Political Women(9) Linda Clair

Communist, political activist……..

Linda comes from a Jewish, Communist background in Manchester:

My father joined the Young Communists at 14, he wanted to fight in the Spanish Civil War but was too young. He was my biggest influence , he was a living example of what it meant to be a Communist. He worked all his life in the interests of others, whether it was anti-fascist campaigns or trade unions. He taught me that for things to change you have to go out and make things happen

Her own political activity started at the age of 13 years when she started a local Youth CND branch.
Like many working class young people, although she passed the 11+, she did not enjoy school and left at the age of 15 without any qualifications:

I hated school and my parents needed the money, so I had to work and I got a job as a junior clerk in a mail order company

Linda married her first husband at 18 and had her first child when she was 19 years. After 15 years of marriage and two children she got divorced. It was at this point she became more politically active. She joined the Communist Party in 1975 when she was 30 years old. She was in the CPGB for 10 years and then in the New Communist Party for 4 years.

In 1982 she went to university to study Social Administration and Social Policy, followed by a post graduate course in Youth and Community work:
It was a big plus to me being a student. In those days I got grants because I was a mature student, with children and it included travel payments. I was better off as a mature student than a low paid worker.

She has also spent many years being involved in women’s organisations:
In 1982 I joined a local Women’s Aid Group in Bury and we went on to open a refuge for women. I was also involved with the National Abortion Campaign, as well as being on the management committee of the Pankhurst Centre for 13 years.

In her working life she has been involved with working with women who have fled domestic violence and homeless families:
It was an environment I was happy working in because of my own politics. I wanted to help women to gain confidence and to believe in themselves. I worked there for 13 years and retired because it was the beginning of the privatisation of the accommodation and I was not prepared to work in that environment.

As a single parent with two children she is aware that her children have not always reacted positively to her political activity:
Kids want you to be the same as other parents and I never wanted to be like other parents and never pretended to be. My eldest daughter found that more difficult to deal with. She wanted me to be at home and didn’t want to be dragged round meetings and expected to sell raffle tickets. My other daughter acknowledges how important my work on Palestine is and is supportive.

In 1986 Linda went on a delegation to Palestine and this was the beginning of a new chapter in her life:
I didn’t know anything about Palestine or anything about Israel. I was catapulted into the Occupied Territories and could not believe what was happening there. I was taken all over the West Bank and Gaza and met people in their homes, in schools and hospitals. I came home a different person and committed to doing something about it.

Earlier that year, 1986, a few people in Manchester had set up a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign group and Linda joined after returning from Palestine. She is now the Chair of Manchester PSC.

Although brought up in a Jewish family, she is not a religious person. Indeed she has taken on the responsibility of showing that being Jewish does not mean being a Zionist:
They are not the same thing. I feel it is important for me to assert my Jewish identity and show that this does automatically mean that I am a Zionist and anti-Palestinian. It is important to make those alliances.

Educational work is an important of Linda’s role in PSC. She speaks at schools, colleges, trade unions and community groups both locally, nationally and internationally. She speaks on the history of Zionism and the Palestinian movement.
Her other main role is selling Palestinian merchandise at stalls around the country. This is a major part of the work of Manchester PSC.
The money raised goes to a variety of projects, including women in Israeli jails to help them pay for lawyers. We support a school for the blind in Bethlehem and a women’s centre in Gaza.

Looking back over 26 years she sees the way in which the issue of Palestine has changed:
In 1986 no-one wanted to know about Palestine. Things have changed dramatically over the years. Then Manchester PSC was only the second branch in the country, now we are in every town and city. But there has been a deterioration in the lives of Palestinians and things have got much worse for them.

Linda feels that in terms of the battle of ideas the cultural boycotts have had a major effect in terms of putting the case for the Palestinian cause;
They, the Zionist community, have lost the battle of ideas but the effect of that is they are becoming more violent and that is increasing the risks for people like us.

PSC, unlike many other organisations on the left, has a lot of students and young people involved in its activities.
As a Communist, Linda is aware that other young people have not had the benefit of a political education, so what is her message to young people?
Young people are suffering because of a serious crisis in capitalism and for me that crisis may mean we have a good chance of overthrowing that system. So young people need to put up a fight for a decent education and a job. They should join campaigns, such as anti-cuts, and also get educated as to why the system doesn’t work. They should learn from older people but also point out our mistakes as to why we didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve. One thing they shouldn’t do is to sit back and do nothing.

Join Linda and PSC outside the Lowry Theatre Salford on 2&3 November at 6pm as they protest the performance of Israeli group Batsheva.

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About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. .If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
This entry was posted in anti-cuts, Communism, feminism, human rights, labour history, Manchester, Middle East, Palestine, political women, Salford, women, young people and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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