Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

July 2022

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Ian MacDougall Essay Prize Fund
A splendid response to the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize Fund, launched at the inaugural Memorial Lecture in April, has now reached £4,000, enough to fund the prize and its promotion for several years to come. The annual award will be a cash prize of £300 for the best essay on a subject related to Scottish labour history by an undergraduate student, with a further £100 for the runner-up. The successful essay will also be published in the Scottish Labour History Journal, and the Essay Prize protocol and entry form will appear on the website in the coming months.

Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture
Following the successful inaugural Memorial Lecture, given by Professor Lynn Abrams of the University of Glasgow, representatives of SLHS, the Scottish Working People's History Trust and the National Library of Scotland will be meeting to agree the appointment of next year's lecturer. The NLS has undertaken to host the event for at least five years.

Glasgow Doors Open Festival
For many years, SLHS has been a participant in Glasgow Doors Open, offering heritage walks on labour movement topics, and we will be there again this year. Having "walked" through World War I, Red Clydeside and George Square 1919, the focus this year is on "Clydeside to Landslide" and the historic Labour victory in Scotland at the 1922 General Election. The walk is at 11am on Sunday 18 September, starting from the south entrance to the Clyde Suspension Bridge on Carlton Place.

New Book on R B Cunninghame Graham
In March, Edinburgh University Press published R B Cunninghame Graham and Scotland, a new biography of Graham, the Scottish ‘aristocrat’ who profoundly influenced the development of both socialist and nationalist politics during the later C19 and early C20. To quote the publisher’s website, the book “explores Graham’s early political views, his time as a Member of Parliament, his disillusionment with the Liberal Party and his reputation as the first declared ‘socialist’ MP.” Using documentary evidence, the author, Lachlan Munro, traces Graham’s early political influences, including Keir Hardie and William Morris. He also examines Graham’s anti-imperialist, anti-colonial and anti-racist speeches and writings, and his support for women’s rights and universal suffrage. The book is an important addition to the material available on Graham, but for ordinary readers, it is a shame it is so expensive (£85.00). Most of us will have to await the paperback edition. More details at… The book will be reviewed in this year’s Scottish Labour History journal.

An Alternative to Foodbanks?
Bloomsbury have recently published Liverpool Hope University Professor of Modern World History Bryce Evans’ history of the communal dining schemes that were set up in Britain during the 2nd World War to ‘feed the people’. To quote the Bloomsbury website, Feeding the People in Wartime Britain “examines the cuisine served in these communal restaurants and the people who used them. It challenges the notion that communal eating played a marginal role in wartime food policy and reveals the impact they had in advancing nutritional understanding and new food technologies.” In a society facing food problems of a different order, perhaps this kind of initiative is an alternative – or complement – to food banks. Unfortunately, the book is again highly priced (£76.50). More details at…

Tariq Ali on Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes is a new book from the prolific Tariq Ali (and it is currently available – until 8th July – from the Verso website with a 40% discount as part of the publisher’s ‘Summer Reading’ offer, making it just £15.00). The book is intended as a corrective to the tradition of adulatory popular biographies of the two-times prime minister and upholder of the British Empire. Ali notes that prior to becoming wartime prime minister in 1940, Churchill had been less than successful as minister responsible for the navy during the 1st World War, He had also a record which included the adoption of vicious force in Ireland, as well as against organised workers in Glasgow and South Wales, and he had been fiercely contemptuous of trade unions during the General Strike. More information at  

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