Anne Kerr

Anne Kerr

Anne Bersey was born in Putney on 24th March, 1925. Brought up as a Methodist she held strong religious beliefs. Educated at St. Paul's School in Hammersmith, she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service (1943-45). During the Second World War she met and married her first husband, James Clark.

Anne joined the radical pressure group Christian Action, that had established by Canon John Collins in 1946 and was involved in providing humanitarian relief to the starving in post war Europe. She was also a member of the British Actors Equity Association. She joined the Labour Party and was elected to the London County Council. A founder member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, she was also active in the Amnesty, Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

In 1960 she married fellow political activist, Russell Kerr. They both became members of the non-violent direction action group, the Committee of 100, led by Bertrand Russell. The Committee's campaign tactic was to organise sit-down demonstrations. In a briefing document the Committee of 100 said, "We ask you not to shout slogans and to avoid provocation of any sort. The demonstrations must be carried out in a quiet, orderly way. Although we want massive support for these demonstrations, we ask you to come only if you are willing to accept this non-violent discipline." During one of their mass sit-downs. Kerr was amongst those arrested and briefly imprisoned.

Kerr was elected to represent Rochester in the 1964 General Election. In the House of Commons Kerr associated with a group of left-wing members that included Konni Zilliacus, Ian Mikardo, Barbara Castle, Sydney Silverman, Geoffrey Bing and Emrys Hughes.

In 1965 Kerr joined Michael Foot, Konni Zilliacus, William Warbey, Russell Kerr, Stan Newens, Norman Atkinson, John Mendelson and Sydney Silverman in protesting against American intervention in Vietnam. However, Kerr and her friends were unable to persuade the Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, to condemn US policy on Vietnam.

Kerr regularly attended conferences abroad on themes of peace, disarmament and the Vietnam War. In 1967, John Rodgers, the Conservative Party MP for Sevenoaks, argued: "It is about time that you had a woman to represent your constituency in Parliament - not in North Vietnam".

Anne Kerr lost her seat in the House of Commons in the 1970 General Election. She died of alcoholic poisoning on 29th July, 1973.