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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 09:10 GMT
Tributes paid to veteran anti-royalist
Westminster
Willie Hamilton served as an MP at Westminster for 37 years
The former Labour MP Willie Hamilton has died at the age of 82.

For nearly 40 years he was one of the highest profile MPs in the Westminster parliament, mainly because of his anti-royalty views.

He was a serious man and when he spoke he really believed what he said. He did not say things for effect.

George Hume, journalist
Politicians and journalists have paid tribute to the veteran Fife MP who branded the royal family gold-plated scroungers and made repeated calls for the monarchy to be scrapped.

Journalist George Hume said: "Willie was a great man, but you could never class him as a Mr Dial-a-Quote.

"He was a serious man and when he spoke he really believed what he said. He did not say things for effect."
Willie Hamilton
Willie Hamilton: Hard-working MP
Fellow politician Harry Ewing echoed those comments by saying that it was unfair just to think of Mr Hamilton in terms of his anti-royalist comments.

"In the early 1970s Willie saw through the equal pay for equal work bill. I certainly will remember for things like that and not his anti-royalist views."

Mr Hamilton, who stepped down as the Labour MP for Central Fife in 1987 after 37 years in politics, died at the weekend at Lincoln County Hospital.

He had moved to the Lincolnshire village of Woodhall-Spa following his retirement.

Born in Houghton-Le-Spring in 1917, the son of a Durham miner, Willie Hamilton graduated from Sheffield University and became a teacher.

'Salt of the earth'

He saw war service in the army from 1939 to 1945, reaching the rank of Captain, and after demob, he entered politics in Scotland, but was defeated in the old West Fife seat by legendary Communist Willie Gallacher.

When he won the seat five years later, he described his victory as the highlight of his career and claimed the Fifers who voted for him were "the best people in Britain - the salt of the earth".

He wrote two books underlining his staunch Republican views. The first, My Queen and I, published in 1975, followed by Blood on the Walls - Memoirs of an Anti-Royalist in 1992.

Despite his outspoken criticism of the British class system, he said before his retirement, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that he wanted to don ermine and a coronet and join the House of Lords which he described as "the best geriatric unit in Britain".

Queen
Queen did not escape criticism
His catalogue of criticism of the Royals, included branding the Queen "a clockwork doll".

He also labelled Princess Margaret "a floosie", called Prince Charles "a twerp", and described Princess Anne as "plain".

He was also known as a hard-working MP, with regular majorities of up to 18,000, and he was never slow to criticise anyone he felt was giving his voters a raw deal.

He once accused the Labour-controlled Kirkcaldy district council of "too much bureaucracy" when they refused a constituent permission to build a house beside his garage or to have a residential caravan on the site.

On his retirement, he accused Prime Minister Thatcher of creating a divided Britain, at the height of the national Miners' strike he slammed Mr Scargill as "the greatest disaster that's ever befallen the NUM and the miners", and claimed Labour was "becoming more intolerant and bigoted, reaching fewer people than ever before."

Willie's first wife, with whom he had a daughter Sheila and son Ian, died in 1968.

He married his second wife Margaret in 1982 and for the last 13 years the couple have lived in Woodhall-Spa.

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George Hume, journalist
"Willie was a serious man and would not say things just for effect"
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