Robert Climie (1868 – 1929)

Political activist, STUC President and Labour Party MP

Robert Climie was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland on 4th January 1868. He was the son of an underground colliery fireman (Robert Climie) and a bonnet weaver (Mary McGarvie). Educated at the local School Board, Robert served his apprenticeship at the Britannia Works continuing with them as a journeyman. Early in his career he became involved in trade union activity and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP).

As part of his political activity he spoke at the ILP's outdoor meetings against the Boer War and was first elected as a local ILP councillor in 1905. Serving in this position for many years, he was particularly interested in public health and housing.

Nominated by Ayrshire Trades Council, Robert Climie was a member of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Parliamentary Committee from 1910 to 1918 and 1920 to 1923. He was the eighteenth STUC President in 1914.

In the 1923 General Election Robert was returned as Labour MP for Kilmarnock, having unsuccessfully contested the seat in 1922. He was narrowly defeated again in the 1924 General Election but won the seat back again in May 1929.

Robert was married to Jeannie McIldowie Miekle also a Labour Party activist and had a family of six sons and one daughter.

"…a small man of medium build, with dark hair and moustache, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He was moderate in all things, always hard-working in the labour cause and a lifelong supporter of Ramsay MacDonald." (Kilmarnock Standard, October 1929)