by Colin Fox and Richie Venton
· We feel enormous sorrow and a huge void at the death of our dear friend and comrade, Jim McVicar, taken from us far too young.
Some people would have you believe Jim was a Celtic supporter who loved the ‘Hoops’ more than life itself. But we, his comrades, we knew better.
Whilst he was unquestionably passionate about his football team and its fortunes, his first commitment was—as it should be—to his family; to his devoted and inseparable partner Christine, his three children Aileen, Catherine and Brian and his grandchildren.
His life was also dedicated to the Scottish Socialist Party, to advocating and promoting socialist ideas. As with his sporting convictions there were no half measures with his political beliefs either.
Jim sought to free working class people from the brutal exploitation they face under capitalism. Only a challenge on that scale could compete for the attentions and ambitions of this East End boy for his Lisbon Lions.
Born in Baillieston, Jim and his family voted Labour like everyone else there back then. Unlike most others, however, he acted upon his political convictions and joined the Labour Party’s Young Socialists [LPYS] as a young man.
Working in the giant British Rail Engineering works in Springburn, he found himself in one of the country’s pre-eminent industrial cauldrons.
There he was inspired by the trade union values and socialist ideas he picked up from the men and women around him.
From the many trade unionists and Young Socialists he met he learned about Red Clydesiders like John Maclean and James Connolly—the Edinburgh socialist executed by the British for his participation in the famous 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.
The Militant Marxist councillor
Whilst in the LPYS Jim also joined the Militant and was encouraged to read and discuss the work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky amongst others.
Above all he was taught, perhaps the wisest counsel Marx ever provided, that whilst “Philosophers have interpreted the world, the point however is to change it.”
This was a point Jim McVicar not only understood but implemented eagerly and energetically. At first a Labour Councillor, then a Scottish Militant Labour Councillor in the East End of Glasgow, he played his part in changing the world for the better for working class people everywhere.
He soon became a prominent fixture in the Left-Wing politics of the city. He was active in the Labour Party, in the great miners’ strike of 1984/85, in Liverpool City Council’s intense political struggles of the 1980s and above all in the Anti-Poll Tax campaign of the early 1990s.
That conflict toppled the hated Thatcher government and had its origins in Glasgow and in the Anti-Poll Tax movement Jim McVicar did so much to construct and lead.
Inspired by the example of Connolly and Maclean, Jim was also drawn to the call for an independent socialist Scotland.
He was one of the founding members of the Scottish Socialist Alliance in 1995 and the SSP in 1998. Jim remained at its forefront until his death on 3 December.
A widely read, thinking worker
Jim was tireless in promoting the Scottish Socialist Party. He consistently won one of the highest SSP votes nationally as a candidate, from 1999 onwards.
He organised his local SSP branch, encouraged new members, and was to be seen on SSP contingents on every conceivable demonstration or protest.
A widely read, thinking worker, Jim was a powerful orator, putting socialist ideas across in the language of the working class.
As a prominent activist in Yes Scotland he could always be seen passionately arguing for an independent socialist Scotland to transform working-class people’s lives.
Jim was a regular on all the All Under One Banner marches in 2018 and 2019 where he would be seen staffing the SSP stall—alongside Christine—inside our big red gazebo.
His painstaking work as national treasurer of the SSP drew admiration throughout the party and beyond.
It was a mark of the remarkable man he was that he carried this enormous burden and all too often thankless role with dignity and good-natured determination. He was always on hand to steady the ship and calm the fears we had of imminent bankruptcy.
Jim: committed and caring to the end
Jim was committed to workers’ struggles to the very end of his life, whether in giving advice to migrant workers he worked alongside in hospitality in later years, or dashing away from a medical appointment to join the recent anti-victimisation protests at IKEA.
Above and beyond all those qualities, Jim is fondly remembered for his warmth, care for others, wicked wind-ups and ceaseless sense of humour.
He leaves a huge void, not just in the Scottish Socialist Party, but in the socialist movement throughout Scotland. It is a loss we can ill afford.
But it was Jim’s oft-mentioned instruction that if anything ever happened to him, we must redouble our efforts in his memory to achieve an independent socialist Scotland, a modern democratic republic.
This we will do for him and for future generations living in Baillieston and far beyond.