Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

August 2022

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The 2022 SLHS Conference/AGM and Lecture – preliminary information

The June SLHS committee meeting agreed in principle to a combined conference and AGM in November, pending no further destabilising Covid variants. It will likely be a partly in-person and partly via remote technology event, with a theme for the conference of trade union history and biography. Since then planning has been undertaken but the event is not yet finalised, though we thought it important to provide members with advance notice that there will be a conference this year. Speakers are being approached and possible Glasgow venues considered. It is hoped there will be an exhibition of trade union artefacts as part of the event. In addition, a separate event to mark the centenary of the breakthrough election year of 1922 is likely to be in the form of a lecture.

Radical Bookselling History

Dave Cope of Left on the Shelf (who is also a member of SLHS) has forwarded a copy of the May 2022 edition of Radical Bookselling History, which, as the title suggests, seeks to trace and celebrate the history of the radical book trade from the 1970s (and earlier) onwards. The current edition carries a long article by David Berry, formerly of Publications Distribution Co-operative, which explores not only the radical book trade but aspects of 1970s politics, economics and media in an analysis that is of wider interest. Dave Cope would be interested to hear any comments and critiques of the piece. The RBH newsletter, which also includes a Dave Cope article on William Cobbett, can be accessed at

Communist Women Leaders

John McElroy and Alan Campbell have recently produced two articles published in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, examining a group of women active in the labour movement and the leadership of British Communism between the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1920/21 and the outbreak of the 2nd World War. They have assembled reasonably full data on 15 of the 18 women who sat on the CPGB Central Committee (CC) during its first 20 years, ranging from well-documented figures like Helen Crawfurd and Dora Montefiore to largely unknown women such as Annie Cree, Esther Henrotte and Nellie Usher. Only two of the leading women – Crawfurd and Kath Duncan – were Scots, with Crawfurd by some distance better known, until more recent work by Helen Corr, Lesley Orr, Jane McDermid and Dave Sherry and others (including, in the past, via the pages of Scottish Labour History, Neil Rafeek). The articles can be accessed at… and…

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.

Dumfries, Socialist Theatre and the late Raymond Williams

Dumfries SLHS member Ian Gasse, who has a new book, Mobbings, Struggles and Strikes, on the town’s C19 organised working class, out this autumn, is collaborating with Dumfries’s Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre in November in an event supported by the Scottish Book Trust and the Raymond Williams Foundation. Culture in Society begins on Friday 18th November (7pm) with a talk about the new book, followed by a Mike Dibb film, broadcast by the BBC in 1979, and made with the late cultural studies historian Raymond Williams. The Country and the City explores the development of industrial capitalism through C18 and C19 art and literature. On Saturday 19th (2pm), Ian Gasse will be joined by Dave Rogers, director of Banner Theatre, one of the socialist companies of the 1970s political theatre movement, to introduce two more Mike Dibb films, both broadcast in the BBCTV Arena series: Taking Our Time, (1978), about Red Ladder Theatre’s history play on Chartism and the 1842 Plug Riots (and featuring Edward and Dorothy Thompson); and Fringe Benefits (1979), with political songs from the Albany Combination, Belt and Braces, Red Ladder and the Sadista Sisters. On the Saturday evening Banner will perform its current live show, From Saltley Gate to Partygate. More details from Ian Gasse on
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