Scottish Labour History Society Newsletter

May 2024

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Society Special General Meeting: Monday 13th May, 6.30pm (via ‘Zoom’)
A Special General Meeting of the Society on the above date will elect a new committee to run the Society – comprising chair, vice-chair, secretary, treasurer, journal editors, website administrator and eight committee members. Items to be discussed include a 2024 conference, the 2024 journal, the Ian MacDougall Memorial Lecture and Essay Prize, occasional publications, and the website. If you can volunteer for any of these or offer support for any of the activities, please email Stewart Maclennan at The ‘Zoom’ meeting may need to be in two parts, depending how long it lasts. Below are links for two 40-minute sessions. The first one, at 6.30pm, is SLHS Meeting;; meeting ID: 762 8394 1266; passcode: 6amN42; link:… The second, at 7.15pm, is SLHS Meeting; meeting ID: 743 0579 9285; passcode: 3KpA9T; link:…
Attendance confirmation – or apologies – to Stewart Maclennan would be helpful.

Thinking with Neil Davidson
The University of Glasgow’s Sociology subject area invites all who are interested to join an event on Wednesday 29 May, to celebrate the life and work of former colleague, the late Neil Davidson, an SLHS member and regular journal contributor. The half-day event, starting at 12noon with a buffet lunch, will feature three panel sessions on concerns central to Neil’s work: the history and consequences of the bourgeois revolutions; conceptualisations and contestations of neoliberalism; and the modalities and practices of activism. Neil was a distinguished historian, sociologist, activist, and, most importantly, a hugely valued colleague and friend. His legacy is felt in many ways, including via the Neil Davidson Postdoctoral Writing Fellowship. Thanks to his partner, Cathy Watkins, Sociology at Glasgow has been able to provide six-month stipendiary support to four early career scholars since 2022, and recruitment is under way for 2024. The publication of several posthumous works, including What Was Neoliberalism? Studies in the Most Recent Phase of Capitalism, 1973-2008 (published in 2023 by Haymarket), are testament to the enduring importance of Neil’s scholarship. Due to the timing of Neil’s passing in May 2020, Sociology at Glasgow was unable to hold an in-person commemoration, and colleagues hope many can join them to celebrate his immense contribution on May 29. Further details, including speakers, will be published shortly, but free tickets are available via Thinking with Neil Davidson: Neoliberalism, Activism & Bourgeois Revolution; Tickets, Wed, May 29 2024, 12noon . Feel free to share with others who are interested.

Darkness on the Edge of Democracy exhibition in Stirling
The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum is marking the 40th anniversary of the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike with an exhibition by Andrew Hay. Darkness on the Edge of Democracy is an artistic assessment of the political agenda that led up to and followed the Strike. In addition to painting, Andrew creates collages with found objects such as coal bags and wallpaper to bridge the gap between mining life and art. Through every paint stroke and collaged material, Andrew argues that the Strike was not just a battle for jobs or the closure of pits, but a clandestine agenda by the British Government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to impose a new economic model on British society. His artwork traces this back to 1973 Chile, when a violent military coup overthrew the government and forced a new economic system. By 1984, Thatcher would adopt a similar model, leading to what Andrew contends was a bigger disparity between the rich and poor for the next 40 years. The exhibition runs until the end of June. The gallery is open Weds-Sun, 10.00-17.00.

Before and After Coal at the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh
On 23 March the National Galleries of Scotland opened a new exhibition, Before and After Coal: Images and Voices from Scotland’s Mining Communities, at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. This integrates the work of US photographer, Milton Rogovin, from his 1980s Family of Miners collection, with new images from artist-photographer Nicky Bird. The exhibition has involved extensive engagement with communities in Ayrshire, Midlothian and Fife, which Milton Rogovin visited and photographed with support from the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982. Details can be viewed at… Jim Phillips will be speaking about the exhibition at the National Galleries on 4 June. The event is also being live-streamed. Details are here:…