“People knew me: they’d say that’s Billy Vincent – communist.”
These were the closing words of a moving and insightful conversation we had with our comrade William Hunt-Vincent, a dedicated CPGB and CPGB-ML cadre who sadly died from cancer last year.
“All of his life, William Hunt-Vincent has been a working man who sweated at the forge or was frozen fixing chains to the gib heads of cranes in hail storms. Always he has admired people who would work hard to advance in the world.”
Ranjeet and Jackson, from CPGB-ML and Red Youth. We went to meet Billy the day after attending the Durham Miners Gala, on a Sunday morning in July 2013.
We are saddened that we did not publish the interview in Billy’s lifetime. That was our avowed intention – and Billy gave us explicit permission to film and publish our discussion. But we are proud to present it now, so that young workers, from the Northeast and throughout Britain, can learn from his words of wisdom, and reflections on working class life and struggle during his eight decades living in Sunderland.
Despite all the ups and downs of his life, and the communist movement that he eagerly joined, and worked to nuture and spread during his life, Billy never lost faith in the ability of working people to liberate themselveds from wage slavery. Nor did he ever lose the firm conviction that Marxism-Leninism provided us with the weapons to free our country and our world from the evils that capitalism imposes upon working people.
Untill his last days, Billy remained a communist, and was proud to join the CPGB-ML, soon after its formation, as an avid reader of Lalkar and Proletarian, and he wrote poetry indicting capitalistm, published in its pages, untill his last years:
…For your centuries of plunder
of pillage, death and woe
Have so long seen their climax
and are about to go
Can you see the end is coming,
To your anachronistic system
that exploits mine and me?
Can you see the skies are weeping
with mankind’s bitter tears?
But there is a new world coming
I hear the distant cheers…
This video – some 80 minutes of footage, with annotations and ilustrations – is compulsive viewing; and gives a real working class perspective of our history, whch provides lessons for all who believe it is possible for humanity to build a better future than the rolling crisis of cuts, recession, austerity, privatisation, war, individual isolation and poverty that are our lot under the sway of the financial elite occupying the City of London.
Billy published his novel in his 83rd year, “Shed no tears for the defeated” which can be purchased at party meetings, or on line here: http://www.austinmacauley.com/content/shed-no-tears-defeated
Billy left school at 14 and served his time as a blacksmith with the River Wear Commissioners, where he worked as a chain-maker on the docks. He joined the Communist Party in 1959 and was an active trade unionist.
Billy stood as a Communist Party candidate for Sunderland Council in 1968 and again in 1973. When the CPGB split in 1977 he and his friends in Sunderland joined the NCP, in the belief that it represented a revolutionary alternative to the CPGB’s revisionism.
Experience over a number of years showed him, that the NCP too was paralysed by its blind support for the Labour Party. Billy joined the CPGB-ML and, although in failing health, helped it in every possible way he could, especially by financial contributions, and sending his poetry to be published in the Party’s journal or the fraternal paper, LALKAR.
During the Miners’ Strike, Billy actively supported the NUM on the picket line and at meetings. He continued to have a strong empathy with the miners, attending Durham Miners’ Gala many times over the decades.
We send him our salute, and wish this conversation to be a lasting tribute to his life, his hard won political understanding, his struggle, and his work.
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