Dave Packer – a personal tribute

Socialist Resistance leader Dave Packer (4 August 1945 – 3 July 2012) died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage at the age of sixty five. His funeral will take place on Friday 20 July at Honor Oak Crematorium, Camberwell New Cemetery, Brenchley Gardens, SE23 3RD at 2.30pm. Phil Hearse pays tribute:

Dave Packer’s life was one of triumph – over disability, over ill health and the kind of personal and political adversity that would have immobilised less determined comrades. His tenacity enabled him to apply his sharp analytical and propagandistic abilities to fight for revolutionary Marxism over four decades. To the end he was engaged in a sustained effort to analyse to new situation in world capitalism and the international left and apply the lessons for the socialist movement in Britain and elsewhere. For more than 30 years his work was sustained by a close political collaboration with his partner Jane Kelly.
Dave maintained his pugnacious political defiance in the face of the severe political difficulties in the 1980s and 1990s that inflicted defeat after defeat on the international workers movement that enforced relative political maginalisation on the supporters of the Fourth International in Britain, a maginalisation from which they always sought to escape by being part of the wider movement.

Dave joined the International Marxist Group (IMG) with a group that split from the Militant in the early 1970s. In the mid-late 1970s he was the Manchester organiser of the International Marxist Group, at a time when that organisation was at its height, propelled by the Socialist Unity election campaigns, its role in anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns – and also by its unique political profile as a champion of the liberation movements of the oppressed. Many of the features of today’s far left, in particular the commitment to anti-racism as a priority, were pioneered by the IMG in that period.

I first talked at length to Dave in 1980 when he was working on the newspaper Socialist Challenge, a role that lasted only a short time because writing to strict deadlines wasn’t exactly Dave’s forte. I sided with him in a dispute over an article he wrote in April 1980 about the election of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe in the post-liberation elections. Dave stressed the reactionary role of bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalism in a way that some comrades considered ‘sectarian’. We became best political buddies; but what we didn’t foresee was that the movement – in Britain and internationally – was entering a zone of severe turbulence. The IMG was descending into intense faction fighting which eventually destroyed it.

The IMG (now renamed the Socialist League –SL) could not cope with massive external pressures, including the offensive launched throughout the Fourth International by the ‘Castroist’ American Socialist Workers Party, whose supporters had a strong faction in the SL. By the mid 1980s the organisation was hopelessly split into three groupings – the pro-US SWP faction, a leadership apparatus grouping making significant political concessions to the Labour left in general and Ken Livingstone in particular, and our third faction that was defending, as we saw it then, revolutionary Marxism in Britain and internationally against liquidationist tendencies. Dave played a central role in elaborating our critique of the other tendencies and on the steering committee of our faction that included among others Jane Kelly, Stephanie Grant, Davy Jones, Bob Pennington, Terry Conway, Dave Sheppard, Grant Keir and myself. Dave wrote in this period on many questions including the united front, Labourism, workers control and many international questions.

I am absolutely sure that we were politically correct on the main points. Faced with what we regarded as an undemocratic and hopelessly factionalised regime, we split from the organisation in 1985. One hundred and ten people joined the new organisation. In the next two years we were strengthened by the fusion with the Socialist Group among whom Alan Thornett and John Lister were leading figures. This resulted in the 1987 fusion conference establishing the International Socialist Group as a new organisation with around 180 members. Dave played a key role in bringing this fusion about. This fusion didn’t just grow the organisation but enabled a qualitative political development, with the addition of comrades with a different background solidly rooted in working class intervention. Dave and Jane developed a strong personal and political friendship with Alan Thornett in particular.

Dave’s political work was complicated by intervention in the political debates of the Fourth International. We strongly felt that some of the strategic elaboration by some majority FI leaders was leading in a dangerous direction – and we thought that the decision of the significant Spanish state section to merge with a Maoist organisation and to leave the Fourth International to enable this was a disaster. We also suspected that the orientation of the FI comrades in the Brazilian section (who were part of the mass Workers Party [PT]) was dangerously ambiguous and could lead at a future time, if the PT entered the government, to disaster. This was unfortunately only too prescient.

At this time we entered into a more or less informal alliance in the International with a tendency in the French Ligue Communiste led by Gérard Filoche (known by the party name ‘Matti’) and also, at greater political distance, with Socialist Action in the United States. These alliances were brokered in large part by Dave; I was more sceptical about whether we were really on the same political wavelength as these French and American comrades.

One thing that certainly united us with the Filoche tendency was our feeling that revolutionary Marxists should prioritise an orientation towards ‘the traditional organisations of the working class’ and that this was underestimated in the International. This was reflected in Britain in the ISG’s participation in the Labour Briefing projects; for a time Graham Bash and other leading Briefing comrades worked closely with the ISG. Once again Dave was closely involved.

After the split with the SL, our priority to the ‘traditional organisation of the working class’ was in part the result of the influence that the late Peter Gowan had on us. Dave and myself had a series of political discussions with Peter which made a big impression. He also helped Dave in particular to develop an analysis of the European Union that stressed the completely undemocratic nature of its decision making and the domination of the more developed, mainly north European, states over the ‘periphery’.

A lot of people on the left didn’t see the relevance of this kind of analysis, but twenty years later its political validity is only too clear.
Whatever the balance sheet of our role in the international debates, Dave relished his participation in international meetings and long discussions with comrades from the International who came to Britain, whatever their take on the political debates. Jane and Dave’s house in Crofton Road was often the scene of convivial gatherings of British comrades with international guests; there was no doubt that the political culture of the organisation benefitted enormously from these contacts, with for example Alan Thornett moving from being quite sceptical about the Fourth International at the time of the fusion, to becoming a strong supporter and enthusiast for the International. The British comrades often felt they were misunderstood internationally, being cast as ‘sectarian’ for defending exactly the same positions that FI leader Ernest Mandel had defended but a few years before.

In 1990 Dave’s participation in the movement was knocked temporarily sideways when Jane suffered a severe accident and he became her carer. As her condition improved somewhat he was able to gradually raise his level of activism, but he remained Jane’s carer. It was a phenomenal effort on his part to deal with this, as well as his own disability and periodic bouts of illness, and remain politically engaged in a leading position.
During the 1980s, if we weren’t at a political meeting together Dave and I spoke on the phone nearly every day; naturally I got to know him extremely well. He had a wide-ranging Marxist culture and his especial enthusiasm was ancient history. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the Roman Empire and had a deep fascination with feudal Japan (later translating itself into his collection of medieval Japanese prints and Samurai swords). Encouraged by Jane’s profession as an art historian he was very knowledgeable about the history of art and contemporary art. He was, in effect, a self-taught intellectual.

Dave was also, to the extent that his health allowed, a bon viveur. He loved to cook, to drink the limited amount of red wine that Jane allowed, and to intersperse meals with friends and comrades with his infectious laughter. The venality of the imperialist bourgeoisie and the cowardice of the labour bureaucracy never ceased to amaze and outrage him. On numerous occasions you would meet him at the ISG centre in Finsbury Park grasping a copy of the Financial Times and declaring in outraged tones, “Have you seen this?!” Dave’s lack of personal mobility was partially compensated for by the fact that he was a demon driver, rushing himself and Jane at high speed to political and social events.

The ISG (former name of Socialist Resistance) was formed during the start of a series historic defeats of the working class in Britain and internationally. Dave was, like many of us, reluctant to accept that the defeats of the 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union (as well as the defeat of the revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala) had ushered in a period of relative isolation for the left in which it would struggle to make its voice heard.

But the anti-World Trade Organisation demonstrations in Seattle at the end of 1999 sounded a different note and dramatised the gradually consolidating rebellion against neoliberalism. Something new was in the air.

This found its echo in 2000 with the foundation of the Socialist Alliance, leading into eventually the huge anti-war movement and the foundation of Respect. Dave championed this new spirit of left unity (enabled by a sharp turn by the SWP) and was active in the Socialist Alliance both locally and nationally. This also involved developing friendly relations with the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party. Dave was again absolutely central, together with Alan Thornett, in developing the organisation’s political response to these developments.

The new millennium has recast the left organisationally and politically on an international scale. The world (and the left) is unrecognisable from the one we encountered in the mid-1980s and Dave was enthusiastic as ever to help develop a revolutionary Marxist response to it. He was one of the comrades at the forefront of trying to engage with the environmental crisis and (under the influence of John Bellamy Foster’s writings in particular) develop an ecosocialist response. He helped lead the turn towards redefining the political programme and profile of the organisation as ‘ecosocialist’.

The financial crash of 2008 propelled Dave into a new analytical effort, together with Raphie de Santos, to come to grips with the crisis and especially to develop the political themes and demands that could guide Marxists in the fightback. These remain some of the best analyses that have emerged from the organised left. He was naturally inspired by the emergence of new left wing forces and followed the events in Greece and France with particular interest.

Dave played an outstanding role in the last two decades as an educator, especially of younger comrades new to the movement. He was always keen to engage comrades from around the country in discussion and debate, to collaborate politically with them, without any of the stand-offish self-importance that characterises some leaders of left wing organisations. These qualities ensured his standing within the organisation; a lot of Marxist leaders are respected but not much loved. Dave on the other hand was always admired and held in deep affection by the vast majority of the ISG/Socialist Resistance – and by many on the wider left as well.

People make their own history, but not in the circumstances of their own choosing. Dave would certainly not have chosen many of the circumstances, politically and personally, within which he had to conduct his political struggle. The generation of the 1960s thought that the movement had been through ‘the long march in the desert’ in the 1950s and ‘60s, and that from now on it would be onwards and upwards towards ever greater successes. We underestimated the immense resources of world capitalism and its ability to come back from crisis and throw the workers movement and the left into headlong retreat.

Defeats in the 1980s and 1990s sapped the will, the energy and even the belief of many in the militant left internationally. Dave never stopped believing and never stopped fighting. It is the achievements of comrades like Dave that enable others to go on, to take the revolutionary socialist programme to the new generation of rebels emerging from the debacle of neoliberal capitalism.

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30 Comments on Dave Packer – a personal tribute

  1. Mike Calvert // 9th July 2012 at 4:48 pm // Reply

    Dear Phil and everyone

    This is a very moving account of both Dave’s life and the history of the IMG/IG/ISG as you would expect as dave was one of the main leading cadres of the group.

    How I remember many of those discussions (I was a member of the SL/IG/ISG)until I left to join the Lambert current in 1991.

    I would like to pay tribute to Dave for everything he stood for, and everything he achieved.

    This is a very sad moment for all your comrades and Jane especially.

    I would like to salute the memory of Dave.


  2. Andy Richards // 9th July 2012 at 8:09 pm // Reply

    I had the honour of sitting alongside Dave on the SR National Committee for the last couple of years. He was everything others have said in terms of his intellect and analysis of the political situation. Although he could be forthright in expressing his political disagreements, I will remember him as a warm and humorous comrade, as well as someone who could provide really sharp analysis. This was nowhere more evident than at the last NC I attended, when we were discussing the Arab revolutions and the Eurozone crisis. The organisation and the wider movement will really miss him.

    My condolences and best wishes to Jane.

  3. Farooq Sulehria // 10th July 2012 at 4:56 am // Reply

    Dave’s death is a great loss. I did not know him well [being new in London]. But Phil’s moving tribute to the late Comrade Dave shows the sort of fighter he was. On another email list I am a member of, Dave was also paid glowing tributes that shows the respect he commanded. My condolences to Jane.

  4. Roger Welch // 10th July 2012 at 9:41 am // Reply

    This tribute to Dave and account of his life is just so moving and inspiring (the history of the movement is also highly useful in reminding us all where we came from and how we got involved in the ISG etc). Dave’s death is an immense loss to Jane and all those personally close to him but it is also obviously a major loss for the future of the left both nationally and internationally. Still, Phil’s tribute inspires us all to new renew our commitment to the class struggle to which Dave devoted his life.

  5. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Dave and Jane for the many we had discusions about ecosocialism over the last ten years or so. I will miss Dave a lot.

  6. Dave’s funeral will take place at Honor Oak Crematorium,
    Camberwell New Cemetery, Brenchley Gardens, SE23 3RD at 2.30pm on Friday 20 July

  7. I am very sorry to hear about Dave’s death as I remember him well. We cannot afford to lose comrades like him .

  8. Thanks for a fine tribute to a fine comrade, Phil

  9. Please wear colourful clothes to Dave’s funeral if you are able to come. It is a celebration. No flowers thanks – there will be a request for charitable donations later

  10. I was very sad to hear of the sudden of Dave Packer. Thank you to Phil for your thoughtful tribute and reminding us all of Dave’s immense contribution. Dave was a big inspiration to me in the early 80s. The formation of the International Group was really important. It wasn’t just another split on the Trotskyist left. It came out of an attempt to grapple with the mistakes of the IMG and establish a new culture based on an understanding of the relationship between strategy, tactics and party building. The leadership of that organization was a refreshing break from the past, combining experience with youthful enthusiasm. Phil mentions the 110 comrades; it was not exactly the Sex Pistols and Manchester Free Trade Hall, but in its own way it felt just as revolutionary. I don’t think anyone was under any illusions that building the IG would be easy, but I remember Dave’s infectious enthusiasm and strategic leadership that provided a political education to those like me who had only been involved in Marxist politics for a few years. Dave was an important part of my history and I am sure many other comrades. My condolences to Jane and all those in Socialist Resistance who worked closely with Dave.

  11. Stephen Hall // 12th July 2012 at 11:58 pm // Reply

    An excellent tribute Phil.

    Dave’s death is a great loss to the International movement of the working class and oppressed. He was a great Socialist thinker beloved by his comrades in the Fourth International who will sorely miss him.

  12. A very moving and honest tribute Phil. Dave was one of those rare comrades, able to inspire, entertain and possessed of such a sharp mind and wickedly funny sense of humour… and that lovely chuckle he would add as he’d deliver a withering blow to your argument… Much love to Jane and all who will miss him…

  13. Iain Gault // 13th July 2012 at 8:51 pm // Reply

    Such sad news. I got to know Dave during the early days of the IG when he – and Jane – often visited our small group in Glasgow. I remember our political discussions but my fondest memories are of the times we spent simply enjoying a laugh and a few drinks. A very special comrade and a great loss. Sorry I can’t make it on Friday but my thoughts are with you all.

  14. B Skanthakumar // 14th July 2012 at 3:01 pm // Reply

    Dave Packer’s untimely passing saddens me immensely. I would like to attest to the affection and regard in which Dave was/is held: he always had a smile and an encouraging word for this member of the ISG in the 1990s. Thanks very much Phil for this wonderful personal and political tribute that reflects the respect and confidence that Dave inspired. Deepest sympathies to Jane and comrades of SR.

  15. Tracy Doyle // 15th July 2012 at 12:02 pm // Reply

    What very sad news.

  16. Jane Connor // 15th July 2012 at 8:59 pm // Reply

    Many thanks to Phil for the tribute to Dave Packer, and also to IG/ISG/SR comrades for posting on facebook. As well as a moving tribute to Dave, it was a powerful reminder of our history. I’m afraid I am one of the many who felt the defeats too strongly, and lacked the resilience of comrades like Dave, Jane and others to carry on, but I glad some of you have continued the struggle, and also have influenced so many others. I know my experience of struggle alongside Dave and others still informs my albeit small acts of resistance against capitalism, and its divisive ideologies of racism and sexism, and the rest. Still proud to call myself, and be, a socialist feminist. My thoughts are with Jane and all Dave’s friends and comrades who will miss him so much.

  17. Patrick Baker // 16th July 2012 at 11:35 am // Reply

    Sad news. Dave was a great friend and comrade, sure to be much missed by all of us who knew him through these struggles.

  18. Oscar Gregan // 17th July 2012 at 11:15 am // Reply

    I was sad to hear of the death of Dave. It is over thirty years since we last met – IMG still had the “headquarters” in Upper Street.

    I had been in the IMG from 1970-1978 and had worked in the bookshop,Red Books from 1972/3(?). One afternoon Dave came into the shop and was very complimentary about the range of books available. He introduced himself as a Militant supporter and asked me some questions about the IMG clearly out of genuine interest. Visits by Dave to the shop became frequent and we usually adjourned for a chat in the Beehive Cafe. After a few meetings Ted Coxhead joined us and I learned that they were part of an informal opposition inside of Militant. They were anxious to develop their analysis and were interested in getting hold of writings from other groups. As the IMG had zero writings on that tendency, I recommended Matgamna’s pamphlet from the 1960s which they obtained from Workers Fight and found very useful in that it echoed many of their own criticisms.

    Shortly after they formed an organised opposition and after presenting their positions at a Militant conference, the majority resigned and joined the IMG in Spring 1974(?). A resignation letter was published in The Red Weekly and signed by approx twenty people. Other signatories besides Dave & Ted included Derek, Sheila, Judith, Iris, Drew, Jim K and Greg.

    I wonder if any of the documents that this group wrote at the time are available in any archive.

    • Rob Marsden // 19th July 2012 at 11:29 am // Reply

      Oscar, I have just located the resignation letter in Red Weekly no 36, 25th January 1974.
      I will try to scan it this evening and post on my Blog redmolerising.wordpress.com

  19. Mike Calvert // 17th July 2012 at 5:43 pm // Reply

    It really is very clear that the history of Dave Packer is the history of a whole wing of the Trotskyist movement in this country.
    My history with the IMG/SL only goes back to 1982/3 and as such the founding of the faction in the Socialist League that became the International Group and en fused with various tendencies and currents inside the SL and eventually with the Socialist Group to become the International Socialist Group.

    The ISG for some time represented a very healthy tradition that fused two disparate tendencies in the British Trotskyist movement with the current around Alan Thornett and John Lister becoming an integral part of the group whilst I was in it. Some argued at the time that the “IMG” tradition absorbed the “WSL” tradition but that would be another discussion for another time.

    It would be true to say that the ISG represented, at the point of its peak, more than 350 comrades, and the healthiest development on the far left here for many years. There was a subsequent fusion with two other currents: the so-called Chartist minority tendency who were organised in London Labour Briefing, and the ex-Lambertist Socialist Labour Group. These currents represented about fifty people between them but for a while the ISG was a very hopeful development and the guiding lights of the ISG were Phil Hearse and Dave Packer, who were the central cadres of the group in my view.

    It was at that point, in 1991, that I resigned, but the Group continued and Dave continued to be one of the organisation’s guiding lights.

    In my view events conspired against the ISG such as the objective conditions after the fall of Stalinism and the Berlin Wall, the defeat of the miners strike and as Phil observes himself the Group was borne in a period of defeats and setbacks.

    The fact remains that both in this country and within the USFI Dave remains a towering influence over the history of the Group constructed partly in his image. Dave built an internal opposition within the USFI with Gerard Filoche and Alain Matthieu from France and with Socialist Action in the USA. My view is that the opposition should have been firmer but again it was an opposition within that organisation reflecting the traditions of the comrades, who were very honourable in my mind and were loyal to their international: I disagreed and so I left.

    Finally, I remember how many comrades were young and had never led any tendency or group and yet were thrust into leading positions within it such as the ones Phil mentions in his personal reminiscence above.

    I think Phil’s piece is a very fitting tribute and am truly sorry I cannot attend Dave’s funeral on Friday.

  20. Dave Rowley // 18th July 2012 at 7:46 am // Reply

    sad to hear of Dave’s death.I was a “Militant” supporter in in Nottingham in the 1970’s and worked with Dave.I subsequently joined the IMG with a small group of “Militant” comrades.Dave as well as being an impressive political force of nature displayed genuine the humanity of a committed socialist.A warm, generous and witty person who for the brief time we were aquainted I regarded as a good friend.

  21. Sam Feeney // 19th July 2012 at 7:48 pm // Reply

    As one of the young comrades back in 88-91 I have fond memories of Dave being an inspiration to listen to and to engage with in issues at the time. It is because of comrades like Dave and Jane, who epitomize for me the human side of revolutionary marxism, that I have retained a loyalty and huge attachment to the FI and the movement over many years, even if personal circumstances have necessitated a prolonged period of absence from most political activity for many years.

    Dave always struck me as someone who was intensely curious about the world and I had a strong connection with him around that. On discovering something new Dave would express an almost childlike wonder and awe at times and that aspect of his personality really made him a wonderful educator and explorer of new ideas. He took marxism and integrated the new – liberation politics and ecology especially showing that revolutionary marxism is not about ossified dictats and that sort of trot fundamentalism we sadly still see too much of, but it is a *creative* and evolving force for liberating humanity from the forces that will, unfettered, destroy all of us. Much love to Jane and comrades and I know tomorrow will be a wonderful celebration of a much loved and globally respected comrade in our movement. A lovely tribute by Phil and moving comments from all.

  22. Tony Maguire // 19th July 2012 at 8:26 pm // Reply

    Very much saddened to hear of Dave Packer’s death. Phil’s tribute does due justice to his huge contribution to the survival of the British left in recent years. His resolution (and that of Phil and others)over the past period, put people like myself to shame.

  23. terry conway // 19th July 2012 at 9:14 pm // Reply


    Dave’s passing, like our recent loss of Comrade Gerry Foley, was an unexpected blow to our common revolutionary cause. He was one of a kind – a rounded, modern renaissance man and revolutionary socialist fighter. His lifelong contribution to the fight for socialist revolution, for the historic program of the Fourth International and to the building of the revolutionary Leninist party was more than we could have expected from any human being.

    I recall Dave from the early days, some thirty years ago, when we fought the good fight at FI meetings for programmatic clarity as we all grappled with the major issues of the day.

    I will never forget a later debate at an FI meeting over the class nature of the USSR. Dave and I understood that the process of capitalist restoration was underway, but far from completed, while the comrades of the majority proposed to change our position and declare that the USSR was capitalist, full stop.

    Dave had been working hard on collecting the facts pertaining to this matter, In Trotsky’s tradition he amassed a huge amount of data and combined it with our Marxist theory to present a cogent and nuanced assessment of the process underway.

    At the last minute, an unexpected health problem prevented Dave from attending that particular International Executive Committee meeting so I took the assignment of presenting our common view in the debate that ensued, relying heavily on material from Dave’s well-crafted text.

    It was quite a debate, with leading comrades expressing their views, including Ernest Mandel, who was somewhere in the middle at that moment, weighing in. I particular remember the contribution of FI leader Livio Maitan, who made it a point to praise my presentation, in significant part inspired by Dave, but with the Livio, not knowing Dave’s contribution and accustomed to sharp polemics against my views, concluding that it was PERFECT – for last year – he insisted – but not for today. I always attributed Livio’s “PERFECT,” designation a concession to Dave’s diligence and careful attention to factual and theoretical work.

    On another occasion during a visit to London, Dave was deeply engaged in writing a text on developments in Europe. What struck me most was that as each day of my visit passed Dave’s mind would not let go of the already fine document that he had written. New ideas and new facts and events daily required his attention, compelling him to return to the text for continuous modifications, always looking for the most precise formulation. This reflected itself in Dave’s need to constantly return to the party headquarters to run off yet another “final” version. He took the greatest pride in the political content of his work as well as its final expression in clean and well-edited printed copy, as if to say, “I am proud of this effort. It combines the best of what I know with a pretty hefty text.”

    In less critical matters Dave showed less concern as when he demonstrated the British way of making toast, that is, by putting a piece of white bread directly over the burner with a resulting semi-burned product as compared to the more refined “American” version that we achieve with a strange appliance that we call a “toaster” an unnecessary piece of equipment in Dave’s world.

    Similarly, Dave introduced me to the British version of a bacon-cheese burger at a little coffee shop close to the headquarters. This nearly 90 percent fat concoction was perhaps the only one in a lifetime to caused my caste iron stomach to wonder what I was doing to it.

    Dave and Jane’s vacation visit to California was a delight in every respect. Pure political heaven! We spent countless hours reviewing every political question that concerned building the Fourth International while enjoying some magnificent sites and settling in for some fine food that Dave and Jane always enjoyed.

    Dave was recovering from some leg surgery at that time and was slowed down a bit by a huge plaster caste. But that didn’t stop him from making his way across the rough, rocky and slippery tide pool expanse that we visited at the Pacific Ocean seashore, where Dave insisted on taking a risky walk to peek in at the various giant star fishes and other aquatic animals that were a sight to see.

    Dave was one of the few comrades in the world who never turned down an opportunity to talk serious politics as when I used to call him long distance and at great expense and late in the evening to get his take on an important issue that required his on the scene knowledge.

    His happy chuckle at my stupid chauvinist remarks was also delightful as when I pointed to our huge Pacific Ocean and bragged that this was a real ocean as to his Atlantic lake or when we visited the Lawrence Hall of Science and looked at a poster of our galaxy that had a small arrow with the text, “You are here!” I insisted that “here” meant the United States. Dave enjoyed the teasing, even when I asked periodically, why the British didn’t celebrate the Fourth of July.

    Comrades, we have lost one of our finest comrade. Dave combined a magnificent dedication to our common revolutionary cause, a loving personality, a respectful appreciation of those with whom he might disagree and a sparkling humor and sense of purpose that we will never forget.

    Our deepest regrets and solidarity to his loving co-thinker and companion Jane Kelly and her daughter Martha, whom we got to know more recently.


    Jeff Mackler, National Secretary
    Socialist Action/USA

  24. Pete Firmin // 20th July 2012 at 6:33 am // Reply

    I got to know and respect Dave for his many contributions during my time in the ISG, even when I disagreed with him.A sad loss. Condolences to Jane and comrades.

  25. sprocketsanjay // 21st July 2012 at 6:17 pm // Reply

    I can’t say I knew Dave that well but on the few occassions I was in his company I was mesmerised by his appreciation and interpretation of political events. I am not really an intellectual, perhaps an intellectual lite (!) so his ability to engage me in odd bits of history, archeaology, samurai traditions, marxism and trotskyism was remarkable. Though I must confess I don’t fully understand what trotskyism is. So Dave mate we need to sort that one out sometime.

    He did have strange ideas of health care and as someone who believes a bit in the alternative health world I think he went astray here. I would always respect his views on this but I felt uncomfortable with them and I suspect he may have guessed that. His passing has made me come to this website for the first time and I feel I should learn more. Thank you Dave for enquiring, informing and engaging.

  26. Sean Thompson // 23rd July 2012 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    I only heard of Dave’s death a few minutes ago, from Green Left. I met Dave first in the early days of the Socialist Alliance and found him, during that period and through our joint involvement in Respect and the joint work that Socialist Resistance and Green Left have undertaken in recent years, both a consistent and principled comrade and a thoroughly decent man who it was impossible not to warm to. His death is a great loss, not only to SR but to the revolutionary left as a whole. I’d like to extend my sympathy, not just to the comrades of SR, but particularly to Jane.

  27. Sorry to read about Dave’s death. I knew him from the IMG days and he was my election agent in 1979 in Liverpool. Although on differing factional sides ultimatley, I remember him fondly: despite the fact that he drove like a maniac and I was involved in at least 1 crash because of his driving.

  28. I loved how kind and thoughtful he was. Charming even in disagreement.

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