Commitment to democracy

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FRANCIS Dixon’s offensive and ill-informed comment on the obituary of local journalist and socialist Cyril Claydon needs to be answered.

Cyril joined the Young Communist League in the 1930s, along with many thousands of others, inspired by its opposition to the growing threat of fascism and because he believed socialism provided the answers to key questions of the time including poverty, unemployment and chronic housing conditions. The role played by the Communist activists in war time, and the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in defeating fascism was acknowledged by British voters in 1945 when two Communist MPs and many local councillors were elected.

During the 1950s, as the full extend of Soviet crimes against humanity were acknowledged by the Communist movement, Cyril backed the process of change within the Communist Party of Great Britain based on a renewed commitment to establish socialism in Britain through democratic institutions. When this was put to the test in 1968 following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Cyril supported the Communist Party’s condemnation of the intervention.

Cyril’s lifelong belief in the inseparability of socialism and democracy was illustrated in his day-to-day political activity which although principled was never dogmatic and was always respectful of the views of others. Passionate about the need to build support for progressive and socialist ideas through discussion and persuasion, Cyril won the respect of many who although not sharing his views, recognised his unswerving commitment to democracy.

Steve Williams,