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Lynn Walsh


Andrew Glyn, 1943–2007

(February 2008)

From Socialism Today, No. 115, February 2008.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

WITH GREAT sadness we report the death of Andrew Glyn, an internationally renowned socialist economist and a former supporter of the Militant, the Socialist Party’s precursor. Andrew died on 22 December, aged 64, only a few months after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.

Over three decades, Andrew’s books, together with many articles, provided socialist activists with vital analysis and factual ammunition for the fight against contemporary capitalism. British Capitalism, Workers and the Profit Squeeze (written with Bob Sutcliffe in 1972) analysed the deep malaise of British capitalism at the end of the world post-war upswing and, at the same time, stirred up controversy among Marxists over the fundamental causes of capitalist crisis.

Capitalism Since 1945 (written with Phil Armstrong and the late John Harrison, 1984, second ed. 1991) quickly became an indispensable handbook for anyone seeking to understand the rise and fall of the post-war capitalist order, from Keynesianism to neo-liberalism.

Andrew was a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, for 38 years. He came from a wealthy banking family and went to Eton. But from his early years he rejected the inequality and privilege of the existing system, actively supporting workers’ struggles and working for a socialist change of society. His research and writing was always focussed on issues that, in some way, would provide useful material for the labour movement.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Andrew was an active supporter of the Militant, helping to build a strong group in Oxford. In 1978, Andrew wrote a Militant pamphlet, Capitalist Crisis or Socialist Plan, a critique of the ‘Alternative Economic Strategy’ put forward by the Tribune group of left Labour MPs.

Andrew later left our ranks, while continuing to participate in many struggles, notably the 1984–85 miners’ strike and the battle to defeat Thatcher’s poll tax. He was very willingly enlisted by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as an expert advisor, and quickly researched and wrote The Economic Case Against Pit Closures (NUM, 1984), which exposed Thatcher’s energy policy as a politically motivated vendetta against the miners.

Later, Andrew elaborated on the devastating effects of the miners’ defeat in clearing the way for the implementation of ultra-free-market (neo-liberal) policies by Thatcher and then New Labour. In 2006, he published an illuminating analysis of the system’s latest phase, Capitalism Unleashed (reviewed in Socialism Today, No. 105, November 2006). This latest book shows the links between accelerated globalisation and the international neo-liberal offensive against the working class. It also highlights the growing domination of finance capital, driven by the short-term drive for maximum profits.

Andrew spoke at a well-attended session on globalisation at the Socialist Party’s Socialism 2006 event.

Andrew’s enthusiasm for ideas was undiminished until the end. He would have made many more valuable contributions on the latest developments in capitalism, and they will be greatly missed.

Andrew’s work as an economist has been widely admired, even by many who do not share his socialist outlook. Yet he was a very modest person, with a great sense of humour and a generous gift for friendship. Conversations with Andrew were always immensely stimulating and a lot of fun. He loved jazz, playing the double bass and recently learning the piano. He should not have died so soon.

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Last updated: 3 June 2016