Jim Schofield, a friend of 50 years, remembers Dave Spencer.
Dave Spencer was my dearest friend and comrade for many years. We were at University together in both Leeds and Leicester, and were thereafter immersed in socialist politics for the rest of our lives. But he was also the most friendly and dedicated person you could possibly meet. We even went to Paris together when we had almost nothing, and still had a great time.
But, as with these things, we both got married and went where the jobs were, and gradually lost touch. Dave was a true socialist, and this meant that he joined and left various organisations as soon as it was evident they were not as dedicated as he was to the working class. And this was demonstrated in the years we worked together when we achieved some worthwhile gains. We broke a protection racket on immigrant workers in Leicester, and recruited previously warring mods and rockers into the Young Socialists in a small town in Northamptonshire, and within a very short period our tendency provided the national secretary of that organisation (Dave’s lifetime friend, also from Coventry – Dave Ashby) I cannot relate what he did in the years that we lost touch because, for a while we were in different countries and even different continents, but surprisingly our subsequent careers mirrored one another in a surprisingly resonant way.
And when I found him again via The Commune, we immediately met, and it was as if we had only been
apart a few days. He was still the same, dear friend and comrade, and it was revealed that in those years before our reunion he did some great things.
The work he did setting up arrangements for the mature education with working class women was
exemplary, and his research in that area earned him a doctorate. The women who he worked for knew who they could trust and went to him with many different problems, only recently he organised an action to provide a play area for their children when one of his women students asked him to help, which was successful.
One raised eyebrow from Dave was all I ever needed to “think again”. And one look at Dave’s surprised reactions always caused me to look again, and see what I had evidently missed. And Dave was still writing significant stuff to the end.
It has to be said that the many organisations we participated in did not develop theory as was absolutely necessary, and when I think back many of the very best people I knew were used up in activism, without any perceivable development in the methods of analysing situations and organising appropriate actions.
Dave Spencer is without any doubt a great loss to us all, and my heartfelt sympathy is for his wife Corinne, his son and his grandson, who he delighted in.
He will be greatly missed. We could certainly do with more like him