Today is the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, the day the Bolsheviks took over Russia and ushered in 72 years of rule which included the formation and death of the Soviet Union. I was chatting to James Lorimer on the plane to Cape Town this morning and he suggested that I make statement to the House, which is reproduced below (thanks to him for most of the wording).
What I do not mention in the statement is that around 1967, when I was 7 years old, Alexander Kerensky paid a visit to our family home in Rugby, UK. He was very old by then (he died in New York in 1970) but I vaguely remember him, I think accompanied by members of his family whom my parents had got to know as they lived nearby.
Kerensky was leader of the moderate faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party which was overthrown in the October Revolution, whereupon he spent the rest of his life in the US.
James was quite amazed when I told him my story.
"When we mark the anniversary of the Russian Revolution today, we should remember how it opened the doors to over 70 years of murderous repression. More than 100 million people were killed in the last century by communist-caused famines, genocides, massed forced removals, imprisonments, beatings and torture.
Communism, which promised equality and promotion of the rights of the working classes, instead caused poverty, misery and death on an industrial scale. It achieved this through a succession of a particular type of brutal tyrant, each more efficient and paranoid than the one that preceded it.
From the murderous thuggery of the Ukrainian Holodomor, to the maddened excesses of Mao's red guards, the smashing of humanity in the gulags and the killing fields of Pol Pot, all its proponents claimed to be bettering humanity.
Tragically, even today, people who steadfastly airbrush the past claim communism will improve the condition of humanity. It is a delusion that that has inevitably been followed by repression and suffering.
As a country which has seen the damage caused by ideological excess, we of all people, should heed the lessons of history.
The fatal deception was that those who stood strongest against oppression always became the perpetrators of an even more pernicious brutality."