Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

September 2020

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Welcome to the September 2020 edition of the SLHS newsletter.

Desperately Seeking Early Journals: SLHS is trying to assemble a full set of SLH journals, from no.1, published in 1969, to no.54, published last year. Currently, we are missing nos.1 to 9 inclusive. If you have any of these and don’t need to hold on to them, we’d be pleased to hear from you. In the first instance, please contact SLHS chair, Stewart Maclennan, at

International Brigade Memorial Trust: IBMT Scotland secretary Mike Arnott has asked us to report that, following the cancellation of the 2020 IBMT event in March, the 2021 International Brigade Memorial Trust's annual Len Crome Memorial Conference is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 20th, at Edinburgh University.

ILP Paper Digitised: Forward, the Independent Labour Party’s Glasgow weekly newspaper, founded in 1906 (which continued until 1959, albeit in diminished form) has been partly digitised. Issues from January 1916 to December 1923 – 414 in all – have been added to the British Newspaper Archive (BNA). They join the already digitised Glasgow-based Chartist Circular of 1839-42, the Glasgow Sentinel from 1850-86, and the Leeds-based Chartist Northern Star. The BNA is a subscription-based service but many public libraries and the National Library of Scotland provide free access. More at

Working Class Movement Library: The WCML Reading Room in Salford is open again. Visits are by appointment only (from Tuesday 15 September), and WCML can host only two researchers on any one day, to guarantee social distancing, etc. To book, email  The library is open from 10am to 4pm, Tuesdays to Fridays. To offer places to as many people as possible, WCML will be limiting individual bookings to two days per fortnight. Required material should be requested in advance, and help can be provided to identify relevant material. All items will be quarantined for at least 72 hours after use, which could mean items are not always available when required.

Jacobin and Eugene Debs: A recent issue of the left-wing US magazine, Jacobin, contains a long essay on the American socialist leader, Eugene Debs. See

New/Recent Books:

  • Maggie Craig’s One Week in April: The Scottish Radical Rising of 1820, published to mark the Rising’s 200th anniversary, is described by its publishers as “a new and vivid re-telling of one of the most extraordinary moments in Scottish history”, when events in Glasgow, central Scotland and Ayrshire, brought 60,000 weavers and other workers out on strike, demanding political reform and better living and working conditions.
    [Birlinn, hardback, 304pp (ISBN: 978-1-78027- 632-8), £20.00;]
  • Bob Wylie’s Bandit Capitalism: Carillion and the Corruption of the British State examines the 2018 collapse of the construction giant, Carillion, which, on folding, had £29 million in the bank, and debts and other liabilities of £7 billion. The scandal is one of several major financial collapses signalling the crisis in current capitalism.
    [Birlinn, paperback, 240pp (ISBN: 978-1- 78027-596-3), £14.99;]
  • Simon Hannah’s Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay:The Fight to Stop the Poll Tax provides a history of the social movement that helped bring down Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
    [Pluto Press, paperback, 224pp (ISBN: 978-0-74534-081-4), £16.99; hardback (ISBN: 978-0-74534-085-2) £75.00]
  • Merlin Press has recently issued a revised edition of E P Thompson’s classic biography of William Morris, William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary. First published in 1955, but now with a new foreword by Sheila Rowbotham, in which she says Thompson ‘gives us the artist and the political fighter’.
    [Merlin Press, paperback, 642pp (ISBN: 978-0-85036-680-8), £25.00]

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