|Chris Coleman and Andy Brooks|
By New Worker correspondent
FRIENDS and comrades joined relatives and friends at the Mortlake Crematorium to pay their last respects to Neil Harris last week.
New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks, Daphne Liddle, Theo Russell and Dermot Hudson, along with Chris Coleman from the RCPB (ML), said farewell to Neil Harris at the funeral in Richmond that celebrated a life dedicated to the struggle for peace and socialism.
As the coffin draped in the red national banner of the NCP entered the memorial hall Neil’s friends from the communist movement, the legal profession and the jazz club he supported followed to join his grieving widow, Robyn, in saluting the memory of an outstanding man whose life was sadly cut short by cancer.
Andy Brooks said that Neil Harris was a good friend and a good comrade who joined the NCP in the early 1980s, and his largely successful efforts to build the Party in London led to his inevitable election to our Central Committee in the 1990s. He remained on that committee and the Political Bureau until illness curtailed his mobility.
Neil was a pillar of his local Party branch and an activist who could always be relied on to help run New Worker stalls or give out leaflets and carry the Central Committee banner at local and national demonstrations.
Neil had a trained legal mind that he applied working on the numerous sub-committees of our Congresses, and to advise us on matters of law as and when needed. He used his analytical skills in the research needed for the papers and pamphlets that he produced over the years, scouring the libraries and later the internet for documents to back up his theories.
Neil was also an activist who spoke on our platforms in London and elsewhere on a variety of topics ranging from labour movement history to the ‘secret state’, from revolutionary struggle to social campaigns. In fact his last major effort, when his battle against cancer began, was a one-man campaign to improve St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, which revolved around the Help me sort out St Peter's! blog that he established in 2012.
Neil was also a thinker and a writer, and his contributions to our paper, the New Worker, span the decades. Some have been republished as pamphlets. Most are preserved, under his name or that of the pen-names that he chose when he was a practising solicitor, electronically on our websites.
“I last saw Neil at the NCP’s 40 anniversary celebration at the Marx Memorial Library in July last year. He clearly enjoyed the event despite being in considerable pain,” Andy said.
“Final farewells are always times of reflection for us as we remember Neil now frozen in the past of our memories. Neil was an active member of the Party until his final illness and even then, during those long years when he battled against cancer, he continued to write for our communist weekly.
“But Neil never wavered in his belief in the fundamental truths of Marxism-Leninism. Above all he lives on in the fighting spirit of the New Communist Party,” Andy said.