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John Passant

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April 2020



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Remembering John Passant

11 November 1953 to 5 April 2020

A man of emotions
Of guesses at life
Watering the strife
To negate the hate
And blossom the love             

excerpt from Understanding by John Passant

Sadly John passed away peacefully on 5 April with Patricia at his side.

Husband to Patricia, father to Michael and Louise and brother of Paul.

Passionate challenger of injustice, radical activist and socialist, prolific and powerful writer and poet.

Touching many lives, loving, helpful and much loved, he leaves a great legacy but a huge hole in the universe and our lives.

Many thanks to his dear friends who so enriched his life.

When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

excerpt from Romeo and Juliet

From Patricia:

John’s passing has left a huge hole in the universe and in our lives.

John was passionate, radiating energy which shined through when he spoke at rallies and political meetings, when teaching, and even when just having a coffee.

He was a radical activist and socialist, a prolific and powerful writer of letters to the papers and of articles, a poet, an academic and a senior officer in the ATO.

He railed against injustices and took action against them – organising and marching against apartheid, arguing for and leading an occupation against library cuts at Monash University, speaking against the Gulf War with his young son in his arms and saying ‘what about the fathers with children in Iraq?’, and supporting refugees, to mention just a few.

His many dear friends

John was loving, helpful and much loved.

Over his life John touched many lives and made many friends – from his work in the ATO, the Tenants Union, at different universities and for Independent Australia, from his different political and social activities and from his writing.

He had literally thousands of Facebook friends. We were amazed and greatly moved by how, after Milena posted news that he had passed away, his Facebook page was quickly filled with hundreds of moving comments and contributions from his dear friends, former and current workmates and comrades, shocked and saddened by the news. I saw many familiar names from his past and present, all still linked to John.

Whether in person or online, we are grateful for how these dear friends enriched John’s life and brought him happiness. We thank you for the many messages and tributes sent to us and his friends, including tributes published by Independent Australia, Solidarity, Red Flag and Green Left and the poem written by Peter Cartwright.

We thank David Skidmore for the Dad joke dedicated to John and Jenny LeCompte for telling us about the Dad jokes from her which John really liked. I have to confess that it was me who gave John calendars with daily Dad jokes for Christmas each year. Every day we would check the latest joke and groan and laugh.

I wanted to put money on the topiary competition. In the end, I hedged my bets (dedicated to the late John Passant who thought the joke met his standards).

from David

JP’s favourite Dad joke from me was what’s a shitzu? A zoo without any animals.
What’s brown and sticky. A stick.

from Jenny

I also want to thank Susan for the powerful quote which she sent me, and which we included in his obituary.

When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

Romeo and Juliet

It is so cruel that at this time we are unable to celebrate John’s life and mourn his passing together.

A big virtual hug and an IOU hug for all of you.

The writer and teacher

Many people would tell us how they enjoyed and looked forward to John’s letters in the Canberra Times. He also had letters printed in other papers such as the Financial Review. For a short while in the 80s the weekend Canberra Times included two columns on the same page – one on the left from the perspective of the left written by John and another on the right from the perspective of the right. He also wrote for various socialist papers, for the online paper Independent Australia (which has links to 218 articles written by John between 2012 and 2019) and for his website here, En Passant.

There was never a shortage of political things to write about – just listen to the news. He brought an in-depth understanding and memory of history and politics, a left-wing perspective and a brilliant way with words to his writing.

And this is not counting the over 50 articles he wrote on taxation issues. He even brought a Marxist perspective to these, with telling titles such as ‘Some Basic Marxist Concepts to Help us Understand Income Tax in Australia’, ‘Tax and the Forgotten classes – from the Magna Carta to the English Revolution’, ‘Historical Note: The History of Taxation is Written in Letters of Blood and Fire’ and ‘Cleaning the Muck of Ages from the Windows into the Soul of Tax’.

John was an inspirational teacher loved by his students. At different universities he taught tax law, as well as other legal subjects such as banking and finance, business law, introductory legal subjects and the short-lived, innovative and progressive subject ‘Political Economy and Tax’.

The poet

In his later life John was also a poet. He published two books of poetry – ‘Songs for the band unformed’ in 2016 and ‘Whose broken is this?’ in 2018.
As he wrote in the Introduction to the first book:

‘When I was sixteen, I told the careers adviser who had come to my school that I wanted to be a poet. He was flummoxed. In the twenty-five years of giving such advice, I was the first person to ever say that to him.

… [the poems] are a mix of the personal and of the political.

The usual terrors of love and desire, of self-doubt, of longing and of joy and happiness find expression here. So too does my horror with much of the world today, with its barbarity, its wars, its monetary and spiritual poverty, and its cruelty.

However, there is hope. Like Gramsci, I have a pessimism of the intellect and an optimism of the will. Like Trotsky, I rejoice that life is beautiful. Like him, I believe that future generations will cleanse it of evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.

If a reader says ‘Yes, I understand’ or, even better, ‘Yes, I feel’, then my labours have not been in vain. To those readers, then let me say – enjoy, understand and, most importantly, feel.’

Milena and Jim from the Awesome used the words from some of these poems to create magical music. A CD of their music and of John reading some of his poems was launched a year ago. John and the Awesome also performed at the National Folk Festival and in Narooma and Mallacoota before the fires.

His illness

John was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in July 2018. Targeted therapy knocked back the cancer for a while. This was a daily tablet which only targeted the cancer cells. The main side effect was rashes which made him look like a sunburnt adolescent.

But the cancer came back again in 2019 leading to a spinal fracture in July 2019. After four months in hospital, lots of work with the physiotherapists and some home renovations he was able to come home in a wheelchair last November.

Then he could be sitting at his computer, bottomless cup of tea at hand, writing and keeping in touch with friends, watching the news, rugby league (did I mention he was a tragic St George supporter), cricket and quiz shows and being part of family life.

Despite more targeted therapy the cancer continued to spread and in late February he struggled to breathe.  He was on oxygen in hospital, too much to be able to have oxygen at home, and his condition worsened. In his last few days he saw his children and spoke to his brother and Milena. We played him Milena’s music and the reading of one of his poems by Peter Perkins. He passed away peacefully with me by his side at 6am on 5 April.

Loving and much loved, he will be sorely missed.

His was a wonderful and full life well-lived, an example for us all. He may be gone but his words, his hopes, his fight, lives on in us.

Memories, reflections, tributes

Here are but a few of the many moving tributes and comments from his Facebook and other friends so far. All omissions reflect only on John’s family’s aptitude—or lack thereof—for navigating the online world. For those without Facebook, memories and tributes are welcome in the comments here.

From Milena Cifali:

Our dear friend and comrade John Passant passed away peacefully this morning at 6am after a long and well fought battle with cancer, leaving a huge hole in the Universe.

Poet, journalist and passionate activist for the rights and freedoms of the underdog. Much loved.

Around this time last year our very dear friend poet John Passant and I collaborated on his album of poetry to produce a CD of songs which I set to his poetry and a tour of the launch.

This brought John and myself great joy and spread his brilliant poetry far and wide. I’m very heartbroken to announce that John passed away this morning … his words and actions will live on in our hearts. A truly great man. I will leave you with this poem:

My songs are for tomorrow
Sung today
In harmony with the past
That does not last
Except in music
And strumming
That takes our humming
Beyond the moment
To the now
For time that longs its way
Like songs of yesterday
And this stays with me
And you
And that is our memory
To keep forever
You and me
Go play
And enjoy

– John Passant

The hundreds who pay tribute to you here are testament to the brilliant and humble man that you were: a man of love, of wisdom, a brave man, a gentle man.

From Peter Cartwright:

I learned only last night that … we lost a comrade who has inspired and educated so many of us.

We Will Not Mourn
(Requiem for John Passant)

We will not mourn
for a life well-lived,
just as he encouraged us.
Well may we have said,
oh king, may you live forever,
but a life of labour, such as his,
is long and fruitful,
but like all flesh,
must pass with time.
Although we may
be justly saddened by his absence
we will continue to treasure
the benefits of his labour,
we will continue to be lifted
by the Dad Joke wit we loved,
encouraged by his passion
and educated by his erudition.
His poems will live long
in our memory.
We will continue to see
the fruits of his life
in the lives of those
that come after
and follow his example.
John may be gone
but his spirit remains
while ever his life
engenders in us
passion, compassion,
knowledge, logic,
and gentleness in our ways
reflective of his own.
While ever we continue
to tend the flame of justice
and promote the cause of socialism
he will never be truly absent.
Vale John Passant,
rest in power.
If there happens to be a place to go,
beyond this transitory life,
may it be for you
the Land of the Ever Young.
The gifts you gave us
will endure,
and ensure you are not forgotten.

Monday, 5 April, 2020

From Jenny LeCompte:

Comrades, this is arguably the saddest post I have ever had to write. I have just found out about the death of one of my closest and dearest friends, John Passant (affectionately known as JP). We met when we were both working at the Australian Taxation Office in Canberra and my life is infinitely richer for having known JP. He was one in a million and touched so many lives.

He touched so many lives and was one of the kindest, gentlest and most compassionate people I have ever met. He had a great sense of humour and a great mind. He was my friend and mentor for many years.

I am very glad the cheris got to see JP on our last visit to Canberra. Tony loved him, too. JP was in good spirits and pleased to see us. Our lives are infinitely richer for having known JP.

From Tony Moritz:

Thank you for introducing me to JP, ma cherie, I feel truly privileged to have known him, even if for such a short time. I have always looked up to him, and will continue to do so. Vale JP, the rest of the world will be, unquantifiably but significantly, very much the worse for your absence. Thank you for all of your work x

I’m very grateful that through you, ma cherie, I had the privilege of meeting this amazing man a few times (and being friends on FB). I always looked up to him, his inherent human decency and his impregnable integrity were always things to which I tried to aspire. Vale, JP, but know that a whole heap of people who share your profound values and integrity will take over the mantle now and continue your amazing work. Thank you so much for not only your friendship, but your work.

From Sapna Victoria:

This world needs more humans like you, dearest John. Grandpuncle, animal-loving human rights activist, and beloved friend. We will miss you forever. … I really can’t describe how unique and special he is.

I miss you, Grandpuncle… the earth has a new black hole…

Friends of John – please keep posting here, and don’t forget the Dad jokes. It would also be nice to read posts with fun facts about John, so please share

From Lara Burquest:

Canberra trips to see John were very special indeed. Such a hard time now adjusting to such a huge personality being gone now. Feel heartbroken thinking of when we said goodbye to him in his hallway the last time. 

I never admired a person more or learned as much from one individual. If we could have the funeral for you that you deserve, it would be a sight to behold and busting at the seams with people who loved and adored you. I miss you already John and am thankful to Sapna for bringing you into my life xx

From Kim Sattler:

I knew John for many years both in Canberra and when he visited the worker’s paradise to see his dad and work at the University of Wollongong. Our children knew each other growing up and we crossed paths in political circles many times. We often agreed and sometimes differed in our views. I enjoyed his analysis and intellect. He also used to bring goods to share with my refugee friends from generous friends in Canberra. He was also a fine poet and a loyal supporter of workers and refugees. He will be very sorely missed by many friends and I send my condolences to his wife and children.

From Steve Devine:

The year was 1970. I was in year 11. I was standing in the common room of Daramalan Sacred Heart College in Canberra Australia. There was a new boy standing in the doorway looking completely lost. He had a pretty nice looking lunch and I figured I could get some of that so I wandered over and introduced myself. I cannot remember if I got any lunch but I did start about 6 years of mayhem with this man that lasted until we drifted apart when life got in the way.

Johns beliefs ruled his life. He fought the battle to the end. The world is a better place for him having been here. I will miss him.

From Nejat (Nick) Haydar:

I am gutted and absolutely devastated to learn about you leaving this crazy planet. You were an inspiration to me in many ways. I will never forget you and make sure that your humanity and legacy live on with my kids and grandkids. I will miss you terribly.

From Chris Thomas:

Nice post Nick. He was a character, sharp as a tack and a rebellious agitator. I loved his style!! I’ll miss our banter on how bad his beloved St George were.

From Michael Nugent:

A giant has fallen in the forest. May your socialist ideals come to be realised in these crazy days. Time for a glass of red (or three) with big Noel now!

From Charley Caruso:

In 2012 on 2UE you gave it to that racist David Oldfield better than I had ever heard before. So much so we struck a friendship. In your words “I’m old enough not to take shit from racists” haha! I have huge admiration for you and your courage. I’m really sorry to hear you’ve passed over to the next realm.

From Anne Hurley:

We were great friends from ANU Law School, lost contact for many decades, and met up again 5 years ago. So pleased to renewed friendship with the great humourist, writer, committed man to socialism and equality, articulate and passionate man for the best for society. I took the photo of him which graces his Obituary in Solidarity. He was signing copies of Songs For The Band Unformed over a coffee. I am very proud of my autographed copies of his poetry. I was thinking fondly of him on the weekend … John was a great team supporter on the sidelines on very cold and grey wintry Canberra arvos. He leaves a big hole but a great legacy.

From Sol Salbe:

Milena’s announcement below is as an official death notice for John Passant as we’d get for someone very special. … It may take a while for the magnitude of the loss to hit those who knew John.

I remember the time I was trying to explain to Carolyn Whitzman why she should join Shakira Hussein and I in having dinner with John. She thought she already met enough Marxist thinkers. So I explained to her that John was much more than someone who believed in socialism with every cell of his body. He was also an accomplished poet. Where else would you meet a former Assistant Commissioner of Taxation specialising in tax law who knew his stuff but was still a committed Marxist who was an activist for so many causes, and who was a committed vegetarian, I asked her.

John had so many other interesting sides: he was funny (he loved his “dad jokes” but tolerated it when we told him off for the bad ones), he was helpful, I know I’m not the only who he encouraged to write and keep on writing. He was a public intellectual of immense knowledge and integrity. We had lots of disagreements, but hardly ever was our disagreement unpleasant. And there was so much we could talk about. He wouldn’t have described himself as a foodie but we discussed his vegetarianism more than once. I don’t follow any code of football but I followed his joys and disappointment with both St George (NRL) and Collingwood (AFL). His running commentary on the cricket got me to abandon the computer for the lounge to watch a spectacular game.

There was never a dull moment with John. I’m really going to miss him.

From Maureen Smith:

We will miss you John – your warmth, gentleness, intelligence and generosity. When I walk in the hills I will often think of you – with your trademark headphones and beautiful golden retriever … as you ambled (quickly) along.

From Jan Tully:

As I told you once, I carry your poetry books with me everywhere. They are thought provoking and now so treasured because your voice stays with me.

From Danni Stevenson:

An amazing and intelligent man who influenced me greatly over our decade long friendship. I’m just shattered to hear of his passing. Especially at a time like this because so many of us have so much respect to pay to him, so many loved ones who deserve the opportunity to say their final goodbyes.

From Martin Hirst:

I am in tears at this news.

I have been thinking a lot about John in recent months and I knew he was very unwell.

He was always a staunch ally for me and someone whose political views I respected enormously. I shall miss him greatly.

From Mohammed Ali:

John Passant is no more.

He left us forever.

Dear John

I will always miss you.

You will always be remembered as an icon of social justice and freedom, human liberty, journalism and poetry. You were soft like silk when among friends, you were hard like steel when defending refugees, vulnerable and downtrodden.

I remember refugees rally last year in Civic in which among other speakers I also spoke, you were standing behind and later we talked at length on the refugees and the cruelty of the world around them.

I remember attending your poetry evening at Lyneham cafe in which you recited some of your beautiful poems. Poems still echoing in my mind.

Rest in peace John. You gave us a lot. Thank you my friend.


Rochford Street Review notes with sadness the passing of John Passant. John was truly a Renaissance Man in every sense of the word. He was a former tax lecturer and Assistant Commissioner of Taxation in charge of international tax reform in the ATO, a journalist for The Independent Australian based in the Canberra Press Gallery and accomplished poet. John was the author of two collections, Whose Broken is this? (2019) and Songs for the Band Unformed (2016), both from Ginninderra Press. John was committed to social justice and fairness and this belief lay at the centre of all his work including his poetry.

From Wendy Bilboe:

John you were a bright spark and a committed activist who inspired so many. It was a pleasure to meet you at uni. We will miss you.

From Jenny Bartley:

He may be gone but his words, his hopes, his fight, lives on in many of us.

From Nick Fredman:

I’m sad to hear today of the passing of John Passant. I never met him in person but for a decade or more I was often informed, challenged or entertained and occasionally infuriated by his frequent online output. His unwavering commitment to the working class and oppressed, his constant focus on popularising socialism and his openness to discussion and debate are qualities that we’ll need in the struggles to come. John, presente!

From Nova Wright:

We lost an incredibly talented and passionate social justice activist this morning to the other C, cancer. I appreciated every interaction John Passant and I had over the years. I respect and honour his life and contributions to us having a more just and equitable society. He always stood up for the voiceless and disadvantaged.

From Rebecca Kate Kelly

Devastated to hear the news of John Passant passing this morning.

I first met John way back in 2011 when I was still kicking around Socialist ALP forums and he stood mighty proud for women’s rights, where others let denigration of women pass by. And we became firm Facebook friends from that day on

He encouraged me to stick to my ideals and although we didn’t agree on everything, he was very sensible in his approach, and whenever I pointed something out to him he was always quick to respond and very much sympathetic to the anarchist cause. …  

I looked forward to reading his En Passant blog and quite often went and defended him from RWNJs

Farewell dear comrade, I know I don’t do hierarchies, but you my friend, were most certainly a hero of mine

He was one of the good ones and I believe I would speak for many on the left, that there will be a gaping hole in our lives to fill

From Hayley Cropper:

We are without a good man today.. John Passant was everything humans should aspire to be…

He was kind… He was clever… He was brave.. .

He was a revolutionary… He was a poet.. .

I’ll miss his crappy jokes the most…

From Tom O’Lincoln:

How much poorer life will be without John. 

From Mira Wroblewski:

So very sad to hear of John Passant‘s passing. He was a man with a big heart, a great vision and a creative spirit. I finally met him in person 2 years ago at a performance of his poetry, and still have the copy of his book which he gave me.

From Lisa Vantenen:

Oh, Monsieur Passant, I have just learned…death has taken you away from us, and as much as I never met you in person, I knew who you were, through your intelligent, insightful posts, your poetry, your politics, your wit, your humour, your silly Dad jokes…and I grieve, for I, like so many of us here in this virtual world have lost a true friend.

To me you could never be merely John Passant, you were my Monsieur Passant, (even though equality and equity were your trademarks) a moniker that lasted the duration…

You gave up drinking years ago, but today I raise my glass in honour of your marvellous life. Pride in my heart for having known such a man amongst men, and tears in my eyes for your loss.

He was to me, my Monsieur Passant, a moniker I gave him many years ago, even though he was all about equity and equality. I think it put a smile on his dial occasionally, when he’d see me pipe up with…’but Monsieur Passant…’.

From Shane Crocker:

I’ve just received news that a good friend, John Passant, has passed away. Like most of my Facebook friends, I had never had the privilege of meeting John face to face. However, this sudden news has deeply affected me. Everyone knew John was a person of many intellectual and civic achievements. You know when you are in the presence (even if it’s the virtual presence of Facebook) of someone who really is more knowledgeable and more experienced than you. You respect them, you listen to them, and you learn from them. The joy of it was that he was on our side. The world has lost one of the really good people in his passing.

From Rowan Cahill:

Ama bit teary as I write this, because on a Wuthering Heightsian mean gusting morning, I’ve just come inside and learned of the death of John Passant

…..I’ve knocked the photo off from his FB page, but it shows John reading/performing at the launch of one of his books of poems….I met John earlier this century when we were both working late in life on doctorates (a complexity of factors led him to cease his), and working as sessional academics at the University of Wollongong……an affable human being, thoughtful, learned, integrity in spades, a blogger of huge productivity and nous, socialist to the core, journalist, poet, a public intellectual, a former Assistant Commissioner of Taxation….his writings from a marxist perspective on taxation are mind spinningly wonderful, and at times i mused that if I had anything to do with a socialist revolution, he, like Che before him , would have been in my pick for the reconstruction of the economy based on social justice principles……RIP John…Venceremos…

From Alison Jones:

Wish I could see one more ‘Dad joke warning!’ from you.

Thank you for your keen political insights,

H U M A N I T Y and humour. Only a couple of days ago I read one of your poems to the kids.

From Melanie Horton:

My dear friend, thank you. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for always remembering me, for schooling me, for inspiring me, for editing my rambles, redirecting my frustrations, and opening my mind. No one has their finger on the pulse, or is imbedded so deep, or understands AusPol quite like you. I will miss your guidance and I’m thankful for your influence. Your legacy will continue to shape the hearts of our community.

From Serkan Ozturk:

Deeply and terribly saddened at hearing of the death of a truly wonderful person. He was one of a kind. He was as soulful as he was analytical. He was one of my earliest supporters when I started True Crime News Weekly and he will always be a hero to me.

Rest In Peace, the one and only John Passant. You will not be forgotten. And we will continue to fight for equality.   … Gonna put up a short tribute to John on our website in the next day or two. I wanted to do it by yesterday, but honestly it was just still too sad to think about. There was a magic about him, and now that magic is gone.

From Fred Pilcher:

John was a poet, a journalist, a public servant (in all senses of the word) and, as Milena says, a passionate activist for the freedoms of the underdog.

From Megan Al:

Very sad to hear that my dear friend John Passant has passed away. Progressive, intelligent, a poet and a giant among men.

From Jean Parker:

“But most of all, John was a passionate and active socialist all his adult life, opposing the Vietnam War and apartheid. He joined the International Socialists in 1980 and remained committed to the politics of socialism from below throughout his life. He took a principled stand on the Gulf War, was an active union member, and campaigned to Free the Refugees”

From Michelle Parker:

You deserve profound and eloquent praise for your wondrous life which lifted and inspired many.

I am unable to stop sobbing long enough to prepare.

I loved you comrade.

Oh, for one more Dad joke….

From Tom Griffiths:

VALE John Passant – I like the many thousands of your friends miss you, your dad jokes, your wit and insight, your politics, your poetry, your regular updates, the latest sports scores…

From Paul Oboohov (posted on 5 April):

A real fighter for working people has passed. I would like people to know that the Socialist Alliance party’s National Council met online, from across the country, for an all day session. During that meeting, the following motion was passed:

“Socialist Alliance notes with regret the passing of John Passant, a lifelong socialist activist, poet and former head of the Tenants’ Union in the ACT. His passion and vigour of argument were appreciated, as was his untiring dedication to the cause of the liberation of working people. Comrades participated in some fruitful collaborations with John over the years. We express our deepest condolences to his partner, friends and comrades.”

Vale, John Passant, comrade!

From Belinda Fisher:

I feel so sad hearing this news. My heart feels heavy for John’s family and friends.

I have already been missing him.

I hope it is a comfort for those closest to him that he is now free of suffering, and that in his life his influence was so far reaching, as a journalist and poet, and as a humane, intelligent and lovely man.

From Susan Engel:

Vale John Passant, friend, colleague, comrade, poet and fellow dog lover. I learned so much from you about how to live a full, fun life and be committed to social justice and socialism.

From Jenny Bartley:

Although not unexpected, your passing is still a shock John Passant. I will miss your wit, your wisdom, your ability to cut through the bullshit. You lived an amazing life, you touched many along your journey…and you’ll be so sorely missed.

From Robbie Cairns:

Goodbye to my friend John Passant. We have not been Facebook friends all that long, yet you influenced my thinking from the very first days I read the Canberra Times in the 1980s. I looked forward to reading your letters as much as any part of the paper. I never thought forty years later, we would be friends, and I would be weeping to find you have left us …

My love now must go to your family. I am sorry John never was able to have another dog, but there can be no doubt how much he loved and was loved

From Rebecca Kate Kelly:

He gave me so much guidance, knowledge, insight and gravitas, a truly inspiring and wonderful human being who I’ll miss terribly.

And through John, I connected with so many of you, he seemed to have a gravitation of so many wonderful people that were his friends

From Jim Killaly:

The world has lost a hero for justice. We have lost a good friend.

From Chard Core:

That’s sad to hear bro, interviewed him a coupla times back in the ol Workers Radio days. A true gentle man, intellectual and artist. 

From Helen Said:

He was very inspiring, a very forthright and well-informed activist who did a lot to support causes and keep others informed

From Hazel Hall:

Oh no! I have only just heard. I am devastated. He was brave and caring man always fighting for the rights of others. My heart goes out to his family. I will cherish his two poetry books.

From Deborah Robinson:

So sad to hear of John’s passing, I will always remember him as a courageous, caring man who stood by his convictions. I was so fortunate to have worked for him many years ago.

From Ian Rintoul:

Was very sorry to hear about John’s passing. He has held up for so long with such fortitude, it came as a bit of a shock. John has been such a stalwart. 

I hope that you and the family are managing all right; his loss will leave quite a gap in your lives. I hope there is an opportunity to celebrate his life more widely than the present coronavirus circumstances allow. 

Please accept my condolences and the sympathies of all Solidarity comrades and friends.

From Ciorstan Smark:

He was one of the biggest hearted people I knew.

From Tom Orsag:

I had the very great pleasure of meeting and knowing John since the early 1980s.

John was sincere, honest and intelligent person who was great to have on our side.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, but then who does? But he was a person of conviction.

Before his illness John was always willing to have a cup of tea and chat about socialist politics.

John was a poet as well. And that amazed me.

We need more poets, more people of conviction, more honest people on our side.

It is our loss he is no longer with us at our side.

From Steve Knipler:

I admired John immensely for his strong convictions, but even more for his love of a good discussion and friendly banter. I miss it already.


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