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Maxwell trained as an engineer and joined the Coal Board as a draughtsman before it was decided that he had management potential.
Later, he was a lecturer in Trade Union Studies at LauderCollege.
He is the author of an autobiographical book about the Fife Region, once a strong-hold of British Communism, `ChicagoTumbles’.
Although counting himself still as a Communist, as which he was elected a local councillor, Maxwell is not currently a member of any existing party. He has continued to sit as a self-designated “Democratic Left” councillor on Fife Regional Council, having been a member of the authority for a very long time.
With Willie Clark (see separate entry), a member of the Communist Party of Scotland, he sits on the council as a member of the two-man `Left Alliance’ group.
Maxwell represents Cowdenbeath Central; he is a former Town Councillor for Cowdenbeath and a District Councillor for Dunfermline, Fife since 1995, representing Cowdenbeath’s Ward 8. In May 1996, in a County Council by-election in the Hill of Beath ward, Maxwell took over 30% of the vote, in what had previously been a rock-solid Labour ward.
He has been a member of various council committees - Policy & Resources, Standards & Audit, West Fife Development and West Fife Area Services.
In the Fife council elections of May 2007, 78 wards were reduced to 23 with three or four councillors to sit in each ward.
Maxwell received 1350 first preference votes, by far the highest number, with other successful candidates being spread across the establishment parties.