The campaigning community are mourning the loss of Murray Benham who was WDM’s Head of Campaigns and Networks until April 2009, and passed away suddenly and tragically last week from a massive stroke.
Murray was a classic campaigner: outspoken, fearless, brave, and bright. He was in the great and proud tradition of working class men whose inherent sense of injustice leads them to dedicate their lives to the collective not the individual. He believed strongly that socialism was the best model to bring about equality, and was more than happy to bend your ear about this for hours over a pint. On top of being an enormously passionate advocate for social justice, Murray had also worked extensively in Media & Communications in his working life.
Having joined WDM in 2005 on a short term contract, he quickly found his ideals were well matched to our work and ended up staying for 4 years. During this time he oversaw the adaptation of our campaigns due to changes in media, social organising, and world leaders He also diversified the way WDM communicates with our supporters and the wider public by introducing the idea of cutting back on ‘development / policy’ speak, and using 10 words to describe something rather than our usual verbose style. In his last few months with us, Murray was one of the driving forces behind two principal and hugely successful events in the campaigning calendar, 6 Billion Ways (www.6billionways.org.uk) and Put People First (www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk )
Murray accepted with good humour the irony that having spent his youth proudly supporting the striking miners he spent his time at WDM trying to stop a new generation of coal fired power stations.
As a colleague in the Management Team, Murray was supportive, challenging, able to input from a cross team perspective and not afraid to ask the difficult questions. He was quick to see the humour in situations and didn’t mind the occasional jibe on his behalf. One thing he wasn’t fond of was financial management. We won’t forget his boundless enthusiasm for these types of meetings, where often the promise of a pub visit afterwards was required to sweeten the deal.
Murray is not the only loss we have suffered this year at WDM. In the last few months we have lost one of our founder members and a much loved stalwart of our Manchester group. These losses remind us of the long term commitment to our cause by supporters and staff; and that we must keep our voices strong in the fight against inequality and injustice to uphold their legacy.
A quote I know Murray would appreciate:
"There will always be a happy hour for those with money jobs and power,
They’ll never realise the hurt they cause to men they treat like dirt."
From Coal not Dole by Chumbawamba
Everyone at WDM extends their deepest sympathies to Murray’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all of us here.