Ron Mackay was a lifelong peace activist, socialist and anti-capitalist, and inspiring force for change, who will be sorely missed from left activism. Born in 1923, and raised in activism, Ron’s father and grandfather were both conscientious objectors in the First World War. His 18-year-old father cited his socialist and Christian beliefs as grounds for refusing to go to war, and was tortured by the British Government for doing so.
Ron’s parents joined the Communist Party when he was three, and as a young man he joined them, and much later the SSP where he hoped to help build a viable vehicle of socialist change in Scotland. Originally a Physics teacher, Ron’s career prospects were stymied after being arrested for protesting at the Holy Loch American nuclear base near Dunoon in 1962. 51 years later Ron told a Faslane Peace Camp rally that the jails were full of fellow anti-war protesters in Argyll, Ayrshire and Renfrewshire and he had to miss a days work. On his return, against the advice of his Head Teacher, he put his absentee reason as “fighting for the future of the world.” As his Head Teacher warned him, he was unable to get promotion in Glasgow because of this.
Ron had a passion for music, and learned to play saxophone after his formal teaching career came to an end. An enthusiastic lifelong campaigner, he would cheer people at demos and street stalls with his playing, and even months before his death aged 93, Ron’s huge energy for helping in the fight for a fairer world was still outstripping much younger activists.
Ron will be remembered as a warm, generous and kind man, with an immense inner strength that not only kept him fighting, but inspired others to fight on too. It’s rare that such wisdom and intelligence is coupled with the quiet humility and modesty Ron displayed. Ron Mackay will be sorely missed by peace campaigners and socialist activists alike, and he will not be forgotten. His legacy will be the many activists he inspired who will continue the struggle in his name.