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Symons John

John Symons

 

Born in 1932, Symons was made branch secretary of the Plymouth Communist Party after only a year's membership in 1964.

 

At the Devon and Cornwall District Congress of the Party in April 1966, on the retirement of Edwin Tapscott, he was elected district secretary, after only three years in the Party. He was then the youngest member of the Party in such a position, though in Devon and Cornwall, the district secretary role was not then full-time as most district secretaries then were.

A gardener with the local Parks Dept, in an interview with the Party weekly, Symons noted the strengths and weakness of the district. Plymouth had a membership of 29, with about twelve fairly regularly attending the monthly branch meeting, and the bulk of the activity being carried out by some half-a-dozen cadres.

In his first six months as district secretary, and despite having no independent transport, Symons had been to Party meetings at
Exeter (twice), Exmouth, Newton Abbot, Hayle, and St. Ives. A particular problem existed in Exeter where, despite there being members living in the city, for a long time there had been no party branch functioning there. An Exmouth member used to travel there periodically to visit members and collect dues but no activity of any kind was initiated by the Exeter members themselves.

Symons first crack at changing all this had not been successful, mainly due to an ageing membership. Two or three younger recruits were  made which, coupled with an influx of a few young party students into the university, enabled another meeting to be called to properly constitute a branch.