Sunday, 26 June 2011

RIP Alf Filer

[from Andy Richards]

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.

Below, Holly Smith, President of Brighton and Hove Trades Council, gives her own memories of Alf, and below that are links to other tributes from people who knew Alf longer for me.

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.