Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

August 2023

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SLHS John Maclean Centenary Conference
Preparations for the John Maclean Conference are well advanced and the programme is nearing completion. SLHS is offering first choice of reservations to its members, and reservation can be made by completing and returning the attached form. Please note we are, as usual, offering a graded system of reservation fee: donors to the Conference Fund (previously circulated) attend FREE; SLHS members pay a reduced fee of £10; those who wish to attend the conference and join SLHS pay £15; and non-members wishing to attend pay £20. The Conference fee covers the full agenda, with buffet lunch provided. As our venue has limited capacity, we recommend that members secure their reservation now.

History Workshop Online Podcasts
Three members of the Scottish Labour History Society feature in a new History Workshop Online podcast episode, ‘Rethinking Place in Labour History’ at…. Through oral histories of Fairfields, the 1987 Caterpillar occupation, and the 1984-5 miners’ strike, Valerie Wright, Ewan Gibbs, and Diarmaid Kelliher discuss the relationship between nation, region and class. It is the third episode in a three-part series on labour history in the aftermath of Brexit. The other episodes, on race and gender in labour history, are also available from History Workshop Online at

Material Cultures of Class in Scottish Radical Processions, 1832–84
During the agitations around Chartism and the C19 Reform Acts, Scottish radicals marched in the streets in formal procession, using a variety of vibrant materials, including flags, uniforms, costumes and models. An article by Sonny Angus in the latest issue of Labour History Review (Vol 88, No 2) examines the purposes of, and forms taken by, these processions. As well as supporting the reform movements, the materials expressed a belief in a more generic radical ideology. They were meant to entertain and, through the occupation of space, intimidate opponents. The materials were imbued with marchers’ personal and collective identities, highlighting professions by references to manual labour, with images of tools and products or live demonstrations of working processes. Often, the labouring identity was strongly tied to political belief. The persistent expression of an identity founded on physical labour, guarded from the non-labouring, and interwoven with radical ideology, calls into question arguments which have downplayed the role of class in C19 radical politics. For more details see

Classics of Labour History
The Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH) has published research, commentary, analysis and news from the ‘front-line’ of labour history since its launch in 1960, and it has recently republished a series of classic articles from the pages of the SSLH Bulletin and Labour History Review. These include Asa Briggs setting out the challenges for labour history in 1960 in his opening address to the first meeting of SSLH; Eric Hobsbawm reviewing Margaret Cole’s history of the Fabian Society, Sidney Pollard reviewing E P Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, Royden Harrison reviewing the first volume of the Dictionary of Labour Biography, edited by John Saville and Joyce Bellamy; Stephen Roberts reviewing Malcolm Chase’s history of Chartism; and John McIlroy telling the story of the Society’s first fifty years. Access is at

The Silence of Oppression
The Socialist History Society is holding an online meeting at 6.30pm on Thursday, 28th September, (via Zoom), in which anthropologist and film-maker Hugh Brody and writer Merilyn Moos will discuss how the experiences of imperialism and of exile from Nazism generate and rely on silences in both personal and political realms. Hugh Brody’s books include Living Arctic, Maps And Dreams,The Other Side of Eden and Landscapes of Silence; his films include Nineteen Nineteen, England’s Henry Moore and Tracks Across Sand. Merilyn Moos is the author of The Language of Silence, Breaking the Silence and Living with Shadows. All welcome, but people must register in advance, via…-