Bruce Kent is dead

by Harry on June 9, 2022

Bruce became the GS of CND when it was a tiny operation in a small office in Grays Inn Road in the late 70’s, staffed by him and two very young CP-ers (Sally Davison and Chris Horrie). He had no idea what we about to hit him. Reagan’s victory, and the uptick in the cold war, prompted a huge single issue movement, which Bruce had the skill and vision to weave together and manage. I spent 2 weeks in the summer of 1980 sleeping on a floor and helping in the tiny office, and then 3 months in Fall 1981 working flat out on preparing for a huge demonstration (my main job was getting 25,000 placards made and negotating with a famous band to play on a flatbed truck for us). In my second stretch Finsbury Park was the main office, and it had all the chaos associated with growing pains. Bruce was not in the CP, and thus potentially vulnerable, especially because he was not even a fellow traveller. But he was loved, by all of us. I once asked him how to get to Orpington at a delicate moment, and he was a bit abrupt with me (I asked him because it was in lieu of him that I was going to debate a Tory MP (said Tory MP, by the way, was understandably quite disappointed to be debating a scruffy 18 year old rather than Bruce, but treated me with the utmost respect and grace, and even gave me a ride back to London). The next day he looked for me and told me that I’d caught him at a tense moment, but nothing excused him being ‘sharp’ with me, and it wouldn’t happen again. It was a better lesson for me that if he’d been utterly gracious throughout). The Garuni obit is here. It gets nothing wrong, but there’s still something a bit missing: I don’t think it quite captures the depth of affection and respect in which he was held. We all loved him.

ALso. My students are always very impressed that my first boss was Taylor Swift’s boyfriend’s great uncle, or whatever he was.