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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 6 September 2007

Jock Nicolson and, top left, as St Pancras North candidate in the October 1964 election
Communist Party stalwart who stood up to the far right at polls

Powerful speaker took his soapbox message to Saturday morning shoppers

JOCK Nicolson, who has died aged 87, will be remembered for his dedication to helping others and his unwavering political beliefs.
Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1921, the son of a watchmaker who, having fought in Africa, became a railway worker, he was one of five children.
Jock was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and spend his working days on the railways. As a worker in a vital industry, he was not called up to the armed forces during World War II.
He met his wife Bridget in 1947 at a Communist Party summer camp in Hastings, Sussex. They fell in love but Jock could not immediately move to London to be with her, while she already had two children and was unable to move north.
Jock was working as an election agent for radical MP Willie Gallacher and was needed for Communist Party work in Fife. Such was party discipline in those days he put his political work first.
However, he eventually moved to London and the couple set up home in Belsize Park.
Jock found a job as a goods porter at Chalk Farm depot, starting work at six each morning, and became active in organising the depot’s trade union branch.
He rose to become a member of the national executive of the National Union of Railwaymen.
Jock stood for the Communist Party in St Pancras North constituency in three elections. In 1955, he polled about 1,200 votes, 10 per cent of the winning Labour tally.
In a bitter contest in 1959, Bill Webster, publican of the Black Horse pub in Royal College Street, Camden Town, stood for the far-right British Party. Jock spoke at a public meeting at Prince of Wales swimming pool, with scores of burly young communists from the building trade present in case of trouble.
During the campaign, comrades took it in turns to sit in his Belsize Park home with Bridget and his young family in case fascists tried to intimidate them.
Jock also stood for London County Council in St Pancras and worked tirelessly between elections, often rising at daybreak on Saturdays to secure a spot for his soapbox outside Kentish Town Tube station, where he made speeches to shoppers. During the St Pancras rent strikes, his powerful speeches were well received.
While many British Communists became disillusioned with the party over the Soviet Union’s reaction to the Hungarian uprising of 1956, Jock remained loyal.
According to friends, he was convinced socialism would get back on track.
Party member Peter Richards, who worked on Jock’s election campaigns, said: “His line was OK, the Soviet Union made some mistakes, but he still supported the Soviets in Hungary. He regretted it had come about, but unlike others refused to leave the party over it.”
He believed the Communist Party should campaign on national issues such as rent, employment and wages.
Aside from his active political life and his dedication to his family, Jock’s other great love was fishing. He would spend his holidays in Scotland, fishing rivers and lochs.
After his wife died, he spent more time fishing at Walthamstow reservoirs. He could be spotted on Hampstead Heath practising his fly-fishing technique on the slopes of Parliament Hill.
Jock recently completed his memoirs, which he learned before his death had been accepted by a publisher.
He is survived by three children, Jose, Mark and Laura. The funeral is at Golders Green Crematorium at 3pm tomorrow (Friday).

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