Socialist Standard

Obituary: Harry Young

Source: Socialist Standard, February, 1996.
Transcription: Socialist Standard.
HTML Markup: D. Whitehead
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We have to report the death last December at the age of 94 of Harry Young who was a member of the Socialist Party between 1940 and 1991.

When Harry Young joined the Party in 1940 he already had a history behind him. As a teenager he had been a member of the British Socialist Party and of the Herald League both of which were absorbed into the Communist Party when it was formed in July 1920. He became the first national organiser of the Young Communist League, and from 1922 to 1929 lived and worked in Moscow as a member of the secretariat of the Young Communist International, where he met many leading figures in the CPSU.

On his return to England the Communist Party found him employment in various capacities, including [editor of the English-language edition of Communist International and] for a while the manager of Collet's Bookshop in Charing Cross Road. But he eventually became disillusioned with that party's subservience to Russian foreign policy and resigned in 1937. Unlike others in his position he turned not to Trotskyism but to the SPGB, which he joined three years later.

A conscientious objector in the war, he was ordered to stay in his job as a cab driver and work as an ambulance driver helping the victims of bombing raids. He soon became one of the Party's main speakers in Hyde Park, using his rumbustious wit to good effect, and an indoor speaker and debater. For a number of years he also wrote a regular 'By The Way' column in the Socialist Standard under the pen-name of Horatio.

In the 1950 general election he was the Party's candidate in the East Ham South constituency. After the war he obtained a BA degree as a mature student and became a science teacher and an active member of the National Association of Schoolmasters. After retiring he concentrated his efforts on Speakers' Corner and served on the Party's Executive Committee for a number of years.