Remembering Comrade Clement Murphy-Shaw

An exemplary life given to the promotion of progressive and humanitarian causes.

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Comrade Clement was a staunch Marxist Leninist, a proletarian revolutionary and a lifelong enemy of imperialism.

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It is with great sadness that the CPGB-ML learned of the death of our comrade Clement Murphy-Shaw. He died peacefully on Sunday 14 May 2017, following a period of deterioration in his health after suffering a stroke. He leaves behind three children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Comrade Clement was a staunch Marxist Leninist, a proletarian revolutionary and a lifelong enemy of imperialism.

Born on 7 February 1943 to parents Patricia Tearle, of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron from London, and Irish-born Michael Murphy, an aircraft engineer, he had various careers in his early life, including selling antiques and cars. After a series of elocution lessons, he joined the BBC as a continuity presenter and newsreader, using the name Clem Shaw. He worked for BBC2 in the 1960s and contributed to The Old Grey Whistle Test and other arts programmes.

He met and become husband to his first wife Jane Dobbin and stepfather to five-year-old Shane O’Leary in the early 1970s. Clem and Jane had a daughter, Rebecca Mark-Lawson, in 1971. In 1974 he got a job with Tyne Tees Television. Later he took a job at Border TV and the family moved to Cumbria where they lived on a smallholding. During this period Clem was very active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

After his marriage to Jane broke down, Clem moved to Carlisle, where he met Karen Foulds and together they had two children, Jenny and Tim. He left Border TV and set up a production company called Prometheus Productions, which secured a ‘first-look’ deal with the newly formed Channel 4. He made four major documentaries, three of them around environmental issues, namely: Nativité Du Seigneur (1989), Antarctic Warriors (1990), Paths of Conflict (1992) and Greenpeace – End of an Era? (1994).

Clem also paid numerous visits to the Soviet Union around this time, including one occasion where he took his eldest children on a train journey across Russia to Moscow and Leningrad, which remained a fondly remembered adventure.

During the anti-apartheid struggle, Clem became very active supporting the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement and housed families who were forced to flee South Africa on account of their role in the struggle. He also raised funds for the miners during their 1984-5 strike, and welcomed their families to stay at his home for respite.

Revolutionary Cuba was another cause for which Clem raised funds, and he attended a conference in Havana on invitation, in recognition of the ambulances he helped to send from Britain to Cuba. He was the chair of the Oxford branch of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and helped to establish the Music Fund for Cuba.

Despite having lived through a period of decline and disarray in the world socialist movement, Comrade Clem never gave up his faith in proletarian revolution. He became a member of the Stalin Society in 2011 and regularly travelled from Oxford to the society’s meetings in London, contributing enthusiastically from the floor. When he joined the CPGB-ML in 2013, he was the party’s only Oxford-based member, and it was with great joy that he greeted the growth of a branch of young and active members around him in his last years.

Clem will be remembered as a comrade who knew everything and everyone, and as one who loved his revolutionary literature. Indeed, his comrades in the Oxford branch of the CPGB-ML regarded him as something of a bastion of experience in the revolutionary texts. He will also be remembered as a comrade who was never afraid to speak his mind and whose work kept him busy all around the world. He mixed with all sections of society and was appreciated by all. Gone but not forgotten – his absence is deeply felt.

Red salute to Comrade Clement Murphy-Shaw!