By Ross Saunders
Comrades in South Wales are mourning the loss of Beth Roper, who was suddenly taken from us in an accident on a train on Saturday 1st December at the age of just 28.
Everyone who knew her will feel her loss. Beth was one of those rare people who always seemed kind and sincere. People remarked that she was always patient and helpful, always listened to your answer when she asked you how you were.
She was no push-over either, though. She had steel, and was utterly intolerant of injustice. She was always instantly and unquestionably on the side of anyone suffering under any form of oppression, always ready to defend them, and willing to put her own shoulder to wheel to move things.
She had a penetrating mind too. She’d always challenge an idea or an argument if she wasn’t convinced by it. She went traveling during the Brexit referendum but followed the debate and posted letters from afar on social media challenging the idea that the European Union was a progressive force when it was treating refugees so brutally. She volunteered for some time with the Welsh Refugee Council and it is completely in character with her, that utterly without thrusting herself egotistically forward, she became so central to the work of that organisation that they took her on paid – one of three jobs she worked.
I first met Beth 10 years ago when she was in school. She helped set up a campaign in Penarth to save the local fire station from being gutted of 2-3 of its firefighters. We won that campaign, thanks in no small part to the campaign stalls she helped run, the support gig she helped organised and the other activity she engaged in. She was ever and an activist: fighting back against injustice was part of her DNA.
She was active in Cardiff Unite Energy and Services branch and was a delegate to Cardiff Trades Council. Both organisations will keenly feel her loss. She was always impatient to find new ways for us to fight the terrible exploitation of service-sector workers.
She was the chair of Cardiff West branch and Cardiff Young Socialists, and was on our district committee, she visited and spoke at several other branches as well, including Swansea.
She cared about the environment and the the victims of imperialism. I went to a discussion the Socialist Students society organised on climate change a few months ago which she introduced. She began by saying, “I’m not an expert on this issue. I’ve been asked to start us off with some points to get the discussion going,” and then, after some self-deprecating remarks, gave an encyclopaedic account of the causes and remedies of the climate change threat. The student comrades will attest that it was one of the best meetings they’ve organised and helped them build a base of support for our ideas in the university that will be of key importance as struggle develops in the future.
That episode summed her up. Unobtrusively, totally without ego, she did the necessary, important work of building organisations to stand up against an exploitative system, and she made an impact. She was only 28, but she had made her mark already on everyone around her.
Beth lived her life fighting for a fairer, socialist world and fighting to build the revolutionary party, the political vehicle we need to create that world. In her memory we rededicate ourselves to that struggle.