By Ronnie Stevenson - Posted 17th September 2012
Five years ago today a stalwart of the socialist movement in Scotland, Chic Stevenson, died. Chic's contribution to the trade union, socialist and working class movement was immense. In the obituary below, which was printed in the Herald newspaper, Ronnie Stevenson remembers Chic's outstanding record as a socialist fighter.
Chic Stevenson Socialist, Trade Unionist and Ex- Glasgow Councillor;
Born January 30th 1928; Died September 17th 2007
Chic Stevenson died peacefully on the 17th September 2007 after many years of ill-health. He was small in stature but was a giant of the labour and trade union movement in Scotland. Chic was a socialist and a Marxist whose unwavering commitment to the building of a society based on need and not greed, and to the interests of ordinary working class people, placed him firmly and squarely in the tradition of John McLean and the Red Clydesiders.
Born and bred in the East End of Glasgow he was a councillor for the Queenslie ward in Easterhouse for ten years, first as a Labour Councillor and then as a Scottish Militant Labour Councillor. His lifetime activity in politics was matched by his ceaseless activity in the trade union movement being a Shop Steward at Prestcold and a leading activist within what became MSF, for many years. In the Labour and Trade Union movement he was renowned and respected for his integrity and commitment which stood out when many others succumbed to the trappings of office. This respect manifested itself in the tremendous turnout from family, friends, neighbours, workmates and Labour and Trade Union movement at his funeral commemoration at Daldowie Crematorium on Saturday 22cnd September 2007.
Chic’s socialism was scientific but not borne out of that. He was a humanist who in all his actions strived to make the world a better place for people. His love of people shone through. His love started within his family and from there went out to the local community of Easterhouse in which he spent most of his adult life and for the improvement of which he constantly worked. From there it concerned itself in all sorts of solidarity action in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain and throughout the world.
Chic worked in the shipyards and the metal and refrigeration industry. Exposure to heavy metals and other components of industrial processes contributed to his ill-health. It reinforced his awareness that the bosses cared little about the effects of industrial processes on workers’ health. This condition only slowed him down in the last few years of his life, being a ‘Grey Panther’ activist in his seventies.
It is difficult in a short obituary to decide what of his many contributions and achievements should be highlighted. One of Chic’s greatest contributions was the idea of a mass non-payment campaign to defeat the Poll Tax which he first raised at a conference of Militant in Scotland in the autumn of 1987 while he was still a Labour councillor. From that beginning, after months of detailed discussion in Militant’s branches throughout Britain, a special Scottish conference in April 1988 unanimously decided to back mass non-payment. Chic said it best ‘I’m having nothing to do with Thatcher’s poll tax. I am voting against Glasgow district council setting its part of the tax at £92 per person, along with five other councillors. A mass non-payment campaign will still have to be organised. It has the support of local Labour Parties and the mass of people in the housing schemes. With that support, Labour councils could make the poll tax inoperable if they called on people to refuse to pay. It is not the job of Labour councils to do the Tories’ dirty work. I was elected to fight Thatcher, not to bow the knee to her poll tax.’ Anti-Poll Tax Unions were formed throughout Scotland and Britain and as they say ‘The rest is history’. The Poll Tax was defeated and Thatcher was brought down - not a bad epitaph.
He will be sorely missed by us all but particularly by his wife Mary who he loved so much and who as a couple of doughty fighters were well matched and his children Charles, Gary and Ann and his grandchildren Andrew, Maarten, Elliot and Olivia whose every achievement filled him with enjoyment and pride.