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But the story of Kath Duncan, a powerful orator “everyone was scared of” has, up until now, gone largely unnoticed by a modern audience. Newspapers of the day dedicated countless column inches to the activities of the Scot, who was involved at the highest level in campaigns such as the 1920s hunger marches and the fight against Oswald Mosley’s fascists. She took on slum landlords, rallied against gas price rises for the poor and, later, acted as a recruiter and fundraiser for the Spanish Civil War. She was also a suffragette. But her legacy has been largely airbrushed out of history, according to Raymond Woolford, author of The Last Queen of Scotland, who said Duncan should be celebrated as a working class hero.

Katherine Sinclair MacColl was born in 1889 in Tarbert, Argyll, but lived for most of her youth in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which she always considered her home. She was one of the most important political activists of the last century, but her leading role in the Communist party has, until now, ensured that much about this amazing woman has been all but erased from both Scottish and English History.

Both the British and Russian secret services would do their best to secure the assistance of the so-called ‘Red Herring.’ Duncan was a communist, active in 1917 and with spies for various parties lodged in her close-knit circle until 1948. She had the ear and friendship of Sir Winston Churchill from their first meeting in 1917 until her death in 1954.  Churchill was captivated by this striking woman with bright red hair and, at first glance, he was not sure if she was a young man or woman. She claimed to be descendent of Scottish hero Rob Roy “who would never steal from the poor.” The friendship between the Communist and the British Prime Minister is a secret which has been kept until revealed in this book.

Katherine Sinclair MacColl married fellow LGBTQ teacher and political activist Sandy Duncan in 1923 and moved from Kirkcaldy to Hackney in London. It was the General Strike of 1926 and the Invergordon Mutiny of 1931, whose leaders included her friend Fred Copeman, that would turn Duncan from a Winston-Churchill-supporting Liberal to a key and committed member of the UK Communist Party that had been established in 1920. She became a member of its Central Committee in 1929 and stood as a parliamentary candidate for Greenwich in 1931.

In 1930, Duncan, still teaching in Battersea in South London, moved to Deptford in South East London and rapidly involved herself in The National Unemployed Workers Movement. She was a key organiser of the hunger marches that defined the 1930s, and energetically opposed fascism. Wherever she went, crowds would gather in their hundreds and often thousands to listen to this brilliant orator and lover of amateur dramatics, who, despite her 5ft 2in height, had no trouble attracting rapt attention from her soapbox.

Organising the unemployed and the poor, she mobilised her entire community to take on slum landlords, defend market traders from being moved away as part of the gentrification plans of the time, and organised child protests against welfare reforms with children carrying banners stating, “Daddy’s on the Dole,”just one example from the extensive list of campaigns Duncan would take a lead in with her catchphrase “I will fight to the last ditch!” Her protests at the docks against the arms trade, specifically targeting the armaments being loaded to supply the combatants in the Second Sino-Japanese War, led to many successes as dockers refused to load the munitions. In June 1932, after one such protest, a large group returning to Deptford Broadway were instructed to stop singing the ‘Red Flag’ by the police. When they refused, they were attacked by mounted police in a conflict that became known as the Battle of Deptford Broadway. In the tense aftermath of this battle, Duncan was eventually arrested and charged under laws originally used against the leaders of the 14th-century peasants’ revolt (also linked to Deptford) on a charge of being “a disturber of the peace of our lord the King.” Her case would be the first-ever fought by the National Council Of Civil Liberties (LIBERTY). Duncan vs Jones 1936 was a legal and civil-rights sensation at the time. Although she lost the case, the precedent set by this trial was still being used to thwart protestors in 1999 from attending a demonstration against the Iraq war.  Duncan’s case would ultimately lead to a change in the law that would allow all workers the right to protest. Duncan’s frequent arrests would lead to attempts being made in Parliament to prevent her from teaching.

The Battle of Cable Street and the march on the gas board against fuel-poverty are just two of the many anti-fascist and social-justice struggles in which Duncan took the lead. She shared her home with many of the key activists of the time and her house was also a recruiting and vetting centre for volunteers going to the Spanish Civil War, and Duncan would collect money tirelessly door-to-door to send ambulances to the fight against fascism. No activist in the last century did so much and was involved at such a high level in so many campaigns.

On 14th August 1954, she died of TB, which she had contracted in prison, back home in Scotland. In South London, thousands lined the streets to celebrate her life. When a speaker asked the crowd to whom to propose the toast, a voice piped up “The Last Queen of Scotland!” Since then she has largely been forgotten. This book will seek to end this injustice and restore Kath Duncan as the hugely important civil-rights activist she was and whose story is intrinsically interesting, casts an interesting light on several key moments in 20thcentury British history, resonates with many of the social and political issues we face today.

Katherine Sinclair MacColl was born in 1889 in Tarbert, Argyll, but lived for most of her youth in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which she always considered her home. She was one of the most important political activists of the last century, but her leading role in the Communist party has, until now, ensured that much about this amazing woman has been all but erased from both Scottish and English History.

Both the British and Russian secret services would do their best to secure the assistance of the so-called ‘Red Herring.’ Duncan was a communist, active in 1917 and with spies for various parties lodged in her close-knit circle until 1948. She had the ear and friendship of Sir Winston Churchill from their first meeting in 1917 until her death in 1954.  Churchill was captivated by this striking woman with bright red hair and, at first glance, he was not sure if she was a young man or woman. She claimed to be descendent of Scottish hero Rob Roy “who would never steal from the poor.” The friendship between the Communist and the British Prime Minister is a secret which has been kept until revealed in this book.

Katherine Sinclair MacColl married fellow teacher and political activist Sandy Duncan in 1923 and moved from Kirkcaldy to Hackney in London. This was certainly NOT a real marriage as they were both LGBTQ. It was the General Strike of 1926 and the Invergordon Mutiny of 1931, whose leaders included her friend Fred Copeman, that would turn Duncan from a Winston-Churchill-supporting Liberal to a key and committed member of the UK Communist Party that had been established in 1920. She became a member of its Central Committee in 1929 and stood as a parliamentary candidate for Greenwich in 1931.

In 1930, Duncan, still teaching in Battersea in South London, moved to Deptford in South East London and rapidly involved herself in The National Unemployed Workers Movement. She was a key organiser of the hunger marches that defined the 1930s, and energetically opposed fascism. Wherever she went, crowds would gather in their hundreds and often thousands to listen to this brilliant orator and lover of amateur dramatics, who, despite her 5ft 2in height, had no trouble attracting rapt attention from her soapbox.

Organising the unemployed and the poor, she mobilised her entire community to take on slum landlords, defend market traders from being moved away as part of the gentrification plans of the time, and organised child protests against welfare reforms with children carrying banners stating, “Daddy’s on the Dole,”just one example from the extensive list of campaigns Duncan would take a lead in with her catchphrase “I will fight to the last ditch!” Her protests at the docks against the arms trade, specifically targeting the armaments being loaded to supply the combatants in the Second Sino-Japanese War, led to many successes as dockers refused to load the munitions. In June 1932, after one such protest, a large group returning to Deptford Broadway were instructed to stop singing the ‘Red Flag’ by the police. When they refused, they were attacked by mounted police in a conflict that became known as the Battle of Deptford Broadway. In the tense aftermath of this battle, Duncan was eventually arrested and charged under laws originally used against the leaders of the 14th-century peasants’ revolt (also linked to Deptford) on a charge of being “a disturber of the peace of our lord the King.” Her case would be the first-ever fought by the National Council Of Civil Liberties (LIBERTY). Duncan vs Jones 1936 was a legal and civil-rights sensation at the time. Although she lost the case, the precedent set by this trial was still being used to thwart protestors in 1999 from attending a demonstration against the Iraq war.  Duncan’s case would ultimately lead to a change in the law that would allow all workers the right to protest. Duncan’s frequent arrests would lead to attempts being made in Parliament to prevent her from teaching.

The Battle of Cable Street and the march on the gas board against fuel-poverty are just two of the many anti-fascist and social-justice struggles in which Duncan took the lead. She shared her home with many of the key activists of the time and her house was also a recruiting and vetting centre for volunteers going to the Spanish Civil War, and Duncan would collect money tirelessly door-to-door to send ambulances to the fight against fascism. No activist in the last century did so much and was involved at such a high level in so many campaigns.

On 14th August 1954, she died of TB, which she had contracted in prison, back home in Scotland. In South London, thousands lined the streets to celebrate her life. When a speaker asked the crowd to whom to propose the toast, a voice piped up “The Last Queen of Scotland!” Since then she has largely been forgotten. This book will seek to end this injustice and restore Kath Duncan as the hugely important civil-rights activist she was and whose story is intrinsically interesting, casts an interesting light on several key moments in 20thcentury British history, resonates with many of the social and political issues we face today. Kirkcaldy in Scotland is famous for Adam Smith, is it not the time it also celebrates the life of an extraordinary Women whose politics were shaped by Kirkcaldy?.

Example of play review https://www.thecanary.co/feature/2019/01/12/the-most-groundbreaking-play-of-2019-is-about-to-open-in-london/

Fly the Flag the Original song from the new LGBTQ Civil rights Stage Platy Liberty also on sale as a book and ebook, although original song scores NOT in the book contact me directly for the original music score to perform this singer Julez Hamilton

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