It is with sorrow that I have learnt that Dave O’Connell, sometime SWP member and formerly an activist in the Aslef train drivers’ union, was found dead on Monday 28 July.
Dave was a radical, principled and highly practical socialist who was widely respected and trusted. He campaigned with Labour to defeat the Tories in 1997, but as Tony Blair forced socialism and internal democracy out of the Labour Party, Dave chose to leave Labour and returned to his roots in the SWP.
In the 1980s Dave had been a British Rail guard. He then became a London Underground guard, and was promoted to driver. He was a hard-working and selfless trade unionist in each of the Aslef branches to which he belonged. He was warm-hearted, kind and great fun, and had a refined and sensitive taste in literature, music and cinema.
When I served in Aslef during the late 1980s and early 1990s Dave was my inspiration, encouragement, good counsel, comic relief and closest friend. Dave was unique and irreplaceable and
I will miss him greatly.
When Dave was driving on London Underground he experienced a fatal crash that hurt him deeply. He also suffered successive personal and financial problems that caused him stress, depression, medical retirement and marital separation.
Those of us who were close to him offered all the help that we could, but in the last few years he withdrew from nearly all of his relationships and left London for a new life in Chesterfield.
Dave’s former SWP friends and comrades are warmly invited to his funeral. Some of us are going to find it hard to bid him goodbye, so the presence and support of comrades with whom Dave worked and campaigned would be a great comfort.
May Dave rest in peace, and may he be cherished by and continue to inspire all who knew him.
The funeral will be at 10am, Friday 8 August at Mortlake Crematorium (near Kew Gardens), London.
Email messages to the family through Hugh to firstname.lastname@example.org