‘UK’s last Communist’ retires from Fife Council post

‘UK’s last Communist’ retires from Fife Council post
BBC News


A Fife councillor believed to be the last elected Communist in Britain has retired from office.


Willie Clarke, who was first elected to Fife Council in 1973, stepped down on Wednesday for personal reasons.


The 80-year-old technically sat as an independent in recent years due to ballot paper rules, but still identifies himself as a Communist.


He said he hoped the movement could "pick up strength" again in the future.


A Fife Council spokeswoman said a date had not yet been set for a by-election to replace Mr Clarke.


The Ballingry resident served on the education and social work committees during his four decades in public office.


There are elections to all of Scotland’s councils in 2017, but Mr Clarke told the Edinburgh Evening News that it was "time to call it a day" now due to personal reasons.


He said: "It has been a hard decision to make. I had hoped to see things through to the council elections next May, but over the past few months one or two problems have made it difficult to be able to be as committed as I want to be to this very important job."


Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley, who was elected to The Lochs ward alongside Mr Clarke in 2011, paid tribute to him as "a great servant to the people".


He added: "Willie has been a great inspiration and friend to so many people including myself, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for all the work he has put in."


The Communist Party of Britain contested the North East list in May’s Scottish election, but won only 510 votes.


As of 2014, the party had 917 members across the UK.