We were very sad to hear of the death of Robin Murray this week. He was known to many of us at the Institute for Solidarity Economics (ISE), in different guises – as a teacher, co-researcher, activist and a friend. It was one of our trustees, Jane Grindey, who first introduced me to his work in the form of ‘Co-operation in the Age of Google’, when we were forming the ideas for ISE. Co-operatives UK have made that document available here. However, it was only at the Solikon 2015, the Solidarity Economy European Conference that took place in Berlin, that I first met him. He was attending with Pat Conaty. At that meeting, he tried very hard to convince me to set up a social franchise of nomadic collectives – small teams that would wander the UK helping community co-ops set up their digital infrastructures, using the analogy of medieval community activist monks! That’s not exactly what ISE has gone on to do, but there are a few strands there.
He also lectured, up until his illness, at Schumacher College, on their Economics for Transition Masters, where he taught another ISE member, Clara. He was also a major contributor to the recently launched Synergia Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
Pat has recently shared with us just how far back Robin’s contributions to the New Left and the Co-operative movement go. So, we are going to have to dig up a copy of the May Day Manifesto for the New Left from 1968, which he contributed to. He was also chief economist at the Greater London Council, under Ken Livingstone, in the radical early 1980s.
His major role in the development of the Fairtrade Movement is more well known in the contemporary Co-operative Movement. You can watch him speaking passionately about it his many Fairtrade initiatives here. Co-operatives UK have also just made available a reflective piece of his writing for the co-op movement, Taking Stock, Look Forward.
Robin’s spirit has been a moving force in the solidarity economy movements both here and in Europe, where he had superb contacts – that includes Syriza’s economic policy making team, where he has worked as an advisor to the finance minister.
We hope to join the many others who will wish to celebrate Robin’s life by continuing his excellent work with some of the same spirit that he did.
Colm and all the team at the Institute for Solidarity Economics