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Willie (Bill) “Bunger” Lamont
Born in 1900 in Renton, Vale of Leven, Communist, Lamont first made a name for himself by allowing himself to be arrested one night while poaching rabbits. This was so that his fellow poachers could slip away in the darkness, so as to be able to testify in court as witnesses that his arrest was illegal because the land was owned by someone who had no objection to people catching rabbits. He was never bothered again whilst poaching and had become something of a local hero by establishing poachers’ rights by such personal courage.
Needless to say, in such a place as the Vale of Leven, Bunger was elected a Communist Councillor for Renton. So admired was he, that he had a short Crescent in his locality named after him. It is, in a way, a little sad that it should have been named so bland a thing as “Lamont Crescent” and not “Bunger Crescent”! This might have popularised and preserved the origins of his nickname. This came from his days as a winger with one of the Renton football teams and arose from his constant shout to his teammates to bung the ball to him.
Bunger was a Communist County Councillor for Renton West from 1958 until his death in 1974. Held in high esteem and affection by all, Bunger was a great Renton character and known as a man “o' a' the airts”.
The Vale of Leven was marked for the dominance of the Communist Party in local politics in the half century period from the early 1920s. The Vale was not a coal mining area, which made this an unusual red belt. Its District Council was for much of the middle of the 20th century an unofficial elected dictatorship of a United Front between the Communist Party, which dominated, and the Labour Party, which did not resist.
The council disappeared in the reorganisation of local government in the early 1970s that did so much to undermine the localised basis of the British Communist Party. But one thing distinguished the local council – despite there being many small towns, villages, and parishes with a dominating Communist presence in that period, the Vale was probably the only place in Britain where the Communist Party was ever the largest single party.
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