Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

March 2023

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Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture 2023
The second Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture will take place in the Boardroom of the National Library of Scotland (NLS), Edinburgh, on Thursday 20 April at 5pm. This year's lecturer is Professor Jim Phillips of the University of Glasgow (also co-editor of Scottish Labour History), and his address will examine the importance of oral testimony in securing social justice as effected in the Scottish Miners' Pardons Bill. NLS will shortly be releasing, via Eventbrite, 30 tickets for the lecture, a further 60 being made available to guests of the MacDougall family and Professor Phillips, and members of the Scottish Labour History Society and the Scottish Working People's History Trust. SLHS members wishing to attend are strongly recommended to notify the Society immediately if they wish to secure a ticket. It is hoped an audio recording of the event can be made for subsequent website/archive use; other features will include catering, a bookstall and a collections display.

John Maclean Centenary Conference
2023 marks the centenary of the death of the Clydeside revolutionary, John Maclean, and the Society is planning a conference in Glasgow with the provisional date of Saturday 18 November. It is intended the agenda will feature recent biographers of Maclean and explore his activity and significance in labour education, solidarity with the Russian Revolution, and Irish independence and cultural commemoration. SLHS Chair Stewart Maclennan, with members Gerry Cairns and Stevie Coyle, have formed an organising group, and invite SLHS members to offer support by whatever means they can. Individual and organisational sponsorship is important and welcome, and if you can join the organising group, let us know via:

Richard Croucher (1949–2022)
Richard Croucher, who died in December aged 73, was well-known in labour studies, and his books, Engineers at War and We Refuse to Starve in Silence, made significant contributions to  popularise working-class resistance in the earlier C20. For 20 years he was a WEA Tutor-Organiser, teaching trade union activists. Later, he became Senior Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Trade Union Management at Cranfield Business School, and, from 2005, was Professor of Comparative Employment Relations at Middlesex University Business School, publishing on various subjects in employment relations, human resource management and labour history. A gifted researcher and teacher, he was a keen but critical advocate of trade unionism, and did much to rescue international trade unionism from academic marginality. Global Unions, Global Business, co-authored with Elizabeth Cotton, was particularly well received. A full appreciation, by John McIlroy & Alan Campbell, is on the Society for the Study of Labour History website at: R.Croucher:1949-2022/

Scottish Women’s Railway History
RMT Learning Scotland has worked with the Open University (OU) in Scotland on a Women & Scottish Railways project, supporting female RMT members in addressing the relative absence of women from Scottish railway history. The course focussed on celebrating the achievements of women NUR and RMT members, and has developed educational resources for the Open Learn website: The research ranged from the impact on the railways of the employment of women during World War I to how COVID-19 impacted on railway employees. It includes an interview with Janet Cassidy, one of the first women Scottish train drivers. Through learning the struggles of previous women rail workers, it is hoped to encourage other women members to engage with future courses, and RMT Lowlands & Uplands is planning another course for Scottish women working on the railways, and offshore, beginning later this year. For more details, contact Dennis Fallen, RMT Learning Organiser, at

A New Cold War?
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, warnings of a ‘new Cold War’ proliferated. In fact, argues Gilbert Achcar in his new study, The New Cold War: The United States, Russia and China, from Kosovo to Ukraine, the Cold War has been here since the turn of the century. Asserting itself in the 1990s, as the sole remaining superpower, the US alienated Russia and China, pushing them closer and rebooting the ‘old’ Cold War. More details at