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Remembrance

Sixteen million people died in the First World War. No fewer than  one in 40 of the nine million British and  Commonwealth troops came from the single city of Glasgow. 200,000 men from Glasgow fought, 17,695 were killed and many many more were wounded with lasting injuries and lost limbs. We should remember the futility of their deaths in “the war to end wars”

16,000  British  men are recorded as being conscientious  objectors. The Richmond Sixteen  were 16 men taken from  Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire where the Non-Combatant Corps was based, to an  army camp in northern France, refused to  unload supplies. They were court-martialled  and, as an example to others, sentenced to  death by Lord Kitchener. They were  only saved from this fate by Kitchener’s own sudden death and the prime minister,  Asquith, who  their sentence to  10 years’ hard labour. We should remember the social stigma these heroes had to bear for the rest of  their lives.

Facts of the Day

An estimated 36,367 children in the Glasgow City Council area are living below the poverty line, according to the research.

Statistics from the Scottish Government last month revealed 710,000 people north of the border - including 150,000 children - were living in relative poverty in 2011-12.

The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Scotland exceeds 1,700. The highest numbers of rough sleepers are in the Edinburgh and Dundee council areas, Edinburgh had 363 rough sleeper cases and Dundee had 97.


Anarchism in Glasgow

Some may find this article on the history of anarchist and socialist activity in Glasgow of interest.

The earliest known Glasgow anarchist history centres around the figure of Duncan Dundonald, a Clydeside-based engineering worker who is said to have met Mikhail Bakunin in Geneva in 1869, translated the Revolutionary Catechism in 1870, and then returned to Scotland to carry out anarchist propaganda and revolutionary sabotage.His obscurity to later generations of Glasgow anarchists could be related to the fact that he emigrated to Australia, possibly in the 1890s, where he settled in Melbourne and continued his activities under the assumed name of Donald Duncan.

In 1884 was the founding of the Social Democratic Federation branch in Glasgow. Many of those involved in the SDF had been members of the Democratic Club and/or the Republican Club in the city, and were in the main ardently anti-parliamentarian. This caused divisions as happened elsewhere, and when William Morris broke away to f…

Talking socialism

Cde Donnelly will open the March 20th Branch talk with the subject The Rise of Chinese Capitalism

Cde Cumming will open theApril 17th Branch talk with the subject The Curse of Capitalism

The proposed Day School programme
Saturday, 11th May

POLITICS TODAY

1pm to 2.15pm The Rise of Scottish Nationalism Vic Vanni
2.15pm to 3.30pm The Occupy Movement John Cumming
3,45pm to 5pm The Threat of War Brian Gardner

Global Govanhill

Govanhill on the south side of Glasgow is home to some 15,000 has people from an estimated 42 different nationalities living within one square mile. Why Govanhill?  The availability of cheap, private-let housing is one practical reason. Also, immigration is self-perpetuating – the presence of an established community makes it more likely others will come and settle. Govanhill was at one time a mining village outside Glasgow. It started to expand significantly from 1837 with the foundation of the Govan Iron Works, known to this day, even though it is long gone, as Dixon’s Blazes. The Irish also began to arrive in Glasgow in large numbers at around this time, estimated at more than 1,000 people a week during 1848 – escaping the famine and seeking employment. In the 1960s, with the demolition of the Gorbals tenements, a second wave of Irish moved to Govanhill. At the end of the 19th century, heavy industry began to draw Jews from Poland and Lithuania. Significant immigration from the In…

"Send them Back"

Professor Tom Devine, director of the Scottish Centre of Diaspora Studies at Edinburgh University, welcomed plans for a planned monument in Glasgow to commemerate the 100,000 who fled to the city to escape starvation in Ireland in the 1840s. But he warned that it must not be "founded on comforting myth and unproven beliefs".

Far from highlighting Glasgow's generosity, almost 50,000 immigrants were sent back to Ireland.

Education - a fail mark

Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh came joint first in Scotland, (along with Glasgow’s Jordanhill School), after figures released showed 69 per cent of S5 pupils obtained three Highers or more. A few miles away not one student left either Wester Hailes Education Centre or Castlebrae Community High with a Higher, let alone the qualifications needed for a university place.

In Glasgow, just 5 per cent of students at Govan High School obtained three or more Highers, while schools in deprived areas of Aberdeen and Dundee also performed poorly.

Meanwhile Scotland's university for the elite, St Andrews, where Prince William and Kate Middleton studied, is accused of failing to enrol students from the poorest backgrounds - only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds of the country in 2010/11 – 2.7% of the student intake.

Without the Rose-tinted Glasses

This rather unsympathetic article by Gary Girod about Red Clydeside is of interest and a rich source of facts and details.

The Background

For many years, the Left have painted a picture of Glasgow and Red Clydeside as a revolution that almost was. Some have argued that the unrest in Glasgow during WWI and the immediate post-war period was a prelude to the establishment of a workers' republic in Scotland. Willie Gallacher's said of the 40 Hours' Movement that "we were carrying on a strike when we ought to have been making a revolution." Memoirs written decades after the 1914-1919 period and the government's hysteria paint a picture of Clydeside which was far more revolutionary in hindsight than it ever was in reality. In 1983 Iain McLean's "The Legend of the Red Clydeside" asserted that Red Clydeside was neither a revolution nor "a class movement; it was an interest-group movement." Glasgow was not Petrograd and it never could have bee…

The Glasgow Effect

"It's a human tragedy on a massive scale," says Gerry McCartney, an epidemiologist at NHS Scotland.

David Walsh, a lead researcher at Glasgow Centre for Population Health adds: "You are talking about thousands of people dying before their time."

Whether it is deaths from cirrhosis, drug abuse, lung cancer, murder or suicide, Glasgow's mortality rates are easily the highest in Britain, and among the highest in Europe. Life expectancy at birth in Glasgow is the lowest in the UK – more than six years below the national average for Glaswegian men (71.6 years, compared with a UK average of 78.2 years), and more than four years below average for Glasgow's women (78 years, compared with the UK average of 82.3). And because Glasgow is home to more than 10% of Scotland's total population, with nearly 600,000 people in the city itself, and more than a million in the greater Glasgow area, Glasgow's problems are very much Scotland's problems.

Despite year…

Grin and bear it

WhatClinic.com surveyed more than 3000 private dentists in the UK, including 50 in Glasgow and 30 in Edinburgh. Overall, it found that the average cost of a standard check-up in private dental practices has risen by 22 per cent in just one year.

Private dental patients in Edinburgh are paying almost double the cost of treatment in Glasgow, it has been claimed. The average cost of a standard consultation in the city has risen to £74 – the second highest rate in Britain – compared with just £27 in Scotland’s second city. There is also a wide disparity in the cost of more complex procedures, with a bridge costing £443 in Edinburgh compared with £293 in Glasgow, dentures set patients back £473 compared with £260 while a dental implant costs an average of £2273 in the Capital – more than £800 more than in the west.

Overall, private healthcare comparison company WhatClinic.com said that patients in the Capital were having to fork out an average of 42 per cent more for treatment compared with …

Past Reflections 3

It’s a pity that there is so little written information about the history of Glasgow branch. However,  when I joined in 1963 there were still two founder members of the branch  and some other members who knew stories about the branch’s early days while the old minute books contained some really fascinating tales, but be warned, what I can tell is mostly hearsay. 

There may have been individual members in Glasgow before the branch was formed because in 1907 the SOCIALIST STANDARD carried details of seven newsagents in the city where the S/S could be obtained.

The founding of the branch was reported in the December 1924 issue of the S/S, but branch details in the S/S vanished in August 1927 so there was no Glasgow branch until the details re-appeared in October 1928. Included among the early members were John Higgins, Tommy Egan, Harry Watson, “Professor” Barclay, W. Falconer and Alex Shaw.

I’ve already written about the contribution made by Alex Shaw but it was probably John Higgins wh…

How other see us

How the the Small Party of Glesga' Bookies (as the local branch in Glasgow was known in its early days because, it turns out, a number of its members were bookies, an illegal occupation back then) has been seen by others.

At the Barras market in Glasgow about 25 years ago open air political meetings were not uncommon, and the best were conducted by a fiery brand of working-class revolutionaries called the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Founded about a hundred years ago (and still going, I’m glad to say) and proudly hostile to all other allegedly socialist or communist political parties, they had several fine speakers and in those less apathetic days could always raise a fair crowd of the starvelings whom they hoped to rouse from their slumber. Scorn for their hearers’ meek acceptance of poverty and satire upon the quality of goods and services supplied to the workers were prominent in their arguments, as when the speaker would draw our attention to an evil-looking greasyspoo…

Brief history of Glasgow branch

To say times were hard when Glasgow branch was formed in 1924 would be a serious understatement. The branch consisted of working men, only some of whom had jobs, and money was so scarce that in the early days branch meetings were sometimes held in the open because members couldn’t afford to rent a hall.

If funds were lacking then energy and commitment were not, so members threw themselves into making the party known in the city. John Higgins, the first branch secretary, was particularly effective at this and his meetings Glasgow Green gave many Glaswegians their first introduction to the party’s case.

To branch members knowledge meant everything and they were determined to have as much of it as they could, so classes on Marxist theory, logic, etc, were an essential feature, but the main activity was always indoor and, especially, outdoor meetings. Glasgow branch always had a reputation for having first-class speakers and even our opponents, whatever else they thought of us, conceded th…

Red Clydeside's Racism

In previous blogs on the history of Scottish labour we have observed how religious bigotry often marred attempts to unite the working class. But racism has also existed and been exploited for sectional advantage by supposed internationalists.

In all the major sea-ports of Britain communities a non-white sea-farers arose, many marrying local women. In Glasgow they mostly settled around the harbour area, commonly known as Broomielaw.

Many Red Clydesiders have become Scottish national heroes, remembered for their fight for workers' rights. Seamen's leader, president of the Glasgow trades and labour council and chairman of the 40 hr workers’ strike committee, Emanuel – Manny – Shinwell gained fame for his part as a left-wing trades union official in 1919, finding himself thrown into jail on Bloody Friday. But Stirling University historian Dr Jacqueline Jenkinson, in her book "Black 1919", accuses Shinwell of encouraging Glasgow seamen to launch a series of attacks on bla…

Engels on Edinburgh and Glasgow

Edinburgh

Dr. Alison describes a similar state of things in Edinburgh, whose superb situation, which has won it the title of the modern Athens, and whose brilliant aristocratic quarter in the New Town, contrast strongly with the foul wretchedness of the poor in the Old Town. Alison asserts that this extensive quarter is as filthy and horrible as the worst districts of Dublin, while the Mendicity Association would have as great a proportion of needy persons to assist in Edinburgh as in the Irish capital. He asserts, indeed, that the poor in Scotland, especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow, are worse off than in any other region of the three kingdoms, and that the poorest are not Irish, but Scotch. The preacher of the Old Church of Edinburgh, Dr. Lee, testified in 1836, before the Commission of Religious Instruction, that:

"I have never seen such a concentration of misery as in this parish," where the people are without furniture, without everything. "I frequently see the same…

UCS Shipyard Occupation - What we said

Former Glasgow shipyard trade unionist Sammy Barr recently passed away.  Alongside Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie and Sammy Gilmore - he was one of the organisers of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders workers occupation in 1971. The shipyard work-in was an alternative to a strike to thwart attempts by the then Conservative government to close the yards by refusing subsidies. The decision meant at least 6,000 of the 8,500 shipyard workers employed by UCS would have to be made redundant. The work-in saw workers manage and operate the UCS shipyards until the government changed its policy. It was intended to prove that the yards were viable. The Heath government finally relented in February 1972 and announced a £35m injection of cash into the yards. Within three years, shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde had received about £101m of public grants and credits, with £20m going to the UCS.

The following is an article written at the time of the UCS work-in.

A Report from the Clyde

At the time of writing th…

The 1926 May Days

“The miners occupy the front trenches of the position singled out for attack and if their wages are reduced it will be the beginning of a general wage reduction” (John Wheatley, Labour MP)

The General Strike lasted from 3rd to 12th May

Over the years a struggle had been developing between a growing militant working class and the employers and the state.The industrial working classes defined British politics in the 1920s; some 7 Million workers (one in six of the population) were employed in heavy industry or the land. Two million men worked down the mines and hundreds of thousands of others were employed in the iron and steel industry, in the railways and docks, in the building and engineering industry and in textiles and transport. The 1926 General Strike was initiated to defend the living conditions of the miners. The longer-term view of the 1926 General Strike sees it as the inevitable outcome of a struggle between classes that began during the First World War. Soldiers returning …

dirty glasgow

Pollution in several residential areas of Glasgow has reached potentially deadly levels. All the air quality monitors in the city are exceeding the maximum level for particulate pollution – one of the most dangerous forms with microscopic particles which can cause breathing and blood problems as well as increased risk of heart attacks. Chris Connor, air quality specialist at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said "There is a particular concern about young children and toddlers in buggies as they're at a similar height to exhausts where the cocktail of pollutants is at its highest concentrations."


Broomhill Drive, Byres Road, Nithsdale Road and Battlefield Road are among the worst affected, with most of the pollution thought to be caused by buses, cars and taxis.

Scottish Slavery

"It wisnae us"

At the beginning of the 18th century, Glasgow was a poor town and Scotland, an isolated country. The 1707 Act of Union opened up trading opportunities and entrepreneurs seized their opportunity. The economic boom in the 18th and 19th century was built on profits from the West Indies, "...ultimately, profits built from slavery." according to James Cant, a Scottish historian re-examining the emergence of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. "We look at the agrarian revolution in Scotland, the scientific development, and we look at entrepreneurial excellence in Scotland. We never looked at the other side of the ocean to where the raw material and the wealth were truly coming from."

Iain Whyte, author of Scotland and the Abolition of Slavery, insists we have at times ignored our guilty past. He said: "For many years Scotland's historians harboured the illusion that our nation had little to do with the slave trade or plantation slavery. …