200 Voices

The humble gin and tonic has been elevated to an art form. Picture: Flickr

Why has gin become so popular?

There is no denying that gin is one of the world’s fastest growing spirits, with Scottish gin in particular undergoing a massive revival.

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Tam speaking at a public event

Alternative political voices: Tam Kirby, Scottish Communist Party

It’s not often you get a council candidate admitting that he hasn’t a hope. But as the Scottish Communist Party’s Tam Kirby reflects on his failed by-election attempt last year, he is under no illusion that his politics are a minority pursuit.

“It was a laugh. We knew that we were fighting big parties with big budgets. It was partly to make a point that we still existed because the by-election was to replace Wullie Clarke (often touted as the last Communist Councillor in Britain, Clarke was in fact an independent) and we had a good time with a cavalcade of cars waving the red flag,” says Tam.

We wanted to find out what drives someone to join a part like the communists. For Tam, it was in response to the financial crash that led him to join the party.

The affable Fifer said: “I was too outspoken for mainstream parties. And as for other Scottish left parties (like Rise, the SSP and the Greens) – their politics are too naïve.

“They think there’s going to be a revolution overnight and suddenly we will be living in some kind of socialist utopia. Communists are more realistic.”

Surely someone so active in Scottish politics will have an opinion on the big dividing line of the constitution?

Not Tam.

“I think the whole issue of independence is just a massive distraction. It’s been put across as this silver bullet that’s going to fix things for the working class. It’s not the case that we’re more left-wing than England – we’ve even got a UKIP MEP!”

To end our chat, I tell Tam that this is his platform to sell communism to the Scottish people. Where should we be looking to emulate, and what would a communist Scotland look like?

Tam believes Cuba is one place Scotland should emulate

Tam believes Cuba is one place Scotland should emulate

He says: “When I cite places like Cuba, people hit back with some of the problems that they have there despite the positives.

“The most damaging myth is that communism equals dictatorships.

“But our current sham of a democracy is where power is held by the richest for the richest.

“People query our system, but at events we have we need to ask for donations to foodbanks. That’s capitalism for you.

“Our vision is about true democracy, from the ground up, That’s what Scotland could look like, but I know it won’t happen in my lifetime and I’m ok with that. It was all about finding a home for myself and an identity I’m comfortable with. And that’s why I’m a communist.”

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