Christopher Murray Grieve was born in Langholm, Dumfries-shire on the 11th of August 1892 and died in Edinburgh on the 9th of September 1978.
He was responsible for not only some of the finest poetry ever written in any language, but also practically single handedly created what is now termed the "Scottish Renaissance", carried on now by such great poets who stand in his shadow as Norman MacCaig, Sorley MacLean and Hamish Henderson, and rescued Scottish culture from its pathetic provincial doldrums of the 19th century.
Hugh was expelled from the CPGB for being a Scottish Nationalist and from the SNP for being a Communist. He, along with R.B. Cunninghame Graham, Dr Clarke, Compton MacKenzie and other prominent Republican and literary figures were founder members of the original Scottish Labour Party, which was short lived and taken over by the GB Labour Party. They were also founder members of the Scottish Party in 1928, which went on to amalgamate witht the National Party of Scotland, which became the forerunner of the modern SNP. We were pleased to have him as an honourary President of the Scottish Republican Socialist Clubs (SRSC).
Although MacDiarmid was too old to be active in the Scottish Republican Socialist Clubs were, he did not mind lending his name as honourary President. His son, Michael Grieve used to write a Daily Record column and was editor of the, then, 'Scots Independent'. He edited a useful weekly economic history of Scotland, listing all the factories that were taken over, closed down and moved South monotonous regularity. Mike was also a successful broadcaster, until he contracted throat cancer. He was a younger Hugh and an activist. Both were stalwarts of the movement. Hugh's poems on the Red Shirts inspired the SRSM .Garibaldi's liberation movement also wore red shirts, based upon his time in an Argentinean abattoir.
Not only that, but possibly more than any other Scot, he has kept alive the memory of the life and works of John MacLean through Scottish Republicanism's half-century long winter, for which we are all greatly in his debt. We send our condolences to his family.
Why I Choose Red
I fight in red for the same reasons
That Garibaldi chose the red shirt
- Because a few men in a field wearing red
Look like many men - if there are ten you will think
There are a hundred; if a hundred
You will believe them a thousand.
And the colour of red dances in the enemy's rifle sights
And his aim will be bad - But, best reason of all,
A man in a red shirt can neither hide nor retreat.