Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

December 2023

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SLHS John Maclean Centenary Conference
The Society’s John Maclean conference on 18 November proved a great success, from the opening remarks by Bailie Roza Salih of Glasgow City Council to the sounds of the John Maclean March at the close. Between the two were a series of excellent contributions by the various speakers, with Maclean’s Speech from the Dock by Tam Dean Burn one of the highlights. The whole conference was filmed and the aim is to include clips from the conference on the website. One other notable footnote to the conference is that committee member and Labour MSP Richard Leonard is putting a resolution to the Scottish Parliament to acknowledge the place of Maclean in Scottish history.

Scottish Labour History Distribution
Copies of this year’s journal were distributed to all those members attending the John Maclean conference. The remaining copies will be mailed out in early December during the week beginning Monday 4th. They should therefore be received by UK members well before Christmas. Also included with this year’s mailing will be a free copy of Uncovering Working Lives, a labour history trail of Dumfries produced by SLHS member Ian Gasse.

Anniversary of the return of Dundee and Fife International Brigaders
The 85th anniversary of the return of Dundee International Brigade members from Spain will take place in Dundee on Tuesday 12 December at 11am at Caird Hall Steps, and at 12:30pm at DCA Cinema 2, where there will be a screening of The Brigaders Return!, a film by IBMT film coordinator, Marshall Mateer. This new film, based on newsreel footage by Ivor Montagu of the Progressive Film Institute, shows the arrival of the British Battalion in London on 7 December 1938 and includes the original b&w silent seven-minute film, Welcome to the International Brigade, courtesy of the British Film Institute. The Fife event will be on 9 December at the KUSI Club in St Brycedale Avenue, Kirkcaldy at 11am, with IBMT member and STUC president Mike Arnott and a Spanish Communist Party member as speakers. The Eventbrite link for free tickets for the Dundee film screening is… Please don’t contact the DCA box office.

Deutscher Prize winner
The winner of the 2023 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize is Heide Gerstenberger for her book, Market and Violence: The Functioning of Capitalism in History. The paperback will be available on 12 December 2023, from Haymarket Books and can be pre-ordered from select bookshops now. See

The Global 1956: Workshop and call for papers for Twentieth Century Communism
Eric Hobsbawm described 1956 as communism’s ‘second ten days that shook the world’, in a year including Khrushchev’s ‘secret’ speech, Soviet repression in Hungary, and the Suez crisis. ‘This was Stalinism’s crisis year,’ say organisers of this event, ‘and one with which only 1917 as the year of revolution can be compared’. Hobsbawm referred to the irrevocable sense of before and after, of a world communist movement ‘in tatters’. ‘This,’ say organisers, ‘is one of the hinges on which the history of C20 communism turned’. Proposals are invited for papers on ‘global 1956’ for a ‘hybrid’ workshop on 23 April 2024 at Queen Mary’s, University of London, and publication in a special edition of Twentieth Century Communism. More details from – and submissions to – Madeleine Davis on The deadline for abstracts is 15 December.

Calling All Academic Teaching Staff! Please Promote the Ian MacDougall Essay Prize 2023/4
The Ian MacDougall Essay Prize honours the memory of Dr Ian MacDougall (1933-2020), founding secretary of the Scottish Labour History Society and the Scottish Working People’s History Trust. It encourages high standards of scholarship in those studying Scottish labour history, and aims to promote the study and recording of labour and popular history in Scotland. The prize is 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 available on the SLHS website at…