It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Comrade Ivor Kenna, a long-time Marxist-Leninist who defended the cause of socialism and the struggle against imperialism for over six decades.
Ivor was born in Rugby on 28 July 1931 and brought up in Bath. His home was bombed during the war and when his parents died he came to London and worked at the Prudential, where he eventually became an actuary.
His father had been 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 had also been 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 old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in Finsbury. There had been a thriving party before the war but it had diminished somewhat by the time Ivor joined it. He went on to become 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 Nikita Khrushchev launched an unscrupulous attack on Josef Stalin, and the subsequent split in the international communist movement, some comrades in the CPGB were outraged by the endorsement given by their 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 both Khrushchev and 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 were 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.
Comrade Ivor never wavered in his support for Stalin and for the earth-shaking achievements of the USSR during the three decades of Stalin’s leadership. Equally, he steadfastly defended VI 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 superexploitation of the oppressed countries and gave wholehearted support to the liberation movements of the colonial and subjugated peoples.
Possessed of a dry sense of humour and an 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 pithy and often humorous fashion.
The video above shows a little of the depth and breadth of his knowledge. It was was filmed at a Stalin Society meeting on the topic of Iran in 2009.
At the time of his death, he was just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday, and leaves behind his wife Flo – his life partner of 60 years.
He will be surely missed by comrades and friends, especially those members of the Stalin Society who have learned so much from his contributions over the last thirty years.
Farewell and a red salute to you, dear Comrade!
Ivor’s funeral (private family graveside service) will take place on Thursday 1 July. We will honour and remember his life at 1.30pm at The Peasant Pub, 240 St John St, London EC1V 4PH. All comrades are welcome to come and say a few words.
Watch this video of Ivor Kenna discussing the anti-imperialist nature of national liberation movements described by western media as Muslim extremists: