McCourt Barney

Bernard "Barney" McCourt

McCourt was a leading Communist from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was a parliamentary candidate in the 1931 general election for Bothwell. Every penny had to be raised locally. The Daily Worker reported that, despite the extreme poverty prevailing in the area, £11 (equivalent to over three weeks’ wages for a skilled worker) had been collected in a matter of days towards the massive election deposit of £150

Some 30 men and women went door-to-door to support his campaign and even football matches were organised to fund his campaign.

McCourt secured 2,163 votes or 6.97% of the votes.  Many locals said that had he been a Labour Party member he would have been elected as an MP.  McCourt was the main speaker at a United Front peace rally in Bellshill on Sunday 15th September 1935. Speakers invited included Shae (Moderate, or Tory), Welsh (Labour) Bair (Scots Nationalist). Unity forged in this campaign fed into the Council elections. By 1940, McCourt was a Lanarkshire Communist Councillor, it being said that people went Barney McCourt if they needed any paper work done.

But tensions between right-wing Labour and the Left were strong. The "father" of the Labour Party in Lanarkshire and later MP (1952-1982) Jimmy Dempsey was also a Communist in his youth, but because of the hostility of the Catholic church in Bellshill and Mossend joined the Labour Party. Barney MCourt's Communist politics ensured both he and his wife were "barred out" of the Chapel and the Catholic Church, in particular at local level, Was very hostile to the Communist Party.

Michael Walker


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