Blantyre was known to have a communist party or organisation who met regularly throughout the 1920’s. Blantyre Communist Party owned and occupied a shed at 15 Forrest Street, Low Blantyre.
However, in Autumn 1929, an event triggered the start of the demise of communism in Blantyre. On Thursday 5th September 1929, “red” or communist pickets of United Mineworkers of Scotland (UMS) tried unsuccessfully to stop work for a day at Auchinraith colliery in sympathy for English workers who were on strike. The men had formed an organisation of their own named UMS, which the colliery owners refused to recognise. Mr. William Allen was secretery of the communist union. The failed action did prompt a ballot that week, between UMS and the more established Lanarkshire Miners Union. The Union won 234 to 109, resulting in a decision for losing UMS to disband and for the men to be reaffirmed into the Lanarkshire Miners Union.
It was a clear sign of Blantyre miners rejecting communism, and although some people continued to meet, it was the beginning of the end for communist movement in Blantyre.
During the early 1990’s, an elderly friend of my grandmother, whilst reflecting on the fall of communism, once told me, something along the lines of, “Blantyre’s communist attitudes dropped like a stone almost overnight, one minute there, next gone, quite sometime prior to WW2.” The comment was interesting to me even in the early 1990s, for being half Czech, many of my family had lived right up until 1990 in a Communist regime. Perhaps my grans friend was referring to this event in 1929 or a short time after. He would have been about 19 at the time the ballot was taken and interestingly, was a miner, although I don’t know which colliery.
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