Kelly Dave

Dave Kelly

Dave Kelly was aged 30 when he stood as a Communist candidate in the 1950 general election for Ilford South obtaining just short of a thousand votes.

The son of a miner, Kelly was a research scientist who left Leeds University to join the RAF at the beginning of the war. A bad crash cut short his flying career in 1941 and he moved to Ilford in 1943. Soon after that he became Ilford Communist Party’s borough secretary, a full-time post, which he retained for some years afterwards.

At the Party’s Special Congress in 1957, Kelly spoke of “misconceptions about the idea of a peaceful transition to Socialism.” He said that: “It was true it could be relatively peaceful because of the existence of the world Socialist system, but the degree of peacefulncss would be, in direct proportion to the degree of unity in the working-class struggle.”

Kelly referred to the massive struggles on rents that had been taking place in Ilford. “We had three evictions in Ilford last year," telling delegates how bailiffs had dragged a child out of one house and had used a battering ram on anothcr. “You could not, say that was exactly peaceful," he said. (Laughter.)"   … “He believed the word "peaceful" should be defined as "without armed conflict".

Kelly’s sharpness gelled with the mood of the congress, which decisively rejected revisionist moves of the kind that would dominate in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Immediately after his intervention, a debate on relations between a theoretical Socialist Government in Britain and the countries of what was then still the British Empire saw the EC defeated on a proposal to create an `association of nations’.

Kelly also stood for the Communist Party in Park Ward, Ilford in 1960 council elections.

By 1967, Kelly was expressing concern at the absence of any reference to the Soviet Union in congress documentation and called for a balance to be struck between the critical and the supportive.

Sources: CPGB archives, Daily Worker April 20th 1957;


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