A Tribute to Barbara Carter Taylor
12 August 1942 – 29 March 2016
Barbara Carter was born in Lincolnshire during the war, the eldest of three sisters and a brother. Her father Sidney was one of nine children born and bred in Catford, south-east London into a left-leaning and artistic working class family. Her grandparents on her father’s side were early Labour Party members. Sidney, who was a Labour voting socialist and a factory inspector all his working life, along with his brother Reg, passed on an interest in socialist ideas and Marxist theory to Barbara and her younger brother Nick.
Nick recalls his sister’s remarkable early years: “She did well at school and won an undergraduate place at the University of Durham, studying botany under the eminent botanist and conservationist David Bellamy. After Durham she went on to Indiana State University in the US where she continued her studies and held a post as part time teaching assistant.
“She put theory into practice by taking up a full time teaching post in a remote rural girls’ school in the Cameroon in equatorial West Africa through Voluntary Service Overseas. In addition to her classroom duties she taught agricultural practice on the school farm that she started, having organised the physical clearance of several acres of jungle.”
In a tribute at her funeral, Nick explained how Barbara then took up a teaching post at Sarah Siddons Comprehensive, an inner-city girls’ school in Paddington, where she encouraged pupils to record levels of achievement in the earth sciences. She spent five years in careers education at Southwark College, which led to her next post as Industry Schools Coordinator for the ILEA. When this scheme was shut down by government cuts, she worked as a trades union administrative officer for Unison.
After meeting Brian Taylor in the late 1970s, Barbara found shared political ideas that gave a new impetus to her desire for social change. They became devoted soul mates and partners, comrades and co-activists, fellow-Londoners and fellow international travellers. A couple of years ago, they decided to move from their longtime abode in Notting Hill Gate to a spacious apartment in Eastbourne. Sadly, Barbara only had two years to enjoy their new life there.
At Barbara’s funeral, Corinna Lotz paid tribute on behalf of A World to Win, the organisation that she supported for over a decade. Corinna said:
“Her political commitment – and our friendship – go back to when I first met her, some 40 years ago in the mid-1970s, when she, Brian and I were active in the Workers Revolutionary Party in West London. I remember her presence at meetings, socials and public lectures, especially her bright auburn hair!
"Years later, in the early 1990s, when Thatcherism seemed to reign supreme and some even talked about the end of history, she and Brian rejected the doom and gloom approach. Instead, she joined in the quest to develop revolutionary strategies in the new era of globalisation", Corinna remarked. “In particular, she saw the need to understand not only the economic changes but the deeper philosophical issues.”
Last summer, Barbara was active in the people’s assembly movement in Eastbourne against the Conservative government’s cuts in public services. “She understood that demonstrating and protesting against injustice is not enough. She shared our vision of a future without capitalism and the need for a truly democratic state, in place of the corporatocracy that rules at present,” Corinna added.
“She was inspired by the proposal to create a Real Democracy Movement – which is due to be launched soon. We miss her badly, but take encouragement from her ability to move with the times. She was a determined and reliable comrade. She embraced the need to change the world and stood by her principles right through to the end. That makes her a hero for me.”
4 May 2016