Colin Campbell, 1958-2008

Socialist Alliance and Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) member Colin Campbell died suddenly in the early hours on July 17.

Colin had been a member of the Socialist Alliance, Sydney West branch, since the end of 2005. I met Colin in early 2006: he rarely missed a meeting and was a passionate supporter of left unity.

Colin was active in a range of campaigns including the Parramatta Peace Group and the Stop Bush Coalition. Colin and his wife Francie had planned to attend the No to Pope protest on July 19.

Francie told me at Colin's wake on July 24 that the previous Saturday they had travelled from their home in Dural to the city to buy a No to Pope T-shirt. Seeing the roller door down, they thought the Resistance Centre was closed. "I'm ready for the revolution, but they're bloody shut!", Colin had remarked in his characteristic way.

Colin was a committed socialist: he was a strong supporter of the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions. Colin usually sported either a Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro T-shirt and he and Francie were saving to take part in the Venezuela and Cuba solidarity brigades at the end of the year — and be part of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution that will take place in early 2009.

Speakers at Colin's large funeral stressed his strong beliefs. Although disillusioned by the institutionalised church, Colin retained a strong Christian morality.

However, unlike many Christians, Colin acted on his beliefs, spending much of his time assisting society's most downtrodden. For many years he worked in homeless shelters.

A workmate said that Colin never gave up on anyone. Only weeks ago he had told me how distressed he was to have found one of his regular clients dead on the street outside the shelter. Colin felt deep empathy for the oppressed.

After careful consideration, Colin joined the DSP early this year after the DSP's 23rd Congress reaffirmed that the organisation would continue to build the Socialist Alliance.

Colin was inspired by the works of Che Guevara and Naomi Klein among others. He was eager to understand the world so as to participate in changing it for the better.

Colin was a committed activist. He was always to be found at the front lines of any protest. He was arrested at the February 2007 protest against the visit of US Vice President Dick Cheney, accused of "assaulting a police officer". Colin, who was not a tall man, had kicked the towering cop in the shins with his sand shoe. Once the case against Colin had been dismissed, the cop concerned went to Colin's home to apologise for arresting him. Colin, ever an unassuming man, accepted it.

I last saw Colin at the Green Left Weekly dinner in Granville on July 5 where he and Francie brought along a salad.

I didn't always agree with Colin's views, but I respected him for his activism, thoughtfulness and his passionate advocacy for the oppressed. He was a quiet achiever, whose work and ever-optimistic presence will be sorely missed.

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