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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 22 November 2007
Peter Cadogan: ‘he always spoke his mind’
Peter Cadogan: ‘he always spoke his mind’
Lifelong campaigner whose last words were: ‘Live differently’

PETER Cadogan, who died this week aged 86, will be remembered as a champion of local dem­ocracy and freedom of speech, a man who was “never prepared to let sleeping dogs lie”.
Between his birth in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in 1921 and his last years at Hinchinbrook House in Greville Road, Kilburn, he was always an ardent iconoclast, whether campaigning for nuclear disarmament alongside philosopher Bertrand Russell in the 1960s or striving to improve his community.
He flew many different flags down the years, from his early years in the church and scouts, through Fabianism to the Communist Party and, after 1951, the Labour Party. He once proclaimed himself “Brit­ain’s most expelled socialist” after being ousted from almost every major socialist party for his radical views.
Claire Phillips, his daughter, said: “He had very strong feelings about things – he always spoke his mind, which got people thinking. He was never prepared to let sleeping dogs lie.”
After years of CND protests, he shifted his focus in the 1960s to Vietnam and was frequently arrested on demonstrations.
In 1968 he backed the Save Biafra Campaign, flying out to Umahia in the West African breakaway state to appear on radio shows in support of independence and narrowly avoiding the invading Nigerian army.
He was general secretary of the South Place Ethical Society, based at Conway Hall in Holborn, from 1970-81. In the 1980s, he moved from Hampstead to Kilburn, and immediately began campaigning for the regeneration of his estate, cultivating a garden and helping neighbours fit window boxes.
He successfully campaigned for Christmas lights in Kilburn and pressed for a closed school to be saved.
Mrs Phillips said: “He didn’t always succeed, but he was always campaigning for something. He always had this ideal in mind that local people should improve their community and not leave it to the government.”
To the end of his life, she said, he was still campaigning, “emailing like mad, writing articles – that was his life”.
In later years he was busy as secretary of the Gandhi Foundation (working for non-violent resolutions in Northern Ireland) and tutor in the history of ideas at Birkbeck College, vice-president of the Blake Society and chairman of the London Alliance for Local Democracy, which he founded in 1998.
“We are social beings with the power of individual genius. The challenge is to understand, achieve and sustain their match,” he wrote.
A well-known figure, distinctive in his Che Guevara-style hat and scarf, he could often be seen walking around the garden he had helped create. Mrs Phillips said: “He was a Blakean. He had no concept of wealth – all he thought about were his causes. But he was always good to me.”
According to his daughter, the last thing he said before he lost the power of speech was “Live differently” – a call for the community he loved so much to push on to greater things.
The funeral will be held at noon on Saturday, December 1, at Golders Green Crematorium. All are welcome.
A memorial meeting will be held at 3pm on Saturday, March 15, at St James’s Piccadilly.

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