Simon Roger

Roger Simon

Roger Simon was born on October 16th 1913, the elder son of Ernest and Shena Simon. In 1946, Ernest became Labour peer, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe Roger Simon inherited the title father’s death in 1960. Although he never renounced the title, he never used it.
After Gresham’s School, Holt, Norfolk, where he shared a class with Benjamin Britten and Donald MacLean he read economics at Gonville arid Caius College, Cambridge. While there he was invited to join Political Economy Club run by Keynes. At one of the club’s meetings, Pierro Sraffa, friend of Gramsci, advised him to read Marx.  He joined the Communist party, which his brother Brian had also done a year or so before.

In 1935, he began work for Chester city council, qualifying as a solicitor in 1939. From 1942 to 1945 he served in the Royal Signals as a radio mechanic. He attended officer training at Catterick, where he met the Marxist literary critic Arnold Kettle, who was to become a lifelong friend. However, he decided that rather than accept a commission, he would prefer to serve in the ranks. During 1945-46, he taught law at Welbeck Abbey, where soldiers with three years’ service could have a month’s free education. There he met Edmund Penning-Rowsell, another fellow communist and lifelong friend

From 1946 to 1958 he worked for Ealing Borough Council as a solicitor, ending up as town clerk. In i958, he joined the Labour Research Department as a full-time researcher, becoming secretary from 1965, to 1977, and continued there until shortly before his death. He wrote a stream of pamphlets and articles mainly on economic issues. The annual survey of directors’ pay that he introduced was also, and remains, widely influential. During his tenure, the financial position of LRD was greatly strengthened, notably by the affiliation of two large unions, the Transport and General Workers and the Engineers. He presided over the evolution of the organisation from one that relied largely on committed volunteers to the professional research institute that it is today. After 12 years, he stepped down as secretary to return to research and writing.

During the 1970s he was associated with promoting the study of the work of Gramsci. A member of the board of the publishers Lawrence and Wishart (196892), he was behind the translation and publication in 1971 of the first major English edition of Gramsci’s writings, Selections From The Prison Notebooks. His own book, An Introduction To Gramsci’s Political Thought, was published in 1982. He was a member of the William Morris Society, giving the Kelmscott House lecture on the centenary of Morris’s death. With his brother, Brian, he took over the lease of Hellsgarth, the Simons’ cottage in Langdale, which they made available to low-paid workers in the movement. His last decade was devoted to red/green politics. He died October 14 2002, died aged 88.

Source: Guardian 25th October 2002


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