Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

January 2023

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With Best Wishes for 2023
All members should now have received their copy of Volume 57 of Scottish Labour History, together with a free copy of Sell and Be Damned, the reprint of the account of the 1951 Merrylee building workers’ strike to prevent the sale of houses built in Glasgow using direct labour, by Ned Donaldson and Les Forster, and with new commentary by Valerie Wright, James Kelman and Anni Donaldson. If you haven’t received them, please get in touch and let us know, using the SLHS admin email at the foot of the page. May we also take this opportunity to wish you well for 2023?

Ian MacDougall Essay Prize
To support the SLHS Ian MacDougall Essay Prize fund, Ian's widow, Sandra MacDougall, has kindly made available a number of copies of his seminal work of 1979, A Catalogue of Some Labour Records in Scotland . . . . This massive volume is an indispensable reference work and collector's item, and is available for purchase at £20. Sandra will deliver to buyers in the Edinburgh area, beyond which a further postal charge of £5 will be made. All proceeds will go to the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize fund. To obtain your copy, send contact details (full address, telephone, email, etc.) to, and we will advise payment and delivery arrangements.

Celebrating Mary Brooksbank
15 December 2022 marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mary Soutar, better known by her married name of Brooksbank. The Dundee mill girl was a communist, writer, singer and musician, universally known for The Jute Mill Song. Our friends in Abertay Historical Society (AHS) have brought together a collection of essays, In One Woman's Life: Celebrating Mary Brooksbank, to celebrate all aspects of Mary's life. Appearing as No 63 in the AHS's long-established series of publications, the book is available from, price £7.50 plus post & packing.

Neil Davidson: A Living Legacy
2020 saw the death of the outstanding Marxist historian and activist Neil Davidson, the concluding part of whose radical re-examination (with Jamie Allinson) of the Scottish Insurrection of 1820 was published in Scottish Labour History, Vol 57. This was among several writing projects in progress now being brought to publication standard by Neil's friends, most notably perhaps the book When Was Neo-Liberalism?, scheduled for release by Haymarket Books in autumn 2023. Neil was famously the proprietor of a prodigious personal library, the cynosure of many fellow bibliophiles, and the collection of over 9,000 items is currently in storage and has been catalogued for all to search and browse. It is hoped eventually to make it fully available as part of a resource centre for activists of the left. Neil was latterly employed by the University of Glasgow, and his partner Cathy has devoted his pension fund pay-out to create a series of six-month Fellowships at the university in pursuit of his intellectual and academic goals. The first round of applicants produced an outstanding field from which two appointments were made, and the second round is under advertisement via…

New Book on James Connolly
Is the voice of James Connolly, silenced by a British bullet in 1916, coming back? asks this new book by Liam McNulty. Offering, according to Merlin Press, ‘a measured consideration’ of the man, James Connolly: Socialist, Nationalist and Internationalist looks to explain his political development through the socialist debates and controversies of his time, and based on his British, US and Irish experience, plus influences from further afield. Combining political biography with an account of the international socialist movement, the book concludes with a review of Connolly’s dramatic last years: 1st World War, Easter Rising, his ‘incorrigible revolutionism’ and tensions between socialism and Irish nationalism. Costing £25.00, the book can be ordered at

Cosmonaut magazine podcast on the Workers’ Opposition
Barbara C Allen, editor of The Workers’ Opposition in the Russian Communist Party: Documents, 1919-30, and author of Alexander Shlyapnikov, 1885-1937: Life of an Old Bolshevik, joins Cosmonaut for a conversation about the Workers’ Opposition in the early Soviet Union. Listen via…

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