Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

April 2023

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SLHS 2023 Conference on John Maclean
The SLHS conference marking the centenary of the death of Clydeside socialist and campaigner John Maclean will take place on Saturday 18th November at the Unite Offices in Glasgow. November 23rd marks the actual centenary and the Society is asking for support and sponsorship for the conference from the present generation of the Scottish trade union and labour movement. An appeal letter and response form is attached to this newsletter. Please offer what support you can and return the form to Society chair, Stewart Maclennan, as requested on the form, which is available here:…

James Aldridge: a Forgotten Post-war Novelist
Retired university lecturer Helen Mercer will be giving an online Socialist History Society talk on Monday 24th April at 7pm (London time) about novelist James Aldridge (1918-2015). He may not have been the ‘greatest’ post-war novelist but several of his books were ‘bestsellers’. His novel, The Diplomat, set against the background of the Iran crisis of 1946, won him the World Peace Council prize in 1953. Aldridge was one of the most popular modern Western writers in the Soviet Union, and the power of his writing for adults and children is striking. This introduction to his work calls for a reassessment of a lifelong Marxist and campaigner for peace and understanding. The talk is free to attend but you must register in advance via…

The Communist Women’s Movement, 1920-22: Proceedings, Resolutions & Reports
The Communist Women’s Movement (CWM), virtually unknown today, was the world’s first truly international revolutionary organisation of women. Formed in 1920, the CWM mapped out a programme for women’s emancipation; participated in struggles for women’s rights; and worked to advance women’s participation in the Communist movement. The present volume, part of a series on the Communist International in Lenin’s time, contains proceedings and resolutions of CWM conferences, along with reports on its work around the world. Most of the contents are published in English for the first time, with almost half appearing for the first time in any language. For a review, see…; for more on the book see

Coming Soon: Mick Lynch, The Making of a Working-class Hero
Gregor Gall, joint Scottish Labour History editor and author of a biography of former RMT general secretary Bob Crow, will have a new biography out in January next year on Crow’s successor, Mick Lynch. In summer 2022, this little-known RMT union leader became a 'working-class hero'. Facing down media pundits, he offered a robust critique of the government and provided workers with an authentic voice. At a time when the Labour Party was unable to articulate a credible alternative to the Tories, Mick Lynch spoke for the working class. The book will trace his origins and rise, and ask what qualities single him out as a working-class hero, and, more broadly, what leadership means for working people and the left. If we want better leaders at every level, the case of Mick Lynch may hold the key. The book can be pre-ordered at

Labour Revolt in Early C20 Britain
The ‘labour revolt’ of the early 20th-century was one of the most sustained explosions of industrial militancy and social conflict Britain has yet experienced, involving strikes by miners, seamen, dockers, railway workers and others. It was dominated by unskilled and semi-skilled workers, with widespread solidarity action, huge union membership growth, breakthroughs in industrial unionism and women's unions, and a dramatic increase in working-class collective power, and it challenged both Liberal government and Labour Party. Exploring the radical left and the relationship between industrial struggle and political organisation, with new research and fresh insight, Ralph Darlington’s Labour Revolt in Britain 1910-14 combines history from above and below, providing a multi-dimensional portrayal of the time. More details at:…

Red Rosa’s in Glasgow
Red Rosa's, a new social and activity venue for the left, held its opening on Friday 10th March and a message of solidarity and good wishes was sent on behalf of SLHS. Based at 195 London Road, Glasgow, Red Rosa's offers a hub for the left in the city, and can be hired for meetings and other purposes, with space for up to 40 people (or 24 in a smaller room). They can be contacted via