Alf Filer as we knew him: messages in tribute

We have learned of the sad death of Alf Filer, a Socialist Resistance member in Worthing and previously a long-time activist in Brent and Harrow in North-West London. He was killed in a road accident on the A27, on Thursday evening 24th June, while returning home from a Socialist Resistance meeting in Brighton. It appears that his car broke down, and, while waiting for rescue, another car ploughed into his, knocking it into him. The bare facts of the accident are on the Argus web site.
Memorial articles have been written already by Tony Greenstein, a well known anti-zionist and socialist activist in Brighton, and Charlie Pottins. There are also many tributes on Alfs facebook page –!/profile.php?id=666387264

Socialist Resistance’s Andy Richards wrote the following tribute on the Sussex SR blog, which Alf had founded, alongside messages from Holly Smith and Mark Findlay.

A committed socialist, anti-fascist and anti-Zionist

My friend and comrade Alf Filer has been tragically killed in a car accident last Thursday evening.

Alf had only moved to Sussex in the last year or so and had made his home in Worthing having previously lived in London.  Alf was meant to be (semi) retiring to the south coast but, characteristically, that was never going to happen.

Alf was a committed socialist, anti-fascist and anti-Zionist.  He campaigned locally and nationally against cuts (he was a prime mover in the formation of the Coalition of Resistance) and he organised against the EDL and the BNP, both here and in Brent and Harrow where he spent the greater part of his life.

Others have written tributes and appreciations from a perspective of having known him for a long time, but you did not need to know Alf for long to appreciate his passion for politics and campaigining.  This is shown in the tributes which have been paid from activists in Sussex.
Alf was a member of Socialist Resistance, and he played an incredible part in revitalising us locally.  He started a local blog and his main activity was to try to bring together the forces of the left in Worthing.  Not, you might think, the most fertile of ground, but that sort of thing never deterred Alf.  He was passionate about left unity, and was possible the most non-sectarian socialist I have ever known.  He worked with and helped to bring together the different parts of the Worthing left into regular meetings.  A meeting which he organised, on Ecosocialism, is happening this Tuesday.  Everyone involved is of the view that this meeting must go ahead as a tribute to Alf.

Alf was serious about his politics – but he was also a joker.  I shall miss, as much as anything, his wisecracks and his wind-ups.
A truly brilliant, dedicated and lovable man.
Andy Richards

Holly Smith, President of Brighton and Hove Trades Council, gives her own memories of Alf.

I, along with many, many others, am saddened to hear of the death of Alf Filer. It feels like those of us in Brighton and the South East were only just getting to know him. After retiring as a lecturer he moved down to Worthing last year from London, and didn’t hesitate in getting involved in political activity down here.

The first time I met him was at a public meeting to oppose a local school becoming an academy. He had only just moved to the area and was keen to know about all the events and groups that existed down here so he could get stuck in.
The next time I met him was at an anti-cuts day school that we had organised. I chaired a workshop on cuts in Local Government and Alf spoke at length from the floor. I remember being impressed with his wide-ranging knowledge on a great variety of topics, and how articulate he was. This was also demonstrated in his blog, of which I was an avid reader – always looking forward to his intelligent analysis of local, national, and international events.

When I was challenging my trade union leadership over an issue a while ago, I was touched when Alf got in touch with me to offer his advice and support. We then got to talking about other issues, and how we could help each other. Alf and I were both outraged at the recent treatment by local Councils of Travellers and Gypsies in the region, finding it representative of the wider persecution they have been facing across Europe, and we had been in discussion about setting up a local support group for these communities, and together we started letter writing to the EU to ask them for an inquiry around the persecution that these communities faced, especially in Italian cities.

The last time I spoke to him he was incredibly enthusiastic about the recent re-launch of Worthing Trades Council, and he was urging me to attend the public meeting on eco-socialism he was arranging for next week.

Alf was Jewish, and committed to building solidarity between anti-Zionist Jews and Palestinians, and was also well known for his anti-fascist work. He was an intelligent, outspoken, driven, passionate, and warm man, and I very much regret that I only knew him for such a short time.
To borrow some words from another comrade who has written about him, “The best tribute we can pay to you is to keep the flame alight and the struggle for justice undimmed.”

Rest in peace comrade, you will be missed.

Holly Smith

What do I remember about Alf?

In the late 90s and early 2000’s he was active as an independent in the Socialist Alliance in Brent, where I was also living and (sometimes) active. I didn’t know him terribly well but was impressed by his energy and independence of mind. He didn’t (as far as I can remember) get involved in Respect, probably because of scepticism about George Galloway and what he saw as communalist politics. Also he from time to time had to withdraw from political life because of his own health and because he had onerous care responsibilities for his son. When I moved to Brighton in 2007, I was also physically remote.
Out of the blue he made contact with us about 18 months ago, saying he was looking for a place to live on the South Coast after his early retirement. He rapidly decided that Brighton was too expensive, and eventually chose a small house in West Worthing.
He duly started to find his feet in Worthing and found that it had a small group of activists on various questions including a successful fight against privatisation of downland owned by the district council. He decided to set up a blog for himself and for all SR activities on the South Coast, and I helped him set this up during a productive visit to his home last January. There I also met his son Laurence. Subsequently he has from time to time asked me for more help, but usually he worked out how to do it for himself before I had the chance to respond.
My impression is of an astounding activist, whose energy and voice will live for a long time in our memories. He turned round the movement in Worthing and showed all the signs of livening things up all along the south coast, with plans to link up to Southampton and Portsmouth as well as Brighton.
Mark Findlay

A selection of Alf’s political articles can be seen on the Socialist Resistance website at:

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23 Comments on Alf Filer as we knew him: messages in tribute

  1. There have also been a number of generous tributes to Alf from members of the Coalition of Resistance steering committee, and from Counterfire and Green Left. Hopefully something will go up on the COR website soon. I believe there will also be a some kind of commemoration at the COR conference on 9 July. I only knew him a short time, but I will miss him.

  2. Khurram Alavi // 27th June 2011 at 10:29 am // Reply

    I first met Alf as a student, I got an shouted at for not holding the door open from him. I thought I am glad he is not one of my lectures. When I started working as a learning advisor, inside the college I saw all the work Alf put to make sure his students passed, and to motivate them to do well. You could not know Alf without feeling his passion for teaching and what he believed everyone’s basic rights were. Yes he shouted but he earned the respect of everyone he taught and worked with. I respect Alf, and I am very glad I got to meet him and am honoured to have worked with him.

  3. It would be nice to have a commemoration in Brighton for Alf as this, or more accurately Worthing was his new home. In the few months he’d been here he’d already made a great impact. I can still hear his voice ringing in my ears from 2 weeks ago driving to the strike demonstration in Southampton.

    His was a voice for justice at a time when few others spoke out.

  4. OMG! I cannot believe this! He was my A-level Economics lecturer and its wide consensus that he was the best teacher, period! I got an A in economics thanks to, Alf’s approach of teaching us ‘outside the book’ and applying macro-economic concept to real life situation. Alf always said “this is the best time to study economics because you lot are witnessing the recession, first hand, seeing people lose their job and restaurants, cafes, shops closing down as a result of the 2008 recession.” He retired just after my year and told us he was moving outside London to ‘enjoy’ country-style life. There were talks about visiting and now I wish that had materialised. I could go on forever!

    On a positive note, he’s probably smiling down on me from heaven and enjoying himself. (Legend)

  5. You have been a massive influence to me and hundreds of students in your economics and business lectures at Harrow College. I was privileged to have been your student for 2 years. I wish to offer my condolences to his family in this difficult time.

    Grace and Peace


  6. My condolences go out to the Filer family. Alf was a great teacher. He reached out to hundreds and hundreds of students during his tenure at Harrow College. He will be sorely missed.

    Daniel Rimmer (Class of 2011)

  7. He was my a-level economics lecturer and the only teacher i have ever called a friend. although i finished my a-levels around 6 years ago, i recently popped into the college to say hi to him. as always, he made me laugh, taught me something new and did what most in life cannot…inspired me. because of him, my life has gone in the direction it has.

    thank you for believing in me. i will miss you alf.

  8. This is one of the shocking news i have ever experienced! My one and only great and passionate teacher, so sad and gutted to lose you Alf. I always wished he was part of a government as a Chancellor, i am fully sure he would have got this country out of recession and this crisis! A pure genius and a hard worker! May God Bless You for your efforts and struggles towards fighting for justice and equality. You will always be remembered in a positive light. Rest in Peace!

  9. Pete Firmin // 29th June 2011 at 10:50 am // Reply

    I’ve know Alf since the mid-1970s, when we were both involved in Brent East Labour Party.Along with many others Alf was instrumental in bringing Brent East behind the local Grunwick strike and the campaign to deselect our sitting MP, Reg Freeson.For several years Alf was the (very efficient) Constituency secretary.
    From the earliest time I knew him, Alf was well-known as an anti-Zionist and anti-racist, and threw himself into campaigns with energy and enthusiasm.
    Alf took several years out to bring up his two sons, but emerged periodically to get involved around various issues and campaigns.
    Before moving down to the South Coast, Alf had got involved in the local fight against the cuts, as well as being one of the key people building opposition to the attempts by the English Defence league to march through Harrow. It was through the efforts of Alf and others that they were stopped.
    Like many of us, Alf had a lengthy involvement with many organisations on the left in Briatin, being a member of the International Marxist Group when I first met him, later of the Chartist minority group, the Socialist Alliance and, for the last few years, Socialist Resistance
    I didn’t always agree with Alf tactically, but you could never stay angry with Alf too long because of his humour.
    Many local activists have expressed their shock at Alf’s death, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
    We are looking at organising an event locally in September open to all the campaigns and organisations Alf was involved with, a mixture of political meeting and a toast to Alf.

  10. John Kehoe // 29th June 2011 at 9:36 pm // Reply

    I first got to know Alf through judo. I coached his sons after they left willesden judo club. He became a close friend for many years until I moved to Ireland. Alf, Leon and Laurence visited me a couple of times here in Ireland. I hadnt spoken to Alf for four or five years but thankfully our sons always kept in contact, and this is how we learnt the shocking and sad news. Anything Alf did, he gave 100%. From all the politics, his teaching, the judo club and most importantly the upbringing of his prize possesions, his beloved sons.
    I will always remember Alf’s never ending sense of humour. He was someone you would always end up having a great laugh with.
    Sorry Alf we never got a chance to say goodbye,
    John,Jackie,Darren,Kellie and Erin

  11. Alf,

    The best tribute to you is the two sons you left behind.
    I dont know about the politics etc, you tried,, but it was always over my head (Im Sorry)!! However I understand that you fought tooth and nail for those that deserved it, and those better knowledged have praised your never ending efforts, I am proud of all you have done.

    But I want to praise you, from the bottom of my heart, for the two sons you raised, you are an absolute soldier, plodding on regardless of what life threw at you with their best interests at heart, and they are an absolute credit to you.

    You made your recent move to Worthing with Lawrence, and my goodness could we see the change in you??!! Happy, relaxed and enjoying life. Im happy to say your two darling boys are doing you soooo proud, they are being so strong and supportive towards each other, a credit to you, they know how much family means to you, and now and forevermore they will stand by you, and make you proud, because, dear god Alf its the least your deserve, you were taken from us too soon. I wish you had longer to enjoy your retirement and new life in worthing but at the same time can see you made every second of the seven months you were there count, you made a huge inpact in the community and more importantly you fulfilled your ambition to move to the coast and be happy with your two amazing sons, Leon and Lawrence.

    We will all live our lives with you in our hearts, you will be sadly and forever missed.

    Love Always,
    Laura X

    • Alan Stanley // 28th July 2011 at 7:03 am // Reply

      I will miss Alf My late wife was Alfs Aunt. Although he did not keep in touch I was still one of his two uncles. We did not agree with his politics but always had a good laugh together when we met. He loved working on the kibbutz in Israel and said how much he enjoyed it. A very good father and he will be missed by them

  12. Alf was my economics teacher.. ahh this saddens and brings me to tears !

  13. Stephen Hall // 5th July 2011 at 10:39 am // Reply

    A sad, tragic loss for the Socialist movement of a great comrade who will be sorely missed by us all.

  14. Gwyn Thomas // 7th July 2011 at 12:52 pm // Reply

    I had known Alf from the Brent East Labour party from the early eighties. I only recently bumped in to him in our local Indian corner shop in Kensal Rise. It was really good to see him after so many years and he seemed his old chirpy self. He berated me, good humouredly of course for still being in the Labour Party and we had a good ‘nostalgia’ chat. During the Labour Party civil war in the eighties/early nineties, Alf aligned himself ineveitably with the ‘hard left’ and we were implacably opposed. However, his charm and generous personality shone through and we could talk on a civil level after meetings. When the ‘hard left’ turned against Ken Livingstone in Brent East PPC selection meeting, Alf was a prominent mover against Ken. Livingstone won the selection by the narrowest of margins having taken votes from the right on the subsequent ballots, amazing how history could have been re-written. Alf was a likeable, witty man, highly principled and an idealist. And of course a doer, an organiser and a man where ‘politics is the personal’… a nice guy and the left will be emptier without him.
    BYW Pete Firmin, if there is a commemerative ‘do’ in North West London, let everybpdy know, I’m sure there will be a big turn-out.

  15. Barrie Birch // 20th July 2011 at 7:42 pm // Reply

    Alf was my friend. We brought our kids up together. Alf was the BEST Dad, doing so much to create a good home and normality after the turmoil of divorce. They were his number 1 priority, always. Larger that life, loud, intelligent, interesting, funny and challenging all in one, was dear Alf. Completely self expressed.If you didn’t like it, tough! I am shocked at his death and feel sad I did not get down to Worthing , where I knew he had found happiness. I am keen to connect with his sons, who I have known all my life. If anyone has a link to them please let me know on
    We have lost a good friend and comrade. I love you, Alfie.

  16. Sad news indeed about Alf. He was my economics teacher at harrow and i am now an economics graduate i learned of his death when i visited harrow college and asked about him, shocked by the news, such is life, however he was an influence in my economics degree for sure. condolences to his family and close ones.

  17. So sad.

  18. So sorry

  19. Andy Richards // 29th July 2011 at 11:37 am // Reply

    Alf’s funeral took place in Worthing on Wednesday. It was a beautiful service with words of tribute from people who knew Alf and worked with him. There were people there from London, Worthing and Brighton.

  20. My much dear teacher Mr Filer, I just found out…. Can’t find words to describe how I feel.
    Just want to say that you will always be missed and rest in peace……

    You are in my hearth

  21. Bilall Ahmadi // 24th August 2015 at 6:09 am // Reply

    Alf was my A-levels economics teacher, more than that he was a mentor. Helped a rebellious teen get his life on track. Alf and I got of to a bit of a rough start, in fact he wanted to have me kicked off the course but in no time at all we developed a bond that transcended the normal bond one would have with their A-level teacher. A person who gained the respect of everyone he came across. He will be missed.

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