Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

December 2022

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Journal and Publication Update
Volume 57 of Scottish Labour History is printed and will be mailed out shortly. SLHS subscribers will also receive our new Occasional Publication. Sell and Be Damned reprints the story of the 1951 Merrylee building workers' strike to prevent the sale of houses built by direct labour. Originally published for the strike’s 30th anniversary, the authors Ned Donaldson and Les Forster were among the strike's leaders, and were victimised for years afterwards. The new edition is complemented by Valerie Wright's introduction, providing a history of housing struggles in the West of Scotland, and profiles of Forster by author James Kelman and Donaldson by his daughter Anni, to whom credit must go for initiating the new publication. Sell and Be Damned was crowdfunded by donations from labour and campaign organisations including SLHS, and proceeds from sales go to the Living Rent campaign. A very successful launch event at UNITE's Glasgow offices on Thursday 24 November was attended by over 40 participants. Copies may be purchased from the SLHS website.

Scottish Education 1872
The Scottish Educational Review (ISSN 0141-9072), Vol. 53, no. 2 (March 2021) is largely devoted to “Interpretations of the Education Scotland Act of 1872”, the measure securing free education for the working classes. There are five articles: Jane McDermid ( opens with ‘The lead-up to the 1872 Act: Challenges to the national tradition in education’. As the measure was delayed by denominational battles there are three articles on the stormy ecclesiastical background: John Stevenson, ‘The Education (Scotland) Act 1872 and its significance for the Church of Scotland’ (; Ryan Mallon, ‘Presbyterian dissent and the campaign for Scottish education reform, 1843-72’ (; Stephen J McKinney & Roger Edwards, ‘The Catholic and Episcopal Churches and the Education Act (Scotland) 1872’ ( Finally, Lindsay Paterson discusses ‘The relationship of the 1918 and 1872 Education (Scotland) Acts’ ( The articles are accessible free from Dutch publishers, Brill.

Labor History 63 (4) on Internationalism
The latest edition of Labor History is a special issue on internationalism and can be accessed at Articles include pieces on global internationalism, transnational solidarity, north-south relations, and migration as class struggle.

Saltley Gate to Partygate
With advancing years, one realises that events during one’s lifetime can become important ‘history’. One such moment occurred in February 1972, when the mass trade union membership of Birmingham marched to Nechells Green coke depot in Saltley, and blocked the roads there, preventing lorries from taking coke to Britain’s power stations during the 1972 miners’ strike. The closing of Saltley Gates has thus become a significant moment in postwar British trade union history, and it is celebrated in Banner Theatre’s current show, Saltley Gate to Partygate, performed recently in Dumfries. The show covers other significant moments of national and international labour history and can be booked by contacting Banner, one of Britain’s longest lasting political theatre companies, via

Indian Political Theatre
An unexpected item at the recent Book Week Scotland event, Culture in Society, at the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre in Dumfries was a presentation by Komita Dhanda of Indian political theatre company, Jana Natya Manch (Janam for short), which is based in Delhi and has been performing workers’ theatre for fifty years. The company mainly performs ‘street theatre’ in Delhi and northern India and refuses state or other financial support which might compromise its ability to be true to its left-wing politics. More information at  

Horatio Bottomley and the Far Right
New from Routledge is a biography by David Renton of Horatio Bottomley, highlighting his role in the development of the far right as a political entity in early twentieth-century British society. Much influenced in his early life by his uncle, co-operator George Jacob Holyoake and atheist MP Charles Bradlaugh, he subsequently became a maverick newspaper proprietor (publishing John Bull), an anti-socialist Liberal and a scourge of the left before, during and after the 1st World War. A recent talk to the Socialist History Society by David Renton about his book, Horatio Bottomley and the Far Right before Fascism, is available on YouTube at