He was educated at the local Board School and served his apprenticeship in engineering at the Britannia Works, where he continued to work as an journeyman.
Early in his career he became involved in trade union activity and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP). He was first elected as a local councillor for the ILP in 1905 and served for many years, with particular interest in public health and housing. However, he was already in poor health by this time and he died in office later that year, aged 61.
He was an excellent speaker and formidable debater.
In an obituary in the Kilmarnock Standard, 1929, he is described as. In Kilmarnock, Scotland there is a street, "Climie Place" named in his memory.
Despite previously being a Volunteer Sergeant in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, when he became involved in socialist politics he opposed the Boer War and spoke out regularly against it at the ILP"s outdoor meetings from 1899 - 1902.
33rd United Kingdom Parliament. 35th United Kingdom Parliament]
As a nominee of Ayrshire Trades Council, he was a member of the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s Parliamentary Committee from 1910 to 1918 and from 1920 to 1923, and was Secretary to the Committee in 1914. He was elected to Parliament at the 1923 general election as Member of Parliament (Member of Parliament) for Kilmarnock, having unsuccessfully contested the seat in 1922.