John Maclean Justice 1913
Source: Justice 4 January 1913, p. 5;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The strenuous life appears to give the maximum of pleasure to our movement up here in the North, for instead of doing as ordinary mortals are supposed to do on New Year’s Day, guzzle and booze, we will muster in force at Falkirk, but not as did the Romans and the Celts or Wallace and the English long, long ago. These gathered there on a murder mission for the ultimate seizure of territory, whilst our merry men will foregather on this historic scene to devise the best means of spreading the principles of Socialism and perfect our tactical operations in the prosecution of the class war. Next week we may have opportunity to comment on the conference, although here it might be pointed out as significant that the new fad entitled Syndicalism will play practically no part in the proceedings, whereas there will be a partial persistence of the old barren abstract discussion circling round the principles of “pure” Socialism and palliating reforms. There might have been a tussle over Syndicalism had the Glasgow Central Branch been able to exist at it first strength. Alas however, it has almost petered out because largely composed prised of Utopists unable to agree on any definite principles, and still less able to cut out a specific course of action likely to galvanise the workers into any kind of intelligent revolt or resistance. Otherwise, our movement in Scotland is almost completely free from that parasitical and new-phased Anarchism entitled Syndicalism.
There still remain, in Aberdeen largely, those who certainly would find a more fitting home in the S.L.P., or better still, in the Cantankerous Society. Nothing pleases us better than to know that men stick to Marx, or better, Marxism. But we fear that those who persistently boast of their revolutionary Marxism, more frequently indulge in the creations of their own fertile imaginations than patiently keep close up against the facts and movements and developments of real life. We believe in preaching our Marxian view of capitalism wherever we can get hearers; but when we find that people get tired of listening to the same old grind week after week, and then refuse to support our gatherings, we must, if we still preserve our sanity, change our tactics. The routine weekly meeting or week’s mission, once so successful in Fife for instance, last summer proved no great success. Wisely, then, have the Fife men turned their attention to monthly free sheets that will attempt to apply the principles we all revere, to local and other important events. The people generally know our views, and therefore we are entitled to conclude that they will the more easily and the more readily assume our viewpoint and adopt our suggestion when circumstances arise. Money spent in this way will be much more effective than in those formerly adopted. The workers know better than we seem to do the value of solidarity. It is the fight they now want. If we give the wise lead they will follow – aye, and right into the camp of Socialism, too.
Ballot papers have been issued to the Edinburgh tramwaymen, and although the result has not yet been declared, we understand that a large majority favour a strike for an increase of 1/2d. per hour, which the Edinburgh and District Tramway Company have point blank refused to grant. According to the rules of their association the men must have 75 per cent. in favour of a strike before they can come out – and still remain loyal members of their union. If the vote favours a strike, we wish the men every success, and towards that end we know that our comrades in Edinburgh will rally round them. At any rate, let them beware of the vacillation and blundering that characterised the Glasgow tramway strike eighteen months ago.
At the last meeting of the Glasgow School Board, Dr. Henry Dyer, vice-chairman, presided in the absence of the chairman Dr. R.S. Allan (the reactionary brother of the “millionaire Socialist,” J.A. Allan). Amidst a multitude of activities Dr. Dyer edits the “Scottish Co-operator.” For years the doctor has used its columns to preach the higher citizenship, the higher and wider education, and all that type of soothing moral syrup. Over and above that he has preached peace (as every good co-operator must) and the need for great men of genuine initiative and purity of motive to lead us out of the wilderness we are in. Whilst coquetting with the vaguer aspects of Socialism skilfully diluted with the vagaries of Radicalism, he has always, slyly hit out at Marxism and Social-Democracy in the approved style of a fourth-rate Revisionist. We have consequently watched him closely for years, refusing ever to take up a positive stand where the possibility of escape afforded itself. Now, at the above meeting the doctor committed himself in a way that will stamp him ever after. A committee wished power to grant a sub-target machine for the Officers’ Training Corps in the High School at the cost of £17. Resolutions of approval, disapproval and delay were put forward. Finally, the vote lay between approval and delay. The vote was even and the peace-preaching Dr Dyer gave his casting-vote in favour of the sub-target. The Labour group naturally voted against granting the machine at all. This makes the vote of the doctor all the blacker. The best thing he can now do is to give up his editorship and take his sub-editor, our esrtwhile comrade comrade William Reid, into the camp of the enemy. We badly want men.
From: Justice 11 January 1913, p. 2.
In spite of the usual, New Year attractions a goodly number turned up at the half-yearly conference of the Scottish district branches and conducted one of the best-humoured and most self-restrained gatherings ever held under Socialist auspices. This ought to augur well for the work of the on-marching year, which will be truly happy if real Socialist progress is made. Let us all make good resolutions of deeds of derring-do, an let us stick to them, and so belie the predictions of malevolent ones who say that resolutions are made to be broken. Many little individual resolutions lead to one big, massive resolution, and, one resolution if widespread and deep enough leads straight to revolution – the Social Revolution! See?
The most important resolution passed at the conference gives power to the Executive Committee, to arrange for the issue of a small monthly, four-paged paper, to be systematically distributed free wherever individual adherents and branches are prepared to undertake that work. One page will be allowed for the printing of such matter of a purely local nature as is thought advisable by each active branch, and the remaining three will be devoted to propaganda and agitational articles of a scope likely to appeal to the workers in Scotland.
The successful conducting of the paper will largely depend on those appointed to draft the matter that will appear specially in the local edition. That is the concern of each branch, and it is to be hoped that this part of the business will be efficiently attended to. Besides that, there are many excellent, nay brilliant, writers all over the country, contributions from whom would adorn the pages any print. These must make up their minds to help the undertaking through with honour and glory to the movement. It would be a pleasure to place the editor (who will be elected by a vote of the branches) in such an embarrassing position that he would find it difficult to print in a year’s issue single contributions from separate writers.
The main reason for this new propaganda move is the wastefulness and the spasmodic nature of lecture work, largely undertaken in the summer months when the weather lands branches in difficulties. Open-air indoor lecturing will still proceed, but not immediately to the same extent as formerly. Hundreds of pounds have been spent in this direction within recent years without the direct results we should desire. It is now considered that a steady and sure batter, good weather and bad, at the minds the people in a countryside or town, month by month, will have greater effect at less cost than the good old way. From now on let branches harbour their hard cash and tap sources that are likely to support such a promising venture as this. The more money that can be got, the more able will we be to supply copies to those prepared to distribute them in areas where branches have not yet sprung up.
Within recent months I have alluded to amalgamations of steel works in Lanarkshire, of coal-mining, oil, and other companies. Now we are informed of the fusing of Messrs. Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, of Wallsend, and Messrs. Barclay, Curle and Co., of Glasgow, by the exchange of shares. The extreme importance or this industrial combination is seen when we learn that the former shipbuilding company had the largest tonnage output in the world last year, whilst the latter stands fourth on the list of Clyde firms with the largest repair shops in the world. The coming of Harland and Wolff to the Clyde may also lead to fresh developments. Mention might also be made of the tremendous expansion at Singer’s since the strike about two years ago. The number of workers then was about 11,500. Now the total has risen to 13,000, with prospects of great inflation yet, as the works at Kilbowie are constantly being extended.
Recently I was through a bakery with new machinery for weighing and shaping dough into loaf form preparatory to placing on an improved type of oven with an electrically-lifted cover. This new combined mechanism will about halve the labour formerly needed. Such developments as are implied by amalgamations of companies, extensions of trusts, and the constant application of improved machinery conclusively demonstrate that the fundamental theories of Marx require no revision. In fact, they are the most up-to-date. Similarly with the Marxian view of politics. Everywhere – in Scotland, at least – we see the propertied class more and more keenly bent on retaining their hold of the House of Commons. It will certainly not be their fault if a revolutionary Socialist gets into Parliament. That is all the more reason surely why we should capture it.
I understand that our comrade G.M. Hale is the editor of the telephone employees’ organ. At any rate, he is on the Executive of the Society, and has recently been most actively engaged in addressing meetings of indignation against the action of the Government, which seems to have broken faith with those transferred from the National Telephone Company. What else could we expect from a capitalist Government?
From: Justice 18 January 1913, p. 2.
Last week the Glasgow Corporation refused to remit to its several committees consideration of means for the provision of municipal houses for all sections of the community largely on the instigation of the the Fabian Lord Provost who urged that the city had only powers to make provision or the very poorest. Let him and his colleagues have the calmness to read the sheaf of Acts bearing on housing. After that, let them to lessons from our Fred Knee.
The Liberal Government on the platform have claimed to be desperately anxious to solve the housing problem, but at Rosyth naval base they have signally failed to lead local authorities by any scientific attempt at town planning and construction: Let me reproduce part of a report emanating not from distrustful, impractical Socialists (as our Liberal workmen think us), but from the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association. The report says: “The Council wish to record their emphatic protest against the inaction of the Government in regard to the naval base at Rosyth. Briefly, our charge against the Government is that of neglecting the finest opportunity offered to a European nation of creating de nova a model town, of disregarding promises made to the Association that they should be helped in the formation of a garden-city scheme there, and of endeavouring to evade the responsibility for the housing of the thousands of people who must live there in the next few years by sheltering behind a Town-planning Scheme of the Dunfermline Burgh Council, which will not provide for any houses whatever, and under which it has been stated officially that workmen’s dwellings are to be available at about £25 to £30 a year rent, whereas the Association had complete plans for providing this accommodation under garden city, conditions at 5s. a week rent.” The Government missed an earlier chance in the case of the Woolwich workers brought up to already overcrowded Greenock and Gourock for the torpedo factory.
A committee appointed by the Treasury to inquire into the provision of medical attendance in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, amongst other recommendations, has urged a State guaranteed minimum of £300 a year with travelling expenses over and above. A minimum of £6 a week is not bad. It would be worse than the seven deadly sins if labourers demanded that sum as a living minimum in eyes of the committee, the doctors, the Government, and the capitalist class generally. And why should they not get it?
The fact that prices have now risen has at last penetrated the idealist cranium of the editor of the “Scottish Class-Teacher,” for in last issue the leading article was devoted to a consideration of this subject. Now that Haldane has admitted the great scheme of education under present manufacture by the Government, and has urged the capitalist class to stand a greatly increased expenditure, on education as the money is an investment (like the capitalists’ share under the Insurance Act) which shall come back in increased productivity, it behoves this gentleman and all his other precious idealist colleagues to urge that as teachers they are indirectly responsible for a part at least of the increased output of wealth and that, therefore, they are entitled to higher remuneration than in the past. That will only come, however, if they join forces with the wealth-producing wage-earners, to whom they, as non-capitalists, are most closely akin. It lies with the Socialist group to drive the various lessons home in the approved school-room fashion.
The seamen of the Clyde have just obtained a rise of 10s. per month, whilst at Aberdeen they have only got 1s. 3d. a week or 5s. per month, yet the struggle to live on the east wind of Aberdeen is just about as keen as that on the rain and fog of Glasgow. In this stormy weather I would refuse to risk my precious carcase on the high seas at less than £10 a day. I fancy that such plentiful commodities as seamen are at least £10 a month especially at this time, when shippers are getting such worth high freights.
I see that the Scottish miners are making bid for another 1s. a day. Since the summer they have obtained rises of 6d and 3d. If they get this they will almost realise the prehistoric ideal of “eight bob a day,” for the day’s darg for will yield the princely sum of 7s, 9d. Why does Smillie and his merry Christy-minstrel faced comrades not now ape the above mentioned committee on medical attendance, and demand what can be got in Australia, £1 a shift? Think it over, Bob?
The Lanarkshire miners have gained a notable victory at Bellshill, where over 5,000 came out against non-union labour, or at least organised by the managers. The attempt of the masters, through the managers to start rival organisations has been a drift, lately manifest in Lanarkshire and Stirling. It is to be hoped that the decisive victory now gained – for the Summerlee Company have now agreed to force all employees to join the union – will end all immediate attempts to break the unity of the men’s organisation, and especially rope in all men round Bellshill where there was a serious break-away during the great strike last spring. Cling together, lads.
From: Justice 25 January 1913, p. 6.
On Sunday night there was an enormous meeting of the carters at Mungo Hall, Glasgow, to ballot for or against a strike. The overwhelming majority voted for a strike, so that unless the masters cave in much of the carting in Glasgow will be paralysed, unless the motor-lorrymen are got to blackleg. In that case, the dockers have given assurances that they will refuse to help blacklegs; they will rather choose to strike. That is a healthy sign. I respectfully request readers not to laugh too loudly when I tell them demands of the men I might go on strike too. Ready, then. Sixty hours a week, and about 28s. thrown in. I heard that I stuck a pin into someone near me to find but if I was living today or in the year of grace 1803. My idea of 1913 seems to have been that workmen would have asked for something like 28 hours and 60s. a week. Just fancy having to require to fight for 60 hours and 28s! However, some carter comrades assure me that about two years ago the men were doing 80 hours, for 21s. and 22s. Well, then boys good luck to you for you, for you deserve it: you are a modest lot. I have made up my mind I could not be a carter – I'm not modest enough.
My excitement over the demands almost made me forget to tell you that there may be about eight thousand carters in Glasgow and that over six thousand of them are in the union. The intention is to take out all the men not working for the railway contractors if their masters refuse to concede these aforesaid remarkable demands. Let every available comrade get out and help the carters if it comes to a battle. The Pollokshaws men are ready for the defence. The Review will be out amongst the people asking for solidarity. Therein lies the strength of a monthly. It can be turned out in time for any emergency. Let everybody do it.
From all I can gather, the late David Livingstone was a decent sort of a fellow, who had a consuming desire to get African blacks to believe in Christianity. He therefore, after experience with Moffat about the Transvaal and Rhodesia (South), penetrated into the Lake District. Little did the hardy old chap know he was paving the way for the railway and for trout fishing around black victims for the gold and diamond mines, leading up to a rise in prices that is bearing heavy on the workers of the world. But that is exactly the result to date of his work. Of course, that is not exactly what is told the innocent, believing youngster who gets forced on him as a Sunday or day-school prize the “Life of David Livingstone.”
David seems to have joined this planet at Blantyre on March 19, 1813. This has inspired a centenary collection to start a Chair on medical missionary work at Anderson’s College and a Livingstone Chair of Geography at Glasgow University. What will it mean? I should imagine the net result will be the more thorough scientific exploration and annexation of Central Africa for the greater glory of God, the natives and incidentally King Capital. At any rate, poor old David is going To turn out a valuable asset in the gentle art of enslaving the blacks that have not already been civilised by the Yankee, and the British. The never-ending audacity and ingenuity of the capitalist class is a constant source of amusement to me.
I notice that the masons of Glasgow have been conceded a 1/2d.per hour since January 1 of this year. That is the first rise for three years. Some time ago our good old comrade J.F. Armour was made their organiser. This is likely the result of his activities. The masons have now got 91/2d. an hour. John, when is it going to be 1s. at least. We leave it to you.
Just at the last gasp I get the results of Glasgow’s £1,000 plebiscite on the public-house, licensed grocer and hotel question. As the vote was only an experiment – a costly one, too little real interest seems to have been taken in it, for of the 203,014 possible voters only 111,315 voted without spoiling their cards. There were 6,506 spoiled ones, and these were almost wholly consciously spoiled by citizens wishing to show their objection to the limited number of alternatives. We may safely say, then, that just over a half voted altogether. Of these 59,436 voted for a reduction of licences, 36,645 voted for the present number, and 15,234 for more licences. These last, I presume, will be classed as the “drooths” of the city, though possibly publicans and sinners generally voted thus from sheer “thrawnness” The reducers win by a narrow majority, but there is nothing to boast of in so far as their votes represent roughly a quarter of the voting citizens. When the Temperance Bill passes, and its issues are placed before the people, then we may anticipate a greater keenness, though only a real, live interest will the masses take when municipalisation is a possible alternative to those crushed into the Bill by the cowardly temperance Puritans of unclean conscience.
Professor Wm. Smart recently read a paper entitled “Second Thoughts of an Economist,” and in it he “pointed out that although the progress made had been on the whole beneficent, it had had many painful features (particularly the weeding out of the industrially unfit), and that the inequalities in the distribution of wealth were as marked as they were a century ago.” That statement takes the legs from the Revisionists, who, as things are trending at present, have quietly sneaked back into temporary oblivion again. We trust the dear Professor will have a fit of third thoughts, and by that time he may have come to the conclusion that capitalism is a system unfit to continue, and that it is our duty to weed it out and put Socialism in its place, when economic equality have been established, and there will be a niche, a useful productive niche for everybody, and everybody for a niche. Professor Smart, it is never too late to learn. Have another try.
From: Justice 1 February 1913, p. 3.
Messrs. Barry, Ostlere and Shepherd, of Kirkcaldy, have just given the second increase to their linoleum slaves. Messrs. Michael Nairn and Co. have done likewise by granting 1s. a week extra to all their labourers. This has all been the result of the recent strikes and the formation of powerful branches of various unions. Too long had Kirkcaldy, the unenviable reputation of being one of the worst sweated holes in slavish and Christian Scotland. The tide, we trust, has turned, and it is with confidence we look to the future, when Kirkcaldy will lead the country.
The Leven textile workers have been out on strike for three weeks. There are 600 in all involved. It appears that now the strikers will return to work on an understanding that fortnightly wage will be paid but that the 5 per cent. increase on wages will not be granted. We suspect that shortly after things have settled down wages will be “voluntarily” raised, as recently happen at Dundee and at Kirkcaldy. Thus again do we see that the only argument that appeals effectively to the capitalist class is force or the threat of force.
At a conference on the “Problem of Poverty,” on Wednesday January 22, held in St. Gilbert’s Church, Pollokshields, presided over by Sir John Ure Primrose, Bart., several short addresses were delivered but not one from a member of the poor class. That case-hardened official, Mr. J.R. Motion, Inspector of Glasgow’s Poor, pointed out that on the granting of old-age pensions to paupers 190 in the poor-house and hospitals left, but only to return shortly afterwards, as Lloyd George’s mighty pension was unequal to the task of sustaining freedom. Motion ended up by stating that he anticipated the abolition of his job through the spread of education – the School Board he meant. Strange to relate, he was believed.
Mr. Peter Fyfe; Sanitary Inspector, contributed his quota by informing the world that in Glasgow there are 20,000 “ticketed” houses, houses so bad that his staff has constantly to supervise them. These pig-sty erections shelter between 70,000 and 80,000. Peter says that the Corporation would need to erect 2,000 tenements to house these bottom dogs before pulling down the slums. But Peter thinks it neither safe nor practical for the city to erect cottages round the suburbs! I can imagine the capitalist builders and factors of the neighbourhood whispering with sighs of relief, “Peter, faithful Peter.”
Dr. Devon dealt with his favourite subject, crime. He is one of the sanest men in Glasgow outside our movement. He carries with him a saving grace of humour and scorn of cant that is truly refreshing. He pointed out that if a man lost work in a city, he had to depend on friends, and if these failed him, on begging or theft. If he begged he broke the law. If he stole he broke the law, too, but he had a better chance of getting something! The doctor clearly showed that the strain on the poor drove many to crime. It is a pity did not show how the Insurance card would hit all those consigned to the Prison even for the first time.
Naturally, under the circumstances, the conference was concluded by the Rev. Davd Watson, who said the fundamental cause of our social misery and evils was the disintegration of society. The solution would come in, bringing the rich and the poor together – a matter of a chemical mixture, I suppose. It seems that the jester of the Middle Ages has evolved into the clerical Simple Simon of today.
For the last few year back representatives of the workers have attended the annual general meeting of contributors and subscribers to the Royal Glasgow Asylum for (sweating) the Blind. As a result, a little more has been granted the unfortunate blind whom it has pleased God to place in the hands of a representative of the City’s callous capitalist class. Our comrade, John Howden, tried to get the meeting to widen its mediaeval charter to allow the Trades Council to be represented. The excuse against this course was that a Bill was going to be “introduced” into the Commons to secure State aid for the blind. That was enough. Howden was defeated. Councillor A.R. Turner tried to draw the Chairman as to the attitude of the managers towards the said Bill, but naturally failed. Ten were nominated for the management and nine were wanted. John Howden, the only worker was at the foot of the list with 54 votes, the highest having 118. Taking into consideration the composition of the meeting, we compliment comrade Howden.
The Glasgow carters are to be congratulated on the success of their efforts, the first week of their strike: no blacklegs amongst the ordinary carters and the yielding of the demands by the smaller contractors. Of the 3,000 who came out last Monday, about 1,300 had returned to work by Saturday owing to their employers caving in. Even some of the larger contractors are breaking away from their association. We may, therefore, anticipate an early and complete victory for the men, especially as works are beginning to close down. We wish the men, many of whom are good comrades, every success. The plucky fellows deserve it.
From: Justice 8 February 1913, p. 6.
The larger capitalist interests in Glasgow have appointed a Provisional Committee to take steps towards the organising of an exhibition on the Queen’s Park – all for the benefit of the people, we suppose. The best exhibition I can think of would be the erection of Garden City areas round this industrial capital for this would not only be advantageous to the workers, but also to the smaller business interests, in that our begrimed town would be a world Mecca for one summer season at least. This valuable hint is thrown out for the benefit of that most modest Housing Commission which is trying to ferret out we canny Scots have tholed the cramped stone boxes that have so faithfully served as our “homes” in the past. These worthy gentlemen might embody it in the ponderous report likely to emanate from their under-secretary or some other bottom-dog. We trust that they are also at present purchasing that eminently respectable Lanarkshire journal, the Hamilton “Advertiser,” for in its columns are appearing contributions from my dear, Christian friend, James Leiper, known of yore “in Aberdeen awa’.” He seems to be anxious to let the world and his wife learn of the salubrious properties of that modest little inland resort of convalescents and invalids in Lanark. It appears that this small town little short of a thousand feet high and towering over the fruit-garden of Scotland and the world renowned Falls of Clyde, is at present the subject of an enteric-fever epidemic. Just in accordance with the nasty habit of these prying Socialist chiefs, Leiper, than whom none knows the sacred precincts of Lanark better, makes inquiry and traces the disease right down to the beauteous slums which are stored away in the back-streets far from the gaze of the town’s thousands of visitors. Lest the commissioners might by accident overlook the “Advertiser,” perhaps some one their well-wisher might forward them a marked copy.
More and more contractors have seen the error of their ways, and have now in penitence offered to grant the 28s. and 60-hour demand of their modest carters. Only about 1,300 are now out and each day sees the number reduced. The large contractors will very soon have to yield, or they will have to purchase new teams of horses, for I understand that cramped stable-life destroys the legs and the lungs of even the sturdiest beasts. The continued resistance of the contractors is hopeless, for the men’s allowance is next week going to rise to 15s. – at least, for the married – whilst, at the same time, many businesses that years ago dispensed with their own horses because outside contractors did the work cheaper for them are now being forced back again into the old mode of importing and exporting their own goods. We are assured that there is a premium on horses in Glasgow in consequence of this new turn events have taken. Everything points to a speedy and complete victory for the lion-hearted Lyons and his rough diamonds. Public sympathy, naturally, is with the men – whatever that amounts to.
A mild attack has been made on G.M. Hale, our sole representative on the Govan School Board. Recently, a Board member, Mr. Wilson died, and in his stead someone had to be co-opted. The Labour Party in Govan selected a prominent man in their circles, and requested Hale to support his claim. This our comrade at once informed them he could not do, as it was not legitimately a Labour seat. The Labourists seem to be indignant that the “only Labour man on the Board” should take up this attitude. Prior to the last election, although Hale was endorsed by the Govan Trades Council and many unions, the Labour clique coolly asked the people to support their own two nominees, Pemberton and Gardner, as the only Labour candidates. The situation is such as might force Mr. Punch to relax his risible muscles. Hale has been asked to explain his attitude to the Govan Trades Council. We trust he will draw the attention of Labourists to the situation in the Glasgow Board at present, where Mrs. Jas. Allan has been co-opted in place of Mrs. Geo. D. Hardie, a Labourist for a Labourist and to the refusal of Mrs. Kennedy to vacate her seat on the Aberdeen Board because that body refused to allow a Socialist to take her place.
The fat seems to be in the fire so far as the printing trade in Edinburgh and Glasgow is concerned. The masters have issued a lock-out notice that may become operative on February 15. It is stated that over 130 shops and 2,500 men in the case room and machine room of these book and jobbing shops will be affected. The trouble is the outcome of rules drawn up last year by the Scottish Typographical Association, particularly one bearing on overtime. It appears that at present the normal week is 50 hours for 36s.at any rate in Glasgow. Many of the men work more than twelve hours a week overtime, with the result that many union men only get odd day jobs. The union last year altered its rules so as to limit overtime any week to a maximum of nine hours. The masters wish for extra time under emergency, and this the men have refused to concede. Hence the deadlock. The men declare they will refuse to return unless they get £2 for a forty-eight hours week.
From: Justice 15 February 1913, p. 2.
Shortly after the appointment of Mr. Allan Arneil to one of the £350 to £500 jobs under the Insurance Act the Educational Institute of Scotland made a move towards an approved society for teachers with less than £160 a year. Mr. Arneil was till his appointment, a prominent member of the E.I.S. To the surprise of all, a circular was issued about a week before January 15 urging eligible teachers to at once deposit a first contribution and thus avoid the higher tariff penalty imposed on those joining under the Act after the date mentioned. A goodly number joined, although totally ignorant of the whole matter. Socialist teachers, seeing a danger to the sick pay given by School Boards should most teachers join, at a monthly meeting in Glasgow forced the local branch to summon a special meeting on the question. The meeting proved to be one of the largest ever held. A resolution condemning the haste of the E.I.S. was passed, in spite of the manoeuvres of the official gang. At the same time, our comrade Nicol sent a letter to the “Educational News,” the official organ. To the amazement of all who were interested, neither report of the meeting nor letter appeared in the next issue, although other two meetings held the same day in Glasgow were very fully reported. Whilst we may confidently leave the issue to Socialist teachers, it is as well for Socialists, to note the matter, as this is the first clash Socialists have had with the official clique, and as it gives further demonstration that education does not necessarily lead to honesty in public matters. Education alone does not entitle men’s opinions to be respected, for educated men have usually keener interested motives and prejudices than their less fortunate brethren of the dependent class.
The miners of the kingdom, must be feeling light-hearted just now, for they are men why have achieved things. There must have been coal-digging competitions in Fife, at any rate the “coal Jocks” must have been cheerfully existing on the beautiful scenery of Bowhill, Lochgelly and other miners’ health resorts, for I see that that benefactor of the kingdom, the Fife Coal Company, has absorbed a modest 35 per cent. per annum dividend on ordinary shares for the last six months of 1912. I should imagine that they are rather extraordinary shares. Is it outside the range of our “Kingdom” comrades to pick up a few of these rarities and shovel them up to London town for the propping up of the Twentieth Century Press? I promise to give a B.S.P. competition tip to the genius who can solve the above question.
At a meeting of the Irvine and Kilmarnock U.F. Presbytery, in Kilmarnock, the other day, the Moderator of the Church, the Rev. Dr. Whitelaw is reported to have said that “no man ought to be expected to undertake the work of a Christian minister in Scotland on less than £200 a year and a manse. Good old Dr. Whitelaw! As the Doctor and his beloved colleagues are never so eloquent as when telling us poor mortals that we are brothers, I expect to see him out with us next summer demanding £200 all round as a minimum living wage. Good old Doctor! Meantime, permit me to drop a gentle hint to Glasgow’s carters and printers. Get into the U.F. Church, and no longer will you need to strike and starve. And if that does not pan out to your satisfaction – well, then, get Fife Coal Company ordinaries! After giving away all this excellent advice gratis I begin to realise that I am a philanthropist.
Being absolutely stuck for more copy this week. (some weeks, I fear that savage thing called a “snub editor” must waste whole blue pencils on my romantic effusions), I may be permitted to note that within the last month or two the Calico Combine has introduced into one of its Scottish printfields, at least what is called the system of collective piece work. All the labourers in one department, say, get a specified piece of work to do at the old wage. If the total output is increased beyond that, all participate in the extra wage money granted to that department. Here the incentive is not only to work hard oneself but to hound on one’s mates as well. The few weeks’ trial in one workshop has already led to an increased output that will bring in vastly more profit than will be spent on wages. It fits in with the new feeling of solidarity amongst the workers and it affords a slight rise in wages for a greatly increased output, however. Comrades in the textile trades may look out for a further development of this new mode of speeding-up. So far as the printing trade is concerned, it will mean a hastening of slack time, and this trade has had more than its share within the last generation.
From: Justice 22 February 1913, p. 5.
Boldness, audacity, courage or some other word of that genus, appears to indicate the temperament of Socialists. It seems to be breaking out in a new place, even among us canny Scots. This time the victims of the rash impulse of enterprise are our own Falkirk “bairns.” In a narrow street just off the High Street is a two-storied building, and it is this pile which has been taken for the furtherance of our movement in the centre of the country. With the application of a little money and artistic taste this could quite easily be made the finest working-class club north of the Tweed. We leave it to the ability of the fresh blood lately pouring into our ranks in this locality to see their plans through to final triumph.
Threatening clouds again are concentrating over the fair form of the Firth of Forth. Once more the navvies at Rosyth are gathering courage for an outburst of inactivity, that disease of capitalism otherwise designated as strikitis. The Government recognises 51/2d. an hour as the navvy’s limit, but that bird of passage – perhaps as a result of the songs in his praise sung by our poet McGill – reckons himself worth just a trifle more – the humble “tanner.” And he is determined to get it even should he have to wreck the fair reputation of the “great” Liberal Party in the process. The black squad have made up their collective minds to darken the ominous cloud, too. They wish 6d. a day more and payment for 4 full shifts every fortnight. At present they only receive pay for five hours’ work on Sundays. I wonder if the Scottish kirk considers the Sunday work at Rosyth a work of necessity or mercy?
The Miners have not yet obtained that shilling demanded, although an independent arbiter has been appointed to settle the matter. Meantime, the miners may live on hope, or the happy thought that they can produce 30 per cent. dividends for the companies that enslave them. May they turn out as successful as the Dundee calender workers, to whom a concession of 5 per cent. was granted after considerable discussion between the representatives of the men and the masters.
At the end of the printing trade conference, started in Glasgow and finished in Edinburgh, it was agreed to ballot the m men on the finding of the conference, the chief points of which are that both sides will consult each other before making new rules or altering old ones; that they will consult on the new rules proposed in 1912 by the Scottish Typographical Association affecting conciliation in Glasgow and Edinburgh; that the masters will limit overtime to nine hours a week; that no charges will be enforced before the end of this year except by agreement; that the men’s leaders recommend the men to vote for the above findings (beautiful!) that strike and lock-out notices will be withdrawn if the men agree to the proposals; and that no victimisation will take place. The agreement was signed by Mr. Chas, Bowerman, M.P., and 18 others, for the men, and by Mr. W.B. Blaikie and 4 others for the masters. We learn that many of the men are dissatisfied with the arrangement, and rightly so. The masters have won all they initially demanded.
Last week the Board of Trade sent M. Mitchell to Glasgow to facilitate settling, of the carters’ strike. The Chamber of Commerce also tried to end the matter by inviting representatives of the masters and Mr. Lyons to submit the matter to arbitration. Mr. Lyons refused to adopt this course. At the end of the week all the carters in work agreed to levy themselves a day’s pay to keep their mates on strike from caving through a possible depletion of funds for the strike is now fully a month in progress. Perhaps on account of this the masters hinted that they were prepared to negotiate directly with the men’s representatives. It is stated that on hearing this, Mr. Lyons at once entered into communication with the associated masters. The probability is that by this time the masters have seen the error of their ways and have repented. For their own sakes we fervently hope so.
From: Justice 1 March 1913, p. 6.
Some people think that because I am making an immense fortune by circulating these “notes” I have to accept such forgeries as they may try to palm off on one of the meek like myself. Others again think mine such poor imitations that from generous heart they thrust at my bewildered head what they proudly term “real rustlers.” Here is one of the latter, yclept Andrew Low, the notorious secretary of the Clarion Scouts of Glasgow, a man who is reputed as unable to sleep thinking over those blessed Sunday night lectures of his, and who, it is whispered, has sworn that no-one else will be permitted to indulge that popular vice until his ends are served. With the cynicism bred of superiority he has ordered me to take from him at least one gem in a lifetime. In spite of my brimming Celtic pride, I must confess it is worth publicity – round the west country at least. It seems that some old Social-Democrats were anxious to again hear our veteran, A.S. Headingly on the Paris Commune, and so they pled on the Scouts to fix up a date with that aforesaid still active volcano. Although the Scouts had definitely settled to close down last Sunday for the winter session they favourably consulted the matter, and as the only living British Socialist who witnessed the butchery of Paris workers will give us reminiscences, illustrated by lantern, at the Pavilion this Sunday, March 2, at 6.30 p.m. In the circumstances it obviously is the business of readers to see to it that the Scouts are encouraged to indulge in courtesies of this nature on future occasions. Hire all Glasgow’s spare trams and run your friends and neighbours Pavilion-wards.
After an outing of three hours I have returned to my fount of inspiration – nothing more romantic than paper cuttings —so may proceed as would a spring poet, ever daring, nothing daunted. A little bird has just whistled a “note” to me. (Blame my poetic neighbour for this.) At a meeting of the Tradeston Liberal Association in Nelson Street E. U. Church hall, last Friday, Mr. J. Dundas White M.P., in addressing his stalwarts, alluded to rising prices, but stated that he would pass on without explaining the cause. At the close a comrade who chanced to be present pressed for an explanation. Mr. White point-blank attributed the rise to the decreased value of gold. In this connection let me refer to a lecture on the minimum wage delivered before the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow by Mr. J.H. Jones. This worthy gentleman said that the establishment of a 30s. minimum would have revolutionary effects. The general tendency would be for prices to rise, and this would fall on the working class. It would also lead to a redistribution of industry, involving considerable displacement and disorganisation of labour, again to the detriment of labour. Mr. Jones ought to know that during the last decade at periods when wages were falling prices were rising, and that for years prior to 1896 when wages were rising prices were falling. That shows that prices do not depend on wages, and that therefore a minimum of 30s. would not necessarily involve a general rise in prices. Furthermore, he ought to know that prices have risen about 25 per cent. in 16, or 17 years, and yet trade has not been dislocated as a result. In fact, last year saw a rise of about 6 per cent. in prices, and yet trade was as brisk as it has been for years. It certainly is a new theory to maintain that unemployment is even partly due to high prices and employment to low prices. Taking short periods the opposite is true. Either Mr. Jones is a very primitive type of economist and he assists Smart – or he is trying to gull Glasgow’s philosophic snobs. We refuse to accept it, however, and it is we who count in the fight for a minimum.
As elsewhere, policemen have been given instructions to do all they can to kill the efforts of Glasgow’s striking carters. It is asserted by carters that policemen are even helping blacklegs as well as “protecting” them. In this connection Alex. Turner had a question down at the last Town Council meeting, but directed to the chief of the police instead of to the Lord Provost. Turner was ruled out of order, and on insisting on an answer was suspended by the new Standing Orders really faked up to trammel the Labour group. Hugh Lyon himself the vigorously protested, and was similarly quietened. That was on the Thursday. By the Saturday the Lord Provost had representatives of both sides together, but nothing definitely was settled. We trust Lyon holds firm, he is sure to win. The joke is that the men’s demands are unreasonably modest.
At the annual meeting of the Maternity Hospital contributors and subscribers Sir Hector Cameron dispelled the myth that poor women more easily stand child-birth and run fewer risks. Vital statistics proved his position, and he emphasised the point that no woman could bring forth in safety unless surrounded by a regimen, a technique, and a ministration both by doctors and nurses which obeyed throughout the well-known laws of what he might call, surgical and scientific purity. That shows the need for general birth institutions supported by the State. That would be better than the 30s. granted under the Insurance Swindle.
From: Justice 8 March 1913, p. 6.
The call of my pibroch through the glens of Glasgow must have had a marvellous effect, for 3,000 gallants, their wives and their families did positively pack the Pavilion to hear that septuagenarian youngster, A.S. Headingley. And what a lecture! Did I not know that young men between 70 and 80 are liable to suffer from swelled head, and thus are guilty of spoiling a long and brilliant future, I might be tempted to say things. All I need say is that it was a sight that would cure a bad attack of despondency to see the face of the Scouts secretary. He secretly told me he had booked A.S.H. for an annual visit right up till the dawn of Socialism. I never enjoyed a better night of it. What thrills over the heroism of the Parisian workers of the great Commune of 1871! Hats off to the gallant victims of bloodthirsty capitalism!
Major Pringle found Stevenson, the driver of the G. and S.W. express between Glasgow and Carlisle, whose train ran into a goods train at Hurford on January 13, guilty of passing signals against him. He drew attention to the fact that this unfortunate slave of 14 years’ experience was on duty 121/2 hours when the accident occurred, and admitted that “these hours appear to be longer than the Board of Trade hold to be reasonable for enginemen.” If so, it is a heinous sin to let the company slip. It ought to be made pay down a fine large enough to give Stevenson £100 a year of a retiring allowance till his death. It is likely that the company will scrap him and leave him and his dependants to perish. This, of course, is what is sweetly called “business.”
Late last year I recorded, with the precision of the angel to whose lot has fallen this type of slavery, the formation of a Housing Council in Greenock. Undeterred by the mock housing scheme all winter manoeuvred with by the city fathers, this Council has carried on a searching investigation into the town’s accommodation. The shocking discoveries were the other week eloquently and passionately laid before the fathers by a deputation from the Housing Council, whose able spokesman was the bold Rev. Chas: Allan, one of the few – very few – members of the cloth who have the heart to come forth and champion the cause of the wronged and downtrodden. Here are excerpts from his speech as reported in last week’s “Greenock Telegraph.” It is worth giving space to these in view of the fact that the first “Scientific Socialist” in Britain, the leader of the Labour Party, seems to have found things so well at home that he can afford to proceed to India to right things out there:—
“There were houses where human beings were huddled together like pigs. In one bed were a man and his wife and two children. In the other bed in the same room was a young woman, a servant girl temporarily out of a place, an absolute stranger to the couple. Through this room passed in and out to the rooms beyond two other couples, using the one sink in the kitchen. The couple in the wretched, ramshackle outer room paid 4s. 8d. weekly for their bed. The girl in the other bed paid 2s. 4d.” .... “House after house they found in a disgraceful condition – great cracks in the walls, through which one could stick one’s elbow; walls and ceilings simply oozing with damp; basins keeping the rain off beds on which invalids were lying, and the mother had to be up half the night changing them. Their visitors reported closets in a damaged condition: one place with the overflow from an upper closet oozing down on the dwelling-place below, the stench being sickening and disgusting ... There were places where between forty and fifty people used the same convenience – if one can use such a word under the circumstances” “Of the 7,176 persons in single-roomed houses 5,968, or 83 per cent were overcrowded. Of the 35,154 in two-roomed houses 25,3741 or 72 per cent., were overcrowded. As things were that was inevitable, and it meant infant mortality – the modern murder of the innocents.”
My bosom friends know that I am a Shakespeare at expressions rigidly excluded from the pure columns of “Justice.” After the above I feel it would be most discreet to proceed for a stroll. Should only the above appear readers will learn that I have been bound over to hold the peace for orating the first unfortunate policeman.
Little space is now left for a statement of the main features of an inquiry into the conditions of the people of Glasgow. Perhaps next week I'll devote all my space to this matter, as it follows the lines of investigations in York and Edinburgh.
A report on the diet of 60 families living in Cowcaddens, Anderston, Bridgeton, Gorbals, and Woodside has been issued by Miss. Dorothy E. Lindsay, B.Sc. a Carnegie Research Fellow. She allowed food supplying 3,500 calories of heat to a working man each day and lesser quantities for other members of the family. She classified the families according to weekly income, regular and irregular. She found that the average daily energy value of all the diets studied gave 3,163 calories per man, or 337 calories, or 10 per cent. roughly, below the limit for efficiency. Of the families earning over 20s., 28.5 per cent. got food yielding less than 3,000 calories, the minimum, I suppose, for bare existence; Of those earning irregular wages or under 20s., 62.5 per cent. had less than this rock bottom. It seems that some of the people not a sufficient knowledge of organic chemistry, dynamics, dietetics, and economics to spend their few shillings to the maximum advantage. Perhaps Miss Lindsay would have these people purchase wholesale quantities, and get a special B.Sc. degree to live in the slums on a less than a pound a week. She urges the people to return to porridge and other cheap energy producers. I would like to deal with her impudence, but I will halt this week at this juncture lest enlarged paper might have to be issued.
From: Justice 22 March 1913, p. 6.
Since Monday week the chief topic in the West has been the terrific explosion at Nobel’s works at Ardeer, near Kilwinning. People feeling the effects for miles around naturally took exceptional interest in the gossip retailed in the Press. We Socialists, being human, do feel the sincerest sympathy with the seven victims’ relatives and those that were injured as others do. But we see that such deaths might almost entirely be obviated were warfare a thing of the past. That consummation, however, will not be attained till capitalism has been replaced by Socialism, with its solid foundation for human solidarity. It is the duty of all sympathisers, then, to take our side in the struggle against brutality and its fell consequences so startlingly exemplified in this awful catastrophe.
It is further worthy of note that only thirty-one have been killed at Ardeer since the opening of the works in 1871, although 2,800 men and women are constantly employed. The nature of the material handled, and the occasional explosions, tend to make us exaggerate the risks run by workers, and yet it is these very circumstances that have led to restrictions which would save hundreds of lives and thousands of limbs if applied to transit, mining and the other occupations which claim a heavy human toll year by year. This Ardeer disaster should lend itself, to a condemnation of St. George and his knights of the “Square deals” over the raising of the Plimsoll line and the failure to grapple with the dangers on railways and in mines.
Glasgow Trades Council is going to consider the “Report” issued by Miss Lindsay at their meeting on Wednesday, March 26, for permission has been granted to “herself,” the Gael, to set the bill rolling. Excuse my impudence when I ask a packed house of visitors on the occasion. The bigger the crowd, the better the report in the Press; the larger the report, the greater will be the effect on the workers. One never knows what may happen. Some day the people will leap forward. Let us strenuously try, try again.
At the annual meeting of the Glasgow Branch of the Class Teachers’ Association the name of Mr. G.N. Barnes, M.P., was put up against that of Mr. McKinnon Wood, M.P. Secretary for Scotland, for honorary president, and obtained a majority of the votes cast. This either indicates an advance in the opinions of teachers or a condemnation of Wood’s policy in refraining, through the Scottish Education Department of course, from carrying out the minute enjoining school boards to reduce classes to forty. Whilst resentment against the delay of the Government may have actuated a few, still I am led to understand that most of those who plumped for Barnes did so because they were Socialists. That in no way implies that they approve of Barnes’s position and actions in the Commons, but simply that they accepted his name as the equivalent of Socialism.
Through the efforts of the Socialist Teachers’ group the first petitioned meeting of the Educational Institute will take place in Edinburgh this Saturday, March 22. The petitioners requested it on the proposed Insurance scheme and the delayed salary campaign. Since the arrival of the petition the Executive Committee of the E.I.S. has consented to drop the Insurance proposal, and has indicated through the Press that a move for higher salaries will be made. However, the group are anxious that Socialist teachers and sympathisers throughout the country concentrate on Edinburgh unless away on holiday, and so help to galvanise the fossils of an earlier age at headquarters. I am informed that after the meeting a gathering will take place in the I.L.P. rooms to start a group for Edinburgh and district.
I hear that our own Scottish Executive met in Glasgow last Saturday and got through some important work, not the least important item being a definite move forward with the four-paged tract we mean to disseminate throughout the land. It is expected that every branch will more than do its duty – just by way of a change.
Quite recently the Land Court meeting in Skye gave decisions reducing a number of rents by a pound or two at the most. Most of the rents were less than £10 per annum for land and house combined, and some of them had not been paid for a considerable time all going to show that it is not extortionate rent that so rapidly has depopulated the Highlands. In the eyes of wage-earners the rents are exceedingly small and the reductions are so tiny that no effective change can possibly be imagined in the economic misery of the crofters. Each fresh-batch of decisions but further proves the futility of present methods to retain the peasantry on the land.
The capitalist class in Scotland are getting a bit scared about the supply of their slave class, or, at any rate, would have us believe so. The Glasgow Corporation recently held a special meeting to discuss housing at the suggestion of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons. The Citizens’ Union, amongst other capitalist bodies, notices with pleasure the steps the Corporation are about to take, and it appears that the Labour forces are going to be trapped into approval of this seeming step forward. The Corporation has already special powers to deal with slums, and has special committees galore to handle the various phases of housing. And yet, up till now, it has done nothing. Why is it going to move at last?
One reason is the growing determination of the workers to have better house accommodation. Another reason is the 19,000 unlet houses in the city owing to the migration suburbwards, this latter is the more powerful If many slum areas are bought and used for air spaces the owners will gain handsomely, whilst their brethren will get a larger number of lets. This game is absolutely transparent when we consider the motion proposed by the Lord Provost and carried at the meeting.
A special Executive Committee of 14 on Housing, consisting of the Lord Provost and members from the Health, Housing of the Working Class and City Improvements Committees has been appointed to proceed at once with the closing and removing of bad buildings, with the opening up of congested areas and the provision where possible and necessary, of suitable houses for the poorest classes; but the above great committee can only draw up plans and make recommendations when it comes to housing. These must be submitted to the Corporation, and, if approved, will be passed on to the City Improvements Committee for execution.
Well, well! The Glasgow Corporation must really take us for a pack of fools. Why, any dummy with a cork eye and a glass leg could see through this thinly-veiled manoeuvre to dish the people again. We declare that there was no need for this committee. The Public Health Officials know the slums, and to them ought to be granted the power to issue closing orders. Let the Labour and Socialist forces unite to draw up lists of insanitary houses, and these must be closed at once or the local Government Board can be pestered on the matter. That is how to do the business without paying money. Next, let the Cottage Committee carry out the plans it has prepared under James Stewart. Thus the better paid artisans may be helped up a bit to make room for their lower-paid fellow slaves. Only two existing committees are required to deal with the matter, and they can do the work efficiently. I am absolutely correct then in saying that this Executive Committee dodge is just another move to bleed the public for the property owners, is just about time then, that the Glasgow Trades Council summoned a City Hall Conference of workers, to stamp down this preposterous proposal. If the Labour Group lie down to this swindle then we are forced to the conclusion that they are in the swim.
From: Justice 29 March 1913, p. 6.
The Amalgamated Society of Telephone Employees held their eighth annual heart-to-heart talk in Glasgow last Friday and Saturday March 21 and 22. The muddle that Telephone users have been complaining of since our Post Office prophet, Samuel, took over the system was right away explained in the dispassionate speech by the President, Mr. O. Preston, of Newcastle and backed up by the 128 resolutions coming from branches all over the land. Dissatisfaction existed all over in consequence of the Government failing to keep its pledge to the old company’s servants anent maxima increments, sick pay, overtime rates, hours of duty and general loss of status. Over 2,250 National Telephone Company’s staff had had their hours of labour increased by “this so-called democratic Government”; and although people thought the Government recognised the 48-hour week, yet 6,514 men were working over that. Many efficient men had been degraded to lower ranks with a corresponding reduction in prospects. The conference saw fit to condemn the Labour Bureaux as they have been instrumental in providing unskilled worker at an average of £1 1s. a week to the danger of the efficient working of the system. No wonder ‘phone users are finding things slightly awry. We Socialists are hardly surprised knowing as we do that we live in the golden era of the Government of all the Talents (shipping and Marconi ones included.)
The “Glasgow Herald” seems anxious to make capital out of the grievances of these conferences by explaining that the case against nationalisation has been fully proved. Hardly. As the representative of “Justice” at the gathering I had the opportunity of talking with some of the delegates, and I found them to be Socialists. Furthermore, comrade Hale, who in ‘phone circles boast his Socialism, was elected next year’s president and delegate to the Trades Union Congress. It was precisely these men who most mercilessly denounced their vile treatment, but to them the source of blame was this wonderful government and not nationalisation. And I may say it was these men who objected to joining the Labour Party, not that they are against the formation of a working-class party, but because they desire one prepared to fight for the workers.
“It’s an ill wind,” etc. Last week we had occasion to refer to the explosion at Nobel works at Ardeer. Since that, whilst travelling to Edinburgh, I met a comrade hailing from Saltcoats. He assured me that of the almost 3,000 workers most had less than £1per week. This had immediate confirmation in the activity of the Scottish Union of Dock Labourers, whose secretary, Joe Houghton addressed a meeting last week of Ardeer workers in the Town Hall, Saltcoats, for the purpose of forming a union. Our comrade asserted that hundreds of men were receiving only 18s. a week. Since then I have been thinking. I am anxious to know what part of that 18s. is insurance against risk to the worker’s capital. Webb, Smart, Marshall or any other professional capitalist economist might favour interested humanity with an answer. Meantime, I am glad to report that Ardeer workers are rising to the occasion and I trust this rising will be as effective as the explosives they make.
Up-to-date this year fully 8,000 have left the Clyde for Canada. That is double the number this time last year. As trade is alleged to booming we must conclude that the emigrants are coming from the country districts or abnormal places in the pits. This shows how ineffective has been the Small Landholders Act or the Minimum Wage Act – or both.
One family in Scotland did not need migrate, except in pursuit of health or sport. I refer to the thread family from Paisley, the Coats family, to be precise. Sir James of that ilk, recently tired of getting the “buddies” to make thread and millions and so set out explore the ethereal vault of the planet Mars. Thoughtful man that he always was he generously left behind him the remainder of his rent of ability £1,773,870 2s. 3d. It is these deeds of kindness that make the world go round. I quote this to disprove an assertion constantly insisted upon by the editor of the “Herald” that “the world is ruled by force.” How dare you, sir!
Solicitor-General A.M. Anderson K.C., recently told a meeting that Liberalism was the balancing power between reactionary Toryism on the one hand and the impracticable proposals of Socialism on the other, and if Liberalism faltered or fell it seemed to him that all the probabilities pointed to this: that the people would have recourse to Socialism rather than revert to the retrograde policy of their ancient opponents. As our Andersen, who ought to have been a K.C., has times without number shown the failure of Liberalism, our aforesaid forensic friend’s probabilities are becoming certainties. Socialism is spreading.
As 200 delegates did not turn up to the petitioned meeting of the Educational Institute last Saturday, in Edinburgh, the meeting was dropped. The committee played for this thinking it would thus dish the Socialists. I hear that the Socialists anticipating the result, took it as a joke and consider the fiasco will do damage to the reputation of the E.I.S. The Socialist group came in contact with a few others who will join up with them, that for them the occasion was not fruitless. Some Edinburgh comrade might forward “Justice” to Mr. S. Murray, editor, of the “Educational News.” He needs it badly.
From: Justice 5 April 1913, p.5.
Alas! the blessings of civilisation have hardened the hearts of Aberdeen’s slaves against their masters in the granite trade, for by this time 1,400 men should be on strike for a rise in wages from 7½d. to 8½d. an hour and a reduction of hours to 51 a week, unless the masters have seen fit to yield. The union took a ballot, and the men settled it. Here’s success to the chippers of stone!
Falkirk Parish Council are to be congratulated on abolishing the word “pauper” and putting in its place “recipient.” It is not exactly surprising when we know that two of our most worthy and trusted men are on that body – men who never fail to take the people into their confidence when they are on the warpath. I refer to McKinnon and Roberts. These two have not only been instrumental in getting an insulting word expelled from their books and deliberations, but, far more important, they have it to their credit of getting the Council to provide the best diet in the land for their recipients. Let Falkirk district cap it this November by returning a red majority to this august body.
A Banffshire sub-postmaster is alleged to have given amusing replies to the Select Committee on Postal Servants. When asked what kind of folk lived in his locality he replied: “Oh, just natural kind of folk.” Later on he stated that he was getting £35 a year for about 70 hours’ work a week, including Sundays. Well, well, he at any rate must be a natural! Banff has not a monopoly of postal naturals. These unfortunates are to be found in all parts of the land. For instance, I know of a woman who gets £40 a year for acting as postmistress. She has to be in attendance 12 hours a day, has to give up a room in her home for telegraph and other postal work, and she has to pay for any substitute should she ever, foolishly imagine that she needs a holiday. She lives this side of the Cheviots. It is hardly to be expected that the prophet Samuel will find time for the consideration of such natural affairs, as he has taken at strong craze for selling Marconis, and silver perhaps, at a loss for the glory and benefit of mankind.
The great success of the Insurance Swindle in leading the workers like lambs to be bled, and its own duping its workers out of £40,000 gathered from them for friendly society purposes, has emboldened Glasgow Corporation to plan a superannuation scheme which just about reaches the limit. At present it pays about £11,500 a year in pensions and grants to retired employees. The better part goes to the retired higher-paid officials as in other cities. The Labour men used continually to object to big pensions when-ever officials reached a ripe old age, and the rate rising was usually one of the arguments. By his new scheme the wage-earners are going to be made to keep up their supervisors in retirement as well as add to the funds at the disposal of the Corporation. By this scheme all officials are to be levied 6d. per £1 salary whereas the contributions from wage-earners range from 6d. to 7½d. per £1, women with 16s. a week even being called upon to yield up to 7½d. per week. Should a worker leave before slaving two years for the Corporation, should he strike or do anything else likely to lead to dismissal, he gets none of the money paid into the superannuation fund. Should he leave after two years’ service he forfeits half his contributions. Should he die, only the nearest relatives are allowed to get the money paid in – without interest. Should he have no dependants, the Corporation obligingly retains the money.
The extent of the robbery is clear when we learn that of the 16,000 employees about 3,000 leave every year – in most cases thankful to get away from the world’s model city service (ahem!). If we exclude the higher officials, who cling like limpets to their job, we see that the service is renewed mince every five years on the average. If a fair fraction remains for a series of years, then this must be counter-balanced by an extra large army who shout “Enough!” before two years have glided away. We all know the small number of workers who dare live till sixty-five. Merely a handful of those who have the courage to abide Corporation tyranny have the ghost of a chance to enter the charmed circle of superannuation recipients, and several of these will die of fright at the very thought of getting money without work. Mostly officials will benefit by the nice little game, as I said, and their cost will at most not exceed £20,000 a year. It is calculated that the scheme, if accepted, will realise without interest from accumulations far over £300,000. It behoves the employees concerned and the workers of the city as well to kill the scheme, or, rather, prevent its birth. As Wheatley says, let the scheme be non-contributory, and then we might raise granite columns to the projectors. If not, let there be a GAEL.
From: Justice 12 April 1913, p.6.
Now that the Temperance Bill has been dropped, though not till Glasgow had a plebiscite costing hundreds of pounds, “puir auld Scotia” must be kept going with another Bill which in turn may kindle some fire or may squeeze through like the Small Landholders one because too delicate and useless to disturb any interest, even that of the microbe race, methinks. No wonder many of our people in desperation take to “whusky” and “fitba”; no wonder Mrs. Cornwallis West, the mother of “dear Winnie,” allowed the manager of the Repertory Theatre in Glasgow to stage her attempt, “The Bill,” for the first time. We are a long-suffering people, slow to political anger.
This time we have thrown at us a milk-and-water – pardon, Milk and Dairies – (Scotland) Bill. It must have been a strange lapse, that first title of mine, because all the Bills ever yet brought is have been milk and water, with a decided percentage more of the latter. The only features of the Bill are the creation of a new public functionary, a veterinary inspector who may be appointed by local authorities, the registration of dairies, the seeing that pure milk is supplied (who sneezed? and the permission to local authorities to establish milk depots for the sale of milk specially prepared for infants under two years of age.
Permit your humble servant to direct the attention of the draughtsmen of the joke, and the great God-given Government from whom they received their commission, that one slight omission somehow or other escaped their mighty and penetrating minds: the compulsory provision of all the five million of us with milk twice daily. My base and dull mind somehow has concluded that this Bill in operation will add to the working expense of farms and dairies, and that this will reflect itself in a raising of the price of milk. This in its turn will lead to shrinkage of demand by the poor or deletion from the list of purchasables altogether. Were the Scottish workers at all represented at St. Stephens a stern fight would be made for dairy farms directly under the control of the new Agricultural Board – if it has not already taken opium – and supply depots under the sway of local authorities, with the compulsory provision that each person be granted daily a pint of pure milk, the State to stand the expense of those unable to pay. This State expense seems to me more reasonable than that which it will have to bear when farmers must give up or kill tuberculous cows. However, tastes do differ.
A week or two ago I described the pompous Housing Executive Committee that had with blare of trumpets been appointed by Glasgow Corporation to shelve the whole question or again line the pockets of the slum-owners. Confirmation of this we have in the rejection of the cottage scheme brought forward by a special committee last Thursday. The intention was to erect 80 three-roomed cottages with rents at £15 15s and 160 four-roomed ones at £18, the whole to be erected for about £60,000. More than this paltry sum is annually passed over from the tramway profits to the Common Good Fund, and nearly half the people live in one-roomed apartments; yet the opposition pleaded expense and the existing supply of houses as justification for their attitude.
Dr. Chalmers, of Glasgow, lecturing to a section of the Royal Society of Medicine at their headquarters in London on house-room and the: death-rate, concluded that not only the housing of the poor, but their whole economic condition, was a subject of national importance. Oh! if we could only get the poor – that is, the working class – themselves to fully realise this they would very soon make a national question of it; nay, an international one.
It is gratifying to see that a few branches in Scotland are determined, to support the four-paged tract movement. Let others brace themselves and go into the fight thoroughly. It is our ambition before long to see half-a-million at least distributed from door to door. There is absolutely nothing to prevent it if we wish to win inside a decade. So into it, boys, and let Hyndman, Quelch, and or such Sassenachs see that we Scots have started out on business at last. Then we will see the G.O.M. publishing other reminiscences proving his Scottish descent. Let us give him a chance.
Now that the blue pencil of the editor has been set aside for a time, I seize the opportunity to voice the appreciation we all have of the almost superman efforts made by Harry Quelch to fire with revolution the hearts and minds of Britain’s workers. When time-serving, self-seeking, and unscrupulous Labourists have been found out, and when anarchic mental confusionists with their meretricious articles, pamphlets and books, have finally been thrust aside as impostors, the true worth of Quelch’s work and unbending opposition to all forms of economic social and political cant and humbug will be gratefully acknowledged. It is characteristic of the man that he should have slipped away in quest of health without our knowing and without asking help as many others younger and less deserving have done. We all know that Harry can have little or nothing to give him the holiday he needs. Many a time when he should have been in bed he has travelled North in winter to keep an engagement. Let us show our appreciation of the best working-class fighter the wage-earning class of this country has produced in the only practical way available at present.
From: Justice 19 April 1913, p.7.
A note has arrived from Falkirk drawing my attention to the omission of the name of a comrade who is on the Parish Council there. Readers may remember my note on the use of the word “recipient” now to come into vogue in Falkirk in place of the word “pauper.” With this change, and the improvement in the diet of the recipients, I coupled the names of two of our men on the Council, and, unfortunately, omitted the name of an old bed-mate, Councillor Hamilton. The sender of the hint suggests that my neglect is about sufficient to turn him Syndicalist, or something to that effect. Were I a great editor, like unto him of the “Daily Herald,” and as well remunerated for my inspired efforts, I could see the force of taking such a desperate step as hinted in retaliation for my sin of omission, but as I am almost as ill-requited and abused as our beloved “Tattler” himself, I am absolutely at a loss to know why my correspondent should take me so seriously as to think of such a suicidal step. I know Hamilton forgives my oversight, and so would my rebellious friend did he know the hot haste employed by me to Keep Scotland in the world’s electric light. He may not know that I have the unusual trait of keeping myself fresh till there is just time to gasp out my stray streaks of facts and fancies. He may not know that I keep three alarums to time me: the first goes off half-an-hour before the last moment; the second, fifteen minutes therefrom; and the last is the signal to crush everything at hand into an envelope and pass on to the family pedestrian, who has just time to meet the postman as he slams the door of the nearest pillar-box. In the circumstances, I challenge my disgusted friend to beat me at forgetting names, facts – aye, and even great linguistic outbursts far excelling those of Mr. Bacon Shakespeare himself. Should this fail to appease, let my worthy adversary choose his weapons, and we will meet soon at Falkirk Cross.
If our correspondent-in-chief in Motherwell is not mistaken, a fine little flutter is going to be pulled off in that steel-hearted centre. The steel industry seems to develop thirst as a bye-product, so I am told. At any rate, there are plenty of public-houses and numerous frequenters in Motherwell. Temperance enthusiasts seem to imagine that if all the pubs were closed the town would more closely approximate to the infernal regions they think good enough for sinful man. In pursuing, their glowing ideal they have been able to induce the licensing magistrates to close thirteen shops at one swoop. Our men think that now is the accepted time to have a municipal shop with all the attractions and side-shows needed to make the people’s leisure hours more heaven-like. They will set the ball a-rolling at a big demonstration at the Fountain (a grand, temperance stand) on Sunday first. Let all in the neighbourhood get there with their myriads of friends and neighbours.
At the fourteenth annual Scottish National Co-operative Conference, held in Edinburgh last Saturday, a resolution from Mr. Wm. Maxwell, chairman of the International Cooperative Alliance, practically asking cooperators to approve of the temporary alliance of the Co-operative Union with the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party for undefined political advantages, was carried unanimously, but not until the Youngs, Gallacher and others demanded affiliation complete to the Labour Party. Another resolution, from Peter Glasse, approving of direct co-operative representation in Parliament was likewise carried unanimously. Thus proceeds the confusionist policy fostered by the I.L.P. in the Labour Party of representation by trade towards the burlesque demand for seats because of ownership of industries by working men. The need of funds for political action has led to many tortuous moves, indeed. The Conference also decided to ask district conference associations to bring small landholders together into associations, thereafter to trade directly with the co-operative movement. The sooner the crofters and peasants generally learn the lesson of solidarity, the quicker will they learn the advantages of Socialism and full human solidarity.
The agenda for the Scottish Trades Union Congress, to start on April 30 in Dumfries, has been issued. A perfect flood of resolutions will face the resolute souls delegated to attend. Many are of the hardy annual type, although some of these have been somewhat changed to meet new circumstances. Better and earlier pensions, a minimum wage, non-contributory insurance, electoral reform, and plenty of nationalisation are all wanted; but, alas! the Parliamentary Committee is not taken seriously in Scotland, let alone Westminster. Let our men concentrate on Dumfries and supply a needed impulse.
At the annual meeting of the Glasgow Liberal Council, the new president, Mr. Thos. Clement, of the Blackfriars and Hutcheson-town Association, is reported to have said that “They had loyally supported the Labour Party, and the Labour member sat by the goodwill and support of the Liberal voters. Whilst that good feeling existed, in all probability Mr. Barnes would retain the seat.” No wonder Barnes does so much Scottish Liberal work in Parliament. We hope Glasgow I.L.P. members are satisfied; we, at any rate, are amused. We are on the look-out for Nero’s fiddle in some second-hand shop.
Another Bill for Scotland. This time the reintroduction of Sir W. Beale’s for proportional representation on school boards.
From: Justice 26 April 1913, p.6.
With the approach of May-Day the various Socialist organisations busy themselves getting ready their red paint-pots for the casting of a glow and brilliance over our cold land of mist and melancholy. Outstanding, some vain people would have me believe, are our Glasgow District Council and the Clarion Scouts. These complementary bodies boast of more converts than any others in this or any other country, and then export them to leaven the rest of the world. Considering it murder to kill such illusion as this, I hasten to urge upon all within a radius of fifty miles of the city to help the wild enthusiasts of the aforesaid bodies to keep up their notions. Heave away, lads!
The new tract venture has been dubbed “The Vanguard,” and this May 13,000 of it will begin the process of changing the thought in a few selected areas. There is a galaxy of masterly writers in Scotland inside our movement, and to them is sent forth an appeal to contribute short Socialist articles of about 500 words. Shetland alone could keep a daily going; Aberdeen could in no time fill a library with the soundest and deepest of Socialist philosophy; Fife and Edinburgh could swamp with poetry the literature of the past; and the West could excel old Blackwood’s at its best. What Dundee and the South have capacity for is yet outside my range. Even though the effort be modest, yet with such volumes of latent talent it ought to surpass anything yet in Socialist journalism. Past, present, and future aspirants to world-fame had better inundate the man at the wheel, J.Maclean, with reams of dazzling thoughts conveyed in liquid language – or even in ragtime. The address is 159, Albert Road, Longside, Glasgow. A special postman having been appointed, sensitive writers have no excuse for delay.
Glasgow, having decided that cottages are too good for toiling masses, has now agreed to have airy residences, sanatoria indeed, for monkeys and other blue-blooded animals at Rouhen Glen. In reply to the cynical opposition of the Labour men, W. Anderson (who opposed cottages) protested that Socialists claimed to be favourable to education, and that nothing had a greater educational value than a zoo. If the Fathers’ solution of the housing and feeding problem for some of Nature’s wild and wily products is not at any rate a plain object-lesson for the workers of the Second City, then must we seriously urge the inclusion of several specimens of the genus homo within the agreed-upon animal home. Seriously, the Council knows that the tramway surplus when transferred to the common good had either to be used on cottages, or some luxury, such as a zoo, that would not conflict with propertied interests. Hence the seemingly strange conduct of the Corporation.
For a long time now the Dalziel School Board have been worrying one another and the Scotch Education Department over the case of a teacher, Miss Marshall, who became a Roman Catholic. Finally she was dismissed. Now, on the motion of Baillie Ferguson, and by a majority of six votes to three, this gathering of educational Rip Van Winkles has set up an Inquisition. All teachers as a part of their agreement are going to be asked to sign the following: “I understand that it is part of my agreement that I must be a Protestant and give religious instruction according to the Protestant faith.” Many teachers, from deep conviction, are Agnostics – in fact, have become such after having qualified as teachers to the satisfaction of the Government. Have they to be precluded from the teaching profession simply to suit the whims of, I am persuaded, Ulster bigots? Never! Scotland has not openly disgraced itself thus in its past history, though in rural areas Atheists and Agnostics have secretly had to suffer; so let us hope that not only teachers, but educationists, and especially working-class bodies, will see to it that the Dalziel Board, get no grant until the above obnoxious confession of faith is expunged from the teachers’ agreement.
Strange things do happen occasionally on this tiny planet of ours. The Scottish railway companies have decided to observe May-Day, not the first Sunday, but the first day of May. Do not for a moment think, however, that they are going to grant a day’s holiday with pay to their slaves of the pen, the plate, or the track, or that they are going to parade the country with banners of red. Never a bit of it. Their greetings of fraternity to us their compatriots does take a curious form. From May 1 onwards they tell us they are going to raise third-class return and week-end tickets 5 per cent. The railwaymen’s rises are to be a perfect boon to the companies, which certainly are going to make extra profits under the cover of generosity to their sweated employees. The sooner we take the railways from these blackmailers the better.
Demands for more money and shorter hours and small strikes are more prevalent all over the land at present than they have been for a considerable time. In Aberdeen 2,000 granite workers coachbuilders, upholsterers, and fishworkers are worrying their masters by the strike or threat of it; in Kirkcaldy and Bo'ness the potters have gripped the bosses by the throat; near Dumfries 400 peatworkers are taking a rest; in Glasgow the tailors are about to stretch their legs; and in Kilwinning Nobel’s victims are just about at explosion point.
From: Justice 3 May 1913, p.2.
The advent of May-Day sees the workers of Scotland still seething with revolt industrially, but lying like lambs politically. It is a pleasure to see them revolt in any shape or fashion, however. And they are winning all over, even though the gains be microscopic. Victory tells on the souls of men, and is it not more soul we wish our fellow-men to display? Hired fishermen on steam drifters at a conference in Inverness threatened to emigrate en masse if they did not get a share of their boats’ profit, and they won hands down. Is that not a good reply to the emigration of capital? The carters of Aberdeen have gained a slight concession in a minimum of 22s.; and so have the cabbies of Dundee. The plasterers of Dunfermline got their wages up from 8½d. to 9d. an hour; the dockers of Glasgow now get 10d. an hour, and the peat workers of Dumfries rattle home with their first victory. Labourers at Nobel’s rise from 18s. 9d. to 20s. 10d. Even the Glasgow hotel workers are on the move, and may break dishes and tempers some of these fine days. Let us, then, rally round the flag on May-Day and infuse new life and vigour into the militants of our class, battling modestly and blindly, no doubt, but nevertheless battling for their class. Let us eclipse all previous celebrations by unsparing effort on our part.
One of the three Scotsmen off to Canada as scientists on the Stefansson Arctic Expedition was a member of the Teachers’ Socialist Group.
I learn that the Fife Coal Company are copying the Singer Stewing Machine Company. Readers may remember the postcard ballot the latter took of their slaves when they were on strike. Every private pressure being brought to bear on the strikers, a majority voted for return to work. Now, the Fife Coal Tyranny is adopting the ballot to kill the Gala Day started a generation ago to celebrate the winning of the eight hours day. It would be fatal to lose the day, not because it would be a holiday lost, but because it is symbolic of the coming triumph of Labour over Capital. Let the Gala Day continue.
When Lord Roberts comes to Glasgow on May 5 he is going one better than he did at Leeds. There he had his speech screened in the open air. In our city of soot and zoos his weighty statements will be partly screened in Hengler’s Circus, the Coliseum, and a few picture houses. The use of music-halls for jingoism during the Boer Butchery sinks into insignificance compared with the methods that will now be resorted to for militarism and capitalism. It is for our men in Scotland to counteract “Bobs,” and all other bounders let loose by interested capitalism to divert the workers’ minds from the real peril, capitalist robbery, and the real war, the class war. The “Pollokshaws Review,” in its dying issue, did its little best to prepare the minds of the people in that locality for the conscriptionist propagandist-in-chief.
And so will the “Vanguard,” too. But it needs support. Since last week two other districts have sent in their demands, so that now the total stands at 15,000. Did all our branches realise the vast importance of this new “tractarian movement” our next issue would have at least a circulation of 100,000. We feel confident it will have that once members read the first issue. The tract is printed by the Twentieth Century Press, and thus, the larger the issue the more we tend to help the centre of our very existence. That in itself is worth a splendid effort. The cost per thousand at present is surprisingly cheap, and will be cheaper with every reasonable increase in output. Branches have lost pounds upon pounds through weather and disappointments in vocal methods of propaganda. Not the tenth of a farthing is lost in this new way. All admit that the written is more effective than the spoken word, and our every written word tells. Scores can write for every one who can speak or dare speak. Our best men are those who mostly have to keep behind the scenes. We have here a splendid means of using their ability and goodwill. Furthermore, we get at the unconverted at their homes, and often against their inclination; that is to say, we get right down to all the people willy nilly. Likewise, we are able briefly to present our views on the events and doings of the day in such a manner as to prevent the masses being led astray. And lastly, as the clerics say, we are able to give the lead to trade unionists, co-operators, and labourists alike.
Last week I referred to the raising of train fares, commencing on May-Day. The rise 1 of 5 per cent. far exceeds the pittances meted out to the rail slaves. I have in front of me a typed copy of the Caledonian Railway award by the neutral chairman of Board 7 with reference to surfacemen, flying squad men, signal linemen, and telegraph linemen. The hours are to remain as at present, 9½ hours a day, and 5½ on Saturday. The ordinary wage will be 19s. 6d. a week for six months, 20s. for five years, and 21s. after that. This scale applies to surfacemen, fencers, and signal labourers. Glasgow Corporation had to grant 25s. as a minimum for bare subsistence, but a “neutral” chairman thinks 20s. good enough for men who risk their lives on the track. Since this award men cannot be got, men are even leaving the railway. In some squads, for instance, only the foreman is left.
From: Justice 10 May 1913, p.6.
Amidst brilliant flashes of lightning, deafening peals of thunder, and torrents of rain a surprisingly large procession of super-enthusiastic men, women and children followed twelve heroic bands from George Square to Glasgow Green last Sunday in celebration of May-Day. Desirous of seeing the social revolution an accomplished fact, I ingloriously looked on from a place of shelter afar off. Before the Green was reached most marchers and spectators were wet to the bone. In the circumstances only one platform officially was set agoing for a brief spell to allow the resolution to be passed, but as the rain ceased thereafter various stray meetings were indulged in and supported by the hardy workers eager to carry on the ceremony to the pluvius end. It was only a later heavy downpour that forced the plucky to retire. Had the weather been at all well-behaved a record crowd of at least 40,000 would have taken part, for 135 Organisations were attached to the committee, or 40 more than last year.
Now that so many trade unions are, favourable to a May Celebration, the next move must be to get the workers to stop work, and demonstrate on May-Day itself. A definite campaign started now and continued till next year would do the trick.
It is worthy of note that sturdy lassies from Kilbirnie were on the Green with boxes, collecting for their comrades of the net-making industry at present on strike. In connection with this battle a dozen or fifteen girls have been summoned to appear at court in Kilmarnock. We wish them every success.
Other May-Day celebrations in the West took place at Stonehouse, Garrion Bridge, and Falkirk, where comrades Anderson and Macdougall were prominent. As far as the weather allowed, they all were very successful. What happened in the East no one has so far told me. Let us have a general holiday next First of May. Surely Scotland can hold its own with Belgium.
The National Service League has now decided to have extra meetings in the City Hall and the old Zoo, to which Lord Roberts will be motored after he exhausts himself in the Andrew’s Hall, over and above the speech screening at picture-houses throughout the City. Up-to-date a series of four articles has appeared in the “Herald” boosting the ideas that will be voiced by the coming conscriptionist-in-chief. In view of the collapse at the Green on Sunday, I would suggest a special demonstration of the workers against the Territorials, conscription, and militarism in general, some Saturday or Sunday in June. Surely the May-Day Committee might well undertake such a task as this, and thus save time and energy. It will be a disgrace to let the plutocrats hold the field unchallenged. On with the fight.
In front of me lie the first two issues of the “Scottish Transport Worker,” most ably edited by our old friend Joe Houghton. It is just exactly what is needed to let seamen, dockers, and other heroes of kindred crafts exactly grasp each other’s grievances and aspirations, one of the first steps towards true industrial solidarity. All the articles are brisk, bright, and bold, and from well-known leaders along the Clyde side. Good lurk to you, Joe, my boy, and may your monthly, last till capitalism has been overthrown.
At the meeting of Glasgow Corporation last Thursday it was stated that 53 clerks over 21 years of age had each less than the workman’s minimum of 25s. a week. A motion to extend the minimum to clerks was defeated by 43 to 42 by an amendment to refer the matter to a committee dealing with the grading of salaries. If this does not rouse Scottish clerks to action nothing will. Now is the time to form a strong union among these collared slaves.
Last Wednesday our own little Trades Union Congress began its deliberations in Dumfries under the chairmanship of Councillor A.R. Turner. It was the record, 150 delegates attending to represent 300,000 union members. At the beginning our old friend, Bob Allan, from Edinburgh, moved that the reporter from the “Dumfries Herald” be excluded owing to the printers being out eleven weeks to enforce union rules anent apprenticeship. A multitude of resolutions were dealt with, including, nationalisation of railways and mines, an eight hours day, a minimum wage sufficient to grant a decent existence, free health insurance, feeding and secular education of school children, amendments to the House Letting Act, including a fair rent court (a proposal Glasgow Corporation recently defeated by 43 to 42), fraternising with Continental workers to prevent war, and State aid for our 34,000 blind citizens. The Parliamentary Committee elected consists of Messrs. Turner, Gilmour, Climie, Gavin, Allan, Palmer, Muirhead, Kessach, and Hunter, as well as Kate McLean. So far as I can see, this Congress is of no use on its present lines. Did it try to combine all the trade union forces of the country to get every available worker into more closely coordinated unions it would be doing its main function. During its session it mainly passed resolutions on subjects mostly political and really requiring a political body to handle. Last year I raised the same point and will do so again till the Congress gets down to real work.
I forgot to mention that the riveters in six shipyards – three in Govan and three in Partick – stopped work on May-Day without notice to or sanction of their Boilermakers’ Union to observe the occasion and to demand a newer and a 3 schedule of piecework prices. That is good start for Scot1and.
It seems the trouble amongst hired fishermen is not yet over. Some of the Wick men have struck to get 1s. in the £ of the gross earnings of their masters’ boats. The bosses at Buckee are prepared to offer their men these terms: that from the gross earnings there be deducted the usual expenses, including one-third of the food bill and the cook’s wages, the balance to go into three equal shares, the crew, the nets, and the boat; while the nets and the boat would pay their own expenses, two-thirds of the food bill would be paid from the crew’s share.
The Admiralty appears to be keeping 316 acres at Rosyth for the housing of their employees. Let Thorne, or someone else, tackle this body on the question of erecting the houses itself. No reason exists why the ground should be feued or contractors allowed to build.
From: Justice 17 May 1913, p.7.
Lord Roberts has come and gone, but unquestionably his visit demands a continuance of my notes on the surroundings of his visit, if not his speech itself. He was entertained by Sir J. Stirling Maxwell, Bart., one of the wealthiest landlords and investors in the West. Being a Conservative to boot, he naturally wishes to do all within his power to “mak siccar,” as far as his property is concerned, against Demos or any “damm'd foreigners.” Were the people as keenly alive as Sir John, he and his fellow-plunderers would soon get their ticket-of-leave.
On the Monday the works and schools in Pollokshows, and other parts of the south side of Glasgow, were closed down to see Bobs scoot citywards on a motor to be entertained to luncheon by Lord Provost Stevenson and others of civic position. We must try to get these works and schools closed down next May-Day, not by consent of the bosses, but by the will of the slaves themselves.
It must be noted that Stevenson stuck fast to his peace principles, and whilst compelled as Lord Provost to give Bobs (in civil attire) a distinguished burgess’s welcome, yet clearly stated his reasons for refusing to take any further part in the visit where militarism protruded its ugly head. Just as we recently tried to castigate Dr. Dyer for a vote on a gun to the High School, so now we lift our hat to the Lord Provost, though his utopian views are not ours. We are not Fabians, we are not peace-at-any-price men; we believe there is a class war; we hold it is our duty to fight the class war by all means till victory comes to the robbed, our class. Still, we are open to admire fortitude, even though it be that of a Fabian uncrucified.
It is calculated that 30,000 people last Tuesday night got a further inoculation of the jingo virus through the presence and the screened speech of Bobs, as well as the military music. The subsidised Press, the whole Press, of Glasgow worked up feeling to a climax till the night of the meetings, and then next day had a ready sale for verbatim reports of all the speeches. This was the biggest one-night propaganda ever undertaken in Glasgow, and, as some of us who have addressed meetings know, it has had tremendous influence in awakening the murder passion ironically dubbed “patriotism.” It is all the more necessary that a working-class counter demonstration be organised as soon as possible. Again, I appeal to the May-Day Committee, a committee whose essential function is the fostering of international solidarity.
It is well to point out to the Afghan and South African “hero” that his visit has been delayed rather too long; his speech was delivered to a vanishing race. Last week, in Parliament, we were told that in 1910 the natural increase of population in Scotland was 51,000, whilst the emigrants numbered 55,000, a national net loss of 4,000. In 1911 the emigrants romped home (or, rather, away from home) with a majority of 7,000, and last year they beat that record with an 8,000 majority. Why should Bobs get excited about defence in face of that? If those wicked Germans did come, those of us who have not the pluck to plant ourselves down in Canada would then have an excellent excuse of leaving our beloved landlords and capitalists in the lurch. If the Germans are anxious to possess Scotland they can easily get it. Force is not necessary. They can wait till the country is at last empty through migration, or they can use their navy to give us free passages to our great Colonies, together with a little capital to give us all a fresh start. That would be the most expeditious and least expensive method to employ. We grant permission to any spy to send that suggestion to the Kaiser’s counsellors-in-chief.
One unforeseen effect of Lord Roberts’s visit is the strike of labourers in the building industry in Glasgow. These erstwhile placid ones, like the proverbial worm, have at last turned. It must have struck them that self-defence must precede national defence. If such is always the result of an attack by the great old man, we say to him heartily, “Haste ye back again.” The new corps of “militants” is out for 7d. an hour, but will take 6½d. if at once granted. The strike started on Thursday, and by Friday over 400 had returned to work, their bosses having conceded their demands. Others, again, started on Saturday. By the time this appears we expect complete triumph. Our comrades J.F. Armour and John Bowden, of the masons and the joiners respectively, have rendered yeoman service to Geo. Kerr, who is representative of the strikers in his capacity as organiser of the Workers’ Union. Since his appointment we must admit that George has been exceedingly, active.
The Highland fishermen are now experiencing the unrest wave as did the Moray men the other day. The sooner one union is established the better. Probably this northern rebellious spirit is likewise the cause of the strike of dock labourers at Thurso, for these men are out for 8d. and 9d. an hour. Wick men were brought over to take their place, but they returned home on learning the situation. Good for the North, the part from which our police are largely drawn. If this continues the bobbies will soon be on our side.
From: Justice 24 May 1913, p.6.
The explosion at Nobel’s Explosives Works Ardeer, in March last has resulted in an explosion on the part of the workers. It has transpired thus. The explosion of powder happened whilst Joe Houghton and his Dockers’ Union were engaged in a fight at Ardrossan, where many of Nobel’s slaves nightly bathe their diminished souls in slumber. Imbued with the spirit of revolt manifested by their docker friends, these explosive makers got friend Joe on the track of the Ardeer exploiters. Immediately the men rolled into the Dockers’ Union and the women into the Women’s Federation. Then negotiations started for more money and better conditions. A demand of 4s. 3d. was made for labourers earning the “Nobel” wage of 18s. 9d: per week, and 3s. for other males, as well 25 per cent. more for the women. In reply, about 30 or 40 men were given 2s. 1d., thus raising their pocket-money to 20s. 10d. but of a total nearly 3,000 employees. What munificence!
As the firm supplies the Government, a question on the matter was asked in the Commons, and the Board of Trade promised to investigate whether sweating prevailed at Ardeer or not. Mr. Askwith, of the Industrial Department, notified friend Houghton that inquiry would be made. But just before the arrival of this communication the Nobel Company posted up a notice warning the slaves that the works would be closed down until a majority in each of the 18 departments signified their willingness to return to work, should a partial strike take place. This was rightly taken as a direct challenge. At once a strike was declared. The present demand is 23s. for the labourers, but the leaders are inclined to make a bid for a minimum of 26s., the 3s. being added as weekly compensation for risk. I would not be surprised to see it 30s. before the end of this week Why not, indeed? The whole of the works are now closed down, and so may they remain till the bosses get the clean knock-out blow.
At present the net makers at Kilbirnie and Lochwinnoch are still out, and if concessions are not granted to harbour workers at Ayr, Troon, and Ardrossan, as well as to the labourers and cranemen of the Stevenston Foundry Company, the whole of Ayrshire may be in a blaze. When we know that the Nobel strike is the first in the history of the firm we may take it as a manifestation of the renewed spirit of revolt abroad, and so we are entitled to anticipate anything in sleepy, backward Ayrshire.
The masters in the building trade in Glasgow have now granted their labourers their modest demand of 6½ an hour, due mainly to the efforts of Geo. Kerr, of the Workers’ Union, splendidly supported by the leaders and officials of the skilled building trades. I understand that fully 3,000 in all have gained in consequence. Labourers elsewhere seem to have been inspired, for the men at Weirs, Cathcart, Government pump-makers, have come out, and are being organised by the Workers’ Union. It is a pity a consolidated move could not at once be made for all the labourers in the Glasgow area to obtain the 6½d. rate, as the recent “Diet Report” conclusively demonstrates that something must be done to stay the starvation in our midst. We have already made personal appeal to the Trades. Council. Whether that august body is on the move or not we are unaware; but whether it is or not it is the business of all our comrades in Glasgow to get every possible labourer to bestir himself and others in the desired direction.
And that just reminds me. As we all have been made to know, the Press did its utmost to make the Blackpool Conference of our Party look ridiculous, as it has always done with the old S.D.P. It is part of our business now to counteract the evil effects of this organised malice. It can be done, and very effectively, too. The “Vanguard” will show the full meaning of the Press’s foul publicity by contrast with its silence over Hyndman’s challenge to Lloyd George. Are our branches going to lie down to this Press attack, or are they prepared to retaliate? Neither effort nor money is spared by the plundering class in bluffing the people. Are we who have a world to win going to lie low and take blow after blow without a murmur? Surely not. We must lash into the work as we have never done before. And we can do it if we set ourselves earnestly to the task. Till further notice communications to J.M. can might be sent to Low Cartcraigs, Pollokshaws; and he requests articles.
At the last meeting of Glasgow Corporation several committees recommended salary increases to heads of departments. Some of these were granted, but we are pleased to note that among those who failed to get anything extra was Mr. James Dalrymple, the tramway manager. This fellow opposed the two-stage distance for a halfpenny as it would be a failure. This year the Corporation will draw more than a million pounds from its trams alone. A wonderful failure indeed! The increase proposed for Dalrymple was r from £22 to £25 a week. Not at all a bad rise for such a failure of a prophet. This gentleman it was who used every brutal method to crush the tramway strike.
From: Justice 31 May 1913, p.6.
Scotland to me has been, and is, a political puzzle, for it expresses itself in a somewhat mysterious manner. Instinctively conservative, and proverbially cautious, it refuses to vote for the avowed party of conservatism. Constitutionally slavish, it supports and steadily votes for the party that is erroneously supposed to make for freedom (of a sort). Mainly industrial, it maintains, or, rather, its politicians maintain, a preponderant interest in land problems. Whilst increasing hordes are deserting our fields for pastures new in our masters’ colonies, the political confidence tricksters can ever draw fire from an audience by reference to measures in operation, or that must be put in operation, to get the factory slaves back to the land again, or, at any rate, to keep the present peasants thereon.
That, I submit, is the reason of my past references to the Small Landholders Act, an Act that but amplifies the power of the Crofters Act which came into force in 1886; after disturbances all over the Highlands had been suppressed by an increased staff of police, and the patrolling of the islands and lochs by troopships with marines. The Crofters Commission has issued its twenty-fifth and final report; bringing its investigations and decisions up to March 311912. After all the praise lavished on the Crofters Act, we see nothing really worthy of praise or admiration in the twenty-five years deliberations of the Commission. The steady depopulation of the Highland counties, seven in all, during the existence of the Act amply demonstrates the perfect futility of the measure to solve the land question in the prescribed area. The report naturally tries to justify the work of the Commissioners by contrasting the quietude in the North to-day with the turbulence of a generation ago. Apart from the Vatersay raid that, by focussing attention on the Highlands, compelled the present Government to pass the Landholders Act, and indignation meetings held here and there in the North, there undoubtedly is peace in the crofting area. But it is not the peace of contentment: rather is it the peace of desolation.
The older ones still resident on the soil have no doubt better houses than their parents dwelt in, but the report frankly admits that the improvement is due to assistance sent home by emigrant members of the families. Even though the claim is made that the crofters are better off with security of tenure, and other trifling improvements, still the crofters have not yet attained economic security. And, as we have constantly insisted, neither will economic salvation come by way of small or large holdings.
For those with a keen appetite for figures, here is a summary of the whole work and results of the Commission. In the 151 parishes in the seven counties 22,111 applications were made for the revaluation of crofts. This led to 18,400 inspections by the Commissioners of about two million acres, a tenth of which was cultivated, whilst the rest was common grazing land. Rents were reduced from £89,502 to £67,496, a difference of £22,006 a year – hardly enough to get excited about, methinks. Of arrears amounting to £186,110 no less than £124,825 was cancelled. As the crofters had not the money, and had no right to pay for these arrears, even were they willing, no real change was by this pen-stroking made in their position. In response to the 4,300 requests for enlargement of Crofts, about 72,000 acres were granted, although this was mainly of a pastoral character.
Now that I am on the land (figuratively, friends) I might as well give some more figures, this time from the first annual report of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, called into being by the Landholders Act. The report deals with the period extending from April 1 to December 31, 1912, nine months in all. New holdings were requested by 3,370 persons, and enlargements by 1,982; a total of 5,352. For new holdings 1,300 demands, came from the Outer Hebrides alone. If court proceedings are successful, 500 applicants will get their requests for about 30,000 acres in all. As demands are likely to be obstructed by the law’s delay, very soon they will dwindle away, and the Act will become practically inoperative and obsolete, until some fresh disturbance, (if we are not all in the Colonies beforehand) brings forth another Act, and so on ad infinitum, or till the social revolution ends the farce.
To prevent our speakers indulging in too rhetorical ranting about the devastation due to deer forests, suffer, patient brethren, another cold bath of statistics. In our heathery land 3,599,744 acres are devoted to deer forests and sport. Of this vast tract only 602,218 acres are below 1,000 feet above sea-level. Of this reduced portion much is unavailable for agricultural purposes. Aspiring crofters can hardly blame sport for obstructing their progress towards an earthly paradise.
In connection with the strike at Nobel’s it appears that the company will issue postcards to the employees to ballot them on work or strike. The leaders are rightly asking that all cards be handed over by the workers to them to deal with. “Forward” last week published a list of the directors of the Nobel Dynamite Trust Co. Ltd., the controller of the Nobel’s Explosives Co., Ltd. These are Sir R. W. Anstruther; G. Aufschlaeger (Hamburg); Sir R.D. Awdry, K.C.B.; G. Von Chauvin; Hon. T. Cochrane (ex-M.P. for North Ayrshire); C.W. Fielding; L. Hagen (Cologne); J.N. Heidemann (Cologne); E. Kraftmeir; Lord Ribblesdale; M. Schinckel (Hamburg); F.J. Shand; W.A. Tennant; and T.F. Walker. H., de Mosenthal is the technical secretary and Sir Fred. Nathan, late Lieut. Colonel in the Royal Artillery, and late superintendent of the Royal Gunpowder Factory, is works manager at Ardeer. After that, Karl Liebknecht need no longer boast of Krupp and other of his favourite firms. We can give him points in patriotism any day. We are now sighing for the return of Bobs.
I have just got the May (No. 2) issue of “The Scottish Farm Servant,” the organ of the new union, and wish both a long and useful existence. I see that special emphasis is being laid on a weekly half-holiday. With its 90 branches scattered over 18 counties it should not be long till this and other measures are won. Good luck, again, to the farm slaves.
From: Justice 7 June 1913, p.6.
Comrades, here is a refresher. I can bet you have nearly all missed it for the May Assembly of the Auld Kirk has no attraction for you, the Church being dead in soul. A Mr. J.M. Macleod, C.A., Glasgow, in seconding the report of the Committee on Home Missions, deplored the materialistic condition of the people. They had one idea, money; how to get it, and how it was to be distributed. In the whole range of Socialistic literature and oratory they never heard one single word about duty, morality, or the penalties of the infraction – in fact, they heard denunciation of the Kirk’s conception of these. There was never any appeal to the individual, to character to self-sacrifice, or to humility. He believed that it was only by righteousness that a nation could be exalted. By the way, it has always been a dynamical mystery to me how a nation can be exalted by the individuals thereof humbling themselves.
I am of the humble opinion (Mac’s sermon tells) that this logically minded Glasgow C.A. must have been let out of Whiteinch Fossil Grove for his annual airing. The dear old soul must be unacquainted with the moral term justice, or at any rate with a Socialist paper a generation old, by name “Justice.” If so, why so? He must be unconscious of a great German ethical invasion, headed by one named Karl Kautsky. He must not have heard our orators preach from texts entitled “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou halt not kill” “Thou shalt not lie” “Thou shalt not prostitute “ and so on. These preachments are certainly not to the taste of parsons and elders, because these gentle souls are most politely informed, in exquisitely choice language, that they steal from the poor, that they seduce youths into the armies and the navies to murder one another for the wealthy worshippers of Mammon, that they lie Sunday after Sunday in refraining from the exposure of the poverty of the people, and that they encourage prostitution by having in their churches employers who refuse to pay women a wage sufficient to provide the requirements of life. We Socialists do appeal to individuals; but our appeal is mainly to the masses to join together and break the chain of slavery. That is the most moral act that ever will have been accomplished, and its realisation is approaching with strides fast and furious. Individualism can be shown by Socialists to be scientifically unsound, and, if carried out logically breaks humanity into insulated units, completely separated each from the other. Without association of units there can be no morality. The densest dunce can surely fathom that primitive attempt at philosophical profundity. If Socialists are striving for a world an all-inclusive co-operative human society, they surely are advocates of the highest morality, as it would be the rock foundation for the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity.
Mr. R.V. Winkle Macleod should ask for a Socialist leaflet before again easing his wonderful mind. We are not anxious about money. Give us the land and the instruments of production, and we will hand over to you and the Auld (fashioned) Kirk all the money, gold, and paper you wish. The people are not materialistic; because you and other supporters of the present robbing system take good care to see that they do not get the chance. Were self-denial the supremest virtue, the working class, particularly of your city Glasgow, would win its crown of glory without your swindling Home Missions. Do you hear that, old man? A report was recently issued showing that families in Glasgow with an income of £1 a week and less were daily starving, wearing rags worse than sackcloth adorned with ashes, and staying in dens less palatial than ever covered the most modest monk of old. That is the materialism that we wicked Socialists denounce: the materialism of you with your hundred guinea audit and of your paid spouters with their minimum £200 for a hundred hours tall talk a year is something like the materialism we would have the workers aspire to until the advent of Socialism itself. We are anxiously trying to get right with the landlord and the factory lord; after that we will inquire after the star lord.
But you, dear Mac., in your speech admit you, too, are a “money materialist.” (I claim copyright on this new philosophic combination.) You know that the Home Mission cannot proceed without the glittering gold; you are not satisfied with the amount gathered at the plate, for you know from statistics gathered by you in many churches that pennies and their half are the favourites; so, therefore, to net more filthy lucre, to preach more abstinence to the starving, you suggest schedules and collecting cards. Oh, you materialistic rogue! You good man! We wicked Socialists!
From: Justice 14 June 1913, p.6.
It has been my experience that in those localities where theoretical wire-walking and aerial somersaulting over policy and principles have been reduced to vanishing point, there you will find the greatest eagerness to do anything reasonable and legitimate to further the number of recruits for Socialism, there you will find a steady advance of Socialist thought and voting. Such a place is Stonehouse, known the length and breadth of Lanarkshire, and even farther, as the home of our leal friend and comrade, Alex. Anderson" better known as the Socialist Schoolmaster. For years prior to his entry into the old S.D.F. he was the ringleader of a band of gallant Clarion cyclists, who, Saturday and Sunday, visited every nook and corner of South Lanarkshire in the spreading of the light. Since they joined in revolutionary Socialism these Stonehouse braves have not once looked back or faltered. From victory to victory, from progress to progress, is the history of their vortex.
This we find materially defined not only by the capture of the town hall management, of seats on the Parish Council and the School Board; but more decidedly by the advance from large premises to larger. Further progress was recorded on Saturday, May 31, when new premises were formally opened.
Cautious men that they are, they this time sought as landlord one of their most enthusiastic members, who gutted out four dwelling houses and splendidly finished off the interior. Into this capacious interior have been placed two beautiful full-sized billiard tables (one already paid up), and a summer ice table, with plenty of room left for a shooting range and other forms of :deadly amusement that play yet help the cause of Ulster. (Capitalists at this stage may pause to Curson.) Attached to the hall is an improvised emporium – on a diminutive scale, of course – under the whole-time care of a staunch old member now unable to make enough profit for the capitalists. He is yclept Spiers, and the acute artful dodgers of the branch have plotted to convert him into as many pruning-hooks and shears as they can for the purpose of clipping the wings, tins, tail, and beak of the local magnates. His house being part of the rooms, he is absolutely free to fight the good fight.
We have always deprecated new branches rushing headlong into rooms costing annually anything from £20 to £50, for soon debt leads to death. Stonehouse, however, is an exception, as the rooms are shockingly cheap, and the popular support very strong. Still, to “mak’ siccar” we would humbly suggest that Stonehouse be the Mecca of all West Country comrades who wish fresh air, cheap refreshments, and genial company for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Let this be the destination of picnics, cycle runs, and health culture rambles. Every time I visit the uplands on which our forebears deposited Stonehouse, my inspiration is such that the editor has to waste pencil and unrecorded expressions galore. Go, too, brethren.
The Nobel firm, prior to the strike at Ardeer, stated that if the workers struck the works would be closed down till a majority agreed to restart. To test the situation they last week took a ballot of the employees. Forewarned by a similar move made by the Singer Company at Kilbowie two years ago, the strikers’ organisations urged them to send the ballot papers to them. About 1,500 did this. This sufficed to prevent the company proving that a majority were willing to return to the grindstone, so it satisfied itself by publicly announcing that the works would remain closed. Although the workers have no money behind them, still they have a strip of coastline famed over Britain for early summer Ayrshire potatoes. Before them the workers have two alternatives: either they can dig this earth fruit by day for the farmers, or by night for themselves. Why starve, then, and thus play the game of the exploiters? As an aid to the answering of the question, allow me to quote the prayer of your lords: “By hook or by crook give us this day our daily bread (and potatoes.)
At Falkirk the pattern-makers requested a rise from 37s. to 39s. a week. This being refused they promptly took a holiday. A moulder, on instructions from his Executive, declined to accept patterns from blacklegs, and was sent home. His comrades donned their jackets, and the masters stood by their pal and locked out their “black” slaves. Things are at a standstill, and between 4,000 and 5,000 then are having ample opportunity to discuss the late Derby and their free gifts to the “bookies.”
Two miles distant, at Grangemouth, the prop-workers are on strike – also for more money. They are being supported at present by the men of Bo'ness, although we regret to record that the Granton men after coming out have caved in. Good support has been given to the Grangemouth men by our comrade James Macdougall.
Our men at Aberdeen have been prominent in the comb-workers’ strike, and have effectively exposed the Labour Exchanges for supplying blacklegs to the masters.
The Steel Company of, Scotland (Limited) has just escaped a strike of their 3,500 slaves at Blochairn and Newton over a dismissed smelter. A succession of negotiations between the men’s organiser, James Walker, and the management at Blochairn resulted in the man being put on as a second hand at a furnace where he would make as much as he formerly did as a first hand.
From: Justice 21 June 1913, p.6.
Last week-end was a stirring one in the West for political and industrial demonstrations. We had, for instance, with us that sweet, gentle saint from Ulster, Sir Edward Carson, together with his guard of Protestant M.P.s. He appealed to us Scotsmen to stand by his followers, as they were largely of Scottish descent, as they had made a covenant similar to ours of the seventh century, and as they wished to retain the freedom we enjoyed through our Bruces and our Covenanters. The whole performance, by the way, was accompanied by a flag waving, an ecstatic belching of “God Save the King,” “Rule Britannia,” et sic, and a deification of Carson and the crowd of his K.C. followers sufficient to disgust the most emotional Scot.
We of the working class are not all proud of the fact that Ulstermen are of Scotch descent, for we hold it must have been the scum of our country that like blacklegs took Ulster for cultivation after the crushing of O'Neill’s rebellion in the reign of Elizabeth. Scots people generally are ashamed of the ignorance of Orangemen, who lack the redeeming wit of the Irish Celts. Apart from questions Irish, the working-class Irishmen in increasing numbers are prepared to support us in the fight against capitalism, but the Orangemen who dares openly to stand by us is subject to that boycott Carson says would be exercised universally were Ireland granted a Parliament of its own. Few Orangemen, therefore, are found fighting with us. On the impulse of the moment we are inclined to despise them, but on reflecting that most of them are of our class, and that we must have them sooner or later in our ranks, we are inclined to suppress our primitive emotions and let judgment guide us in the hope that we will ultimately draw them from their allegiance to property and plunder.
Carson was anxious to have us believe that he wished to retain for Ulster the freedom our political and religious forebears won for us. Where, oh! where is it? The spirit of Scottish freedom meseems, must have wirelessed to Canada, for thither are our sturdiest sons and daughters flitting in pursuit of a larger life than is possible at home here. Victimisation of good workers, men and women, is so common that no one seems to get perturbed by it. If this working-class disease is not a manifestation of slavery opposite freedom, we would have Carson inform us what slavery is, and what are its symptoms. Did ex-Lord Provost Shaw drive friend Carson round the Calton or Cowcaddens? I trow not. For, did he but know that “prosperous” City as well as “prosperous” Belfast is known to us, I fear he would wax less dramatic about “the freedom won by our ancestors.” If Carson were aware of the strikes and the lock-outs, the growlings and grievances of the workers from end to end of our land of mist (and tears), he would with us (did a spark of humanity remain in his legal breast) send forth no note of jubilance, but one long blare of stern defiance.
Whilst penning this Mr. John Redmond is rolling up his sleeves ready to enter the St. Andrew’s Hall arena to give Carson the knock-out blow. I presume he will then proceed to Edinburgh to do it all over again. Whilst the workers of Scotland are largely favourable to Home Rule for Ireland, they are just as keen about it as they are about Home Rule for Scotland. That, as may be guessed, spells no super-anxiety. Many of us, as a consequence, are of the opinion that John Redmond is in our boat. John, we believe, sees clearly that he is happier and more powerful in Westminster than he would be were he Prime Minster at College Green. His troubles in life would then begin, and John knows it. He, like the Liberals, is anxious for the status quo, the as-we-are position, although the motive of the Liberals is to keep this “burning” question ever dangling before the dense multitude.
On the Glasgow Green last Sunday a large crowd gathered together to protest against the attacks upon free speech and against militarism. The principal speaker was Tom Mann. Among the others was a Suffragette, Mrs. Crawford. Had I not been assured of the nature of the meeting I would have come to the conclusion on listening to the speeches that it was a Suffragette and an anti-political Syndicalist gathering. What a mix up! What fine prospects of solidarity!
Glasgow drew from its trams last year £1,011,543, and the net surplus going to the Common Good is £33,003, compared with £52,067. There has been an increase of about £12,000 on interest, sinking fund, renewal and depreciation. The largest increase on the outlay side this year is to be found in the maintenance and repair account, this increase being fully £17,000. We hear that cars have suffered a great deal from raw youths imported by Mr. Dalrymple to take the place of the experienced men dismissed after the strike. If so, the strike is costing the city more than most folks suspect. We demand a special investigation by a committee half composed of workers’ representatives. The situation is serious.
Lanark Town Council has decided to build fifteen cottages a cost of £3,640. We have to thank a good comrade for this push forward – even though it is very tiny.
At a miners’ demonstration, at Kilwinning, Robert Smillie and others urged for a weekly contribution of 1s., as a ballot was going to be taken of the miners. The more money the better the fight – if the workers have the fight in them.
From: Justice 28 June 1913, p.6.
Last autumn we remarked on the split in the seamen’s organisation in Glasgow. For some reason or other Mr. E. Shinwell was deprived of his official position in the local branch of the National Seamen’s and Firemen’s Union. He thereupon started on his own initiative another organisation of seamen and firemen, which, after deliberation, met with the approval of the Trades Council. The feeling inside both camps was extremely bitter at first, but was supposed to be dying with the course of time.
That this was not so is now quite manifest from the tragic incident of last week. Men belonging to Shinwell’s Union, the British seafarers’ Union, formed the crew on MacBrayne’s well-known Clyde steamer, Columba. A though it is asserted that this firm pays higher wages than rivals on the Clyde, the Crew struck for 2s. 6d. more per week. Unfortunately, we cannot say exactly the condition of the men slaving for MacBrayne, but it is clear that either the men had a just claim, as benighted workers view their claims to-day, or their leaders demanded the extra money to justify their existence as officials of a new union!
Whether the average blind worker would justify the action of the crew or not, whether the men of the rival (Havelock Wilson’s) union considered the demand extravagant or not, it seems quite clear from the standpoint of working-class morality that the latter union had no right to supply sailors to take the place of the strikers. One can readily understand that desire for revenge overcame union principles, and so Wilson’s men resorted to the game of blacklegging their old comrades of the shipping industry.
In the circumstances it was almost inevitable that hot words should lead to blows, but no one would have expected that the tragedy of last Wednesday would have culminated the feud. Violent language and threats must have been hurled from side to side on the Monday and Tuesday when the blacklegs were leaving the Columba, or else A.W. French would not have pulled the trigger of the pistol. The battle of words at the landing of the crew on Wednesday night must have been fast and furious, when French turned round, and in all likelihood fired at the men denouncing him for the action of the men of his branch At any rate, the bullet pierced the breast of James Martin, who afterwards succumbed in the Royal Infirmary. French was at once arrested, and now awaits his trial.
Now whatever may be our opinions of the man, it is our duty to see that he gets a fair trial. That he never will obtain from a jury drawn from the class above the workers that bitterly hate anyone who may happen to be a front-ranker in the trade union movement. We, therefore demand a working-glass jury. Men of the working class, too are best able to appreciate the passions that are aroused under the circumstances leading up to French’s action, and thus we assert it absurd to expect a jury and a judge of the plundering class to balance justly and weigh the whole circumstances. We have long clamoured for the right of strikers to act as jurymen. Now is the time for a strong agitation on the matter.
It would be most appropriate if friend Shinwell would move in this direction in the Glasgow Trades Council. It will be to his lasting shame and discredit if be refuses to fight for a fair trial for the man against whose union he had a just cause of quarrel. If he takes no steps in the matter, we claim the right to denounce him as a traitor against the rights of his class. If he fails to take action, we appeal to our men on the Council to take that step themselves. They might also demand a working-class judge. The sooner we have men of our class on the bench the better for the workers generally.
In view of this result of bad organisation amongst the seamen, and of the keener interest taken by Havelock Wilson to help his Liberal friends in Parliament, we are of the opinion that the moment has arrived for the organisations of the other unions in Britain to intervene, and build up a really sound and single union for all men on board ship.
In connection with the lock-out of the moulders in Falkirk the men attached to the General Ironfitters’ Association were thrown idle, and had to be put on idle benefit. Through the union the men applied for unemployed benefit under the Insurance muddle, and were collectively refused. Undismayed, they are new applying individually as are also some hundreds of other foundry workers. We think theirs is by no means a cheery outlook.
In connection with the strike of Engravers, we look to our men in Dumbarton and Thornliebank to rouse the wage-slaves of the Calico Combine to new sense of solidarity. The skilled craftsmen may yet be taught to stand by the labourers for higher wages without the humbug of the new fake euphoniously labelled the collective piecework system.
Contributions to the “Vanguard” might be hastened on.
From: Justice 5 July 1913, p.2.
At the early age of 62 years the Duke of Sutherland has departed from Dunrobin Castle, Sutherlandshire to seek his mansion in the sky. We have all heard of his good lady, the Duchess, because of her desperate efforts to sweeten the lot of the poor Highlanders of her husband’s possessions; but who of us would have known of his dukeship’s existence had it not been for his slipping off without much warning? And it not been for the fact that he is one of the world’s few millionaires in acres of land, it is doubtful if we would have heard of his death. The great central fact about the duke is that his estates total up the tidy little area of 1,358,000 acres. Whether he possessed much money or its equivalent in other forms will only be revealed, and just partly at that after the Government has claimed its death duty. Even presuming he but possessed his square miles of land, we are certain that it must have been with feelings of extreme relief he disburdened himself of such a monstrous load.
Those interested in the land ought to read A.R. Wallace’s “Land Nationalisation,” and T. Johnston’s “Our Noble Families,” to get some sidelights on the Sutherland possessions some two or three generations ago. To make way for sheep the crofters were cleared down to the shore, there to gain a precarious existence as fishermen. Latterly, even the sheep were bidden to go to give place to English and American capitalist sportsmen. Since the coming of the drifters these Highland fishermen of Helmsdale, Golspie, Brora etc., have been finding it so difficult to eke out an existence that the younger of them have gone off to Canada.
Even there many of them have fallen into the clutches of the Duke, who, wise man that he was, whilst still in the flesh, bought large tracts of land in Western Canada to hire out to the simpletons hailing from his Highland domains. Knowing the handicaps these emigrants is laboured under, the Duke resolved to make their adventure West as pleasant as possible, good man that he was. He is accredited with the starting of the scheme of having prepared farms for the inflowing peasants. He had the land cleared for ploughing, a house erected, water supplied, roads made, seed and even implements there ready to give the incoming tenant every chance of reaping a crop the first autumn. This method was set a-going three or four years ago, just at the time when the old fishermen were feeling the full effects of steam-drifter competition. It need hardly added that the Duke saw more rosy prospects in this Canadian game than in the deer sport at home. It all again illustrates that no matter where the wanderer goes he knocks up against the old landlords and the old capitalists in the guise of Lord Strathcona, or St. Andrew of library, organ, and University fame. How long, O Lord, how long, till these your sheep learn that not by migrating everywhere but staying at home and fighting for Socialism. will economic security and social freedom be attained!
Even at last have Scottish Liberal M.P.s discovered that what we have been repeatedly saying about small holdings. In 15 months only 150 out of 5,000 applicants have been settled at the magnificent rate of ten a month. To speed up settlements the number of land inspectors has to be increased from three to eight, with the aid of eleven extra clerks. If these extra sixteen were picked up from the land we might have another step taken towards the solution of the land question; and this finding of official jobs might be carried out until the aspirants to small holdings had all been taken on. The present Government are just as capable of solving the problem thus as by finding available patches of cultivable land. In the meantime, emigration goes on more merrily than ever before to the new land of the Sutherlands. In the discussion of the question in the House, raised when the Board of Agriculture was getting its annual application of grease, Mr Hogge, Liberal M.P. for Edinburgh east, made one memorable sentence worthy of prominence. He said: “The shores of the Cromarty Firth are in the hands of Lea and Perrin’s sauce; Ben Wyvis is in the hands Shoolbred’s furniture; the land of the Mackenzies and the Mathiesons is owned by Baron Schroder, and Skye by Nixey’s Blacklead; Loch Ness is rented by Bass’s beer, and Inverary Castle is occupied by Beecham’s Pills.” As Hogge does not object to the owners of these assorted commodities making thumping big profits, he can hardly object to them buying up Highland estates, and thus chasing the people off to make way for the more interesting deer and grouse. After all, a man has a perfect right to do with his money whatever he likes! I imagine that is one of the fundamentals of Liberalism, Mr. Hogge isn’t it? Why grunt, then?
Just when I thought my poor country was again going to quieten down, with the return of Nobel’s workers on the promise of intervention by the Board of Trade, and the victory of the pit-prop makers of Grangemouth, I learn that the Leith dockers have suddenly downed their docks, 3,000 of them, for a penny an hour more. They wish to get 8d. by day and 9d. by night. The fight is spreading to all the Forth ports. As about 4,000 Lothian miners are out, the dockers might as well now hang out for more money, for in all probability they might be thrown idle for want of coal for the ships.
From: Justice 12 July 1913, p.6.
Again we have to congratulate the miners on another increase of their daily average wage, the basis of their tonnage rates. The new enlargement is the momentous sum of 3d. per day, bringing the days’ reward up to the staggering amount of 7s. 6.d.! Probably it was in anticipation of this daily fortune that our present pious Government thoughtfully introduced the still running Temperance Bill, for its Scottish group presumably may be reckoned to accurately reflect the prevailing opinion of the civilised denizens of our city slums, that the miners as a whole are drunken brutes. We can hardly blame them when we recollect that that staunch defender of the faith, the Right Rev. Philip Snowden, described his whole class as a drink-sodden democracy. No, really, we cannot.
Being of tremendous girth round the chest and round the head, I can claim to be both large-hearted and broad-minded. Unlike other wicked Socialists I can consequently project myself (in imagination) into the position of the employers of these never-satisfied miners. At the risk of expulsion, I must candidly confess that I feel sorry for them in this their hour of trial. What with insurance payments, strikes, new Mines Acts, stringent regulations, malingering miners, and monstrously large wages, they will soon have to migrate with their plant and mine shafts to South Africa, where they will have abundance of gold below and plenty of armed policemen and soldiers above ready at command to shoot their slaves into becoming servility. I feel that I could write volumes on the straitened circumstances of our mining magnates, giving verses and chapters galore, but suffice that with becoming restraint I limit myself to one illustration.
This week the Lochgelly Iron and Coal Company has given the shareholders their second morsel of profit for the year. It transpires that the total works out at the miserable return of 30 per cent., or 6s. per £1. My heart bleeds for these poor unfortunates in this their time of trial, especially the importunate widows. In spite of their distress, these shareholding victims of the system look anxiously forward to the dark days when trade will be dull. For have they not, like the bees, stored past £25,000 as a reserve to keep up the extravagant wages of the men when they will be loafing around like lords on three days’ work a week? Greater forethought or magnanimity one could hardly conceive.
The strike of the Leith dockers is proceeding brawly, in spite of the fact that an ugly accident befel their leader O'Connor Kessack. Poor Kessack was motor-cycling to Bo'ness in connection with the strike when a smash took place. He now is getting patched up in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. We wish him a speedy recovery, with the encouragement before his exit of a glorious victory for the men.
Before the arrival of blacklegs, and in view of the solidarity of the dockers round the Forth port, the shipowners did a desperate thing. They actually condescended to work. When read that I almost swooned away. But to keep their hands clean and free from blisters they donned gloves, and probably to keep their backs from getting into the same sorry mess they refused to doff their coats. Never mind, we are getting on. The masters have a “a move on"! It is a pity the men’s pickets could not have devised means for retaining the generous services of the masters. Unfortunately, the masters know a thing or two more than the men, for, unlike the men, they were unwilling to continue and do some other poorer wight out of a job, so they stopped short on the arrival of “model” blacklegs from various centres throughout the kingdom. Nevertheless, these good shipowners have saved the situation for our lecturers when cornered with the old conundrum as to what we Socialists will do with the masters when we are in power. They can genially refer the persistent ones to the respected shipowners of Leith to obtain from them details of the procedure they have established!
The shock at seeing the owners work seems to have influenced more than me for I have just read a letter published by James Currie and Co. complaining of the strike of captains and mates at Leith Harbour. This, we are informed is the first shrike of shipmasters in black-clouded isles of ours. And the seamen, cooks, and stewards are going, to stand by them. If this sort of business goes on longer, we may any day be seeing M.P.s striking to get a longer spell on our Highland grouse moors and deer forests. If so, why not? They certainly could do more effective work there, especially J.R. MacDonald, after his fine practice in India.
Lord Aberconway has an exquisite sense of humour. Whilst presiding at the annual meeting of John Brown and Co., he, in consecutive breaths, congratulated the shareholders on a 71/2 per cent. dividend and condemned the men in the shipbuilding yard at Yoker for bad time-keeping. I am not in a position to give a verdict on the men’s ability or inability to keep time; but, from the dividend declared, my innocence leads me to the conclusion that the men have been most generous in the giving away of their time to his gracious lordship and his pals in plunder.
From: Justice 19 July 1913, p.6.
Last year we did our best to arouse the workers against houseowners and factors for raising rents under the House Letting Act. This beautiful Act has been the means of transferring thousands of pounds from the fat bank books and safes of doctors and wealthy men of that description to the ever-hungry maws of these unfortunate owners and their buffers. The compounding of the rents and rates, and the institution of monthly instead of quarterly payments, enabled the financial tricksters to tag on extra pennies under cover of thousands of the most whimsical pretexts. The new method has likewise deprived many of the old privilege of escaping rates they are able to pay only at the expense of food and other essentials of life.
This severe exaction of taxes, along with the poll-tax to erect monuments to the New Liberalism, will tell most excruciatingly on the arrival of the next trade depression. In Glasgow, before the recent extension, last year 49,313 lost the vote because of non-payment of poor rates; in the same area this year only 16,081 will lose the vote. The number still deprived of the vote is alarmingly large in itself, but it is 33,232 less than last year. Liberals will, no doubt, boast of this addition of 33,232 voters to the roll; but whilst we Socialists are glad that the rights of citizenship have thus been extended, we cannot blind ourselves to the painful fact that this political freedom is at the expense of the economic well-being of the privileged ones. We Socialists to-day demand the vote for all sane persons, male and female adults, because they are human beings, and not because they own property, pay taxes, wear wigs, or refrain from sporting false teeth or fancy complexions.
After six weeks the masters have withdrawn the lock-out notices against the moulders of Falkirk and district. The lock-out was the result of a circular issued by the Central Ironmoulders’ Association advising their menibers not to use patterns made by blackleg pattern-makers The restart of work is due to an agreement made between the masters and the moulders to the effect that the moulders will not strike in sympathy with any other section of workers inside the industry without discussing the situation with the masters. The discussion must take place within three working days of the notice sent to the masters. If an agreement cannot be arrived at the men will not be entitled to strike till seven days after the sending of the communication. In these circumstances the sympathetic strike becomes a bit of a joke. The moulders sadly need a new executive.
The lads who run the trams for the Lanarkshire Tramway Company have joined the Horse and Motormen’s Union to avail themselves of that body in the event of a fight. On Sunday morning last they empowered Councillor Lyon to approach the manager with the object of obtaining concessions. This worthy caveman has already hinted to the men that he will refuse to meet outsiders, although he is prepared to discuss the demands with representatives of the men. Already two ringleaders have been victimised. Rather an ingenious way of winning the confidence of the men! The men want the 33s. maximum granted by Glasgow, holidays with pay, and easement in the matter of work. If it comes to a fight our Motherwell, Hamilton, and Stonehouse men will be in the thick of it, you can bet.
A train arriving last week with 300 blacklegs, the friends of the Leith dockers thought it their duty to give that train and its miserable contents a hail of stones. On the way from the station to the pier the police drew their batons and split some heads. Probably in consequence of this the Edinburgh and Leith members of the National Union of Railwaymen met on Sunday and resolved “not to handle any of the blackleg traffic emanating from the dock area where the strike is in progress.” When working-class intelligence meets the brute force of officialism that intelligence in the end must win. How long is it going to get the workers to learn political solidarity, the highest expression of class solidarity?
The capital of Glasgow’s tramway system is £3,553,584, and the committee has stored up £3,153,822, thus leaving only £399,762 to be raised, and then the whole capital will be purely social capital belonging to the city, and on which interest will have to be paid to no one. This last financial year the committee set aside £312,1334 to the sinking and the depreciation funds. We can assume that by this time next year the whole capital debt will be wiped out, and from then on the trams will be making at least half-a-million clear profit for the city. Unless new capital expenditure can be somehow or other created this huge annual sum of profit must go to the Common Good Fund, thereafter to be used as the Town Council decides. We Socialists demand that the money should be invested in cottages free from interest on the capital outlay. If direct labour were used these cottages could be rented at a sum that would defy the world for lowness, and would soon pull down all rents in the West of Scotland. Ah! but we are not going to catch our Scotch capitalists asleep. They see this profit problem before them, and have already devised ways and means of capitalising the tramway system so as to keep these sinking and depreciation funds perpetually going. It is up to our comrades to hold rousing demonstrations in all parts of the city right up to the November 11 elections on this most vital issue.
From: Justice 26 July 1913, p.6.
Mr. Winston Churchill’s speech on naval affairs has brought the oil question prominently to the front, and so far as we are concerned the shale oil industry of Scotland. We certainly are in favour of the State owning the oilfield not merely for naval, but for all other purposes. The Pumpherston Company, the largest producer, can give dividends as high as 50 per cent., and it can sweat its slaves as well. These are two very substantial reasons why the transfer to the State should not be delayed for five years, as Winnie hints, but should be executed with business-like promptitude. The capital really spent in developing the field, decreased by the amount of depreciation that ought to have been set aside out of gross profits for that purpose, should be the amount paid over to the present companies. If the shareholders were given the price they would like to get from the Government, then the transfer would obviously be worse than bad. Perhaps our own Bob Small, secretary to the shale miners, might supply the movement with some of the facts and figures on oil and its getters.
Much merriment here as in London has bubbled up over that wonderfully solemn and important company of practical old jokers and fogies who foregathered at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the Featherstone hero, H.H. Asquith. In view of the holidays in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and elsewhere, some thirty or forty reverend and well-known Labour and other baillies, councillors, and mere private citizens made up their minds to have a more exciting time than the younger fry who usually spend their substance riotously on the Isle of Man. They devised a week-end trip to the Prime Minister to coax him to grant the ladies the vote. When they called “Herbert” was out; but they had the worth of their money in the speeches they emitted from his threshold, the snap-shotting they proudly submitted to, and the demonstration they participated in on the Sunday at Hyde Park. I have it from an inside source that next year Cook and other agencies will provide for this probably popular summer holiday pastime; and, further, that if the trip catches on, Asquith will perhaps favourably consider the case of those unfortunate widows whose husbands have committed suicide in despair. It is confidently anticipated that the Labour Party, as usual, will gravely lend its support to the Government.
The Carnegie Dunfermline trustees are again in luck. Andrew has transferred to them the administration of 10,000,000 dollars of 5 per cent. First Mortgage Bonds, the income from which, 500,000 dollars, will be spent on libraries, Church organs, and anything else they think fit. I suggest that they at once strike medals for the thirty or forty pioneers just referred to. These trustees have now control of £3,000,000, yielding an income of £150,000 a year. As soon as we get Scottish Home Rule we will need a local king. In the meantime, I would tenderly, nay tremblingly submit the name of the owner of Skibo Castle, on the condition that he give us an annual rehearsal of the defence of his Pittsburg works during the famous strike some years ago.
The Lanarkshire Tramway Company has made clear profit enough to yield a 10 per cent. dividend, although it only declares a 6 per cent. one. Yet it refuses to recognise the men’s union, which is desirous of putting forward the men’s claims. It is time the workers of the county saw to it that the county and town councils jointly took over the system and conducted it themselves. Here is a chance for the miners’ union to show its strength.
The Edinburgh tramwaymen have paralysed their system this last Saturday and Sunday – that is till the moment of writing. They could not have selected a better time, as the holidays in the greater part of the country have just started. What help they will get from their union, the Amalgamated Association of Tramway and Vehicular Workers, remains to be seen, as the men struck on their own with dramatic swiftness. The men ask 1/2d. per hour increase, whilst the company are only prepared to grant 1/4d. The men estimate that the extra they demand would amount to about £4,000 a year, just sufficient to reduce the dividend on shares from 40 per cent. to 20, and that the strike so far has involved a loss to their masters of that amount. As blacklegs are being imported from Manchester, trouble will arise in the capital. The masters may smile, since the Castle just overlooks the world-famed Princes Street. A workers’ victory in Edinburgh will have a powerful influence on the tragic situation in Leith.
From: Justice 2 August 1913, p.2.
The industrial life of huge parts of Scotland died down last week to give a ten (or fewer) days breathing space to the slaves of “Society.” We can hardly distinguish the spell by the glorious word holiday, since escape from the slums is impossible for such large numbers. In fact, so poor are many labourers burdened with a family that they have even to get a week’s odd work here and there to keep the wolf of hunger from the door. This ugly fact is delightfully slid over by the sweated scribes of the capitalist Press, who are given instructions to write up the boom in holiday-making. No doubt, unprecedented numbers left Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to sponge on parents or other relatives at the seaside or in the country; yet even in spite of the boom in trade, to which has been attributed the abnormal migration of health and beauty seekers, many who consider it a social disgrace if they cannot clear out of their district for a spell were forced to pawn, borrow, and leave debts unpaid so as to gather “grist” enough to have the joy week. It takes many an honest lad and lass from this till the New Year to wipe out the debt incurred by this yearly relief from monotonous toil.
This must not be. Every soul ought to have a minimum of three weeks’ holiday in the summer with three weeks’ pay in advance to help defray the expense of a change. Even horses are put to grass, and that costs outlay during holiday time. It cannot be considered extravagant to demand something similar for us human cattle (or are we but human machines?). Even holidays with pay will not do, for are not the wages of many men with a family too small even to provide a half-decent living, let alone provide money for travelling and lodgings at the seaside? Still, as the Labour men say, the suggestion proceeds on the right lines, and must therefore be momentarily satisfactory.
The holiday fever being infectious, I fell a victim. Having an obliging “uncle,” I was enabled, like my ancestors of old, to turn my gaze southwards. I made for the Border City. I still retained my kilts and my bagpipes to cheer on my raid. It was not cattle or fair daughters that drew me thither. Rather was it the spoliation of wealthy contractors for the aid of their ill-paid carles. Poor Ernest Lowthian struggled and fought for a week with no hope of victory, but when he heard the warlike skirl of may clan’s battle-march last Friday afternoon he plunged into the fray with fresh fervour, and by that evening retired with all the laurels of the skirmish. His jolly beggars (for they used to get but a pound or a guinea) now get 24s. a week and stop work at six in the evening. Gossips all around praise Ernest, but the historian of the future in reading his prized files of our dear paper will get to know the unblushing truth.
There is a temporary lull at Leith. The soldiers and the bluejackets are still there and Barnes, Wilkie, and Adamson still in the neighbourhood of the House of Commons. I have waited to hear one of the precious trio with faltering voice whisper questions at the Government; but not a “cheep.” Barnes may get into firing line after he has secured a nice little scheme of insurance for publicans inside the clauses of the Temperance Bill. I do admit that “disinterested” management and “safeguards” for publicans ought to take precedence of questions on the nice little situation at Leith. After friend Barnes has asked his questions we expect him to proceed to the “front” – Leith, of course. However, if he does not hurry up, the battle will have been won and lost, even before his dear friends the publicans have gained their point. Carlisle railwaymen tell me that at a demonstration of North-Eastern men at Newcastle last Sunday, Hudson (Labour M.P.) and his friends in office refused to consider a resolution of sympathy with the dockers at Leith. Had George V. died that morning we feel certain Hudson, with tears in his voice, would have moved a vote of sympathy with George’s family. But, you see, George is not a docker, although lately he became a printer.
I see that in consequence of a Trades Council deputation to Manchester, the Edinburgh Tramwaymen’s Union has recognised the strike, and so have deceived workers brought from that city to blackleg. Glasgow, the city that blacklegged against its own tram workers, seems again to be on the straight road towards blackening its name by the supply of a fair number of traitors. We willingly offer them as practising targets to the Castle soldiers and the Forth bluejackets. They deserve no better fate. Fortunately, these weeds require by Edinburgh bye-laws twenty-one days’ practice on that city’s wonderful and fearful cable system before they are entitled to drive a car. The company’s manager is moving the very furniture of Heaven to break these bye-laws, and he will succeed unless the whole of the workers do their duty by the tramway slaves. We trust that our comrade of the capital will do their duty at this juncture.
We hear that our Aberdeen men are again asserting themselves, and that in spite of Joe Duncan’s intrigues on behalf of himself as a Labour candidate they will push forward with the candidature of Fred Knee for North Aberdeen. When are the other branches going to put on a move in the same direction?
From: Justice 16 August 1913, p.6.
The various religious organisations have been making rare capital out the victims of the Cadder mine murder, and “God’s will” is reiterated as the cause of the disaster. God’s truth! Whilst the cowardly clerics thus draw the veil over men’s minds we are pleased to see that the Lanarkshire Miners’ Executive take a saner view, for they have passed a resolution deploring the lack of rescue stations and brigades. At a meeting of Glasgow Corporation last week, after Baillie Paxton had explained that he had taken it upon himself to send a message of sympathy to the Carron Company, Alex. Turner asked if the Corporation thought it was also necessary to write the chairman and directors of the company deploring the lack of provisions. Then a scene began! In the end he managed to slip in that he referred to safeguards. Let me point out that a motor had to be sent about sixty miles to Cowdenbeath for a rescue waggon and apparatus. According to section 85 of the Coal Mines Act (1911) rescue apparatus ought to have been at each mine in the country. Mr. Duncan Millar, Liberal M.P. for North-East Lanarkshire, questioned Mr. McKenna on this last Friday, and was assured that the Home Office would put on a move. Of course, some time.
As was to be expected, someone signing himself “Coalmaster” writes the “Glasgow Herald” that rescue apparatus is worse than useless – is positively dangerous. Although only a few appliances are in use twelve men have been killed. Still, some of us are prepared to risk it.
No public relief fund is going to be formed for the widows and children, as the Carron Company has determined to look after these bereaved ones. It is defraying all funeral expenses, is giving an immediate grant of £10 per family, and is forming a trust fund to maintain all afflicted for the next ten or fifteen years. The company is most wealthy, and can well afford to do this. When it is at it, it might pay the Falkirk pattern-makers, moulders, and labourers a little more than it is doing. That, of course, is another story. Of this, I feel certain, that this money set aside for the widows and children will by hook or by crook be got out of the miners making the huge profits for this organised gang of sharks. For it must be borne in mind that the capitalists never let up. They always have their two pounds of flesh. In Scotland 202 miners are killed each year.
This is fully exemplified by the action of the Calico Printing Association. Some time ago the C.P.A. adopted the collective piece-work system. In the Thornliebank works, at least, most generous conditions, comparatively speaking, were at first given to the employees, especially the labourers. For weeks some of these lifted 30s. for every £1 of wages obtained prior to the adoption of the system. These deluded slaves refused to see the trap we wicked Socialists tried to point out to them. Our suspicious minds again! A week or two ago an all-round break in prices took place. Our men, with pouter-pigeon chests, are swaggering around with the old refrain, “I told you so.”
The first co-operative strike in Scotland has taken place, under the Coalburn Society, in the heart of South Lanark. The head butcher and the head draper (a woman) were dismissed because of over-staffing and inefficiency. The Amalgamated Union of Cooperative Employees at once took up the matter. Meetings were held in Coalburn, Lesmahagow, and Kirkmuirhill, the final one on Monday week last at Lesmahagow before a large audience, to explain the case for the employees. The society is practically one of miners, many of whom lost a shift to hear all. On the Tuesday was held the quarterly meeting – a record one. It overwhelmingly took the side of the directors, and I might state a Kirkmuirhill comrade was elected, one who decidedly favoured the action of the directors. On the board are already four good I.L.P. comrades, who are Socialists first and I.L.P.ers second. The week’s notice of the employees expired on the Tuesday, and on Wednesday they were out as pickets. The A.U.C.E. has issued a circular to its branches warning its members off Coalburn and denouncing the dismissals as “victimisation.” I was at the Meeting at Lesmahagow, and have had the full story from the Socialist directors, and am certainly favourable to the side of the directors. I dwell on this matter because the Socialists are getting the blame, and it will likely be used against Tom Gibb, the selected miners’ candidate for South Lanark, and against our candidates at the November elections. As some of our Scottish comrades are also A.U.C.E. men, there is the possibility of the matter being fully thrashed out inside the union circles. The sooner the better.
In view of the International Co-operative Congress in Glasgow the last week of August, our Scottish branches ought to be making preparations to use Socialist delegates for public meetings.
The Leith dockers organiser, O'Connor Kessack, is out of the Edinburgh Infirmary after his motorcycle accident, and is now on the scene of conflict. Robert Williams, of the Transport Workers’ Federation, speaking at Leith, said he would do all he could for the Leith men, and hinted that this was the time to strike all the ports in Britain. That certainly would buckle up the efforts of the Shipping Federation, at present the bosses’ mainstay, at Leith.
From: Justice 23 August 1913, p.6.
By ballot of the Lanarkshire miners, Mr. Tom Gibb was selected as the candidate for South Lanark. I return to Tom, you see, but for a very good reason, as you will all admit. In the report of a special “Forward” interview with him, he says: “First and foremost, I am a Socialist. If I cannot win South Lanark as Socialist” then I won’t win it at all.” About this policy he says: “It is a revolutionary policy throughout. I am no believer in policy of social reform paid for out of the earnings of the workers, such as we have seen illustrated in the Insurance Act. The reform that does not increase the purchasing-power of the workers by transferring to them some of the wealth previously enjoyed by the idle rich is not, in my opinion, a reform. If I believed in reforms of that nature, I would not a Socialist.”
Because of his frankness, our friend, A. Anderson (Stonehouse), at once approached him to be the principal speaker at the annual Wilson Demonstration at Strathaven this Saturday, August 23. We are pleased to know that Gibb willingly offered his services, and gave the organising committee a free hand to advertise him as it thought fit. As might be anticipated, he is being billed as the Socialist and Labour candidate, the word Socialist taking its proper, the premier, place.
Wilson, like Hardie (Stirling) and other old Radical weavers of the beginning of the nineteenth century was hanged for preparing to use the gun to get the vote. Perhaps, had Sir Edward Carson been in the flesh at the time, Wilson and his comrades-in-arms might have lived to join in with the Chartists. In the absence of such a hero as Sir Edward these poor fellows were done to death. Through the sacrifice of these brave men, and many others after them, we have the privilege to vote and send men of our class to Parliament.
Surely it is appropriate that the commemoration of Wilson’s murder should be taken part in by Gibb, the Socialist candidate for Strathaven and the rest of South Lanark; and surely it is not too much to ask that all the revolutionists within the radius of fifty miles at least should sacrifice all else to rally round this brave fellow on Saturday afternoon. Let us give him a glorious send-off on his campaign. The demonstration will start at 5.30 p.m.; so that each and all have ample opportunity to be present at the commencement.
By the time this appears in print it is likely that our good comrade, George Pettigrew, will be lying in prison in Vancouver Island, as he is chief organiser of the striking miners there. George left Hamilton about three years ago to work as a miner in British Columbia. He settled at Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, and went below. A prior union having been killed by the masters, George set about forming another. Soon he was victimised; but, to the dismay of the masters, the Letts and the Finns kept him as organiser. His organisation grew, and in time linked on to the Mine Workers’ Union. On May Day last the unionists on the island decided to strike. Since then they have been out, and along with them have been most of the non-unionists, with the exception of the Asiatics. Blacklegs having been introduced, however, violence ensued, and now more than one thousand troops are on the scene. To defeat the men reports state that the authorities have threatened to imprison the leaders. As a sound Socialist, and a member of the Canadian Socialist Party, Pettigrew is not one likely to advise the men to resort to violence, knowing that the State has at its disposal a force far superior to any that might be used by the miners.
The Leith dockers have returned, defeated like their London fellows last year. Tillett and Sexton had better stand one another a drink, and then preach to each other on the text, “Unity is Strength.”
The next annual conference of the Labour Party will be held, in Glasgow at the end of January. The week before the pow-wow all the Labour M.P.s intend to carry on a campaign over Scotland. I should counsel some of them – most of them, in fact – to buy steel suits before coming.
Agriculture is on the decline. So says the Blue Book for 1912. Puir Scotia! The holdings number 77,662, a fall of 287 since 1911. The owners of their holdings are 5,236, a fall of 865. A quarter of our nineteen million acres only is cultivated, whilst a half is used for rough grazing. The arable land has decreased by 23,541 acres. “We” have also fewer horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs. The human animal is also on the decline. Prices have risen fully 10 per cent. between 1905 and 1912, whilst tradesmen’s wages have on the average risen about 5 per cent., and labourers’ wages have hardly increased at all. We cannot take in the Board of Trade statements that rents and rates combined have remained stationary, as in our experience both have been going up most decidedly since the Liberals were allowed to rule the roost. To add to our lament, let us state that of Glasgow’s population in 1911 of 784,496 there live in one-roomed houses 103,815, in two-roomed houses. 367,341 and in three-roomed houses 1603,683. Scotland still votes Liberal. We are not surprised to learn that imbecility is on the increase.
From: Justice 30 August 1913, p.6.
A fortnight ago I referred to the strike of the Coalburn and District Co-operative Society’s employees. At it has developed so as to involve the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union through the emergence a unique set of circumstances worthy of the consideration of Social-Democrats, readers may tolerate a rather lengthy reference to the situation as we find it up to date.
Some weeks ago the directors of the above Society dismissed the head butcher on the score of overstaffing. As he was the only member of the staff against whom fault could be found, he was selected as the one to go. The head drapery saleswoman also got the road, the reason in her case being alleged incapacity. The two being members of the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees, they naturally got their paid officials on the scene. The Scottish organiser, Mr. Scott, interviewed the directors, and got their version of the story. No request for arbitration was made; but shortly afterwards all the fifty-three employees gave in their notices, the heads of shops having to give a fortnight’s and the others a week’s notice. The week ended on the very night of the usual quarterly meeting of the Co-operative Society; but on three of the intervening nights the employees organised public meetings at Kirkmuirhill, Coalburn, and Lesmahagow respectively, and on these Mr. Scott presented the case for the two dismissed employees. The last or these was a very large one in Lesmahagow, the night preceding the quarterly meeting, some miners even losing a shift to attend.
The quarterly meeting was the largest on record, and by an overwhelming majority (although the vote was not counted) the action of the directors was confirmed, and they were given full power to fill all the positions vacated by the strikers. It must be remembered that these members are almost wholly miners, staunch trade unionists all, and perhaps half of them organised Socialists.
Technically, I suppose, we might look on the ones engaged to fill the places of the strikers as blacklegs; but, if they are, the responsibility for engaging them rests on the shoulders of the whole society composed of staunch trade unionists. A curious position, indeed! That is not all. A miner on the Board of Directors has a daughter a striker and a son one of the engaged blacklegs!
Some of the new hands being unable to take up their duties when the strikers left, the directors were placed in a fix. Some departments were closed temporarily. This course could not be taken with the bread department. The bakers’ being in their own union, continued to make loaves, etc. At first no one was there to distribute these baked goods, and when the housewives found their cupboards in the position of old Mother Hubbard’s, they asked the directors and others to go the various rounds with these necessaries. These men, realising that the people must not be allowed to starve, did as requested, and in some instances had to leave the mines to do it.
In the meantime the A.U.C.E. induced the Parliamentary Committee of the Scottish Trades Union Congress to send Messrs. David Gilmour, Turner, and Hunter to interview the directors on arbitration. Mr. David Gilmour is secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union, and is agent for the district including Coalburn. In the interview the chairman of the directors asked friend Gilmour to be brief, as other business had to be attended to. In spite of the remonstrances of Mr. Turner, the good David marched out. A nice action for a conciliator!
David is not done with the situation. His attention is directed to the miners who stopped coal-getting to feed themselves and their fellow-members with bread. He reports them as “blacklegs” to the Miners’ Executive, and is instructed to proceed to Auchenbeg pit, where seventeen of the “blacklegs” work, and stop the pit to get the miners to force their comrades to desist from this “blacklegging.” This the men unanimously refuse to do, so they at once get expelled from their union – men who two or three days before gathered £14 for the Kilbirnie striking net-makers! This expulsion took place on Monday week last. On the Wednesday night following, after an enormous meeting addressed by MacDougall on Socialism, the miners present resolved next morning (Thursday) to stop all the pits in the district to discuss the expulsion affair. MacDougall and “Gael” were spectators at that morning meeting – larger than any Bob Sinillie had ever been able to gather. Almost unanimously the meeting decided to protest against the action of the Executive and Gilmour to withhold payment into the union, and to demand the removal of Gilmour to another district.
I must give my own view of the situation, as it is one of moment, not one of purely philosophical interest. The new situation hinges on the question whether the miners who left work to distribute the bread are “blacklegs,” and therefore entitled to be peremptorily snuffed out by an autocratic Executive. First of all, this is the first, Co-operative strike in Scotland; hence the situation is abnormal. (I use the word “abnormal,” as miners at least should have some notion of what it means, in mines at least.) Second, the members of the Co-operative Society support their directors; and are therefore fully responsible for all that happens afterwards. Third, the fight is not one between the capitalist and working class but confined to the working class. Fourth, the directors had never such a situation before to face; they had to prevent starvation of working women and children, and they had no Miners’ Union rules to guide them in the circumstance. Fifth, even capitalists who do their own work are not called blacklegs. In the circumstances, then, I hold that the men who temporarily did the work were not “blacklegs,” and that is the view taken in the district by the vast majority. Just because the point is a debatable one, to say the least of it, my contention is that the miners’ Executive acted most hastily, and instead of settling matters have led to complication inside their own union that may have far-reaching effects. The very fact that Mac Dougall and “Gael” have been roundly denounced inside the miners’ Executive of itself is significant of much. “Gael” is told that Smillie is going to pulverise him at the official meeting that will be held this week in Coalburn. The former is getting ready his kilts, targe, claymore and pipes and for the great conflict. Should he live to tell the tale his readers will get the one and only chance of hearing his version of the conflict.
From: Justice 13 September 1913, p.6.
Again I crave the indulgence of readers for referring to the outcome of the Coalburn Co-operative dispute. As suggested the week before last, there was a district meeting of the miners on the Tuesday, and it was attended by Messrs. Smillie, Gilmour, MacDougall and the undersigned. Rumours had reached Hamilton that I had attacked Smillie as well as the Executive, that MacDougall and I were going to form a new local union in opposition to the Lanarkshire one, and many other things of a highly-imaginative character.
Needless to say, we had not attacked Mr. Robert Smillie, as he in no way was personally responsible for the suspension of the Auchenbeg pit owing to miners in it doing their own co-operative work after their employees had struck. I certainly did go for John Robertson and the miners’ leaders generally for not taking strong action before the Cadder disaster instead of simply making strong speeches at the Miners’ Congress in Edinburgh after the event. I still think that there are many miners’ grievances that ought to be rectified before the Lanarkshire Union intervenes in a co-operative dispute of the nature of the one now in evidence in the Coalburn district.
The method of holding miners’ meetings in Lanarkshire is to appoint two pickets, who stand beside a pit and prevent the men going below that day. This was done with six or seven pits on the Tuesday morning, and most of the men made for the spot in Coalburn where such meetings are held. As was to be expected, the gathering was the greatest ever held in the district.
At once the miners assured Smillie that they had simply suspended payment of their dues to force this official meeting. In the midst of the first discussion with the men, Gilmour wished to explain to all those present what he had done at Auchenbeg, but the men I were not in a mood to listen to him; and, in fact, were more tempted to do him bodily injury. However, on our appeal to the men round us he was permitted to speak. After Smillie made his principal speech and invited me to speak, who should object but the gallant Gilmour, and his plea was that I had nothing to do with miners’ affairs! Smillie was inclined to defer to the wishes of his colleague, but on my protest, backed up by a large mass of the men, Smillie had to yield.
Bob, in his speech, used as principal illustration the Wholesale Works at Shieldhall. He asked if outsiders would be entitled to take the place of boot and shoe operatives should they go on strike. In reply I pointed out that the Wholesale was a federation of co-operative societies, that individual co-operators had not the same control over its operations as over those of their own society, and that there was not the same urgent need to make new boots as to distribute loaves – the offence for which men were treated as “blacklegs” and their fellow-miners suspended from their union. I urged that in the past I had always helped the Shieldhall boot and shoe operatives, and would likely do so again. I forgot to mention that these very Shieldhall men recently had a strike, or threatened to strike, not to have reinstated two dismissed workmates, but to have two cleared out for tale-bearing! In my reply I frequently used the word “blackleg,” and tried to argue that the directors of the Co-op. stopped for victimisation were not of this category. Smillie in his reply pointed out that he had not used the word “blackleg.” We must take it, then, that he is in doubt as to whether “black-legging” has taken place or not. The Miners’ Executive met on the Thursday after, but so far the Auchenbeg suspension has not been withdrawn. Of course, Smillie made no promises, and called for no definitely expressed resolutions from the audience. We patiently await the Lanarkshire miners’ decision.
One strange blunder Smillie made in his desire to score. He asserted that the Co-operative Society was a capitalist concern. That we had been assiduously teaching. But he went on to proclaim the member with two or three pounds deposited in the society as a capitalist. With that we loudly disagreed, as we had been teaching the people that only those able to live on their interest could be classified as capitalists. Although Bob still proudly proclaimed himself to the audience to be a Socialist, he surely must be unaware of the fact that our opponents constantly use his “two or three pound capitalist” to show that there is no real justification for the separating of people into the working and the capitalist class. When he argues with us younger fry he must learn to argue more keenly, than even against the masters, and he does that thoroughly enough in all conscience.
The teachers in Barrhead who do evening-school work have struck against a head-master of a day-school being appointed organiser of the evening schools. The Neilston Board advertised for other teachers, and succeeded in getting a few. So the strikers resolved to picket the principal school last Monday, the opening night, and were successful in persuading two or three to give up their new appointments, The probability is that the School Board will have to meet
the desires of the old staff. The picket brigade was well supported by members of the Socialist teachers’ group, who came a considerable distance to lend a helping tongue. This is the first organised teachers’ strike in canny Scotland. When are the teachers, however, going to link up with the trace union movement?
From: Justice 20 September 1913, p.6.
All last week the Barrhead teachers, supported by a sub-committee of the Glasgow Branch of the Class Teachers’ Association and several other teachers, carried on a vigorous picket of the principal evening school, with one night at Neitston. As a result at least half-a-dozen potential blacklegs, once they learned the circumstances of their appointment, resigned. A few others have clung to their jobs, but are wavering. Hence the C.T.A. has issued a circular to many of the schools in neighbourhood urging teachers to turn out in force on Monday, September 15, to ensure complete victory.
One amusing incident took place on Wednesday night. A University student came out to take a class in “Economic Theory.” After a discussion with the pickets he persisted in going inside to take up his class. There he was confronted by five men who had enrolled for his class. These adult students argued with him for a time, and then left in a body. Thus was the University blackleg (the local teachers’ term) rebuffed. This gentleman will likely be most eloquent and interesting when, in his economic lectures elsewhere, he discourses on the folly of strikes.
Nobel’s workers are now reaping some slight advantages as the fruits of their strike. Some labourers are getting 1/4d. per hour more, whilst others are obtaining 1/2d. Those with 10 years’ service will receive an extra 1/2d. to encourage length of service. The women have also received slight increases. Many of the men have not yet reached the 23s. minimum demanded during the strike, but if there Union grows in strength this paltry sum may even be exceeded at the next set-to.
The coalmasters of Scotland are applying for a reduction of the men’s wages by 183/4 per cent. on the basis of the wages paid in 1888. This is equal to about 9d. per day on the present wages. We consumers round Glasgow, at any rate, are wondering by what process of logic the masters will justify their preposterous demand, for we are just now being forced to pay from 1s. 8d. to 3s. 4d. more per ton. It is about time the men’s leaders are putting forward a demand for 100 per cent. increase. Although I am told I know nothing about coal, I begin to fancy I could make a right kind of miners’ leader. After making my demand for 100 per cent. increase on the present rate of wages I would, as politely as I could, request the owners to retire from business for good. That would, at any rate, end this constant haggling over an odd threepenny bit or sixpence.
Readers may remember the pamphlet written by Keir Hardie fifteen years ago in which he denounced Lord Overtoun (now in Glory), who built premises for the Y.M.C.A., and helped charities out of the labours of his acid-eaten, underpaid and overwrought slaves at Shawfield Chemical Works, Rutherglen. It appears that in the interval the labourers have received the handsome increase of 10d. per week. (This must account for Glasgow’s deplorable drunkenness and betting.) These greedy fellows, with their dissatisfied furnace-men, have recently joined the Gasworkers’ Union, and are now on strike for 10 per cent. more than they have. That will be about 17s. or 18s. I have suffered from chrome holes and acid colour poisoning, and am amazed at these sorry wights not asking for 1,000 per cent. of an increase.
About 400 women workers have agreed by ballot to strike against Shields and Co., of Perth, for 10 per rent. of an advance in prices, or 2s. on wages. We wish these fair maids every success, and trust that not a few Hals o’ the Wynd may be found to champion their cause.
Glasgow postmen, to the tune of 2,000, met last week and passed this resolution by an overwhelming majority: “That this Conference refuses to accept the Holt Committee Report.” I am getting in a large store of love letters in view of this ominous attitude of Posty.
Scotland is a favoured country. We have a Housing Commission that is taking a survey of the scenery of our beautiful though emptying land. Now, here we have the thirty-ninth annual Congress of Sanitary saints (or sinners) in Glasgow devoting its concluding day to the housing problem. Again we are reminded of Glasgow’s 21,000 ticketed houses, the need for a minimum wage, the need for cottages, and heaven only knows what else. The sad joke is that there is no subject that has been more thrashed out in Glasgow, and still there is no fouler hole on this planet. The Black Hole of Calcutta would have no chance here. The Young Scots might get a permanent Parliament established in Glasgow to perpetually discuss the housing problem, and thereafter Canada might come to the rescue by having us all transported thither for the greater glory of the Hempire and Lord Strathcona. That, at any rate, would solve the housing problem here, even though in the process they settled us out there in Canada.
I hear that Aberdeen is still going strong, and that comrades Cooper and Christy are to be put up for the Town Council. My granite comrades, let it go in right Aberdonian style. Come away, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and toe the line.
From: Justice 27 September 1913, p.2.
Probably no man in our movement was more respected than our now deceased friend and comrade, Harry Quelch: certainly no one has been missed as that dear old, hold-fast and most militant Social-Democrat is at this moment. He who breathed aught against the veteran working class champion lost all his friends with the exhalation. In down-right genuine admiration of the sterling, manly and intellectual qualities of the late Editor of our plucky little paper no place in these isles could approach Scotland. Quelch put in a pile of hard work in our speck on this planet, unrecorded in “Justice,” but stamped deep into the sweet memories of us north of the Tweed.
A remarkable, because spontaneous, illustration of the attachment felt towards “Harry” – as Quelch was popularly named – was afforded onlookers last Saturday. The Glasgow I.L.P. had hastily organised a demonstration in the St. Andrew’s Halls on Saturday night to enable Jim Larkin to put his case before the citizens. By some oversight the chairman, or the committee responsible for the evening’s agenda, omitted reference to the death of Quelch. But our old gem of purest ray serene, Jimmie Johnstone, was determined not to let the vast audience disperse without having their attention drawn to the sad. event of Wednesday last. So he marched right up the hall and shouted out, amidst the misunderstanding of many who must have taken him for an Ulsterman (many of whom were in evidence), that the chairman had omitted a part of his duty. Later on, the chairman, Tom Johnston of “Forward,” magnificently covered up the omission by requesting the audience to rise in silent respect for the memory of the hero of a hundred debates. Harry, my comrade, here’s health for the fight you have made for your class, and may your whole-hearted devotion to the cause inspire us all to work on like cannons doubly charged.
Edinburgh’s wealthy folks must be seeing as in a glass darkly at present, as I am led to understand that their window-cleaners have gone on strike. If their wives were not so heart lazy they would do their own window washing and the windows of the business premise, as well. Who said the workers and their wives had a monopoly of laziness?
Who will do the dirty work under Socialism? That is one of those stupendous questions unsatisfactory answers to which, we are told, have kept millions out of the Socialist movement. My momentary reply to the aforesaid heartrender is as follows. Who is doing the dust collecting in Cambuslang parish just now? “Nobody” answers echo. Therefore, I must conclude, if I am entitled to use the logic of the Anti-Socialist questioners, capitalism is a failure, and ought at once, to be replaced by a society where strikes will be unknown and where consequently the chances of dust collecting being neglected must be more remote than at present. This most convincing plea for Socialism is the outcome of a strike for 2s. more for carters and 3s. for lifters in the Cambuslang area. Perhaps the capitalists there, who, as in other parts, are reputed to be tremendous on the work proposition, will be doing their own dirty work.
The coal workers to the Vale of Leven Co-operative Society struck for 5s. per day instead of 4s. The society’s offer prior to the strike of 4s. 6d. was finally accepted. I am led to understand that the coal depot workers in Glasgow are going to make a bid for a thirty shillings minimum, and to that end an attempt will be made to form or join a union. No matter how high coal may rise their wages do not rise. As Councillor Lyon has been approached on the matter we may expect developments. Meantime, co-operative societies ought to set the pace by giving their men the 30s., and urging them to join the union.
The Aberdeen combworkers, who have been on strike since the middle of May, have now accepted a rise of 61/2-to 71/2 per cent., although their demand was for 15 per cent. It may be remembered that a few of our local comrades ably exposed the blackleg supplies from the Labour Exchange during the earlier phases of the conflict. We are glad the men have gained something.
DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.
In spite of all that the owners of drifters have done, trawlers are more and more engaging in the trawling for herring. The usual argument against trawling is that immature herring are caught, and thus the continued supply of mature ones is endangered. That argument will not hold, because more capital is employed in trawling than in netting, and, other things being equal, quantity of capital must win. It is time that the petty owners were throwing in their lot with us and demanding the social ownership of all means of catching fish and drowning hardy men.
Greenock Housing Council has now issued its first annual report. With our friend, Harry Campbell, as energetic secretary this Council has done a vast amount of investigation, agitation, and application for houses to the Town Council. It is expected that Greenock will erect five tenements. Methinks this scheme is too stupendous for a beginning. Why not half a tenement for the accommodation of bachelors or old maids?
Greenock is also discussing the municipalisation of the local tramway system. High time too!
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford;
From: Justice 4 October 1913, p.6.
Although I have not yet received my “Justice,” owing to my attention being called to it. I have read comrade Keith’s letter criticising my attitude in the Coalburn Co-op. dispute, a discussion of which looms large in the columns of “Forward” at present. As I have not our comrade’s letter before me, I must be pardoned if I misrepresent him. It will be an error of memory, not one of purport.
At the close of the letter he referred to co-operative societies selling second-class goods at first-class prices. Even were this true, it has no bearing on the dispute, and could only be inserted to prejudice the reader against the directors who distributed bread by first of all prejudicing him against co-operation. As I find the average trade union as defective in outlook as any co-operative society, and the average trade unionist as great a mixture of virtue and vice as the average active co-operator, I might respond to Keith’s stimulus by prejudicing the issue on the other side by denouncing the tuppenny-ha'penny peddling and pottering largely lauded in the name of trade unionism. Never having done this in the past except to urge unionists themselves to become Socialists, I refrain adopting this course at present.
Keith seems to be afraid that the enemy will make capital out of the situation at Coalburn against Socialism. They would be fools if they did not try it. They certainly will not do great business in the area affected, for the amazing fact is that, despite the distraction caused by discussion of the dispute, more Socialist progress has been made in that part than in any other locality in Scotland. In fact, if similar progress were made in other places we would not be very far off the Social Revolution! Thanks is largely due to the brilliant lectures delivered by Macdougall, who has been kept there as organiser for three months now, and could be kept on permanently if he so desired. A B.S.P. group has been formed in Coalburn. Frank and revolutionary Socialist propaganda has held its own, and as a consequence Macdougall and myself expect a spate of vituperation from office-hunters generally.
Keith is at liberty to call the miner co-operators who distributed their own bread blacklegs. I contend they are not. The committee of fourteen, with one dissentient at most, dismissed two hands, whether rightly or wrongly it is not my business to say. The employees’ representative did not ask for arbitration, but prepared for a strike. He organised three public meetings well attended by the miners. He appealed to them as miners and unionists. What stronger plea could be made? In spite of all, the quarterly meeting, held the night after the final one, by a large majority favoured the committee. The committee were exonerated, and at the same time empowered to fill the vacancies due to the strike. Those engaged not being able at once to fill the gaps, several departments were for the time being closed down. But bread-distribution was urgent, and the committeemen turned to and did this. Were these men to stand by and see possible starvation, or were they entitled by the powers invested in them by the vote of their mates to carry out the work of feeding the people? Here you have a homogeneous community, a section of the working class. The issue to me resolves itself into whether the employees are to have full liberty to starve the others into surrender, or whether the community is entitled to feed itself by hook or crook in the circumstances. Whether right or wrong, any self-interested community will save itself. To it the only right is self-preservation. This we see during floods, when the normal codes of conduct are ruthlessly laid aside. That is, and always will be, my policy. I refuse to die if I can avoid it.
But, apart from this I think the community, because the majority, has the primary right. If I did not believe that I would not be a Social-Democrat. If I believed the employees inside a homogeneous State, or community such as exists in Coalburn, had the supreme claim I would be an out-and-out Syndicalist. That, so far, I have failed to become, and so I am driven back to stand by the majority against the minority. If the representatives of the majority, after open and long and earnest discussion of the pros and cons, stand by the directors, then I hold that the directors were right in supplying bread, and ought not to be categorised as blacklegs. Bread before coal any day.
I should add that in my discussion with Bob Smillie he carefully pointed out, in reply to me, that he had refrained from using the word blackleg.
Smillie has made the most of the inquiry into the Cadder disaster so far as a rescue brigade and apparatus are concerned. The manager admitted having called a brigade of men together to drill for rescue work, but had to disband them because the Carron Company, with other associated employers, disagreed with the Home Office as to the helmet that ought to be used. Smillie pointed out that if men in any pit broke an Act till their union decided on the best means to apply it, the men would held responsible for the accident, and consideration for the attitude of union would be swept aside. He therefore brought home the breach of the Mines Act (1912) to the management of the pit where the accident happened. That was the right way to handle the case, and we give Smillie full credit for his keenness in the circumstances. Of course, the judge will side with the masters, and no one knows that better than Smillie himself. It is his business now to be with us and develop a more revolutionary attitude among the rank and file – outside Coalburn, I mean. We have done the trick there.
My latest address is 42, Auldhouse Road, Pollokshaws. I am purposing keeping a private secretary to keep correspondents abreast of my latest address. A mad world, my masters.
From: Justice 11 October 1913, p.6.
Last Wednesday a number of West of Scotland farmers met in the Religious Institution Rooms, Glasgow, and formed a union, called The Farmers’ Union, to defend the interests of the farmers. The chairman, Wm. Donald of Kilmarnock, pointed out that they had no organisation to meet other strong or organisations which might come against them. I presume he referred thus vaguely to the Scottish Farm Servants’ Union, a strong branch of which was formed after a large gathering at Spiersbridge, Thornliebank, last Sunday. Our comrade Lennox willingly consented to help with the secretarial work after Messrs. Robertson and Malloy, of the Carters’ and Motormen’s, Association, addressed the assembled farm workers. If large demonstrations could be organised at the November feeing term this workers’ organisation would out-distance anything the farmers might do. Have a try, Jock and Jean.
It is interesting to note that one worthy farmer; after pointing out that individualism was all very good, thought that farmers had clung too tenaciously to individualism, and that now they must co-operate to face the problems before them.
It is no stretch of veracity to suggest that the farmers, having committed themselves to Syndicalism or “Larkinism,” have now broken the last link of individualism. Alas! my too long-lived brother.
Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, M.P., the Murphy of Labour (sic!) politics; in this enlightened country, is doing a tour of West Fife to convince the workers that understrapper W. Adamson, M.P., is still their man. How William can run the Fife Miners’ Union and help to run the British empire at the same time beats me. No wonder industrial, as well as political, action, by manny is considered a fizzle. The MacDonalds and the Snowdens who decry industrial militant action proclaim the advantages of political action. The Syndicalists, who suffer from politicophobia, make identical proclamation in favour of industrial action. My position is that both, in the hands of men like Adamson, are equally futile. For, are not the workers economically worse off than before this century began? And are not the political powers more brutal and stern in suppression of working-class rights and aspirations?
We must have political and industrial action, but the essential is that all working-class action must be guided by the principles and tactics of Revolutionary Socialism, having for its object the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the Co-operative Commonwealth.
The Kirkcaldy Trades Council passed a resolution condemning the attitude of MacDonald and Snowden towards the sympathetic strike, and at the same time recommended the affiliated unions to levy 1d. or 2d. per week for the Dublin strikers and the others involved.
Three Kirkcaldy unions whose members help to make linoleum and floorcloth intend to form a joint committee to discuss there mutual interests. That is in line with evolution, the object being the completer unification of the working class.
Housing again formed the subject of talk in Glasgow last week. It is getting worse This time it was three consecutive lectures by Mr. W.E. Riley, architect to the London County Council. It is houses, not talk, we wish. We have a revolutionary scheme which will form the basis of campaign of our comrade Canning, who again contests Pollakshaws Ward for the Glasgow Town Council. Our scheme provides for a five-roomed house with bath, scullery, cellarage, and ground in front of and behind the cottage. The rooms, too, are large and up to date in finish. In fact, hundreds of such cottages are in existence and are still being erected for those whose incomes somewhat exceed those of tradesmen and labourers.
We claim these can be rented at a pound a month, including rates, and leave a profit for the Corporation, too.
Such houses are sold by speculative builders at something like over £400; but with direct labour Glasgow could erect them for £300. If we allow 100 years as the lifetime for a cottage, then £3 each year would have to be levied to refund the capital outlay. We then allow £1 for feu duty, £4 for rates (far too high), and £3 for repair expenses, factorage, etc. We entirely exclude interest on the capital outlay. Why? Very simple is our explanation. Next May Glasgow will have enough to wipe out its capital debt of three and a half-million pounds on the trams, and thereafter will have at its disposal nearly half-a-million pounds’ profit to be disposed of. We must annex this annual profit for housing purposes. It is the people’s money. Given freely, it ought to be used for cottages free of interest. That is revolutionary, but absolutely possible and practical. The above charges are thus the only ones needed, and amount to £11 per annum. If we charge £12 per annum, or £1 per month, the scheme is absolutely safe. Each year at least £4 out of every tenant could be used to help build more and more cottages till in ten years at most the housing problem in Glasgow could be solved. Now then lads, into the Glasgow fight.
From: Justice 18 October 1913, p.6.
After motoring over and “Enchantressing” round Scotland for a few weeks, Mr. Winston Churchill settled down to serious business among his constituents last week. My readers, who by mischance were unable to read his illuminating and highly-instructive speeches in the extraordinary Press, imagine that our heroic First Lord of our wonderful Admiralty attempted to wrestle with Dundee’s slum question, its married women worker question (a quarter of Dundee’s married women work), its infantile mortality question, its physical degeneracy question, its low wages and long hours question, and especially its high profit problem. Vain dreams, beloved friends, vain dreams. Such trifling questions fail to be observed by his telescoping intellect within the horizon of his oceanic mind. (Do not worry about this jargon. I suffer from this weakness after a too ardent perusal of Winston’s wonderful speeches).
To Dundee’s slaves who are at daggers-drawn with their well-meaning sympathetic masters, Winston imagines that the Redmond and Carson comedy, the Welsh Church wrangle, the Land question, and others of like nature, are of the highest importance. He regrets that such questions as Home Rule and Welsh Disestablishment should still stand in the way of the consideration of more up-to-date issues.
We regret that the workers tolerate and listen to such bounder as Churchill, Lloyd George and Co. when they should be concentrating their thoughts and energy on the whole wealth problem.
One up-to-date problem discovered by Winston is that “the conditions of the life of the agricultural labourer, the wages he receives for himself and his family, are such as to choke and poison the very spring and source of national health. When all allowance has been made for payments in another form the wages are insufficient to maintain the worker in a state of physical efficiency in which the Government, guided by medical authorities, think it necessary to maintain the convicts and the paupers. And even those wages, pitiful as they are, have suffered relatively in the last fifteen years by the upward movement of prices, which have been greater than the movement of wages.”
That is exactly what our speakers and writers have been saying and writing all along for over thirty years. Not only the agricultural wage-slaves are semi-starved, but multitudes of industrial wage-slaves resident in towns such as Dundee as well.
I have seen a fair number of farm slaves here and there throughout Scotland, but I never saw any to present the starved, dwarfed and derelict bodies that give you a perpetual shudder as you thread your way through the thronged thoroughfares of Dundee. Were Winston anxious to even mitigate poverty he ought to start with Dundee. He ought either to personally persuade the Liberal jute capitalists to raise wages, shorten hours, and erect cottages for their working-class victims, or use Parliament to force them to do so.
Do you think he would do that? If so, you are a political simpleton more worthy of medical inspection than sarcasm. Do you imagine for a moment, even, that his heart bleeds for our Jocks and Jeans? If so, you had better return to swaddling clothes. If Winston were actually anxious about the slaves of the farmers he would be out helping to organise these lads and lasses who have had grit enough to establish and spread the Farm Workers’ Union. I fear he would rather be out on the Enchantress trying to organise the herring against the new method of trawling them instead of netting them.
Our Scottish Liberals are a curious lot, indeed. They tell us that we are impractical, impossible; and that, therefore, we should throw in our weight with their great party and its New Liberalism. And here are these blessed camp-followers at their annual conference in Kilmarnock denouncing the Small Landholders Act of 1914. Mr. James Neilson, Camlachie, told his fellow-perishers that only 400 have obtained holdings out of 50,000 applicants. That means 125 years before the job lot get satisfaction. That might not be a long wait for the last lot of 400 if they had Noah’s span of life to look forward to; but I fear that in these days when Death, like the rest of us, has been speeded-up the waiters will have assumed several renewals of wings before the time their garden plots have been allotted. Even ardent Liberals are beginning, like us, perverse fellows, to see the joke of Liberal practicability. And yet, I suppose, they will be ready, nay, enthusiastic, to support George, Churchill and Co. (the givers of the Act) in their glittering-word campaign, in the expectation that after a few thousand attempts the land question will be solved either by us all being in Canada or in the home beyond.
The appointment of Mr. Alex. Ure, K.C., Lord Advocate, to be President of the Court of Session will lead to a by-election in Linlithgow. At the meeting of the Executive of the West Lothian Liberal Association at Bathgate it was freely hinted that in such an industrial constituency a man favoured by Liberals and Labourists ought to be selected. One name mentioned is that of Provost Brown, Dalkeith secretary of the Midlothian miners. Brown is of no use. Why not Bob Small, Secretary of the West Lothian shale miners, a man who has for years lived and worked in the district for Socialism, and a man who has more than doubled his union in twelve months and increased the men’s wages, too? Are the shale miners prepared to do the honourable on this occasion?
From: Justice 25 October 1913, p.6.
I have just seen a pamphlet produced by Councillor Wheatley for the Glasgow Labour Party on the housing issue. It is the intention of the Party to concentrate on this immediate question, and to that end Wheatley’s pamphlet is going to have a 50,000 circulation. Although his details differ from the skeleton given by me a fortnight ago, his general policy is that suggested by me. Not that we have borrowed from one another. Both have worked the matter out independently, and have essentially followed the same line. We both would use the tramway profits and let cottages, built by them, at a £1 per month, rates included, at most. Our comrades should therefore get copies and use them in the work of forcing the issue to a climax.
After the Leith dockers come the Leith policemen, who refused last Saturday to give up their spare time to do work at a football match at Easter Road. Although twenty were required, none volunteered. Constables on duty and detectives had to be forced to fill the breach. It has been customary to give them 2s. as a minimum for this duty, but the men now claim 3s. Football clubs and owners of picture houses are willing, so that the only obstacle is the police authority. One thing I feel certain of, and that is that Leith dockers and carters will not blackleg Robert’s job. It is time the policemen were thoroughly organised. Once bound up with the working class they would refuse to do the dirty work of protecting scabs. Who is going to have a try at the gents in blue?
At a gathering under the auspices of the Bridgeton Branch of the Women’s Unionist Association, where Mr. Wm. Moore, M.P., was the principal speaker, Mr. William Hutchison, prospective Unionist candidate for Bridgeton, is reported to have spoken strangely. He said that, apart from religion, the working men of the North of Ireland were against Home Rule because there would be no trade unions in Ireland if Home Rule were passed. He quoted from a priest’s speech denouncing Larkin’s policy, claimed that the priest’s attitude was that of the Nationalist Party, and concluded that this ought to suffice as proof that there would be an end of trade unionism in Ireland. I have never heard of Orangemen being keen trade unionists, and I know that no persons have more bitterly denounced Larkin than Ulstermen. The “Belfast News” has repeatedly raked up that little incident when Larkin was forming his Transport Union to damn his progress in Belfast and the North. And the “Belfast News” is a powerful mouthpiece of Orangeism and everything that is against the working class. Wages are as low in Belfast, or were prior to 1907 when Larkin led the dockers, as they are in Dublin. Besides, Carson’s army seem to have had no itching desire to proceed to the rescue of Dublin’s besieged workers beset on all sides by police and soldiers. If the defence of trade unionism is one of the objects of Carson’s army, what finer opportunity for the testing of its determination and pluck than that afforded by Murphy and his gang of Nationalist employers.
In a recently published mine inspectors’ report for Scotland it is asserted that there are now 771 coal-cutters in use, turning out 73/4 million tons a year, or about 17 per cent. of the annual output. This shows an increase of 800,000 tons compared with the previous year. For the whole country the output per person in 1912 was 311 tons, whereas in Scotland the output was 352 tons per person. Without a knowledge of all the factors it is rash to generalise; but we will be rash, and conclude that electric coal-cutters effectively increase the output per man, and thus tend to displace labour. In a sane society they would lighten labour and thus be a sort of modified joy for ever.
Lawyers, judges, and court hangers-on have been frightfully shocked this last week. Two Suffragettes were brought before Lord Salvesen at the High Court in Glasgow for breaking into a West-End house to burn it down. Before giving the penalty, the judge delivered, or rather started to deliver, his usual insulting little address, when one of the women intervened and asked to know the sentence. For this “contempt of court” she was unceremoniously “thrust below.” Then came the sentence of eight months’ imprisonment. This seemed to be too much for the assembled supporters of the two women, so they created a scene, amidst which apples were thrown at Salvesen. Three others have been arrested for that, and will be punished accordingly.
Believing that it is better to build than to burn, we have little sympathy with the burning of houses, but we are pleased that the women had the pluck to show their utter contempt for the Scottish court. The sooner it is brought into disrepute the better. In the class warfare Scottish “justices” and judges have always shown their savage bitterness against the workers. We cannot be other than pleased at the treatment meted out to Salvesen. If these high-spirited women could only realise that not only women, but the whole working class – men and women alike – have no chance of: justice in our courts they would be with us in our utter contempt for capitalism as well as for this evil outcome of its vile domination. We appeal to the women to line up with us.
From: Justice 1 November 1913, p.6.
If not too late to mention here, I would like to call the attention of engineers to our comrade R.G. Blair’s candidature for the A.S.E. delegateship for Scotland to the Labour Party’s approaching Conference in Gasgow. He is a member of the Pollokshaws Branch.
I have just heard of the sudden death of one of the last of the old S.D.F. brigade in Glasgow, our fine old comrade James Macdonald. He was a member of the South Side branch, and when dances and socials were on he was there to play free of charge for the success of the cause. Those of us who knew him will miss a cheery and devoted friend and associate. I speak for all who knew him when I express our warmest sympathy for those left behind.
I can understand difference of penalty for identical or parallel crimes according to circumstances, motives, age, number of offences, etc., but I fail to understand the standard that leads to the two following penalties. In Glasgow a well-dressed. youth was fined £7 7s., with the alternative of ten days’ imprisonment, for fraudulently obtaining £3 19s. from two young ladies, whilst at Paisley a bottom-dog hawker got thirty days with hard labour for “lifting” 3 cwt. of scrap metal. By no standard of equity – assuming our mode of treating theft to be right – can these two sentences be harmonised. They can solely be understood, after allowing for the personal equation which ought to play no part in just administration, by the station in life occupied by the two weak strugglers for an existence. We insist, equity and: justice are not to be found at any time for bottom-dogs in our masters’ courts.
Again, crimes against property are in the eyes of our masters worse than male maltreatment of females. In Hamilton the same week a man gets fourteen days’ imprisonment for stabbing his wife on a Sunday. Attacks on working-class women in no way inconvenience or cause loss to the exploiting capitalists, and so they can afford to punish women-bruisers more lightly than purloiners of private property.
The police, the Press, and the people are incited over the Ayrshire murder mystery, because an innocent woman was cruelly shot dead; but who cares about Robert McDavitt, motor-car builder, Glasgow, who was found hanging behind his own door after a spell of unemployment? As no person individually can be held responsible for his death, nobody gets excited, and the Press do not screech, “Murder.” We do, though! That man was murdered by the system that, even in booming Free (?) Trade, cannot ensure the barest necessaries of life for huge masses of the people. Most victims of capitalism are too cowardly to kill the system or themselves. McDavitt, and others like him, have courage. We Socialists, however, wish to spread that higher courage that will lead to the death of the present damnable and cruel chaos that our masters designate a “system.”
Although not unexpected, the death of Sir Walter Menzies, M.P. for South Lanark, has come rather more quickly than was anticipated a few weeks ago. Sir Walter defeated Dr. C.M. Douglas (Unionist) in December, 1910, by 5,160 to 3,963 votes, a majority of 11,197. It is rather early yet to know who the candidates will be, but we anticipate that the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union will put forward Torn Gibb, who during the summer won in a ballot on four names as the man who would be put forward if it was finally decided to contest South Lanark.
Recognising possible developments, a few B.S.P. and I.L.P. branches in the early summer decided to do a rousing propaganda over the area, and formed two separate cycling clubs. One of them had our comrade James D. MacDougall in the constituency from July till the beginning of October doing meetings and organising all the time. “Gael” also spent eight weeks dancing round on a cycle (spinning and dancing are akin!) doing his best to upset the good impressions created by MacDougall. Over and above us intruders was the inspiring omnipresence of A. Anderson (Stonehouse), to whom must be given the credit of a vast amount of the progress in the area. Rivals to our Stonehouse men are the Douglas Water I.L.P., who are good Socialists, every man of them. From Leadhills to Strathaven, from Carluke to Coalburn and Glespin, the good work has been merrily sustained.
Since the announcement of his success at the ballot of the miners Gibb himself has done good work, none better than his statement to a “Forward” interviewer that he would fight only as a Socialist. Gibb’s chances are good. Few Irishmen of either colour reside in the district, with its 3,000 miners and more. That probably accounts for the recent rapid growth of Socialism. The miners’ vote should therefore be all the more solid. Railwaymen, farm servants, and other grades of workmen also reside in this part of the county. As far as I can calculate there are about 11,000 voters altogether. At last election much of the I.L.P. influence went with Menzies. We may therefore reckon that the Liberals and the Unionists are about balanced, with about 3,000 each at the very most. Given a hearty support by his miners’ Executive, Gibb ought easily to romp home with a greater triumph than that of Grayson’s.
If Gibb is not put forward, the Socialists must unite and do the business on their own. They can get money locally, and they will be helped by the British movement. Do not let as have the disgrace of West Lothian, a miners’ and workers’ area, without a workers’ candidate. If Gibb is held back, let Anderson fill the breach. He is our man.
From: Justice 8 November 1913, p.6.
I am pleased to state that the Scottish Miners’ Federation, at its meeting in Glasgow last Friday, decided to run Tom Gibb for South Lanark. Prior to his formal adoption, there will be a meeting of the Socialist and Labour forces in the constituency to confirm the selection, but we can safely say that Gibb will go forward as the Socialist and Labour candidate. There should be some sting in the election, as Lord Balfour of Burleigh, as arbiter of the Scottish Coal Trade Conciliation Board, has just awarded a reduction of miners’ wages by 3d. per day, thus lowering the rate to 7s. 3d. per day. This, coming a at time when the retail price of coal has gone up two or three shillings in the ton, ought not only to stir the miners, but other wage earners in the district as well. With a vigorous campaign, Gibb should romp home an easy first. Into it, lads, with all your might.
Although the Liberal candidate for West Lothian, Mr. Pratt, is said to have been a Fabian, the I.L.P. branches in the district have issued a manifesto against the Government on these grounds:-
“(1) The importation by the Government of military into (a) South Wales during the railway strike; (b) Liverpool during the dock strike; (c) South Wales during the Cambrian miners’ dispute; (d)London during the last dock strike ; (e) Leith during the dockers’ strike; also the introduction of gunboats.
“(2) Their sanctioning the use of the forces of the Crown in the Rand miners’ strike.
“(3) Their indifferent attitude towards the misery and suffering during the present labour troubles in Dublin.
“(4) Their refusal to incorporate the miners’ admittedly just demands in their Minimum Wage Bill.”
This, with much more, is given as justification for asking the workers to vote down the Government candidate. We are glad the I.L.P. in Scotland is now adopting this attitude, but it would have been better if a candidate had been run. One would have been pushed by them if the B.S.P. had been strong inside the area, for the I.L.P. is still keen to reap where we have sown.
The healthy revolt against Liberalism in West Lothian may be due to the stimulating presence of Bob Small, who in a year’s time has raised the membership of the Shale Miners’ Union from about 1,000 to fully 4,300. Shortly, every man will be in the union, and not too soon, either, if the Government is going to corner the oil supply.
Probably our modest little country has no more modest son than the new Duke of Sutherland. He has just offered the Government 200,000 acres of alluvial mountain and moorland round about Cape Wrath for the tremendous bargain of £2 per acre. Probably he expects Lloyd George to take up his winter quarters there when not on the rampage – for the indulgence of that exhilarating pastime of cultivating tomatoes when the snow is a foot deep. Why does he not offer his whole 1,358,000 acres to Asquith and Co. for the tiny sum of £50,000,000? He really deserves it, poor man. The price of tomatoes, grapes, and wine then might bring them within the reach of the poorest! The beloved Duke owns 396,000 acres in Sutherlandshire, and draws a rental of £13,500, or about 8d. per acre. Two pounds per acre as purchase-money is thus equal to sixty years’ rent. Who can now deny the Duke’s extreme modesty? Four hundred thousand pounds invested in Canadian land would soon be worth several millions. Oh, modest Duke!
In view of the municipal election on Tuesday last some Glasgow councillors voted for the proposal to erect at Kennyhill eight three-storey tenements of two-apartment dwellings and seven two-storey blocks of three-apartment cottages; or 28 cottages in all, who would not have done so at any other time. It did not matter, as the tiny cottage part of the scheme was defeated by 40 to 39. Lyons, who shouted himself into prominence at an earlier stage, was absent when the vote was taken. He ought to be called to account. Glasgow ought to be ashamed of itself when a profit-mongering concern like the Argyll Motor Company has just started a Garden City scheme for their slaves in the Vale of Leven, near to our lovely Loch Lomond.
At a lecture delivered by Darwin’s son, Major Leonard Darwin, before the members of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, the chairman, Dr. James A. Adams, remarked that he recently passed through a football crowd. That is nothing unique in a city that teems with teams. He further went on to state that 30 per cent. of them were no more than anthropoid apes in appearance.(Laughter.) The Press is not amused, as were the doctors, but amazed. We are neither. We regret the fact. If Dr. Adams closely examined the Adams and Eves in the slum quarters he would find multitudes below the apes in physique and morale. And the doctor should remember that he, his colleagues, and the whole propertied class are responsible for the horrid plight of the modern city dweller. Eugenic reform is no use, Major. Read Marx and learn.
Comrade Hinshelwood, Gourock, and Comrade Morton, Greenock, are also A.S.E., candidates for the delegateship to the Labour Party Conference. Who next?
From: Justice 15 November 1913, p.8.
On the whole the Socialist and Labour movement has gained as substantial victories in Scotland as across the border. This year there were 26 gains and 4 losses, a net gain of 22. This beats any previous year in Scotland, particularly as four of the net gains were in Glasgow. There the main issue was the cottage scheme based on the tramway profits. Six seats were actually captured, but two were lost, those of George Carson in Maryhill, and Hugh Lyon in Townhead. The defeat of these two was really victory for cottages. That may seem strange, but it is true all the same.
On the Thursday prior to the election the Corporation voted on a scheme of tenements and cottages at Kennyhill. Tenements met with the approval of a majority present, but the cottage portion of the proposal was defeated by 40 to 39. Carson and Lyon were both absent, and thus they were held responsible for losing the day. Many of their supporters slackened down in consequence, and so they had to pay the penalty; though Carson’s absence may be explained by Glasgow Trades Council or Scottish Trades Congress Parliamentary Committee work.
Another two seats were almost won – Plantation, where Cairns, of the Cooks and Stewards, lost by 39 votes; and Pollokshaws, where our comrade Canning lost by 101, after having increased his vote from 540 last year to 941 this year.
If the Corporation does not now bend before the storm, the organised working-class forces must demonstrate and petition, petition and demonstrate until next November, when a bounteous harvest will again be reaped.
We regret that no member of our Party gained a seat at the municipal elections, and that we lost Gillespie’s seat in Buckhaven. We have already gained a Parish Council seat at Gourock, and will materially increase our number over the country when the final reckoning takes place.
Bailie Pratt has retained West Lothian for the Liberals with a vastly reduced majority. The majority of the Right Hon. A. Ure in December, 1910, was 2,070; that of Bailie Pratt this time is 521. In spite of Pratt’s reputation of being a Fabian, the I.L.P. branches in the district decided to vote him down as a protest against the Government. Had it not been for the 2,000 Irish voters he would have gone back to Glasgow City Chambers, and not to Westminster.
At a gathering of delegates from all kinds of working-class bodies in South Lanark, our comrade A. Anderson, of Stonehouse, in the chair, Tom Gibb, of Cleland, was unanimously selected as the Labour candidate in the coming by-election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sir W. Menzies, Liberal. The Liberal candidate is Mr. George Morton, advocate, and the Unionist, Mr. William Watson. The Unionist has no chance, so the real fight lies between a lawyer and a check-weighman. The majority of the electors in the area are workers, and surely, with a good, hurricane contest, Gibb, the check-weighman, ought to register another defeat for the Government and a victory for the whole working-class cause. Gibb has declared that the issue to him is the poverty one, and no other. Our men in the conflict will give a good account of themselves we feel absolutely certain. Good luck to Gibb.
Some time ago I hinted that our comrade George Pettigrew might by this time be in prison in connection with the miners’ strike in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He was jailed on September 8, and by October 16 he was in prison, still without a trial and with bail refused. His alleged crime is intimidation, for which the maximum is three months. It will be the beginning of December before he appears before a jury, and by that time he will have been in three months even though the charge be proved baseless. Since his imprisonment his wife has given birth to her sixth child, and though she was at death’s door he was refused permission to see her. Vancouver: justice is about the equal of the Dublin quality, and this sample of it will no doubt increase our ardour for our “British” Empire. We send heartiest greetings to Pettigrew and his family, knowing that he will come out ever more keen to fight the war of the classes.
Dear, dear! if it goes on like this Lloyd George will be buying up the whole Highlands. The first to make him an offer was the Duke of Sutherland, who is prepared to dispose of alternative patches, each about 200,000 acres, for 22s.6d. and 25s. per acre, with extras for the buildings on the land owned by the Duke. Now comes along Major Duncan Matheson with the whole island of Lewis, with its 437,221 acres. In 1844 it was bought by the late Sir James Matheson from the Mackenzies, of Seaforth, for £190,000, and this worthy baronet is credited with having spent £329,409 on improving it. And yet the population is going down. Wonderful improvements! I should have mentioned that a day or two, before the Matheson offer, Mr. W.E. Gilmour, of Alexandria, offered 100,000 acres at £2 per acre. Who next?
From: Justice 22 November 1913, p.8.
Some readers during the summer may have tired of my reiterated references to South Lanark and may have thought that I had become enamoured of it. Unsolicited testimony to the sanity of my policy is to be found in the files of the “Glasgow Herald,” from an issue of which I cull the following: “The three candidates are paying compliments to the mining electorate of these places – Auchenheath, Blackwood (Kirkmuirhill) Stonehouse, Forth, Lesmahagow, and the rest – by appealing first for their suffrages. The bitterness of industrial strife, the organising success of the Miners’ Union, the educational work which the management of co-operative concerns even brings to the working classes, the influx of miners of many creeds and beliefs, the active propaganda of Socialism, have all contributed to the creation of an extremely alert and well-informed constituency.”
That alertness is being experienced by the two advocates, Morton and Watson, where-ever they go when heckling time comes round. Watson refuses to recognise a minimum wage, but in certain occupations under certain circumstances he considers 21s. a week a good wage. For admitting this he is having a rough passage, and, I hope, it will be rougher still.
Morton is being roasted over Larkin and Carson, the coal mines fraud, insurance, and a host of other issues that have so far enabled the Liberals to dupe the workers. Social reform rubbish does not hold water amongst the South Lanark miners, who laughed heartily at the remarkable simplicity of their Derby brethren a few short weeks ago.
That polished and stand-pat Nationalist from Liverpool, Mr. T.P. O'Connor, got it a bit stiff from our good comrades at Lesmahagow last Saturday. Some of them had to be ejected. The irony of it! The “agin the Government” policy is now being experienced by such a prominent Nationalist politician as “Tay-Pay.” He and his capitalist-minded representatives, we trust, are now beginning to understand the disgust British workers, who are pledged Home Rulers, are feeling towards them for their detestable inactivity whilst Dublin’s working-class champions are being convicted and imprisoned, and the masses themselves are being subjected to starvation.
At one place the vote went against one of the capitalist candidates, and at Leadhills, at a Liberal meeting, an amendment in favour of Gibb carried the day, although the chairman decided in favour of Morton; or was it Watson? It really does not matter which. On this point Gibb hit the nail on the head last Sunday at the Metropole, where he lectured on the issue to him – the war against poverty. When questioned why he intervened to split the vote of the Liberal, with characteristic Scotch he retorted: “Which is the Liberal candidate?”
From our point of view the fight is a Socialist one, clean and straight, simply because the rank and file will have it no other way. We are glad to announce that our comrade Graham, political organiser, is election agent, and that of the committee of five, two are members of the B.S.P. and two revolutionary members of the I.L.P. Furthermore, Bob Smillie is working like a Trojan and speaking like a hero for Gibb. He is letting the miners understand that those who do not vote for Gibb are blacklegs to their organisation. That is Bob all over, and if every rank and filer works as hard as this veteran, the Siamese legal twins will be returned to a quieter, though a no less corrupt, world. Victory for Gibb!
House rents are rising in Glasgow in spite of the thousands of empties. The people are being thus ripened for a great outburst of cottages.
Greenock is a perfect back-number. It has rotten houses, the limit in narrow streets, a failure of a harbour, and wretched cars. It was proposed in the Town Council to municipalise the trams, but last week this post-caveman proposal was defeated by 32 to 8. No wonder Greenock has failed to become a great port or great for anything except slums.
Mr. A.J. Balfour chaired Lord Haldane when the latter addressed the students of Edinburgh University as their Lord Chancellor. In his lengthy speech Haldane advised students to aim at the largest and widest view of life, and devote their highest energies to attaining it. He specified religion and philosophy, but omitted Socialism, which has aroused more educated men to real heroic, though intellectual faith and work than any religion or system of philosophy ever did. I fear Haldane has not a large enough view himself yet. His political Party’s new and enlarged faith, signified the New Liberalism, bubbles up most enthusiastically when striking wage-slaves have to shot or imprisoned.
Comrade John Borden has been nominated as a delegate to the “Trade Federation Conference” by No. 2 National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives. To those interested, Boots!
From: Justice 29 November 1913, p.6.
In his support of Mr. Tom Gibb at South Lanark Mr. Robert Smillie, in some of his final appeals, pointed out as we have so often done, that the worker who did not vote for Gibb was a blackleg a traitor to his class.
Along comes party-hack. J.M. Robertson and tries to argue that anyone voting for Gibb will certainly be a blackleg and a traitor. His contention was that Gibb’s fight was a propaganda one, and that Gibb had no chance of success. The probability was that Gibb might let the anti-democratic Tory in, and this would prevent the advancement of democracy and the real interests of the workers. Should this be the case, all voters for Gibb were anti-democratic, were blacklegs, and were traitors to their class.
Just imagine Robertson coming along with the lying bluff that the Liberals are democratic when in every conflict between capitalists and their slaves the Liberals have been wondrously anxious to place the army and the navy at the disposal of he masters. In and around Glasgow between 1905 and 1912 prices have risen about 12 per. cent., wages of skilled men have only risen about 8 per cent., whilst wages of labourers have remained almost stationary. In other words, the mass of the workers are poorer than they were when the Liberals me into power – leaving out of consideration the widespread famine of 1908-09, during which the Liberal Government did almost nothing to feed the hungry.
In spite of this adverse state of affairs, Lloyd George (the second Messiah whom some future J.M. Roberts will irrefutably prove never existed) has axed workmen’s drink and tobacco to provide pensions, and imposed the fourpenny poll-tax to save the rates and taxes of the wealthy during the next trade depression, and to possibly stave off a revolution. These are the democrats, the friends of the people, the removal of whom from office by voting for Gibb would be black-legging and treachery!
We should not have been surprised after all at Robertson playing the game, after his life of treachery to the interests of the workers. But for his contemptible hack work for capitalism he would not be enjoying the fruits of office as he does at present.
The “democratic” nature of the Liberal Party has been repeatedly shown by the number of wealthy men who have even openly swayed its destiny and moulded its policy. Here dies Sir James Lamont, formerly Liberal M.P. for Bute, leaving at least £20,861 behind him. This old gentleman was just one of a multitude with more or less capital to his credit, for which they are, as they still are, prepared to baton and slay the “vulgar, ignorant masses.”
Some people will tell you that Scotland is played out. Do not believe them. The old country is all right – for our banking capitalists. Why, here we have the National Bank of Scotland paying 15 per cent. with a 3 per cent. bonus, and the Royal Bank of Scotland 20 per. cent., with one per cent. bonus. No wonder bank clerks can winter in Switzerland and summer in Egypt! By the way, capital has its risks, especially in the banking business. The aforesaid Royal Bank has about £950,000 capital and besides paying tidy rates of profit year by year has an avowed reserve of unpaid profit amounting to £960,629. The only risk here appears to be the glut of surplus capital.
A conference of Co-operators and trade unionists was held in Clarence Street Hall, Glasgow, to consider the nationalisation of railways. The prime movers were the Provisional Committee to Promote Railway Nationalisation. I never heard of them before. Who are they, and whence sprang they? Councillor A. Turner, of Glasgow, moved: “That this conference, representing all the principal organisations in the Cooperative and trade union movement in the West, of Scotland, hereby declares that the ownership and control of the railway system of the country by a comparatively small class is inconsistent with the interests and harmony of the community as a whole, and that, in order to give to the public an efficient, safe, and economical service, and to secure just conditions for the railway workers, Parliament should at once transfer the railways to the State by purchase at their real value, and should thoroughly co-ordinate the systems under a democratic form of management.”
I am of opinion that special caution must be taken at present in connection with the railways. Recently freightage was raised on the strength of increased wages to the railwaymen. These increases have not come yet, but the charges have gone up. The railway companies with trade at the end of a boom are extra prosperous. I am of opinion that they are prime movers in having the Railway Commission appointed, for I learn from a railway clerk that confidential returns are being made to show the difference in income resulting from the increased charges as compared with the old rates. The resulting figures will be used to influence the Commission in favour of a capitalisation of the railway systems on the basis of the recently swollen income and expected profits. Nationalisation may come really as a move on the part of the railway companies to ensure through the State an income larger than might accrue soon, with trade depression and railway unrest combined. We must watch the capitalisation. I would put it at £100,000,000. Too much at that.
From: Justice 6 December 1913, p.6.
Repeatedly I have drawn attention to the failure of the Liberal land scheme in Scotland. We know the Liberals, like the Unionists, are absolute bunglers, who consciously make things worse for the people. The Vatersay raid a few years ago forced the Liberal Government to establish the Small Landholders Act. The Land Court has steadily pursued its work, no doubt, under the sympathetic control of Lord Kennedy – himself sprung a from a croft, I understand – and, as a result, rent reductions, with abolition of debts, have taken and are taking place all over the Highlands. But the extension of crofts and the allotment of new crofts have a proceeded with funereal pace, thanks to great Liberal executive capacity at the Board of Agriculture for Scotland.
It appears that some Lewis crofters have waited as long as possible and do not desire to let another harvest pass before obtaining their right to use the land to live. Working men, and especially Highlanders, are characterised as heart lazy, and exploiters think that multitudes of them ought to be imprisoned in penal colonies to cultivate in them a spirit of diligence. That assumed trait of working men cannot now be attributed to the men of Lewis, some of whom have seized a 700 acre farm at Reef, quite near their hamlets of Valtos and Kneep.
One new phase of the fight in South Lanark is the intrusion of the Young Scots, most of whom are old humbugs. Because Gibb is only a half-hearted supporter of Scottish Home Rule (not unlike most Liberals) they feel it a duty to fiercely force themselves into the fray to soften the drop of Morton, Liberal. We imagine they would more fitly fulfil their inspiring ideal by sailing to Lewis, there to establish a little empire to enable these super-crofters to toil incessantly for the glory of our land.
The Marconi Company (of which we hear nothing in these bye-elections) is out of it compared with our Paisley “buddies,” J. and P. Coats. After putting £39,293 to depreciation they realise a net profit of £2,903,239. This added to £658,910 raises the available plunder to £3,562,149. Of this, £607,908 is carried forward to next year. Thus, nearly three million pounds are being disbursed among the poor capitalists. The philanthropic self-denial of the wage slaves of Paisley and other places is really tear-inspiring. But for their laziness from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, multitudes of their “betters” would die of starvation. We can now grasp the depth of feeling of the average “buddie” when he sings lustily “Scots wha hae.” My favourite refrain is, “Scots wha haena,” a revised version of Burns.
Glasgow, the birthplace two years ago of the all-grades postal movement, was the scene of a great gathering of Samuel’s serfs in the Athetheum on Saturday last, with Councillor J. Alston as chairman. After the moving and seconding of a resolution, the main feature of which was the demand for an all-round advance of wages by 15 per cent., Mr. G.H. Stuart delivered a fine fighting speech in which he strongly hit out at misrepresentation of the men’s case by the “Glasgow Herald.” Similar meetings are held in our principal cities the same evening. We wish our comrades every success, and we will be in at the death of Samuel and his unSolomon-like Government.
I adjure Mr. D.T. Holmes, M.P. for Govan, to be just, if not charitable, towards the much-maligned owners of land. Just as he has discovered the sweet unity of capital and labour, I have accidentally fallen upon proof of the dictum which before long will become a truism, that the landlords are really human benefactors. Mr. F.S. Hay, of Dons Castle, has put me on the track. His income last year from the estate was £4,600. Of that rates and taxes absorbed £1,247; improvements on farms and cottages, £1,100; on houses let, £200; on wages, £2,000; on fencing, etc., £400; on insurance £80; a total of over £5,000. This excluded £600 spent, in repairing the castle. It seems to me it would be easier for him to take up his abode in one of the many castles in the Cowcaddens (Glasgow) and give away £400, the difference between his income and expenditure in connection with Dons Castle Estate, in the form of free drinks to the biggest liars in the neighbourhood.
We regret to record the death of a good Kirkmuirhill comrade, Wattie Johnston, who was crushed in Auchenbeg Pit on Monday week last. Largely through him, and men like him, Gibb is able to contest S. Lanark to-day. For over 20 years our comrade held aloft the banner; and in his own way he could add thrillingly to Connell’s “Confessions,” many of which he disclosed of last summer to his miner comrades. The price of coal, again.
From: Justice 13 December 1913, p.6.
Since the raid by the Uig crofters in Lewis, the Board of Agriculture has somewhat awakened from its slumber, and is promising holdings in four parishes – shortly. It is a pity that the Gaels of Scotland have not the fire and go of the Celts of Ireland, whose dare-devil determination has gained holdings and houses for them. Strange though it may seem to many city dwellers, the Highland huts are in many respects inferior to the caves of prehistoric man a hundred thousand years ago on this spot on the planet. That is what capitalist, Liberal and Tory, politicians call progress. Light now begins to dawn on us as to their surprise at Highland depopulation. We trust that this Uig raid will be the precursor of a Gaelic movement to clear all landlords out of the Highlands.
To help preserve the semblance of independence among the East Coast fishermen, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, which has done much work in fostering co-operative societies amongst peasants and farmers along the Moray Firth particularly, is starting a campaign to establish fishery co-operative societies, the main object to be the collective sale of their catches to the wholesale traders. These wholesale men within recent years have been able to get a grip of the fish marts and dictate terms to the fishermen. In spite of all the petty fishermen may do with oil engines, Government subsidies and co-operative societies, they will not be able to hold out against a fish trust. With a million of capital such a trust could supply the vessels to catch the fish and have them sent direct to their own retail shops, there to be sold to the consumers. We shall be surprised if some enterprising gang of moneybags do not put a move on soon in this direction.
It turns out that the personal property of the late Sir Robert Pullar amounted to £530,071. Dyeing seems to be better paying than painting, although the latter requires much more genius and concentrated ability. That is the encouragement capitalism gives to genius, and perhaps that explains why the genius tends to become a Socialist. Liberals, who prate about their party being the poor man’s party, ought to note that Sir Robert was once Liberal M.P. for Perth!
Death to some men must be a terrible wrench. Here is plain Mr. William Weir, chief partner of the firm of William Baird & Co., ironmasters, Gartsherrie and Lugar, actually dying and leaving behind him £2,451,393. No parish relief for him, poor chap! Could not some genius dramatise the passing of such a money king in presence of the share papers and bank books that symbolise the grip these men have over the destinies of multitudes of busy, though unknown, slaves?
At the annual conference of Scottish Unionists, Mr. William Black, LL.D., on behalf of Glasgow Unionist Association, proposed the discontinuance of payment of M.P.s, but the provision of payment of election expenses. I understand that great Labour statesman, Ramsay MacDonald, is against payment of election expenses. It is coming it strong when the very Tories are more advanced than “Labour Leaders.”
Glasgow readers should note that the tramway drawings have gone up £37,623 for the half-year. Money is simply rolling in. The capitalist interests are anxious to get rid of the growing surplus through the construction of bridges, the rural extension of the lines, and now the increasing of the penny fare from four stages to six. Our business is to see that the money is used for cottages. The fight is life, my boys. Let us fight.
Glasgow lawyers had a dinner the other night, and at it Mr.Willam Gillies presided. This gentleman delivered a very witty, a very humorous speech as lawyers usually do. He said that if they found a country with a sound system of jurisprudence, impartial judges, and an independent Bench then they might safely predicate that that country had attained high state of civilisation. In Scotland they were so favoured, and they should be proud of their country. Hearing the chuckles of the readers, I need give no further sample from friend William’s delightful speech.
From: Justice 20 December 1913, p.6.
My friends know that I am hardly an expert in pantomimes, and they will be surprised to hear that I can predict the pantomime catch-question in Scotland this year. Cynics and scoffers, may sneer in superior style at my arrant simplicity, but I am fortified against the buffets and blows of an unkindly, incredulous world. I see by the angle at which your ears are cocked that at heart you are wistfully waiting for the important secret I am about to divulge. Well, then, here goes. The question of the season is going to be “Are you an Optimist?”
What a drop on your countenances. I see that you are disappointed, as you imagine that optimists are common objects: such as working men who dream of the millions they will make in the sweet bye and bye, or their daughters who expect some day to trap a witless millionaire. Now you are only imagining. An optimist is not a vulgar working man (or woman) at all. He is a business gentleman turned “business philosopher.”
I candidly confess my ignorance of the existence of this species of the genus homo until a gathering of worthy gentlemen in Glasgow aroused me from my Rip Van Winkle torpor. These aforesaid estimable citizens of the second city of this mighty empire gathered together for the formation of a branch of the “Optimist Movement.”
The guest of the evening was a Mr. A.F. Sheldon, who has been imported from America to kill the pessimism into which the masters of these isles have fallen: The inner purpose of this likely move on the industrial chess-board was let out by the chairman, a Mr. J.S. Matthew. After looking up my fail-me-never, my “Who Isn’t Who,” I find that he is not related to that revered saint of similar designation. This new St. Matthew pointed out that the kernel of this bright, beaming business was to promote greater efficiency and a better spirit in business. Now, do not put your questions all at once. Wait till I am done, and then you may put as many skull-crackers as you can conjure up. The terrible state of unrest in this country must be uppermost in the minds of all of them. They had reached a state of things which baffled the very best statesmen. Dear, dear. I doubt not that in his state of perturbation he overlooked two such political giants as our beloved J. Ramsay MacDonald and J. Havelock Wilson. That by the way, however. He proceeded to point out that the “Optimist Movement,” had come at the right time, as each in his own sphere of business could do a great deal to grapple with that serious problem.
Then Sheldon followed in his steps. He carefully explained that “optimists” did not believe this was the best possible world, yet it was good enough to be going on with, and was capable of great improvement. Ha! ha! ha! Fear not, friends, there is nothing seriously wrong with me. I just feel that I am becoming infected with the optimist microbe. Glasgow is not just such a bad place after all, ha! ha ! It has only 40,000 single apartment houses and 200,000 double apartment ones, ha! ha! Why, lads, the whole city – even the West End – might have been but a city of single cells, ha! ha!
He pointed out that the average workman tried to do as little as possible and demanded as much as possible, whilst the average employer tried to get as much as possible and to give as little as possible. In such an atmosphere, declared our Yankee friend, neither the higher order of human efficiency nor the better spirit in business could be developed. He broke all business into man power, money power, and mechanical power; and yet from the standpoint of philosophy man power was the cause of the other two powers. Powerful, sir, simply powerful. These Yankee thinkers are quaintly original; or is it originally quaint?
For further proof ponder over this. Some times Labour, grasping that man power is the root cause of the other two powers, was inclined to run riot and say that seeing it created all wealth it could get along very nicely without Capital. Well, well! Labour must be a very funny chap, funnier than I thought; an “absolute philanthropist,” indeed. I used to imagine that Labour was a wickedly greedy and selfish soul that wished to get and keep all capital to himself. But our American social philosopher has since his arrival a few days ago discovered that I am all wrong.
It therefore will be the principal object of the new Optimism to insist that Capital is not independent, and that Labour is not independent, that, in very fact, they are grandly – (ha! ha’s!) – interdependent.
The ingenuity that has been displayed to cover over the class war between workers, and masters is amazing, but this new optimistic device of teaching the masters to cultivate the art of cheerfulness as a means of speeding-up their slaves crowns all. Very soon we will be having orchestras introduced into workshops and factories to optimise the wage-slaves with ragtime and tango music, and thus keep up their vitality and jollity whilst the go-hard policy is being enforced.
Three cheers for Optimism; hurrah! Down with class warfare and strikes; boo!
From: Justice 27 December 1913, p.5.
In Britain the term “student” has become opprobrious through the blacklegging of Leeds University students, It is a mistake to conclude that all students are of the snob blackleg type so infamously prominent in Leeds at present, and that mistake is quickly being checked, by the sudden and determined strike of students in Glasgow. It appears that in Glasgow about 280 temporary sorting clerks are engaged for the usual Christmas and New Year rush of letters and parcels. About three-fourths of these are University students, largely the sons of workers who have a keen struggle to make end meet. Most were engaged through the local labour exchange without knowing the wage to be paid or the conditions of employment. They learned afterwards that they were to get 51/2d. an hour. It transpires that at Kilmarnock and Greenock similar employees are receiving 8d. per hour, and at Motherwell 10d. per. hour: The huge supply of University students available in Glasgow may account for the sum offered in that city which temporarily pleases the “Optimists.”
Having become aware of this low estimate the Glasgow postmaster places on their ability as sorters, the students have struck, but not before giving the postmaster ample time to grant them their demand of 8d. per hour. Last Tuesday they petitioned him and struck on Friday evening when they knew that further negotiations would be unavailing. At least, the letter men struck almost to a man. The organisation of the parcel ones at Waterloo Street was practically non-existent, so that at the time of writing only a few had thrown in their lot with the strikers, although it is anticipated that they also will fall into line by Monday, just on the eve of the Christmas rush.
In days gone by before these temporary men were engaged, the regular staffs had to work overtime, and the rate paid them varied, from 1s. 1d. to 1s. 10d. per hour. That implies that the University student, after a brief period of preliminary training, is considered worth the third of an average sorter after his regular day’s work is past. This estimate of the student’s worth by the postmaster is a national insult to students as a whole. The “civilised” State is supposed to honour the student: this method of showing that honour is, to say the least of it, peculiar, and is worthy not only of the strike now proceeding but the united protest of all students in this country to Mr. Asquith as a representative of the State. Furthermore, it ought to create in student circles respect for the working class and a united determination not to blackleg on the workers, but rather to side with them against the “model” blacklegs and the forces under the control of the authorities. We may with safety say that the organised workers wish the students every success in this their first battle against capitalism in Glasgow and, I should venture, in Britain.
This University unrest is perhaps the outcome of the activities of the Anti-Socialist Union, which claims “a revulsion of feeling in Scotland against Socialism” as a result of their recent open-air campaign in Glasgow! Encouraged by their success they intend to swoop down upon Edinburgh and the East of Scotland, at the end of which we may expect a procession of students to march up High Street to the Castle with militant suffragettes in front, there to worship the fire-god by the destruction of this relic of feudalism. The culmination anticipated appears to be the destruction of the Universities in the two cities and the driving of the students into the fields and factories: at least, that is my interpretation of the plans the “Antis” have in view, as they intend to institute classes for working men so that Socialism may be successfully combated. In view of this coming calamity our own educational classes in both cities will receive a huge impulse.
The “Glasgow Herald” has been moralising over the municipal strike in Leeds as would the average Syndicalist. Socialism, it would have us believe, brings no hope of peace industrial when we see employees of town and State striking or threatening to strike. Its perplexity will be increased when it learns that among the Glasgow student strikers are Socialists who are fighting for the communal, local and national ownership of the means of life. It is amusing to us Socialists to see Unionists and Syndicalists think in similar grooves and puzzled by the same industrial problems. And yet we cannot but pity both.
A week or two ago I referred to the big dividends off two Scottish banks. There is to hand now the annual analysis of the eight banks’ reports. Let me assure my investing working-class readers that banking pays. These eight banks have a £9,227,000 and a reserve of £8,687,000. Out of this they are realising the tidy little profit of £1,881,000. Here we have a zoological freak of money breeding money. It is probable, therefore, that a nook will be reserved in the new Scottish Zoological Park where curious visitors may see this novelty.
Even at the “brilliant” gathering in honour of Professor Rait, the newly-appointed professor to the new chair of Scottish history and literature in Glasgow University, Sheriff Fyfe had to produce the skeleton by reminding the convivial party that whilst they ought to be proud of their city, they could not say they had reached perfection so long as 40,000 families resided in single apartments.