In the 1930s, John Courcouf first got involved in politics on being especially concerned about the rise of fascism. A veteran of the Battle of Cable Street, he joined the Communist Party, and fought in the Second World War.
A shopworker by occupation, and married with three daughters, Courcouf lived in Leyton after being demobbed from the army in 1946.
For 15 years, he was secretary of Leyton Trades Council, until the new Borough of Waltham Forest was formed. He then served on the executive of Waltham Forest Trades Council. As a delegate from USDAW.
The Chair of Leyton Communist Party, he stood for the Party for the local council on many occasions.
In the 1967 GLC elections, Courcouf polled 2,354 votes, or 3.5%, being only a few thousand behind the Liberals and polling almost a tenth of the Labour vote, generally considered an excellent proportion for Communists at the time.
In later years, he became a committed health campaigner, being instrumental in setting up Save Waltham Forest Health Services, fighting the closure of Wanstead Hospital, Jubilee and Connaught Hospitals. He was a loyal and extremely active supporter of London Health Emergency from its formation with GLC support in 1983.
He was also involved in anti-racist campaigns, CND and the Greater London Pensioners Association. In 1984, he was interviewed for “Fighting Fascism”, a documentary on Cable Street. He appears to have left the Communist Party in the intervening years between being its candidate and becoming active in community action but maintained links with various ultra-left groups.
Courcouf was 91 when he died on February 14th 2002.
Sources: CPGB brochure and leaflets (1967); Workers Daily Internet Edition February 22nd 2002;