Today, however, the statue in Glasgow of Spanish Communist Party leader Dolores Ibarruri, known as La Pasionaria (passion flower), appears to be making an appeal for her own restoration.

Commissioned exactly 30 years ago today in tribute to the Scots of the International Brigade who fought and died in the Spanish Civil War between July 1936 to April 1939, La Pasionaria is now dull and weatherbeaten.

Once the fibreglass figure overlooking the Clyde shimmered and glowed in perfect imagery of the dynamic woman it represented. Now it’s mildewed and worn and oxidisation of the steel base has resulted in crumbling and discolouration.

La Pasionaria, created by Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley, also a Communist, marks the legacy of 550 Scots who left their homeland to fight in the Spanish Civil War against Franco’s fascist forces.

Professor Willy Maley, whose father James Maley fought in the Spanish Civil War, said: “It’s important we remind people she’s there and she has to be looked after. But I do know that once people read about Dolores and the work of the International Brigadiers they are fascinated.

“I know of Americans coming to the city to find out about its legacy, students write dissertations about the Brigadiers.

“This is a door we can’t allow to close. It’s too great a reminder of what the city once stood for. It’s our legacy.”

The statue, commissioned by the International Brigade Association, is not an official war memorial and Glasgow Councillor John McKenzie is battling to ensure it is restored to its former glory.

He said: “I watched a recent STV documentary about the International Brigade: The Scots Who Fought Franco, and I felt tearful at the realisation that so many young Scots had given their lives. Perhaps I’m being romantic but I believe they should be remembered, and I’ve written to our chief executive and the STUC to ask for funding.

“This is a project I will continue to work on. La Pasionaria should stand proud in Glasgow and I aim to make sure future generations get the chance to appreciate all that she symbolised.”

Nowadays, most young Scots know nothing of the International Brigade, far less a tarnished old statue at Custom House Quay. But those young people would also find it hard to imagine that hundreds of Britons left their homeland in 1936 to fight Franco’s forces, with 65 Scots losing their lives.

Ibarruri lived in exile in Moscow until the death of General Franco, returning to Spain in 1977 where she was re-elected to parliament at the age of 81.

However, Willy Maley maintains that La Pasionaria is a Glasgow icon, to be discovered by future generations.

He said: “We’ve never really acknowledged our socialist heroes, so it’s not surprising we don’t have a statue in George Square of John McLean marking Red Clydeside or indeed that La Pasionaria is located off the beaten track, although there was talk at one time of her taking up a position in George Square.”

A spokesman for Liverpool Academy Of Arts, which displays several of Arthur Dooley’s works, said it was “hugely disappointing” that the sculptor’s work in Glasgow is disintegrating.

“We really hope his work doesn’t fall into disrepair,” he said. “Arthur was a visionary, a great talent and a champion for the common man. His work deserves all the recognition it can get.”

The woman who inspired Scots to fight

Glasgow has few public testaments to its radical history. The statue of La Pasionaria at Custom House Quay on Clyde Street is a striking exception.

It is fitting that such a tribute to the astonishing contribution made by its citizens to the struggle against fascism in Spain should take the shape of the woman from the Basque country, Dolores Ibarruri, known universally as La Pasionaria for her fiery rhetoric, which inspired many who made the journey across the Pyrenees.

It was hearing La Pasionaria on the radio that inspired my father, James Maley, a Communist from Glasgow’s east end, to go to Spain.

The sculptor Arthur Dooley was also a Communist. A Liverpudlian, he is best known for his sculpture of The Beatles in his hometown, which depicts the Madonna cradling the band with the inscription: “Four lads who shook the world.”

Dooley had a few church commissions and there is a religious feel to La Pasionaria’s imploring arms. She is a Madonna figure and the men and women she salutes also shook the world.

Seven decades on from the end of the Spanish Civil War, exactly 30 years after the statue was commissioned, a year after the last of the Scottish volunteers for liberty has passed away, La Pasionaria still watches over Red Clydeside, reminding us of a radical history of political commitment, urging us to be vigilant and guard against a return of the fascist threat.

The recent electoral successes of the BNP and the emergence of the English and Scottish Defence leagues have drawn comparisons with the rise of fascism in the 1930s. Such comparisons are not idle. Scotland has a notable record of anti-fascist activity in that period and since, including a strong contribution to the International Brigades who fought for the beleaguered Spanish Republic.

If that era of commitment appears long gone, that is only because decades of corruption and complacency have conspired to belittle and undermine the achievements of the radical left.

This monument stands as a reminder of the anti-fascist struggles of the past, and a reminder too of the threat of fascism in the present.

Willy Maley is professor of renaissance studies at Glasgow University