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Letters to The Guardian: Tuesday 22 December 2009

posted Mar 26, 2010, 4:33 AM by Dick Pountain

Donald Sassoon describes Nina Fishman (obituary, 14 December) as "one of the most outstanding and original personalities of the British left", who promoted a perspective of "revolutionary pragmatism" for the British labour movement. In the turbulent times of the 1970s and 80s, Nina energetically supported a resolution of the conflicts in British society in the working-class interest through the introduction of industrial democracy (workers' control) along the lines of the German system of Mitbestimmung (co-determination) and through constructive British engagement with the EU. But Sassoon's description of the British and Irish Communist Organisation in which she was then involved (as I was, too) as a "rather eccentric quasi-Stalinist group" does her a disservice. It was through the tumult of contending ideas that characterised that organisation, and in which Nina engaged so energetically, that these very ideas emerged in the first place – as did many others she shared, on nationalism in Britain and Ireland, on the "British road to socialism", on the potential of the Bullock report for British labour.

Philip O'Connor