Remembering Janey Buchan, fierce Glasgow MEP who fought for civil rights

1 Janey Buchan was a passionate cultural and political activist. The Labor MEP was born in 1926 and died in 2012 at the age of 85. She was a passionate anti-apartheid activist, supported the campaign for nuclear disarmament and was an early advocate for gay rights.

Janey Buchan

2 Janey grew up in a one bedroom apartment building in Glasgow with her parents, two siblings and grandmother and left school at age 14 to try to improve the family income. Her father was a shipyard worker and tram driver, her mother Chrissie was a maid for a tobacco baron. Both were members of the Communist Party.

3 Janey met Norman Buchan as a member of the Young Communist League in 1940 and they married in 1946. She was a great supporter of the arts, advocating the revival of traditional Scottish music and inspiring the folk festival that was to become the edge of Edinburgh.

Janey Buchan

Janey Buchan

4 Janey represented Glasgow in the European Parliament from 1979 to 1994, where she criticized much of the bureaucracy and wasted money. She retired in 1994, four years after her husband’s death. She was a staunch opponent of apartheid and remained a lifelong supporter of South African causes, while her support for gay rights led her to be named life president of the Scottish Minorities Group, now part of the gay rights group Stonewall.

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5 Her obituary in our sister newspaper The Herald states: “As a councilor for Glasgow she was the director of arts and culture and tirelessly supported many cultural activities in the city and initiated a charity sale of Christmas cards in the city chambers. Many Scottish institutions have benefited from their support, generosity and ability to raise funds. She was fearless about winning big names for fundraising, including Billy Connolly for the People’s Palace. ”

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