100 Years of the J&E’s Communist Party

17 07 2021

Great celebrations were held in the People’s Republic of China recently to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist party. But few are aware of the Party’s long standing and fraternal links to another organisation based  closer to home – on the corner of Church Street and Kenneth Street, in fact.

IN 1921, disgruntled staff in the  Stornoway bakery of J&E Macleod decided to form an organisation dedicated to establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, seizing the means of production (of plain loaf and morning rolls) and placing it in the hands of the workers. 

The J&E’s Communist Party had its first meeting in July 1921, behind a pile of flour bags in a shed near where the Thai Cafe stands today.  Founders Chen Dubh-sùgh and Leverhulme Drivezhao met with Rubhach Bolshevik agent Grigori Pointinski who had been sent by the Garrabost politburo to J&E’s to foment revolution.

One promising young firebrand also present at the meeting was an apprentice dough mixer from Ford Terrace, Maw Tse Tong (nowadays spelt “Maw Zheepdung”),  who soon rose to lead the party as “Chairman Maw”.

The Communists were by no means dominant in J&E’s in the 20s and 30s – the main party in the shop was the nationalist  An Comunn-tang, led by staunchly anti-communist Rubhach exile Chiang Kai-Sheshader. 

Throughout the 30s and 40s the J&E’s Communists and the Comunn-tang alternated between battling each other for control of the shop, and ganging up to fight invading forces from other bakeries such as Forsyth’s, Johnny Òg’s and Calum Sgiathanach’s.

In the years following WWII, however, the Communists finally gained the upper hand and in 1949 the Comunn-tang abandoned mainland J&E’s and fled offshore to the island of Cromor-sa in Loch Erisort. The only building that was there when they arrived was a sheep shelter, so they promptly renamed the island Taigh-uan.

Chairman Maw took full control of J&E’s soon afterwards, and ruled until his death in 1976. 

In the early 50s the Chairman was very keen on exporting his brand of revolution beyond J&E’s itself. He invaded the Taobh Siar and drove its spiritual leader the Dalbeg Lamb-a into exile, and supported North Tolsta dictator Kim Il Drungaire’s breakaway from the Free Church in the Kuiream-ean war.

As the 50s went on, Maw established a personality cult, with a big statue of himself  in Perceval square and his face on the front of the Gazette every week. The Chairman soon started to believe his own hype and began to indulge his whims with disastrous initiatives on a grand scale, such as:

The Wee Free-Aunties Campaign: In 1951, Maw unleashed a cadre of his mother’s formidable churchgoing sisters to run a campaign against corruption, bureaucracy, waste and rightist thought. The campaign failed because rather than concentrating on Maw’s priorities, the Aunties spent all their time persecuting people for listening to the wireless on Sundays or taking the church bus instead of walking.

The Great Leap Bac-ward : Chairman Maw had read that the population of J&E’s was big enough to shift the world on its axis if they all jumped up and down at the same time. After some rough calculations Maw decided that if everyone jumped in a vaguely North-Easterly direction – towards Back – at the same time, the sun would shine on Kenneth Street for ever more. Needless to say it didn’t work.

The Cuireamach Revolution : Chairman Maw decided that life in Stornoway was decadent and that the townies working in the shop weren’t holy enough. Cadres of Maw’s ultra-zealous Red Bàrds went around denouncing everybody (in verse at the local Mòd), and countless townies were sent to live with the peasants outside the cattle grid and work on the croft. Many long-serving party members and intellectuals were purged to “re-education camps” (Àiridhs out the pentland Road) to cut Maw’s peats. For the Chairman, this was a convenient way of disposing of potential rivals for control of the Party. And of getting his peats done without having to go out to the moor and get eaten by the midgies himself.  

Nevertheless, as Chairman Maw got older, rival factions in the Party started jostling for position to take over whenever he popped his clogs, and in Maw’s final years, various names came in and out of the frame – Prime Minister Zhoubost Enlai, Maw’s widow Jiang Qingedwardswharf and her notorious “Gang of Faolags”, and party stalwart Hua Cove Hen(supper) to name but a few. 

But in the end Chairman Maw was succeeded by FleekeenHeng Xiaoping, who decided to open up J&E’s to the rest of the world again. 

Heng reformed the economy from a centrally-planned baking operation to a free-market hat shop. In the years that followed J&E’s became a massive exporter of dradhars and is now the town’s dominant charity shop, apart from Bethesda, maybe.

In 1997 J&E’s resumed possession of Heng Kong (aka Sober Island), when Sir James Matheson’s 150-year opium smuggling lease on the dynamic offshore metropolis expired. Despite early promises from J&E’s to maintain a “one shop, two systems” approach, current party leader Xheep Jinping has been clamping down on dissent in the colony recently. Consequently a sizeable proportion of the populace are probably going to exercise their right to Stornowegian citizenship soon, and fleek off over to Cuddy Point.

100 years on from its formation, the J&E’s Communist Party’s repression in Heng Kong, together with sabre-rattling towards Taigh-uan, and its cruel treatment of the Uigeach minority in the far West, are all causes for international concern. But J&E’s global economic power means that few are willing to stand up to it. Much of the town is entirely reliant on J&E’s for its supplies of 2nd hand bodachs’ trousers, 1970s ornaments and back copies of the Free Church Monthly Record.