Obituary: Ivor Kenna – staunch anti-imperialist

It is with great sadness that we report on the death of Comrade Ivor Kenna, a long-time Marxist-Leninist, who defended the cause of socialism and the struggle against imperialism, and was a stalwart member of the Stalin Society.

Ivor was born in Rugby on 28 July 1931 and brought up in Bath.  His home got bombed in the war and when his parents died he came to London and worked at the Prudential where he eventually became an actuary.  His father was an iron moulder and core maker and used to say: ‘I have worked hard all my life and I don’t want you to do the same’. He was also a strong union man. So Ivor studied Mathematics, English and Latin and went to St Catherine’s college, Oxford.

When he came to London he joined the Communist Party in Finsbury.  There had been a thriving party before the war but it had diminished somewhat by the time Ivor joined it.  He became Secretary of the Finsbury branch. He met his future wife, Flo, at the Prudential where they both worked. Along with others, the two of them got a union established at work.  Following his lead, Flo also joined the Communist Party.

In the aftermath of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), at which Khrushchev launched an unscrupulous attack on Joseph Stalin, and the subsequent split in the international communist movement, some comrades in the Communist Party of Great Britain were outraged by the endorsement given by its leadership to the demagogic and utterly false assertions of the revisionist clique in the USSR.  Thus began the struggle against revisionism in the CPGB.  This struggle was initiated by Michael McCreery who issued a statement denouncing Khrushchev as well as the revisionist leadership of the CPGB.

McCreery played a leading role in the formation of the Committee to Defeat Revisionism and for Communist Unity (CDRCU).  Ivor and Flo were involved in this organisation and expelled from the Communist Party in 1964.  Along with some other comrades, they founded the Finsbury Communist Association, with its monthly bulletin the Finsbury Communist which took an anti-revisionist and anti-imperialist stance for 60 years.

Sadly, owing to sectarian divisions, the anti-revisionist movement did not manage to establish a genuine Marxist-Leninist party at the time.  However, Ivor did become active in several societies including the Celtic League, the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding and the Stalin Society of which he was a founder member.  He never wavered in his support for Stalin and the earth-shaking achievements of the USSR during the three decades of Stalin’s leadership.  Equally, he steadfastly defended Lenin’s thesis on imperialism and the effects of imperialism on the working-class movement in the imperialist countries.  He exposed and denounced the imperialist super-exploitation of the oppressed countries and gave whole-hearted support to the liberation movements of the colonial and subjugated peoples.

Possessed of a dry sense of humour and acerbic wit, he did not seek the limelight or self-promotion.  He was well read and had the knack of putting forward his views and opinions in a short, pithy and often humorous fashion.

He was at the time of his death just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.  He leaves behind his wife Flo, his life partner of 60 years.  He will be surely missed by comrades and friends, especially members of the Stalin Society.

Glory to Ivor Kenna!

Farewell, dear Comrade!