THE FIGHT GOES ON. THE FLAG FLIES ON; THE LAST COMRADE I'LL NEVER RETIRE; Britain's Only Elected Communist Stands Down but Keeps Up the Struggle

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), June 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

THE FIGHT GOES ON. THE FLAG FLIES ON; THE LAST COMRADE I'LL NEVER RETIRE; Britain's Only Elected Communist Stands Down but Keeps Up the Struggle


Byline: Peter Geoghegan

Britain's last-elected communist, the one and only Willie Clarke, might be standing down at 80. But retiring from politics? No chance.

Clarke, the UK's last self-defined communist councillor, announced last week that he will not stand again for Fife Council.

He has represented Ballingry since 1973 and watched the Berlin Wall fall, the Soviet Union end and the Communist Party itself wither.

But the ex-miner says that the biggest change in his political life has been the death of Labour in Scotland.

He said: "It used to be entire families voted for Labour. The mother, the father, all the children. That cycle is gone now."

Clarke believes Labour have "lost their way" and are doomed unless they become a totally separate Scottish party.

He said: "Unless they break from Westminster, they will continue to be lost.

"The Scottish party should be an independent party to define what the Scottish people need."

Clarke went down the pit aged just 14 and joined the communists soon after. He said: "I was always rebellious."

In 2011, he lost his left ear to cancer.

While recuperating in Edinburgh Western General, he would often wake to find his old friend Alex Rowley sitting by his bed.

Now he believes that the deputy Scottish Labour leader's call for home rule must be heeded if the party are to survive.

He said: "The mood is changing in the Labour Party when you are talking about things like home rule - that shows you change is coming. But the old guard are still in power in Scotland and, until that changes, they are going nowhere."

Clarke says Labour have paid the price for taking the electorate for granted and failing to offer constructive solutions to Scotland's problems.

He added: "They are attacking, attacking, attacking - they never come out with ideas of their own. Kezia Dugdale attacks all the time, she has no idea of politics."

The Communist Party of Great Britain quickly declined from their post-war peak of 50,000 members and more than 200 councillors but the party retained a strong presence in West Fife.

Cowdenbeath returned Britain's last Communist Party MP, Willie Gallacher, between 1935 and 1950. A housing estate on the outskirts of the town is still known as "little Moscow" due to street names such as Gagarin Way. …

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