Andrew was born into a mining family in Stonehouse he became a miner in Pontfeigh Pit at age 18. Within four years he was pit delegate and had increased the readership of the Daily Worker ( which became the Morning Star ). In 1952 he succeeded Mick McGahey as chairman of the Scottish Miners Youth Committee and headed the 1953 Miners Gala march through Edinburgh alongside Aneurin Bevan and Abe Moffat.
In 1962, when the Pontfeigh Pit closed, he moved his family to Yorkshire for work in the coalfield there. He came back to Stonehouse and became identified with the Morning Star for the rest of his life. This newspaper was the lifeblood of solidarity and the Scottish trades unions movements. Mick McGahey remembered Andrew breaking through police blockades at Bilston Glen, in the 1984-5 miners strike, to reach picket lines with copies of the Morning Star, the one paper to give the truth about the dispute.
Like his elder brother Alex, Andrew was a lifelong Communist, but became concerned from the late 1970’s at the Communist Party’s monthly Marxism Today attacks on the trade union movements which eventually led to New Labour and Tony Blair. In Scotland he led the way in ensuring the Morning Star put class politics at the centre of campaigning against Tory privatisation and Poll Tax. He was convinced only a Scottish Parliament could act for the working people against big business capital.
Andrew was always looked to for leadership and advice and when faced with injustice and oppression he was an intelligent fighter for his class. As well as a prominent national profile, Andrew did much for his local Stonehouse community and was sustained in all of this by his wife Minnie and children Mary, John and Ann.
Morning Star Tribute to Andrew Clark
|Andrew Clark – A tireless warrior for his class
Andrew Clark, who died on June 4, was identified with the Morning Star in Scotland for the last four decades of his life. He acted as the paper’s Scottish representative for over 30 years, as its Scottish correspondent for a decade and as leader of the Scottish Morning Star Campaign Committee since its formation in 1977.
He was also a key figure in the politics of the Scottish labour movement. STUC general secretary Grahame Smith writes: “Andrew Clark was a great friend to the STUC and it is impossible to overestimate his contribution to the labour and trade union movement.
“During his active political life he supported and reported on all Scotland’s landmark working-class moments – perhaps most importantly during the 1984-5 miners’ strike when the Morning Star was a clarion voice amid a sea of media negativity.
Andrew also contributed enormously to democracy in Scotland and will be remembered for his contribution to our movement’s campaign to create a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.”
Clark was part of that immediate post-war generation of young workers that produced so many of the movement’s leaders in the second half of the 20th century.
Born into a mining family in Stonehouse, he followed his brothers into Ponfeigh pit in Lanarkshire at the age of 18 in 1949.
Within four years he was pit delegate – and had managed to increase readership of the Daily Worker to over 50 a day.
In 1952 he succeeded Mick McGahey as chairman of the Scottish Miners Youth Committee and headed the giant 1953 Miners Gala march through Edinburgh alongside Aneurin Bevan and Abe Moffat. In 1962, when the Pontfeigh pit closed, he moved down to the Yorkshire coalfield where his youth, energy and clear-headed politics gave support to the emerging strength of the left.
He brought the same clarity to his work in building the circulation of the Morning Star during the industrial struggles of the late ’60s and ’70s, ensuring that every day bundles of 25 or 50 papers reached dozens of yards, factories and depots across central Scotland and every pit in the Scottish coalfield. These papers were the lifeblood of solidarity, a key tool in mobilising workers for the one-day strikes against the Industrial Relations Act and to defend the Upper Clyde shipbuilders and the miners in the strikes of 1972 and 1974.
In the great miners’ strike of 1984-5 he was equally active. Michael McGahey, later victimised for his part in the strike, remembers Andrew breaking through police blockades and appearing on the picket lines at 5am with copies of the one paper that gave the truth about the dispute. At the time McGahey’s pit, Bliston Glen, had a daily readership of 100. McGahey remembers Andrew’s encouragement and support for younger miners such as himself.
Like his elder brother Alex, Andrew was a lifelong communist. He served on the Communist Party’s Scottish executive from the late 1960s to 1985 and was Scottish chairman of the re-established CPB for its first 10 years.
He brought with him all the confidence of a generation that had fought for and seen the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and the creation of the welfare state.
This made him all the more concerned when articles started appearing in the Communist Party’s monthly Marxism Today from the late 1970s attacking the trade union movement for “blind economism” and accusing shop stewards of “narrow self-interest.”
One article by Tony Lane made the fatal mistake of accusing “rural trade unionists” of being unable to do anything but follow what was happening in the cities.
In a stinging response Andrew wrote that “insulting is the politest way I can find of describing his claim.”
He deployed all his knowledge of the Scottish working-class movement to describe the heroism, self-sacrifice and strategic understanding of those he had worked beside.
Marxism Today’s “revisionist” articles were the prelude to a sustained attack on the principles of working-class solidarity and class politics within the Communist Party – which later gave ideological strength to the “new Labour” clique that took over the Labour Party.