Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

February 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 has been extended to 16 March.
Full details and an entry form are available on the SLHS website at

The 2024 Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture
The 2024 Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture will explore the lives of Peeblesshire textile workers and the process of telling their stories. It will take place on 4 April at the National Library of Scotland.
Border Mills: Lives of Peeblesshire Textile Workers is a new book based on a series of oral history interviews the late Ian MacDougall made with mill workers between 1996 and 2004. Charting a period of immense change across all aspects of textile manufacturing in the Scottish Borders, the book documents the lives and work of a generation who lived through both World Wars and worked in an industry in flux, with new innovations in mechanised processes and fibres.
Caroline Milligan, Researcher at the European Ethnological Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, will discuss how she returned to Ian’s research as editor and the process of bringing a collection of oral history recordings out from the archives to a publication. The book, published in collaboration with National Museums Scotland, will be available to purchase at the event.
Following Caroline’s talk, The Mills of Tweedale Project ( will give a presentation on their new oral history project, which aims to preserve the contemporary history and heritage of the Tweeddale textile industry. Launched in March 2023, this is a partnership between Peebles Civic Society and Peebles Library, Museum and Gallery, the Innerleithen Community Trust and the Walkerburn Community Development Trust.
Watch the National Library of Scotland website for how to book:

New Books on the 1924 Labour Minority Government
The centenary of the first Labour Government of 1924 has brought forth a couple of new books on the subject, to rival the single preceding volume, the American scholar Richard W Lyman’s The First Labour Government 1924, which was published in 1957.
Published late last year was Peter Clark’s The Men of 1924 (Haus Publishing), ’the core’ of which, according to the author, ‘is about the twenty men who made up that first Labour Cabinet’. The book includes a chapter on Labour Party history, and separate chapters on Macdonald, ‘The Big Four’ – Clynes, Henderson, Snowden and Thomas, the other Labour Cabinet members, and the former Liberal and Conservative peers who served in the government. More details at
New this year is The Wild Men: The Remarkable Story of Britain’s First Labour Government (Bloomsbury) by House of Commons librarian and SLHS member, David Torrance. Described by the New Statesman’s Andrew Marr as ‘a meticulously researched collective biography’, the book considers several of the Cabinet (Adamson, Haldane, Henderson, Snowden, Thomas, Trevelyan, Wheatley) individually, and Macdonald separately, as both prime minister and foreign secretary. The book concludes with a chapter on the ‘Zinoviev Letter’ election of late 1924. More details at
Two other new books, not unrelated, are A Century of Labour by Labour MP Jon Cruddas (Polity), published this year, and Age of Hope: Labour, 1945 and the Birth of Modern Britain by Richard Toye, Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter (Bloomsbury), published at the end of last year. More details on these, respectively, at and