Obituary – Ralph Critchfield
Ralph Critchfield, who wrote for the Socialist Standard for nearly 70 years under the name of Ivan, died at the beginning of November. He joined the Socialist Party in 1947 at the age of 17 after listening to outdoor speakers on Ealing Green in West London. His two brothers were also Party members. He recounted how and why he joined in an article that appeared in the World Socialist in 1985.
He was born, lived and worked in West London all his life. As a conscientious objector to ‘national service’ he was required to work at Ealing film studio. Later he worked, as many from the area did, for Hoover in Western Avenue. Dissatisfied with a useless office job there, he changed career to become a probation officer.
His first article appeared in 1949, with the others following more frequently. In 1960 he became a member of the Editorial Committee, a position in which he served for a decade or so. From then until his last article in 2018 he wrote at least one every month, a remarkable achievement. An accomplished and skilful writer, his articles were not just straight expositions of the case for socialism — though he did draft a pamphlet of that title that was published in 1962. There were many exposing the horrors of war and what wars mean for ordinary people. He particularly specialised in analysis of politicians, parliament and the main political parties of capitalism, writing columns for the Standard on this theme for many years, including ‘Caught In the Act’ and ‘Greasy Pole’. There were also many pieces about daily life, sometimes based on his personal experience. In fact, if you were to go through them you would know that he must have worked for Hoover and later had a job in the criminal justice system. However, he never seemed to have mentioned playing rugby or being a rugby referee.
He stood as the Socialist Party candidate for parliament at two general elections — in Hampstead in 1974 and in Islington in 1979. He was also a candidate on a number of occasions in local elections in Ealing. In addition, he represented the Party in a number of public debates against opponents ranging from the Communist Party to a future Conservative MP.
Ralph Critchfield was a dedicated socialist who was engaged for over 70 years in the struggle for socialism and who made a massive contribution to the cause. A Party member spoke at his non-religious funeral. Our condolences go to his wife and family.