Fife's unique campaign against Communism
BY A STAFF REPORTER
An election fight which is unique in Britain is being conducted in West Fife, the Scottish constituency which for 15 years has been represented in Parliament by the Communist, William Gallacher.
Catholics, through their lay organisations, and fully backed by the clergy, are conducting an all-out public campaign to end what they regard as an intolerable situation and are working to ensure that Gallacher shall not again be returned.
High spot in that campaign was on Sunday last when a great mass meeting of over 1,000 people packed one of the largest halls in the constituency, in the mining town of Kelty, where Gallacher has his headquarters.
The meeting had been called by the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists and the Catholic Social Guild with the idea of making abundantly clear the Christian position on Communism.
For years it has been known that without Catholic votes Gallacher would not stand a chance of being returned. For years, too, sincere Catholic Actionists and the clergy have known, therefore, that Catholics have it in their power to end what they feel to be a scandal and a reproach.
Out into all the toughest Communist strongholds last week went Catholic laymen selling tickets for Sunday's meeting. They went to villages which, despite the presence of Catholic voters. are known to have supported Gallacher one hundred per cent. in the past.
Each had gone out pledged to conduct himself " like a Christian" whatever the provocation. even if confronted with threats or violence Hundreds of doorstep discussions took place without a single incident.
And from those " Red hot-spots" on Sunday came double-decker buses filled with miners and their families who for years have been represented in their union and in Parliament by some of the country's leading Communist figures.
At Mass in Kelty on Sunday morning the parish priest, Fr. J. J. Lynch, warned all present that they must under no circumstances be drawn into un-Christian action no matter what the Communists might do. The Catholic's job was to be an apostle in the mines and factories bringing about a better understand ins of the true character of Communism and the Christian alternative as a result of the afternoon's meeting.
And it is that question of the Christian alternative which is right to the fore in this fight in which the real issues are becoming absolutely clear. Against Gallacher are running a Labour candidate and a National Liberal. But inevitably in view of the issues involved and in an area such as this, it has resolved itself into the fundamental choice—for Christian principles or against ?
It has resulted in an atmosphere which must be similar to that which abtained in the Italian elections of 1948 with Catholic Actionists leading the fight against Communism.
OFFICIALLY BOYCOTTED Officially the Communists boycotted the meeting. In practice their observers were scattered about the hall among their one-time supporters and waverers from almost every part of the scattered. isolated constituency.
Main speaker was Douglas Hyde, former Daily Worker News Editor, supported by Mr. H. H. Henderson, anti-Communist pamphleteer, Mr. Hamish Fraser, one-time officer in the International Brigade, now a Catholic, and Mr. Robert Maguire, former president of the C.Y.M.S. of Great Britain, who has for years warned of the Communist danger.
The speakers were led on to the platform by a Scots piper in Highland kilt. On either side sat representatives of the various lay organisations. In the audience were, in addition to many Catholics, a large number of non-Catholics, in cluding several Presbyterian ministers—an almost unheard of thing in those parts — and leading members of the Labour Party, which is Gallacher's only serious opponent.
There were a number in the audience who when the meeting opened had still to be convinced and were clearly not anxious to commit themselves but who, by the time it ended, were joining in the general applause which greeted the points made by the speakers.
The meeting went off without incident. Cases were reported of people who had bought tickets being intimidated but there was no violence (this possibility had not been ruled out since Fr. Lynch himself had some years ago been beaten up) and, overwhelmed by the terrific temper of the meeting, the Communists remained silent.
The meeting closed with a call for every Christian to join in " voting Gallacher out."
And the charitable note of the whole meeting was summed up by the speaker who declared : " If we get Wullie out of Parliament we may yet get him back to the Faith of his fathers."