Steve Jenkins — 1966-2009: 'You might call it zealotry, but I call it commitment'


Steve Jenkins (March 10, 1956 — December 13, 2009) was one of the 47 elected Liverpool City Councillors who fought a titanic battle against the right-wing Thatcher government in the 1980s.

He joined the British Labour Party while studying at Liverpool University in the 1970s. Reactionary prime minister Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979 created many places where an idealistic young socialist could get active: the picket lines of the striking fire fighters, the ship builders in Birkenhead and the coal miners; the sit-in of the Meccano workers, the marches in defence of the health service, among many others.

The highpoint of his political activism came with his May 1983 election to the Liverpool City Council when the Liverpool Labour Party — heavily influenced by the revolutionary socialist Militant Tendency — stormed to power after 16 years.

Their radical socialist program included defending jobs and services and the provision of adequate council housing. Between 1983 and 1987 the "Liverpool 47", as the councillors became known, were at the forefront of politics in Britain.

The 47 Labour councillors, allied with a vibrant mass movement of the workers of Liverpool, achieved a number of important victories, such as the July 1984 securing of funding for the council's urban regeneration program, despite concerted opposition of the Thatcher government.

In 1987, the Liverpool 47 were undemocratically removed from office by an unelected District Auditor and unelected members of the House of Lords. This brought to an end that phase of the struggle in Liverpool but did not end Steve's political commitment.

He remained involved in industrial and social struggles for the rest of his life — inspiring many Perth Socialist Alliance members with a presentation he gave in September 2009.

Reflecting in 2005 on his experiences at Liverpool, Jenkins wrote: "We were the same people who got up at 4am to stand on the picket line at one of the local collieries during the Miner's Strike and then went to do a full day's work before going out to political meetings at night. You might call it zealotry but I call it commitment."