General secretary of the YCL from 2013 to 2015. Communist Party candidate for Glasgow North West in 2015.
I first joined the Communist Party in early 2009 at the age of 18. It was as the effects of the global financial crash were beginning to be felt, and the height of the Blair-Brown years. I didn’t think Labour could get any worse at the time, but I was naïve to believe that!
I moved to Glasgow later that year to start university, and to become more involved in politics. During this time, I regularly did the Saturday stall on Buchanan street selling pamphlets and copies of the Morning Star, regularly went to education classes put on by the Party, attended protests and took part in other broad left organisations.
In 2010 the Con-Dems came to power and waged a war against the working class, the welfare state, and attacked weakened trade unions. Their first move was to triple tuition fees (despite the Lib Dem promise to scrap them, students should never let them forget it) and that was my first experience of protest and mobilisation.
We inevitably lost, but being part of that movement was inspiring, and it influenced the student occupation of the Hetherington building at Glasgow University, which ran for several months in 2011, and was largely successful in its demands to end course cuts and compulsory redundancies. It garnered support from across the left, and was visited by Mark Steele, Billy Bragg, Owen Jones and Ken Loach among others. YCLers attended this often during those months.
Aside from a few minor victories, the government was relentless in its assault on people, and it often felt very hopeless at times, but I had some great comrades. It didn’t seem so bleak or lonely when you had people who saw the world and all its injustices through the same lens as you.
I learned a lot from reading and from older comrades, and I still believe that the Communist Party’s theoretical analysis is second to no other party. Their analysis and predictions around the Scottish independence elections have proven to be correct.
In particular, they argued that the SNP would significantly gain electorally from an independence referendum (they did) and they argued that you could never predict what might happen subsequently in the Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015).
On the back of the referendum, I stood for the Communist Party in May 2015 for the Anniesland constituency. I enjoyed putting across the Communist Party’s position and exposing the other candidates’ disingenuity, but it wasn’t a great election. The Tories were back in with a solid majority and the SNP won a landslide, despite not having any progressive policies.
In 2013 I was elected general secretary of the Young Communist League, and in 2015 I visited Cuba as part of a WFDY delegation. I have always found the Cuban revolution inspiring, and it was a joy to speak to like-minded young people and hear about their struggles for a better future across the globe.
There may not be many communists in Britain, but we are connected across the world to other comrades in the fight against capitalism, war and injustice.
Through the Communist Party, I learned how the irreconcilable differences between the classes shapes the world around us.
The Communist Party gave me a theoretical basis to interpret the world, and organisational strategies to follow to bring around change. It helped me to understand and respect the struggles of the past, and how they relate to the future.