Obituaries: Eddie Critchfield and Gavin Sinclair
Eddie Critchfield died, a few months short of his eightieth birthday, on June 18. He was suffering from a multiple failure of his vital organs – the result of heart disease, first diagnosed when he was 16, which had resulted from rheumatic fever brought on by spending his nights during the Blitz in the garden Anderson shelter.
Through a rigorous regime of nature cure he succeeded in controlling the disease so that he was able to lead a full and active life, which included a lot of hard work for Socialism. He joined the Ealing Branch of the Socialist Party in June 1947, having left the Labour Party when he realised that it offered nothing more than another way of running capitalism. Ealing was a large, vibrant branch, which needed all of Eddie’s talents for meticulous efficiency when he took over the job of branch secretary.
Alongside that work he also spoke on the party’s outdoor platform, he was a branch delegate at Annual Conferences and Autumn Delegate Meetings and he was an editorial member of the Socialist Standard Production Committee. For a time he wrote the monthly Passing Show column and contributed articles – for example on homosexual law reform and the first research to link smoking to lung and heart disease – to the Socialist Standard. He was, in fact, a more skilful and effective writer than he gave himself credit for.
In a Branch which took pride in its high sales of the Socialist Standard Eddie was a successful canvasser. A gifted mimic, he could have us rolling in our seats in the pub afterwards, with his acting the part of perplexed people he had asked, on their own doorstep, to consider a different way of looking at society and how it must be changed for the better. At the same time he built up a solid, enduring base of regular sales.
With age and illness he dropped out of Socialist activity, although from his hospital bed he would rage about capitalism and the cynicism of Blair and the other tricksters. He devoted much of his time to a local amateur dramatics group. A great many people, saddened by his death, remember him for his warmth and humanity.