Keir Hardie Society Secretary Richard Leonard met with Rita Smith at the exhibition of the Great Tapestry of Scotland at the Anchor Mill in Paisley recently.
Rita Smith with the help of her daughters Audrey and Shirley stitched the panel of Keir Hardie that forms part of the Tapestry which tells the story of Scotland. The Tapestry at 143 metres long is the longest embroidered Tapestry in the world. Keir Hardie was Labour’s first MP and first leader and was born in Legbrannock in Lanarkshire.
The Keir Hardie Society was set up in 2010 by Richard Leonard, Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Cathy Jamieson and others to keep alive the ideas and promote the life and work of Keir Hardie.
Richard Leonard said:
“It was an honour to meet Rita at last. Rita is originally from Falkirk but now lives in Austria. She contacted the Society when she was commissioned to stitch the Keir Hardie panel. We were pleased to suggest that Rita use the slogan that Hardie adopted in his Mid Lanark By election in 1888: “Bread for the Hungry, Rest for the Weary and Hope for the Oppressed.” It is a slogan which emphasises not just Hardie’s belief in social justice but his ethical socialism, a faith which he stuck to right to his death in 1915.
Rita Smith said
“I’m so enthusiastic about Keir Hardie, he was a man of the people who was so special to Scotland. The Panel took us two hundred days to complete and I took it with me on planes, trains, even a cruise ship. It will be hanging again at the Scottish Parliament over the summer, then New Lanark in the autumn. Eventually we really hope it will find a permanent home.”