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Dave Anderson, 1952-2024

DAVE ANDERSON was one of those rare activists who was liked by all who met him. A Coventry trade unionist who died after being nominated for a council seat on a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) platform was nevertheless a daily reader of the Morning Star. He also delivered the paper to people who had mobility problems.

Former MP and Coventry TUC activist Dave Nellist reflected on part of his life in one of four orations given at Dave’s funeral.

Dave was a proud council-house tenant. He was a prominent campaigner against transferring the city council’s homes to Whitefriars 25 years ago, a housing association now known as Citizen, believing that would lead to less tenant access and control — as it has done.

Defending council housing became the theme of many of his early challenges in the council elections — initially as a candidate for the Marxist Party (which had been part of the Workers Revolutionary Party), then as an independent, and for the last eight years, as a Tusc candidate.

Dave was a firm supporter of workers in struggle, especially when there were strikes. His own determination to protect and support workers cost him his job at Massey Fergusons for his trade union activity.

Dave and his wife Sue turned up at RMT morning picket lines with the Coventry TUC banner, before almost anyone else but were probably there in support more often than even some of their own members.

Dave paid for and kept his own Coventry TUC banner at home so he and Sue could take it wherever workers needed to know they had support from the broader trade union movement.

His horizons weren’t limited to the problems he saw immediately around him — housing, poor wages and the struggles of tenants and trade unionists to try and change that; his horizons were broader.

Dave believed in supporting workers wherever they had come from — making countless visits every month to Campsfield House near Oxford, which the private prison firm Group 4 ran as an immigration detention centre, where prisoners resisted with hunger strikes and two people committed suicide. A 25-year-long campaign closed that centre in 2018.

He also believed in supporting workers in struggle wherever they were — and for however long it took. In 2003, when Tony Blair’s Labour government backed George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Dave held a vigil against the war every Wednesday night outside the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for months on end, in all weathers.

More recently, he made sure the Coventry TUC banner was present at all the local protests against Israel’s war on Gaza. But overall, especially in recent months, he was determined that the trade union movement should be seen at the protests demanding a ceasefire and an end to the occupation.

He was kind, gentle, and sometimes even emotional. But there was a steel inside him on the issues that matter. He lived for his family, especially Sue. But he also lived for the working class and for a future free of want and poverty.

The best thing we can do in his memory is to carry on those struggles for the sort of world he spent his life campaigning for: a socialist world.

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