Leslie Turner 1918-2010

Leslie Turner, Maidstone & The Weald, 1918-2010

Leslie Turner (A L Turner) a Labour Party stalwart for 77 years, passed away peacefully in his sleep, on 15th May 2010 in his 92nd year. Leslie was raised in Chichester. He joined the Labour League of Youth when he was only 15 years old and remained staunchly socialist for all his life. During the war he, as a conscript, was a lieutenant in a tank regiment and fought in Burma where he saw indescribable horrors. The futility of war was something which Leslie vehemently espoused for the rest of his life.

After the war Leslie found himself homeless, and he and his family squatted in old army Nissan huts in High Wycombe. He studied to be a surveyor and worked in local government, eventually becoming an assistant county surveyor with Kent County Council. In his retirement Leslie was an indefatigable campaigner for all things socialist and against the worst excesses of capitalism. An inveterate letter writer to the press, he used his computer to great effect to research subjects dear to his heart. The housing crisis and the lack of social housing for rent was his main concern, as he understood the stresses and difficulties from his personal experiences, and he was delighted to see in the last Labour manifesto that housing should be a ‘right’.

On the evening before his demise he was still sending e-mails about the Labour party leadership election and, it could be said, he died with his boots on. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and possibly with some relief by those whom he so relentlessly pursued. Leslie was, however, forever a gentleman and although his attacks were unremitting they were always polite. Sid Hollands

From The Guardian, Saturday 16 July:
My dear friend Leslie Turner, who has died aged 91, was a Labour party stalwart for 76 years, having joined the Labour League of Youth when he was 15. Leslie, the second oldest in a family of five, was raised in Chichester, West Sussex. His father was a lorry driver; in his early teens, Leslie helped the family finances by getting an evening job reading to a blind cleric. When the second world war began, he was conscripted and rose to be lieutenant in a tank regiment, fighting in Burma. Leslie vehemently opposed war for the rest of his life, and in his 80s marched through London demonstrating against the conflict in Iraq.

After the war, Leslie found himself homeless and, with his wife and young family, squatted in old army Nissen huts in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He then qualified as a surveyor and obtained a job in local government. By the time he retired he had become assistant county surveyor with Kent county council, overseeing the maintenance of school grounds and open spaces in Kent. He was a keen gardener himself and managed to grow sufficient vegetables to feed his family. He served at one time as president of the Fant Wildlife Group in Maidstone, Kent.

During his retirement, Leslie was an indefatigable campaigner. He was an inveterate letter writer to the press, and used his computer to great effect to research matters dear to his heart. In recent years, the housing crisis and the lack of social housing for rent was his main concern.

He was aggrieved at the abolition of Clause IV from the Labour party constitution at a special conference in 1995 and paid for a QC’s opinion on the decision. Although the QC confirmed that such a change should only be undertaken at the annual conference, Leslie could not gain enough support for a challenge. On the evening before his death, he was still sending emails about the Labour party leadership election. He will be missed by those who knew him, though possibly with some relief by those whom he so relentlessly pursued. Leslie was, however, forever a gentleman and although his attacks were tenacious, they were always polite.
His wife, Rachel, died in 1980. He is survived by his four children, John, Jane, Alex and Ben; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Contributed by Sid Hollands.