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Peter Kerrigan (pictured left in 1975) was born 26th June 1899 in Hutchestown, Glasgow and educated at Hayfield School, Gorbals, and Elmvale School, Springburn. Apprenticed on the railways, until he joined the Royal Scots from 1918-1920, he was also, in his youth, a keen footballer, playing with
He joined the Communist Party in 1921, but remained active within the Scottish Labour Party for much of the 1920s. However, he was a member of the CC/EC of the Communist Party from 1927-9 and 1931-65, and was successively Scottish Secretary, National Organiser and Industrial Organiser of the Communist Party.
He first came to prominence as one of the leaders of the
It was during this period that Kerrigan meet another active
As for the Spanish war, Kerrigan was asked to take men secretly to
Rose has recounted the story of how Peter returned with prematurely white hair, which remained with him for the rest of his life, and suffered neurotic behaviour for several months after his return, which thankfully did not.
He came back in March 1937, shortly returning as the 'Daily Worker' correspondent and then becoming an International Brigade political commissar for the duration of the war.
His wife, Rose, has recounted the story of how he returned with prematurely white hair, which remained with him for the rest of his life, and suffered neurotic behaviour for several months after his return, which thankfully did not.
Peter Kerrigan was elected to the Party’s Central Committee by the 15th Congress in 1938 and, with Rose, moved to
According to Finlay Hart: “It was in this period of Peter’s career that he became well known in official trade union circles and among the rank and file activists. Even the most hostile anti-communist officials had a great respect for Peter’s political and economic judgement, as was demonstrated many a time when Peter sat at the press table as the correspondent for World News & Views.”
Writing in December 1951 edition of Communist Review on the General Election of that year, in which he was a Communist Party candidate, Kerrigan gave a flavour of such campaigning. "My own experience in the last ten days before polling day in Gorbals is interesting." His article continues: "Apart from factory gate meetings outside such important enterprises as Queen's Park Loco Works (at two different gates), Weir's, and
"In addition I spoke to a group of doctors, nurses and domestic workers on the staff in the lecture room of the
"The attitude of the mass of the workers on the whole at these meetings was one of serious concern, and while it could not be described as generally supporting, was with one exception friendly. The exception was the Uniformed Staff Canteen meeting, where groups of Catholics deliberately tried to break up the meeting, not only by putting hostile questions and ones that were based on untruths, but interrupting the replies with comments that were just the repetition of falsehoods or slanders. Even here, however, the majority of the workers obviously resented the tactics employed."
Kerrigan eventually relinquished his national responsibilities and retired from the Communist Party’s national Executive Committee. However he never became inactive. He continued to sell the Morning Star, attend his party branch and trade union branch and was a constant visitor to
Jack Ashton, one-time Communist Party Scottish secretary stated: “Peter Kerrigan’s name is part of
Kerrigan, as he was universally known to the Party's trade union cadres, was one of the pallbearers at Willie Gallacher's 1965 funeral in
He himself died on Thursday 15th December 1977, in his 78th year
Peter Kerrigan’s published work features: The First British Company (of the International Brigades) December 1936 - January 1937’; Communist Party pamphlets: `The new stage of the war’ (1940), `Wages and income tax’ (1942), `The Communist Party’ (1944), `Why the slump? : a talk with Fred and Jock’ (1949), `We must have higher wages’ (1952), `More pay for engineers’ (1962), `The future of trade unionism’ (1963), `Harry Pollitt - a lifetime in the service of socialism’ (1970) Morning Star.