John Clegg, who was a founder member of Greater Manchester Law Centre, died on Saturday 7th November. John had been involved in an immense range of labour movement and community organisation activity since the early 1980s. This included the establishment of Manchester Gay Centre and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, holding officer roles in Greater Manchester Unite Community Branch and Manchester Trades Union Council, fighting against the give-away of South Manchester’s council housing, and starting the Unemployment Workers Centre. This, together with John’s own involvement in Access to Advice (against the closure of Manchester Advice by the local Council) and the parallel campaign to save South Manchester Law Centre (both from 2010-2014) led directly to his joining the initial discussions to form a new law centre. John saw the law centre as both a campaign against legal aid cuts and as a way of enabling essential advice for unemployed workers and tenants.
John continued to develop campaigning and liaison with tenants and trade unions throughout his time as a Trustee of the law centre (2015-19) – especially emphasising opposition to the benefit sanctions and inhumane Universal Credit which affected so many people in need. This contrasted with the growth of foodbanks and similar “charity” approaches, which he felt were no challenge to the government’s policies of poverty, racism and homelessness – yet he was always willing to seek links with local people and organisations who were doing something on the ground. Ideally John would have liked to see the “Peoples Centre” for Manchester arise out of all this.
John’s willingness to work to bring a wide range of people together was evident in everything he did. His practical contribution to committee discussions, his promotion of the law centre to other groups, the breadth and depth of his campaigning history and experience, and most of all his personal friendship will be sadly missed.
Chair, GMLC, 2014-2020