Jenny Flintoft R.I.P. – Comrades Remember a Tireless Fighter Against Racism and Bigotry

Jenny Flintoft R.I.P. – Comrades Remember a Tireless Fighter Against Racism and Bigotry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jenny Flintoft R.I.P. – Comrades Remember a Tireless Fighter Against Racism and Bigotry

The Palestinians had no better supporter than Jenny, the rock of Portsmouth PSC, a socialist and friend of the oppressed

UPDATE

Jenny’s funeral was held today, Friday 29th January. I attended by video link as only a handful of close friends and relatives were able to be present. It is sad not to be able to pay one’s respects in person but that is what the virus that killed Jenny has done to us.

In her last words to those assembled the person officiating quoted the subtitle of this blog:

The Palestinians had no better friend than Jenny, the rock of Portsmouth PSC, a socialist and a friend to the oppressed.’ I found that very humbling. The crematorium will be posting in 3 days a video of the service and if possible I will post it here.

Tony Greenstein

Tragically Jenny Flintoft died last Monday from this accursed virus.  She was born in Rowley Regis, Staffordshire. I found it hard to believe it when I was informed that Jenny had passed away because she seemed like the rock of Gibraltar – indomitable and always there – a permanent feature of Palestine solidarity work.

I knew Jenny from joint Palestine solidarity work. We took to each other as we shared similar views about the pussyfooting diplomacy of the Executive of Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

When I need someone to second a motion to PSC AGM on ditching their support for the Apartheid 2 State Solution I knew I could rely on her.  When I stood for PSC Secretary last year Jenny was only too willing to second my nomination, even if she did sometimes caution me not to be too outspoken!

Before the onset of COVID-19 Jenny would invite me every year to speak to a meeting of Portsmouth and South Downs PSC.  Many are the memories I have of trying to navigate my way around windswept Portsmouth housing estates in the bitter cold of winter before alighting on a community centre where the meeting was scheduled to start and it was always a pleasure to engage in debate and discussion with fellow comrades.

Jenny was a vivacious and outgoing person with a wicked sense of humour. It was an honour and privilege to know and meet someone who was so self-sacrificing and committed to ending the tyranny that Israel exerts over the Palestinians.

Although Jenny didn’t live to see the end of the Jewish Supremacist regime in Tel Aviv I am under no doubt that Jenny made a vital contribution to the struggle to end Zionism and its terrorist rule. Slowly, despite the vicious and mendacious accusations of anti-Semitism, the Zionist State is slowly but surely losing its legitimacy. The latest blow is the decision of Israel’s foremost human rights group, the liberal B’Tselem to describe Israel as a Jewish Supremacist state.

Jenny had no time for the time servers and apologists for Zionism who resorted to identity politics in order to defend Apartheid in Israel. I shall fondly remember Jenny Flintoft as a shining light in the darkness that Israel has cast over the Middle East and beyond.  She will always be remembered.

Below are a number of people who want to pay their respects and recall the contribution that Jenny made to a better world for all.

Tony Greenstein

From Portsmouth & South  Downs PSC

Very sadly Coronavirus claimed the life of Jenny Flintoft on 11 January.  For many years Jenny has been Secretary of the Portsmouth & South Downs PSC. Through PSDPSC she worked tirelessly for the rights of the Palestinian people, convening the monthly planning meetings, inviting speakers, helping organise demonstrations, keeping everyone up to date with events in Israel/Palestine and with local and national campaigns, and representing PSDPSC at PSC branch meetings and AGM.  It was her enthusiasm for folk music that led PSDPSC to raise funds through folk concerts, often with local artists, mostly for Medical Aid For Palestinians.  Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners was perhaps the thing that angered her most.

PSDPSC supporters join with Momentum and Stand Up to Racism in saying our thoughts go out to Jenny’s husband Gerry and her family.  We send them our heartfelt condolences.

We received the terrible news about Jenny yesterday at the office. Deepest sympathies and all of our thoughts and best wishes with everyone in Portsmouth from all of us, it really is awful, shocking news.

From Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

We received the terrible news about Jenny yesterday at the office. Deepest sympathies and all of our thoughts and best wishes with everyone in Portsmouth from all of us, it really is awful, shocking news.

 Lewis Backon
Palestine Solidarity Campaign Campaigns Officer

Portsmouth & District Momentum group writes,

Last year Jenny became Vice Chair of the Portsmouth & District Group of Momentum.  She was an active member of Portsmouth Stand Up To Racism too and one of the organisers of the local Stop the War Coalition.  She was a dogged and passionate campaigner and shared information and campaigns across all the groups she was involved in.

 “She was an inspiration to all of us as she worked hard to make people aware of inequalities and oppression in the world.  We will miss her as a comrade, activist and friend.” 

In solidarity

Jackie Lederer
Joint Secretary of Momentum Portsmouth and District Group.

Portsmouth Stand Up To Racism reacted

“We are shocked and saddened by the news of Jenny’s death.  Jenny was a socialist and an anti-racist, who put her beliefs into action and argued for others to do the same.  People who knew Jenny will miss her tenacious spirit and her willingness to stand up against injustice.” 

From Sue Castillon

I first met Jenny and Gerry in 2015 at the first of many Momentum meetings where she distributed Palestine solidarity campaign leaflets and spoke of the organisation, campaigning against the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. She organised many fundraisers for PSC. Jenny was a tireless campaigner for this cause and it is imperative that we continue her work in her memory. 

She was with us on many London and Portsmouth rallies for the NHS and anti racism for instance.

We spent a very happy evening together at the international women’s day dinner at Portsmouth Football Club and she was with us for fundraising at my house for my campaign to stand in Hilsea ward 2018.

She always supported me for various campaigns and was a clear role model for never giving up if passionate about an issue.

I will really miss her and hope Gerry receives all the care and support he needs.

From  Robb Johnson

It was a pleasure and a bit of an honour to have known Jenny Flintoft. It was also great fun, & sometimes a bit exasperating, because words like indomitable, indefatigable, strongwilled & determined don’t do her justice, & she had standards & convictions that you often felt you were unlikely to live up to. But she was also an incredibly kind & affectionate friend, & so I think she kind of overlooked most of my shortcomings. 

I met Jenny, & her partner in every sense of the word, Gerry, when they came to the Hove Folk Club. This was held in the oak-panelled room above The Poet’s Corner pub in Hove. I got the impression that they were delighted to find a Sussex Folk Club that liked political songs & hated the Tories. This was in the days when they were still driving. Jenny had a wonderful voice, that was part sweet girlish treble & sincerity, & part wise woman anger & authority, & Gerry made absolute magic come from his concertina. Jenny invariably arrived with a sheaf of lyrics & a rough idea of what she might sing. She had the sort of repertoire of songs that to me represents the very best of folk singing. She would do a hilarious song involving Father Christmas in December, & knew the best feminist version of “House of the Rising Sun” anybody has ever heard. She also modestly wrote songs too, vivid, powerful songs supporting the oppressed & savaging the oppressor. One song “He Refuses to Fight” started with an aching, understated verse about a conscientious objector in the Second World War, & then moved perfectly into a verse about as Israeli soldier also refusing to fight. The conscientious objector was her father. I wish I had carried out a plan several of us at the club toyed with: when Gerry stopped driving, they stopped coming to the club, so we thought about  going to where Jenny & Gerry lived to record them, & archive Jenny’s wonderful songs. But they found they could get to Hove by train, & so… we never did. 

When the pub became increasingly uninterested in not to say hostile towards having a folk club upstairs, I suggested we could move to the Railway Inn opposite Portslade train station. There, there was a very nice back room & a house PA. Jenny & Gerry were appalled at this development & spoke out about it with great displeasure. Nonetheless, they kept coming anyway – Portslade station was after all just over the road from the pub – & continued to complain volubly whenever they thought the PA was too loud. They also always sat at a table right in the middle, at the very front, the better to monitor the volume level & to eat the evening meal they ordered. Jenny even occasionally used the microphone & stood on the stage, but was also very happy to wave it away & sing accapella if the mike or the mike stand were being uncooperative.  Jenny & Gerry also managed to persuade fellow Labour leftist Graham Noble to come to the club, which meant they could rely on his van & his comradely kindness rather than the last Southern Rail train west. One time, Remembrance Day 2018, Jenny & Gerry turned up at a folk club gig I was doing in the middle of nowhere near Bournemouth. Gerry had been hospitalised. Jenny sprang him to go to a classical music concert in the afternoon, then on to a folk club in the middle of nowhere near Bournemouth. As the evening drew to a close it became apparent that Graham wasn’t available. Luckily we had a car, & we were going back past Portsmouth & Southampton. Jenny said we could drop them off on the A27 because they lived “just up there” & they would get a cab, at 12.30 am on a wet November night. We drove them home, & of course it wasn’t “just up there” at all. But distance didn’t seem to worry either of them. They used to drive to Greece every year, & even when Gerry couldn’t drive, they still made it to Crete, & Jenny swam in the Mediterranean. We said we like Lemnos, so one year they went there too, & thought it was awful because there was disco music on the beaches, & it was obvious they held us responsible for providing an inaccurate recommendation. We also bumped into them on the Eurostar to Paris one December; they were travelling onwards. Nothing stopped Jenny. One night at the Railway Inn she sailed as majestically as usual, & as usual half an hour before the gig was supposed to start. There was no Gerry. “No Gerry tonight?” I asked. She rolled her eyes. “He missed the train. He didn’t get on quickly enough at Havant. He’ll be along later.” & sure enough, he was. 

Jenny very kindly got me gigs – usually in dodgy pubs – raising money for the Labour Party or Palestine. In 2019, during the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of D Day, she got me a gig singing at the anti-Trump rally in a square in Portsmouth. While I was singing, a herd of EDL turned up on their way to the nearest Wetherspoons. One of them took a particular dislike to me singing & ambled towards me. I was a bit worried about this trajectory. Jenny wasn’t.  Jenny stood in his way. He tried to get round her. She stood in his way again & again, & again, until he gave up.

One of the benefits she arranged involved all three of us meeting at Havant then taking a train somewhere else. I found out how Jenny & Gerry had met. It was at a student union event in the early 1960s. Jenny was doing English literature at University, & Gerry was doing as much science as possible. Gerry said he was the first member of his family to go to university. He hadn’t particularly wanted to go to university, but he’d noticed that if you went to University, you didn’t have to do National Service, & he was determined he didn’t want to go off to shoot people in Cyprus on behalf of British Imperialism, so he became a student, & that where, & how they met. & lived happily, I think, ever after. It is okay, I think, to talk about Jenny as part of this partnership, because it was a partnership of equals, with Jenny generally tacitly taking a leading role, & Jenny was very happy to be an equal part of that partnership. 

This remembrance has probably gone on for too long. I haven’t said enough about her energy, her delight in life & I don’t think I have done her love of singing justice, or her principled commitment to justice. One year we were going to have a Folk Club Christmas gig where everybody was supposed to sing a Bob Dylan song. Jenny had no time for Dylan because of his pro-Israel politics. She was adamant that she wouldn’t be singing a Dylan song; in fact she was adamant that Jenny & Gerry would not be in attendance that night. Well, just come & sing whatever you like, I said. They didn’t. 

I haven’t said enough, because you can never say enough, because there are never enough good words for people like Jenny Flintoft. 

It was a pleasure, & a honour, to have known her. 

IN MEMORY OF JENNY FLINTOFT – Tom Suarez

Tuesday, 12 Jan 2021: Tragically, Jenny Flintoff, well known to many of us through her selfless work for human rights, died yesterday of Covid19.

I first met Jenny in 2017 when Portsmouth & South Downs PSC invited me to speak about the British Mandate. On the day of the event, as I was on the train to Portsmouth, my mobile rang. It was Jenny. PREVENT, the UK’s notorious supposed anti-radicalisation and anti-terror unit, had closed us down, not just at the scheduled venue, but throughout the city, “due to the nature of the speaker“. While no further explanation was forthcoming, this was but one incident in a long history of stifling any open debate on the Middle East.

Jenny was furious. Here we were in Britain, trying to discuss British source documents from Britain’s own archives about the British Mandate, closed down by a British institution with British tax money at the orders of individuals acting on behalf of — ironically — the pariah state the British had jump-started with the Mandate.

The Daily Mail took advantage of the ‘scandal’ of the forbidden talk to condemn, by alleged ideological association, Jeremy Corbyn. The tabloid lined Corbyn and me up with side-by-side mug shots and a slanderous headline.

Jenny would not be intimidated. She demanded to meet with the local PREVENT Coordinator, Charlie Pericleous, and I returned to Portsmouth to be present. Jenny grilled Mr. Pericleous tenaciously for two hours. Despite his steadfast refusal to provide any explanation or even clear my name of suspicion, Jenny persevered, was never intimidated, and never fell for decoy replies.

She will be terribly missed.

Jenny Flintoft, who was born on 15th February 1943 died on 11th January 2021 

 

 

 

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