David Lewis, a former TSSA member and activist, passed away on 7th January 2024 at the age of 65. As well as being a TSSA member, David was also involved in Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). LGSM, famously depicted in the film Pride, was an alliance of lesbians and gay men who supported the National Union of Mineworkers during the year-long strike of 1984–1985.
Dave became a Branch organiser of the London South West Branch in 1983, holding various Branch Organiser positions until 1997. Dave was Branch Correspondence secretary of the London South West Branch from 1989 to 1994 and after that was active in the Friars Bridge Ct Branch. Dave stayed in the union as a retired member and was a member of the London & Southern Retired Branch.
In the following tribute, Mike Jackson from LGSM recalls his friend Dave:
David (or Dave as he was also known) worked at Waterloo for many years, where he was a member of the TSSA, serving for several years as Branch secretary.
Dave was also an original and core member of LGSM during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. What is more, he played a central organising role once LGSM reformed itself in 2014, after the Pride movie was released, and over the last 10 years, a whole new generation of activists and supporters came to know him. In particular, he formed a strong bond with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and carefully nurtured both the political and personal relationships between them and LGSM.
Born in London in 1959 into a working-class family of Irish and Geordie stock, he was a proud socialist and in the 1980s was one of the small group of lesbian and gay Militant supporters who helped to transform its position on LGBT issues. He moved the first detailed motion on lesbian and gay rights at the Labour Party Young Socialists national conference in 1985. In the late 1980s he was an activist in Trades Unionists Against Section 28, which was set up to oppose anti-LGBT legislation by the Conservative government.
From the 1980s he was also an active member of the Tenants and Residents Association in his Southwark council estate, and had served as its secretary. He was an eyewitness to the fatal fire at Lakanal House in 2009. That experience left him traumatised, but he tenaciously fought for the rights and interests of the residents, testifying at the public enquiry. The failure to implement all its recommendations led to the further tragedy of Grenfell.
Rejoining the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, he became secretary of Camberwell and Peckham CLP, until he was suspended in 2020 for allowing discussion of a motion of support for Corbyn. He then resigned from the party.
In every aspect of his life and activities he was widely admired and loved. His warmth, kindness and generosity shone out, however much he tried to camouflage it with his wicked sense of humour and sharp tongue. He was an inspiring and effective organiser, with a brilliant grasp of detail, who never sought the limelight and preferred to get stuff done rather than talk about it. Nonetheless, if thrust forward, he was an engaging and moving orator. He was also a beautiful writer, whose humanity and sensitivity enlivened every anecdote or pen-portrait of parents, friends, colleagues and comrades.
Dave’s untimely death from cancer leaves a huge gap in the movement, and is a painful loss for his partner, his family and his many friends. Our thoughts are with all those who knew and loved him. Solidarity forever.