Sandy Hobbs (1937- )

Left wing activist

Alexander (Sandy) Hobbs was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1937. From 1954 to 1958 he studied psychology at the University of Aberdeen. Although not an actively political student he was a member of a small informal circle who saw socialism, humanism and science as intimately linked and around this time became a member of the Aberdeen Humanist Group.

After graduating in 1958 he continued at the University as a postgraduate although he never completed his PhD. As a postgraduate he became heavily involved in political and cultural activities, becoming the first secretary of Aberdeen Left Club. The Chair of the Club was Ken Alexander. Through his activity in the New Left, Sandy became friendly with a number of ex-communists, including Norman and Janey Buchan. In the run-up to the 1959 general election Sandy worked nearly full-time for the South Aberdeen Labour candidate and joined the Party, remaining a member for 12 years. He was also an 'outside' member of the Fife Socialist League. Around this time the Labour Party founded the Young Socialists and Sandy's political activities focused on this part of the Labour Party until he left Aberdeen in 1961.

In 1961 Sandy married a fellow student, Lois Kemp, a leading member of the student Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and daughter of Labour Party activist William Kemp. Through his association with the Young Socialists, Sandy came into contact with various Trotskyist groups who were working within the Labour Party at the time. As a result he became close to the Labour Worker group but was not a member. He joined the Dundee Left Club but became more active in the CND, especially in publicising Scottish CND. In CND he worked closely with the cartoonist Leo Baxendale, which led to him also scriptwriting for Leo's comic, 'Wham!'.

In 1965 Sandy moved to Glasgow becoming more involved in the Labour Party, chairing his local branch and acting as Janey Buchan's campaign manager for a local government election. He was again involved in the election campaigns for the 1970 general election after which time he resigned from the Labour Party, having become disillusioned by Harold Wilson's government. At this time a number of single-issue campaigns were gaining in prominence and Sandy became involved with the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) and the Glasgow Committee Against Racism.

In 1968 Sandy started as a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Commerce where he chaired the Staff Association. In 1969 he moved to Jordanhill College of Education, Glasgow, where he was involved in the Association of Lecturers in Colleges of Education in Scotland (ALCES). A further move to Paisley College, Renfrewshire, Scotland, (now University of the West of Scotland) in 1975 resulted in his membership of the Association of Lecturers in Scottish Central Institutions (ALSCI).

Upon leaving the Labour Party, Sandy became attached to the International Socialists, who later became the Socialist Workers Party. He was never comfortable with the group and left a few years later in part because he found it much more congenial working on the less sectarian radical paper, Glasgow News. He also became involved with the Chilean Committee for Human Rights supporting refugees from the regime of Pinochet. For a time, he re-joined the Labour Party as a way of forwarding the work of this Committee.

From the mid-1970s onwards Sandy dropped out of active politics while his wife, Lois, continued to play an active part in the Women's Movement and Glasgow Women's Aid. Instead, he concentrated on research, writing and publishing as a lecturer within the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Paisley and qualifying as a Chartered Psychologist which he achieved in 1990. In 1997, he became a Reader at the University of Paisley (University of the West of Scotland) and in 2002 became an Honorary Research Fellow concentrating on child labour and contemporary legends. In 2011, in collaboration with Willie Thompson, Sandy published the book, Out of the Burning House, which contains accounts of their political activities in the 1950s and early 1960s.