“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.”
This is a conversation between our comrade William Hunt-Vincent, and Ranjeet and Jackson of the CPGB-ML and Red Youth. They 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 make and publish our discussion. But we are proud to present it now, so that young workers, from the north-east and throughout Britain, can learn from his words of wisdom, and his reflections on working-class life and struggle during eight decades of living in Sunderland.
Despite all the ups and downs of his life, and of the communist movement that he eagerly joined, and worked to nurture and spread, Billy never lost faith in the ability of working people to liberate themselves from wage slavery. Nor did he ever lose the firm conviction that Marxism Leninism provides us with the weapons to free our country and our world from the evils that capitalism imposes upon working people.
Until 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 capitalism, published in its pages, until 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 is compulsive viewing, and gives a real working-class perspective of our history, which 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 a novel in his 83rd year – Shed No Tears for the Defeated – which can be purchased from our online shop.
Obituary for Billy Vincent, Lalkar, January 2015
Billy left school at 14 and served his time as a blacksmith with the River Wear Commissioners, where he worked as a chainmaker 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 New Communist Party (NCP), in the belief that it represented a revolutionary alternative to the CPGB’s revisionism.
Experience over a number of years showed him, however, that the NCP was equally paralysed by its blind support for the Labour party. Billy joined the CPGB-ML soon after its formation 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, Proletarian, or the fraternal paper, Lalkar.
During the miners’ strike of 1984/5, Billy actively supported the miners’ union (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.