William (Willie) Gallacher

1881 - 1965

Politician, trade unionist and Red Clydesider. Born into a working-class family in Paisley, Gallacher was employed as a grocer, then a brass fitter and an engineer in the Albion Motor Works, becoming involved in socialist politics in Glasgow and in the Temperance Movement.

He opposed Britain's involvement in the First World War and went on to lead the Clyde Workers Committee, which was central to the organisation of a strike at William Beardmore's Parkhead Forge in 1916. The Government became involved given the company's vital war work and Gallacher was 'exiled' to Edinburgh along with Arthur MacManus (1889 - 1927) and David Kirkwood (1872 - 1955). Gallacher was jailed following an article criticising the war and he spent six months in prison. He was jailed once again after he led a strike in support of a 40-hour working week in 1919. A rally of striking workers in George Square (Glasgow) was broken up by police and the Government ordered troops onto the streets.

Having been enthused by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who he met in Moscow in 1920, Gallacher became a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain the same year. In 1925 he found himself imprisoned once again, receiving a one-year sentence for incitement to mutiny.

Following several years supporting the Fife miners, he was elected as the Communist Member of Parliament for West Fife in 1935 and served until 1950, the last Communist to sit in the British Parliament. He served as President of the Communist Party from 1956 to 1963.

He wrote several books, including The Case for Communism (1949), and died in Paisley.

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