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Bill Watson

Bill Watson was born in Irlam in 1944 to a working-class family. His father worked as a bricklayer and his mother worked on a farm as well as in munitions factories during the Second World War. Despite the lack of active political involvement in his family, his personal experiences of work and seeing his family struggle did influence Bill’s political awakening.

When he was 21, Watson joined the Communist Party in 1965, after a chance encounter with a Communist at a construction site in Wolverhampton. He had been working as a bricklayer for six years and after witnessing the exploitation on building sites and how his parents had suffered at work, Bill immediately joined the party. He went on to become a leading member of the Eccles branch, campaigning against Thatcher’s policy to end school milk, to save the last local cinema as well as various issues such as Northern Ireland, Unemployment and Anti-apartheid.

The Communist Party in Eccles had around 80 members and campaigned on various local issues. One of the memorable campaigns was against Margaret Thatcher’s policy to end school milk during her time as Education Secretary in 1971. Another successful campaign in the short term led by the party was against the proposal to shut down a local cinema in 1974.

Local workers staged strikes against redundancies in factories such as Gardener, which made diesel engines, and the Eccles Communists worked hard doing things like food collections to support them. They also set up an important organisation known as Eccles Community Campaign Against Unemployment’ (ECCAU), working alongside local clergymen, labour supporters and Salford’s trade council.

Bill Watson and with his wife, Sheila, were also heavily involved in the Northern Ireland issue.

Source: slightly edited article by Arwa Aburawa on: http://radicalmanchester.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/bill-watson-and-eccles-communist-party/