Margaret Anderson, born on 11 November 1922, joined the Young Communist League at the age of 14 1937 and then the Communist Party in 1940. She was the factory convenor at Barr and Stroud during World War Two, a leading optical engineering firm in Glasgow, which played a leading role in the development of rangefinders, for the Royal Navy.
She became Margaret Hunter after she married former apprentice leader and fellow Communist, Jimmy Hunter, in 1946. Her work as secretary of the CPGB’s Knightswood branch brought her on to the prestigious Scottish Committee and then as full time worker, first for Glasgow City and then as Scottish Organiser, the ‘number 2’ position.
She sat on the National Commission that rewrote Britain’s Road to Socialism, the Party‘s programme, in 1956, authoring a new section on Socialism. In 1959, Margaret played a key role in organising the Party’s celebrations to mark the bicentenary of Robert Burns’ birth. She herself stood for the Gorbals constituency in 1964, polling 5.6% and 4.1%.
As Organiser, she authored the formal report to the executive on the Party’s intervention in the 1959 general election at Gorbals, in Glasgow, in which Peter Kerrigan had been the candidate. The Communist vote had dropped from 2,491 to 1,932 in 1955. Margaret Hunter reasoned that that the electorate dropped by one seventh, i.e., 8000, rendering the Communist proportion as roughly one seventh of the 1955 tally. An excellent vote in Cathcart at a first contest had been in a ward where the bulk of the Gorbals electors had been moved, leaving less to account for. Even thought some 10, 000 had been canvassed, Margaret admitted it a to be a weaker canvass to 1955 with the absence of sustained public campaigning by the Party Branch, which had only recovered from difficulties.
In 1960, she was assigned to the Lancashire & Cheshire District to help out temporarily and, after five years as the Communist Party’s Scottish organiser, Margaret was appointed the National Women’s Organiser in 1963, at the age of 40. Her predecessor, Molly Keith, had been obliged to step down for personal reasons.
Now a member of the Party’s executive committee, Margaret was to particularly focus the Party’s work towards women’s rights and building the national Women’s Advisory Committee.
The cutting (right) detailing a visit by Margaret Hunter to the Leed University Student Union, is from its newspaper “Union News” of January 31st 1964 (courtesy of Jeremy Hawthorn)
Out of the blue, she became unwell while taking on a Party delegation to the German Democratic Republic. It seems that this may have been in the summer of 1968, certainly her apologies for non-attendance at the EC begin here. Although she he did not return to Scotland, she stood down from active political work and continued to live in London until her death on 21 February 1986 aged 63.