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Mary Rosser-Hicks

 

Mary Rosser was born in 1937 into a devout Roman Catholic family. Convent-educated, she moved in the late 1960s from Christian belief to Marxism, joining the Communist Party after being involved in the Marxist-Christian dialogues of the 1970s.

 

She was appointed in 1976 as secretary to the Peoples’ Press Printing Society, the co-operative of (mostly Communist shareholders) readers that owns the Morning Star, just as a major confrontation inside the Party was emerging, seemingly largely over the direction of the paper but ultimately simply a matter of control of the resources of controlled by the British Communist Party.

 

Rosser was a strong advocate for keeping the paper out of the hands of the revisionist clique that had got hold of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Together with others, she and a core group around the Morning Star pre-empted matters inside the CPGB by `re-establishing’ the Party in 1988, some three years before the formal dissolution of the CPGB.

 

Under her control, now as `Chief Executive’ of the PPPS, she became a central force in the re-established Communist Party of Britain, especially when she married Mike Hicks, its first General Secretary. In a sense this would be her downfall, as her administrative control over Party and paper seemed increasingly seamless. Many were worried that the affairs of the segments of the Communist movement were now completely conflated. Over the late 1990s, the position of Hicks became challenged, to the extent that he was not re-elected as General Secretary early in 1998.

 

Shortly after this, here own role and style of leadership came to head over the editorship of the Morning Star, John Haylett, whom Rosser sought to dismiss. Sections of the Party leadership found themselves completely out of sympathy with the bulk of the membership of the CPB when the paper went on strike in support of Haylett. The subsequent fall out saw a dozen key people one way or another leave the Party in 1999, including Mary Rosser.    

 

She remained chair of the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, although aspects of her leadership style were beginning to be challenged near the end. In the last few years of her life, she was a member of the Labour Party and became constituency party chair in Bournemouth. Rosser-Hicks died suddenly of cancer on November 3 at the age of 73.

 

Source: Mike Hicks, Tribune, November 18th, 2010: http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2010/11/mary-rosser-hicks-1937-2010/