Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

October 2023

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The Calton Martyrs
SLHS supported the revival of the commemoration of the 'Calton Martyrs', which took place at the Calton Burial Ground, Glasgow on Sunday 24 September. The martyrs were six weavers murdered when shot by the Glasgow city militia in 1787 in the first recorded trade union action in Scotland. A coalition of working class, community and historical organisations plans to restore the ceremony as an annual event. Readers wishing to know more may want to acquire the two existing publications describing the strike and aftermath: Harry McShane's pamphlet of 1957 for Glasgow District Trades Council and Elspeth King's booklet of 1987. Calton Books has reprinted both in its 'Pocket Radicals' series in a superb illustrated production for only £5; see

Glasgow Doors Open Festival
SLHS has again participated successfully in Glasgow Doors Open Festival, now in partnership with Radical Glasgow Tours, with three heritage trails. Ewan Gibbs led 'Carbon City', Henry Bell and Katherine Mackinnon offered a new 'Radical Pollokshields' and Stewart Maclennan gave a 'Red Clydeside Retrospect'. Plans for next year's programme will begin in the new year.

Radical Readings: Revolt, Revolution and Revenge
The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) is holding its annual fundraising event from 2pm on Sunday 22nd October in the University of Salford’s Maxwell Hall. Entitled Radical Readings, it will cover events from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, Leveller activities during the Civil War period, Peterloo in 1819, the Battle of Bexley Square in Salford in 1931, and the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass in 1932. Readings will be by Maxine Peake, Carla Henry, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mike Joyce and Oliver Lomax, the last-named a trustee of the Library. Fellow trustee Royston Futter and James Quinn will share presenting duties. Tickets are £15.00, and can be ordered via the WCML website at…

Socialist Strategy in Western Europe: Ernest Mandel Debate with Monty Johnstone (1977)
In 1969, Ernest Mandel (Fourth International) debated with Monty Johnstone (CPGB) on socialist strategy, before an audience of thousands, in London. Mandel's contribution has been published in pamphlet form many times as a re-statement of the Trotskyist case in the aftermath of the events of May 1968. In September 1977, the International Marxist Group’s Marxist Symposium weekend held a follow-up debate, in expanded format, between representatives of the IMG and Fourth International and leading members of the CPGB. Mandel and Johnstone opened for their respective traditions – Johnstone pointing to Mandel’s over-optimistic, largely unfulfilled, predictions from 1969 and Mandel criticising the record of the Communist Parties in Britain, France and Italy and their rightwards trajectory of Eurocommunism, which meant making peace with social-democracy and abandoning any revolutionary aspirations. These openers are followed by shorter contributions from Bea Campbell and Sam Aaronovitch (CPGB) and Dodie Weppler, Peter Gowan and Tariq Ali (IMG). Transcript and videos are available at…

Calling All Academic Teaching Staff! Please Promote the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize 2023/4
SLHS has established the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize with a threefold purpose:
*   to honour the memory of Dr Ian MacDougall (1933-2020), founding secretary of the Scottish Labour History Society and the Scottish Working People’s History Trust;
*   to encourage the finest standards of scholarship amongst undergraduate students in the field of labour history in Scotland;
*   to promote the study and recording of labour and popular history in Scotland.
The prize will be awarded annually, the winner to receive: [i] a cash prize of £400; [ii] publication of the winning essay in Scottish Labour History; [iii] a year’s subscription to Scottish Labour History. Full details and an entry form are attached below and are also available on the SLHS website at…