Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

May 2022

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The Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture
On Thursday 7 April, family, friends and colleagues of the late Ian MacDougall (Scottish Labour History Society Secretary, 1961-1996) gathered at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh for the inauguration of the annual Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture. A further successful collaboration between NLS, SLHS and the Scottish Working People's History Trust, the event also marked the re-opening of NLS for such public activities, with over sixty crowding into the room to hear Lynn Abrams, Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow, her theme 'Listening to people speak: the value of oral histories of working people'. A lively discussion followed, with reminiscences from Ian's widow, Sandra, and elder brother, George.

The Scottish Labour History Society Essay Prize
Introducing the above lecture, SLHS Chair Stewart Maclennan announced the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize, an annual cash award to the best essay on a theme related to Scottish labour history by a pre-graduate student. Generous donations to the support fund continue and have ensured the maintenance of the prize and its promotion for several years. Likewise, the Memorial Lecture is a guaranteed fixture on the NLS schedule for at least the next five years. Those wishing to contribute to the Essay Prize fund may do so by bank transfer to: Co-operative Bank, Sort Code 089299, A/c. No. 65474464. Donations over £25 will receive a copy of Ian MacDougall's 1978 masterwork, A Catalogue of Some Labour Records in Scotland, kindly made available by Sandra MacDougall.

Growing up in the Jewish Gorbals
The 2022 Scottish Labour History Journal will include a review of Ben Cohen's 'A Long Life in the Making: Coming of age in the Jewish Gorbals and the East End of London between the wars', in which Phil Cohen presents an edited account of letters sent to him by his father giving an account of his life. Phil Cohen, Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Cultural Studies, University of London, and Research Director of the Livingmaps Network, will be discussing the book at an event organised by the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre in Glasgow on Sunday 8 May, and the Centre's Director has kindly extended an invitation to members of the Scottish Labour History Society to attend. There is no admission fee, but prior booking is required on The event commences at 2 pm at the Centre, Garnethill Synagogue, 129 Hill Street, Glasgow, G3 6UB.

UCS and Jimmy Reid’s “Rat Race” Speech
Fifty years ago, on 28 April 1972, Jimmy Reid gave his powerful and influential address to the University of Glasgow in Bute Hall, having been elected as the university’s rector, the position to represent the interests of students at the university and beyond. It became known as the ‘rat race’ speech and the New York Times printed it in full, describing it as ‘the greatest speech since President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address’. As a then communist and leader of the on-going UCS work-in fighting for workers’ jobs, the address deals with the alienation we suffer under capitalism – from ourselves and others, as well as from nature and society. The Jimmy Reid Foundation has made the speech available at

The 11th Annual Frow Lecture
The eleventh annual Frow Lecture, organised by the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, will take place on Saturday 28th May, from 2-4pm at the Old Fire Station in Salford. It will be given by Dr Katrina Navickas of the University of Hertfordshire and the title is Trespass before Mass Trespass: Resistance to the enclosures of the Pennine landscape in the 19th century. Dr Navickas is originally from Rochdale, on the edge of the Lancashire Pennines, and has written about radicalism in Lancashire and protest in the late C18 and early C19. Tickets are free and can be obtained at…  

New Manager at WCML
The Working Class Movement Library has a new manager, Belinda Scarlett. The library has recently extended its opening hours, post-Covid restrictions, and is now open for drop-ins on Friday afternoons, as well as other bookings. Contact details are