Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

January 2024

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Calling Academic Teaching Staff! The Ian MacDougall Essay Prize deadline approaches
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. The deadline for entries is 31 January 2024. Full details and an entry form are available on the SLHS website at…

On Reading The Making of the English Working Class
BBC Radio 3 recently featured a series of talks by five writers to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Edward Thompson’s classic of social and labour history, The Making of the English Working Class. The talks, all about 15 minutes long, are available on BBC iPlayer. The first is by historian Sheila Rowbotham; the second is by historian and biographer Geoff Andrews; the third by writer and historian Christina Fryar; the fourth by broadcaster David Aaronovitch; and the fifth by writer Natasha Carthew. All five talks are available at

New from Neville Kirk: A Nation in Crisis
SLHS member Neville Kirk’s new book, A Nation in Crisis: Division, Conflict and Capitalism in the United Kingdom, was published in October. Utilising Gramsci's concept of hegemony, it considers the combined crisis in the UK since 2016/17, including material on the Scottish experience and 'radical Scottishness' as alternatives to both Conservative and Labour ways out of the crisis. Using a wealth of sources, Kirk examines the systemic crisis facing the UK and traces it from the 2016 EU referendum to 2022, a period during which it intensified and spread. He covers the elections of 2017 and 2019, political fragmentation, Scottish nationalism, Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, continuing economic problems and conflicts around class, gender, race and nation. Finally, the book considers ways out of the current impasse, through an examination of the UK's main political parties and players, offering a new and original understanding of how we got to where we are. More at

A Working-Class Hero?
Scottish Labour History co-editor Gregor Gall has a biography of Rail-Maritime-Transport (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch coming out later this month. Published by Manchester University Press, Mick Lynch: The Making of a Working-Class Hero provides the first biography of this – now well-known – trade union leader, tracing his family background and rise to be RMT general secretary in 2021. The hardback edition costs £20.00 and can be pre-ordered from Manchester University Press at

In Search of the New Left
Andrew Whitehead, honorary professor at Nottingham University and associate editor of History Workshop Journal, is seeking help for an oral history of the British New Left. He is keen to make contact with anyone with memories of Fife Socialist League and Lawrence Daly's 1959 West Fife candidacy. He would also like to hear from anyone willing to share memories of the New Left, either as activist or onlooker. His email is and phone 0776 433 5823.

John Maclean – a new Scottish View …
Labour MSP Richard Leonard pays tribute to Red Clydeside legend, John Maclean, in a new short film, Both Beautiful and Red. Celebrating Maclean’s life and politics to mark the centenary of his death, the four-minute film features a newly commissioned stained glass window in Pollokshaws Library, created by Glasgow artist Keira McLean. The video, which follows a parliamentary motion to mark the centenary, charts how Maclean ‘stood shoulder to shoulder with striking workers, organised the unemployed, and along with Mary Barbour, John Wheatley and others, helped lead the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strike’. View it on Facebook at

… and an Antipodean View
New Australian SLHS member Donald M Robertson, based in Sydney, is currently writing a book about John Maclean. His blog is at and his email address is