Minnie had been class-conscious from childhood but when she started work at fourteen in 1918 in a boot factory – and was later transferred to a retail branch – the very idea of being under a boss and being “told to do this and that seemed to me like slavery”; this was the means of her gaining an interest in politics.
She joined the ILP’s Sunday School and began to read widely. She was much attracted to the personality of John Maclean, the noted Glasgow socialist at this time but worked hard to get her local Labour candidate elected, one James Welsh, a miner.
At the age of nineteen she left the shop she was working in and started work as a domestic in Dundee. Being a stranger, and having no relationship with the workers, as well as only getting off two half-days each week, engagement in politics was not easy for her.
By the time she was 21 and able to vote, she had connected with the Communist Party. Going on a demonstration of the unemployed, she found that the police freely used their batons and this upset her greatly. Even so, she continued to follow the Party in all its anti-fascist activities until attending a Party meeting and hearing about the fight of the Spanish people, she bought a ticket there for meeting due to be addressed by Harry Pollitt the following week, making up her mind to join the Communist Party. This was probably in early 1937.
Source: “How I joined the Communist Party” (Sept 1942)
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