Dead Men Left

Monday, August 23, 2004

Scottish anarchist in voting shock

The Guardian has an interview today with legendary anarchist Stuart Christie, who achieved infamy in the mid-sixties for his part in a botched attempt to assasinate General Franco. After joining the Labour Party Young Socialists in Glasgow, sharing a branch with Paul Foot, Christie was "soon disillusioned with the chicanery of Labour politics, and [I was disgusted] with the executive committee going out with Rangers scarves on to make sure that the Protestant candidates were accepted." He continues:

"The idea of revolution was quite alive in Scotland at the time," he says. "There was the political radicalisation of the 50s, satire, rock music and the collapse of the credibility of the Communist party." But a greater influence was Spain and the cause that had prompted many of his compatriots to join the International Brigade a quarter of a century earlier. He moved south to London where he worked as a sheet-metal apprentice and on an ironmongery stall in Shepherd's Bush. He met Spanish anarchist exiles in Bristol and decided that "I had to do more than just demonstrate and leaflet. I offered my services." The mission he was assigned was to deliver explosives to Madrid for the latest attempt - the 30th, as it happened - to blow up Franco. In Paris, he met his fellow desperadoes, who were tickled when he introduced himself with the phrase, "Zut alors!" His limited knowledge of French had led him to believe that that was what one said in the circumstances.

Was he frightened? "Not really," he says. "It was fun. I got an adrenaline buzz and I was doing good at the same time. No one knew. My mother thought I was grape-picking." He hitchhiked south, having packed his kilt, which he had found was a great way to get lifts. This was to lead to some confusion: it was reported in the Argentinian press that the man trying to kill Franco was a Scots transvestite.

He was intercepted just inside the border, and - narrowly avoiding a death-sentence - was held for three and a half years in a Spanish jail. Read the rest of the interview here.

(The "voting shock"? Well...

He voted for the first time in the European elections. "I voted against Tony Blair and for Respect. The furore it caused from anarchists when it appeared on a website! The next thing, I'm getting emails from Italy saying, 'What are you doing voting?' It was because of the war primarily, but also everything else. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck when I see Blair on television. He has subverted the good name of Scottish radicalism with the people he surrounds himself with." this a recommendation?)