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Dinah Ballance (1956 – 2017)

Dinah Ballance who has died after a long illness came from a strong Labour family. Her father, Bill, was works convenor at the former Links Miles factory on the Churchill Industrial Estate, Lancing.

She became active in the Labour Party in the early 70s after attending a party meeting in Shoreham addressed by Michael Foot. There she met members of the Labour Party Young Socialists, and learned that they had a more active branch in Brighton. At the Brighton branch she met her future husband, John. Dinah and John dated the start of their relationship to their going on the Pensioners Demo at the start of the TUC conference in Brighton in September 1974.

Dinah BallanceDinah always saw herself as on the left of the party, but she rejected doctrinaire politics, and wanted Labour to champion achievable policies. She was initially attracted to the Militant Tendency but soon rejected its destructive fundamentalism.

She and John established a branch of the Party when they set up their first home in a flat in Lansdowne Street, Hove. The branch meetings were held in their sitting room.

In the 1980s she was active in the Tenantry Branch in the Kemp Town constituency, and played a very active role in the 1992 general election in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to get Gill Haynes elected for Brighton Kemp Town.

Although she didn’t vote for Tony Blair for leader of the Party, she had great hopes for his premiership when Labour won its 1997 landslide. By that time she was an early years primary school teacher, working at Whitehawk Infants School. She was totally committed to the education of the children of the Whitehawk council estate, and although she welcomed and appreciated Labour’s increase in spending in school education, she became increasingly disillusioned by the actions of successive Labour education secretaries, and their obsession with school institutional structures and the top-down management and form-filling bureaucracy that they imposed on the teaching profession.

When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, she allowed her party membership to lapse, although her interest in politics continued. She was encouraged by the leadership of Ed Miliband, and when Jeremy Corbyn came forward in the party leadership election after Miliband’s resignation, she re-joined the party to vote for him.

Although she spent much of her last years in bed, when she was well enough, she watched the Daily Politics and PMQs, debated the politics of the day on Facebook, and from time to time wrote letters of complaint to our constituency MP.

Dinah’s funeral is at 1-20 pm on Monday, 20 November at Worthing Crematorium, Findon. All Labour friends are invited to attend. Dinah's family have arranged a a Facebook event with more details. You can use this to get in touch and indicate if you are planning to attend.

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