolutionary he devoted his life to fighting capitalism, finding himself at the core of most socialist groups, often named as one of the founders.

Ernie Tate. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

He was a leading organiser of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in Britain, worked for Bertrand Russell’s International War Crimes Tribunal and was a founding member of the International Marxist Group in Britain.

Organising demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, in union struggles at Toronto Hydro, he advocated to protect universal healthcare and living wages.

In 2014, his two-volume book focusing on revolutionary activism in Canada and Britain in the 1950s and 1960s was published.

This has been a source of information for the 2020-2021 English Undercover Policing Inquiry hearings, where the illegal and immoral activities of police agents in infiltrating the left have been laid bare.

Tate wrote in his book “Revolutionary Activism” in the 1950’s and 60s: “For me as a young person, joining a socialist organisation, no matter how small, was like at last awakening from a long sleep. Vague ideas and feelings I had about society that I had come to by myself now began to be integrated into a systematic historical and political outlook… Above all, it gave a coherent expression to what had been a sense of injustice that I had until then been unable to articulate… To this day I have always separated those two phases of my adult life: the period before and after joining the group.”

His linguistic capabilities helped to awaken people’s minds to socialism. “It was through comrades like Ernie that the far left was able to raise its sights to a new conception of internationalism, and a deeper understanding of gender and racial oppression”, writes Riddell.

The tribute No life like it: A tribute to the revolutionary activism of Ernie Tate will take place on May 30th, 2021 at 7 pm. and will be held on Zoom. For further information, visit their Facebook page, Socialist Project, Spring magazine or Eventbrite website.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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