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James Maxton

Book Review from the August 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard
"If it were not such a dreadful thing to say of anybody, I should say he meant well" The Way of All Flesh

A biography can be written in one of two ways. It may be an "objective" study, an attempt at critically assessing the man, his work and his place in history. On the other hand, it may be a personal piece—an extended obituary notice, wherein the author pays his tribute to the departed. John McNair's James Maxton, the Beloved Rebel (Allen and Unwin, 12s. 6d.) is unashamedly the latter: a chronicle and eulogy of a leader whose faults, if he had them, are allowed no place.
Maxton is presented as a man of deep, passionate sincerity, devoted to the welfare of the poor, earning the affection even of opponents by his integrity and his refusal to compromise. He opposed the two world wars which his Labour colleagues supported; in the first he was imprisoned, in the second he led the tiny I.L.P. group of …

James Maxton - Wasted Years

"In the interests of economy they condemned hundreds of children to death and I call it murder." - James Maxton

James Maxton appeared to be Keir Hardie's natural successor. Maxton is remembered as one of the leading figures of the Red Clydeside era. His parents were both schoolteachers and he was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School before going on to study at the University of Glasgow. He, too, was a teacher.

 In 1904 Maxton joined the Barrhead branch of the Independent Labour Party. From 1906 to 1910, he was active in the teachers' unions. When the First World War broke out Maxton was an opponent and became a conscientious objector, refusing conscription into the military, and instead given work on barges. During this time he was involved in organising strikes in the shipyards. Maxton's arrest followed his speech at a demonstration on Glasgow Green to protest against the implementation of the Munitions Act and the deportation of the Clyde Workers' Com…