In memorium, Tony Kelly.
It is with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the passing of our dear friend and comrade, Tony Kelly.
Tony was a staunch Communist and Trades Unionist with long standing experience in the Working Class Movement. Tony was an electrician and a lifetime member of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and took part early on in many struggles within the AUEW and UNITE union. He was Secretary of the Ryde and East Wight Trades Council on the Isle of Wight.
Tony worked at the Ford Dagenham Plant in London and gained a reputation as a supporter of the workers’ cause in this setting as well as other workplaces. In this context, Tony became a Communist and supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Tony strove to work with Communists in many organisations and Parties for greater unity in action.
Tony lived for a while in the former Soviet Union and was a supporter of the achievements of the Great October Revolution of 1917 and defender of Joseph Stalin.
He was a regional organiser for Pensioners in the South East area. He took part in Workers’ memorial actions in Portsmouth for workers injured or lost their lives at work. He was an active internationalist and helped organise combined meetings over Palestine and supported the work of the Isle of Wight friends of Palestine.
Tony Kelly lived and retired from work on the Isle of Wight, living in Ryde. He gave great impetus to the development of the Workers’ Movement on the island. Tony re-found and rebuilt the Ryde and East Wight Trades council (RTUC), working alongside comrades from RCPB(ML) in order to do it. Rebuilding the offices, establishing the point of contact for workers, working with UNITE the union, to recruit and rebuild the Trades Union Movement on the Isle of Wight. Tony collaborated with district Trades Councils and leaders like Bob Burton along the way to build the reputation of the Trades Councils under new circumstances. He brought together union delegates from all of the major unions and encouraged affiliation. He supported the strikes and political rallies of the workers and created the logo and banner of the RTUC.
The highlight of Tony’s achievements was to assist the workers’ occupation at the Vestas wind turbine factory in Newport, organising the support funds on a professional basis in support of the fighting fund that sustained the action of the militants. Tony organised the accommodation of active workers at the Trades Council and Labour Centre in Star Street Ryde. He was always active at the gates of the occupied factory and supporter and educator of young revolutionary workers.
Tony was greatly interested in the environment. He travelled everywhere by Public transport or used his bicycle. He took part in major environmental and international conferences organised by RCPBML on Climate Change in London. He was an advocate of an integrated transport system on the Isle of Wight and took an active part in the Bus Users Group. He could be seen collecting signatures for pedestrian crossings on petitions and guarding public footpaths.
Tony was a regular attendee of meetings of the Isle of Wight Forum and LINK for the NHS. He defended the principles of the NHS and for it to remain Public and also education and the rights of students.
When Tony left the island he immediately started work in the Trades Councils in Lowestoft and Beccles where he lived in Suffolk.
Tony was a moderniser for the Communist Party and advocated a united modern Mass Communist Party. He was a founder of the Isle of Wight inaugural Communist movement meeting on the Isle of Wight and invited communists from all parties to take part.
Tony supported the Marxist-Leninist position on the Alternative and wrote letters in the County Press on many occasions often pointing out that there, “is another way of doing things” to the status quo capitalist method. He condemned the Westminster cartel of political parties with his stock in trade remarks that became his recognisable custom approach and trademark when denouncing the “Con/Dem/Lib/Lab” pact.
Tony will be deeply missed but he left behind a legacy and organisation, which has become stronger and whose reputation goes from strength to strength. The Trades Councils now take up all of the main political concerns of islanders and has become a permanent feature of the organised workers’ opposition. Tony opened up the space for communism on the Isle of Wight and enhanced the human factor and raised consciousness on the island. For those he left behind and beyond, he will always live on in our hearts and minds and they have indeed, since he left the island, carried this milestone of work forward.