“Death is not a misfortune for the one that dies but for the one that survives”, Karl Marx used to repeat after Epicurus.
The CPGB-ML, nay, the British working-class movement, is poorer for the loss of this indefatigable protagonist of the cause of emancipation of the proletariat and the liberation of humanity at large.
We are here, not only to mourn the death of, and lay to final rest, Comrade Iris Cremer, but also to celebrate the life of a remarkably dedicated communist, an ardent anti-imperialist, an irreconcilable enemy of racism, a thoroughgoing proletarian internationalist, and a fearless defender of the earth-shaking significance of the Great Socialist October Revolution, as well as the gains of socialist construction in the USSR under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, first headed by Lenin and then by Stalin.
The messages of condolence from all over the world, the presence today of so many people, representing many organisations and communities, bear eloquent testimony to Iris’s stature in the revolutionary movement of the working class.
Iris was a great, warm-hearted comrade, a loyal friend, a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Her dedication, cheerful disposition and disarming candour will be much missed by comrades of the CPGB-ML and, dare I say, even by our opponents. All those who had occasion to know her or work with her, had their lives enriched by the experience.
In her demise, our Party has lost a selfless and tireless foot soldier, to whom we always turned when anything needed to be done urgently. In her unwavering commitment in the service of the working-class movement, no job was beneath her. In addition to being a dedicated organiser, possessed of ideological acumen and practical skills, she looked after so many aspects of our Party’s work which I do not have the time today to enumerate.
Just over two years ago, when her lifelong Comrade and husband, our beloved Comrade Godfrey, died, Iris was, as were we, devastated. However, she rose to the occasion and dealt with her pain and grief by immersing herself, more than even before, in furthering the cause of the development of our Party. Comrades who had occasion to see her work as the London Organiser of our Party will bear witness to the fact that, although after the death of Godfrey it was a hard act to follow, she acquitted herself exceptionally well.
Just as Iris considered that the only way of coping with her grief and honouring Godfrey was to intensify her efforts in the building of our Party, we too, following her example, must cope with our grief, as well honour Iris’s work and cherish her memory through hard, dedicated and tireless work in furtherance of the development of our Party as a means of serving the working class.
So, we in the CPGB-ML address Iris thus: Deceased living friend, to use the expression of Wilhelm Liebknecht, we shall honour you by working as hard as you did, with the same persistence, perseverance and steadfastness as you displayed in your service to the movement of the working class and the oppressed peoples over a period of more than 4 decades.
In this hour of sadness, what is heartening to us is that as Iris faced death she had no torturing regrets for wasted years, never knew the burning shame of a mean and petty past. She had so lived her life that, dying, she was able to have had the satisfaction that all her life, all her strength, were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the liberation of mankind (these words are a free rendering of Nikolai Ostrovsky’s words in his classic novel, How the Steel was Tempered).
With these words I say farewell to my very dear Comrade, friend, sister and second mother to my children.
Eternal glory to you, Comrade Iris Jessie Mary Sloley-Cremer.