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Scotland's last communist councillor Willie Clarke dies

The long-serving Fife councillor served for 43 years before stepping down in 2016.

Willie Clarke was first elected to Fife Council in 1973.
Willie Clarke was first elected to Fife Council in 1973. Alex Rowley

Scotland's last elected communist councillor Willie Clarke has died from cancer aged 84.

The long-serving Fife councillor served for 43 years before stepping down in 2016.

His son, also Willie, hailed him as "the product of a generation who understood struggle".

Born in June 1935, Mr Clarke - who began working in a mine aged 14 for 40p a shift - was first elected to Fife Council as a communist candidate for the Benarty ward in 1973.

He served on the education and social work committees, as well as acting as vice-chair of a sub-committee which deals with children with special needs.

He was re-elected in every vote, being named as the chairman of Cowdenbeath Area Committee in 2007.

Mr Clarke was awarded the Freedom of Fife in 2016 for services to his community - an honour only bestowed twice before - as well has having a new visitor centre at Lochore Meadows named after him in 2018.

In a statement, his son wrote: "It's with great sadness that our family marks the passing of trade unionist and ex-councillor Willie Clarke this morning.

"My father has been in hospital for some time having battled with the return of cancer. On behalf of Betty and the whole family I would like to thank the doctors and nursing staff at St John's and the Western General for all of their efforts."

Councillor Linda Erskine, convener of the Cowdenbeath area committee, said: "Willie Clarke was the first chair of this committee. He served this council for a long time, and was often looked at as the father of the chamber.

"We met during a miners' strike. It didn't seem to matter how ill he was, he was always turning up to community council meetings. Benarty and Fife has lost a very loyal servant who will be missed not just by his family, but also the folk who met him.

"He achieved a lot for a young man who was brought up in poverty.

"Our thoughts are with his family, particularly his wife."

Story by local democracy reporter Emma O'Neill

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