Originally published in Socialist Worker
Chris Maguire 1952-2013
by Paul Furness
It is with sadness that we report the suicide of Chris Maguire.
Like a large number of working class kids from the estates of Leeds, he found a communal voice for his ideas in the Socialist Workers Party in 1978.
Chris never lost his belief that socialism could open up the human spirit.
He loved his music and his socialism. Both went with him through the streets of Leeds. But he was forced to leave the city to find work.
He always came back though. He was part of the generation that hung around the infamous Roscoe pub.
This was where Leeds Rock Against Racism was set up.
Chris was well known in Leeds punk music circles. He even played in his own band at one time. He had a sharp laugh, a bad moustache and a dry, Yorkshire appreciation of the absurd.
He was an active member of the Anti Nazi League and went on countless demonstrations against racism. And he’d confront the vicious local fascists every week when we sold Socialist Worker in the centre of Leeds.
For many years, Chris worked for a church-based housing association but, hounded by constant and persistent bullying, one day he left and took out a grievance against them.
This was the start of a bitter and protracted process which left him physically exhausted. It was compounded by a string of tragic bereavements.
Chris fell into a deep depression which would leave him unable to speak to people for days on end. He was left incapable of work.
Atos summoned him before a tribunal and declared him fit for work. On appeal, the judge decided he was unfit and instructed Atos to “leave this man alone for at least a year”.
That was about six weeks ago. Cheered by this result, Chris appeared more chipper than he had done in years.
But without any real income and relentlessly harassed by the authorities, he fell into despair once again.
Chris took his own life at his flat in Horsforth, Leeds.
He left a note for his friends quoting Shelley’s poem The Mask of Anarchy
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.”
Rest in peace, dear brother.