Richie grew up in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, before emigrating to Liverpool, where he went on to become the central Merseyside organiser of the socialists who led a mass movement that defeated Maggie Thatcher’s brutal Tory government.
Through regional general strikes, mass demos and mass politicization of the population around a defiant socialist city council – which Richie describes in a podcast as the very first posting on his blog – they won the funds to build 5,000 new council houses for rent; create thousands of new jobs; freeze rents for 8 years; vastly improve services; introduce a 35-hour week… and lit a beacon of struggle far beyond Liverpool’s city limits.
For the success of his socialist sins, Richie (along with eight other ‘ringleaders’) was expelled from Labour by Neil Kinnock’s leadership. Tony Benn asked Richie to promise to publish his defence speech at the expulsion hearing… a promise he’s yet to get round to fulfilling!
After later moving to Glasgow, Richie was a founding organiser of the Scottish Socialist Party, and is it’s national workplace & trade union organiser. He is also the elected union convener in a major retail multinational.
A lifelong socialist and trade union activist, he’s been involved in spearheading numerous campaigns, including against school closures; a victorious factory sit-in; against the poll tax and latterly the bedroom tax; building solidarity with workers in struggle (throughout Scotland, the UK and abroad); for an immediate £10 minimum wage; railway nationalisation… the list becomes exhausting!
He was a prominent activist, organiser, writer and speaker for an independent socialist Scotland throughout the Scottish referendum.
Richie writes a blog; contributes regular columns in the Scottish Socialist Voice; has started footering round the foothills of Facebook; and is the author of a widely-praised book, aimed primarily at workers and their allies, Break the Chains – which we know he’d urge all Ungagged listeners to buy, enjoy and use in their struggles for justice!
Ola’s Kool Kitchen is show since 2007 on KCLA 99.3FM In LA, 107.5 Andhow.FM in New Zealand, Maximum Threshold Radio, Rock Velvet Radio, Rock Radio UK, Sword Radio UK, 365 Radio Network, Jammerstream One, Kor Radio, Firebrand Radio, and Bombshell Radio. An eclectic ride through time and space because good music has no boundaries and created because mainstream radio sucks.
John Andrew Hird joined the Labour Party Young Socialists and Militant in Newcastle just before Thatcher came to power. He served as LPYS Chairman and editor of Socialist Youth. He participated in the Miner’s Strike, Liverpool City Council and Poll Tax struggles. He stayed in Castlemilk for six months during the 1992 General Election and worked in the Pollock campaign when Scottish Militant Labour candidate Tommy Sheridan won over 9,000 votes. Since then he’s lived in various places such as Saudi Arabia and Bosnia but mostly The Basque Country. He’s a founder and worker in a teaching Coop and proud member of Izquierda Revolucionaria, the Spanish section of the CWI.
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.