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Barclay was a full time trade union organiser for the Painters (union) Society. He led a campaign for improved housing in Dundee and stood as a Communist Party council candidate for Dundee Town Council in (1945 or 46).
He was one of several impressive candidates fielded by the Dundee Communist Party, which seemed inundated with powerful and influential local personalities. There was June Robertson, a local Dundee Communist Party official; Alexander Annan, the Dundee Area Secretary of the Party and a former shop workers union activist; David Bowman (NUR railway activist - see entry); Bert Livingstone, former Dundee Branch secretary who also took a "prominent part" in the fight for Spain; Jessie Malcolm, a shop steward in a Dundee factory; Willie Petrie, President of Dundee AEU who was involved with the fight to improve conditions in the shipyards); William Allan, a railway clerk; and Jack Cassidy, an AEU member.