John Maclean Justice 1914
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford;
From: Justice 1 January 1914, p.6.
Friens a guid New Year tae ane an’ a’. You certainly will need it as fortification against the desperate efforts of your unhumble servant, the continuing rise in prices, and the beginnings of another trade dip. Do not mistake me. I am not trying to outdo Job. That I can safely leave to our “great” compatriot, Harry Lauder. I am really an optimist, though perhaps unfortunately, of the ancient type. I look forward to a great growth of Socialist thought in our midst, a greater expansion than even witnessed this year and that was satisfactory enough. You can force the pace, so just get ready. One place seems to need no special incitement, and that is Greenock, for a capitalist paper informs me of two fine meetings this winter already, and comrade indicates that the work is going to proceed apace after the present festal respite. Good enough.
In days gone by Glasgow Corporation used to suspend its sittings to end a scene. This spring it revised its standing orders more effectively I to dub down the Labour group. These orders were, in one respect, enforced for the first time last Tuesday, when two Labourists, Messrs. John Stewart and J.S. Taylor, were suspended. When named by Lord Provost Stevenson, John Stewart refused to retire, and then the police made their entry for the first time to eject the stubborn Stewart. He, however, elected to retire on his own legs, so no scuffle ensued. Then, after him, went Taylor. After that the Council settled down to a more or less acrimonious discussion of the question that had generated the heat.
The Housing Executive Committee wished unlimited power to spend money without the knowledge or permission of the Council on buying up slums; in other words to steal the people’s money and hand it over to slum landlords. Quite a practical solution of the housing trouble – for the slum-owners
The Town Clerk having decided against the legality of granting such spending powers to a Committee, the Labour men weighed in with the result indicated. The roll vote showed 41 for and 41 against; so it was left to Lord Provost Stevenson to decide, and he voted against the Labour men and for the granting of plenary powers to the Executive Committee. Wonderful for a Fabian Lord Provost. What think ye of the newer Socialism?
The miners have got back the 3d: per day they lost about two months ago. Their wage is now supposed to average about 7s. 6d. a shift. With the coming fall in trade the miners’ wages will again steadily decline, unless the men see to the closing up of their ranks in Scotland by the establishment of one Union. Even then all the other workers would have to be with them before effective resistance could be sustained against the solid pressure of the masters. Let the men push forward before the night cometh.
The funeral pace of the Board of Agriculture has so angered the Lewis crofters that they have made another raid. More power to their elbow. This time the cotters of Valtos and Kneep raided Reef farm and drove the sheep on it four miles away to show that they were anxious to get the land to till. In spite of all, the Highlanders still vote Liberal or Tory. Marvellous men have we in Scotland.
The Clyde shipbuilding record of last year has been outstripped by a 20 per cent. increase this year. Clyde yards have launched 374 vessels of 764,784 tons weight. This time last year I said there would be a record for this year, and that the boilermakers and others should push for more money and better conditions. Whether the men have or not, I cannot say. The capitalist Press is grumbling at the men for working three days a week when they might be working five, and at their union leaders for retarding the output also. The high price of material has been and is being used to suggest that in spite of the enormous output profits may not be very large. We can assure the men that they have been exceptionally large; and not only that, but that some men by having ships built speculatively have sold their orders whilst still on the stocks at thousands of pounds profit, also. Knowing all this, the “Glasgow Herald” suggests that to retain the Clyde’s, predominance there must be hearty co-operation between Capital and Labour, and that the men’s leaders ought to drive them more regularly to their work. We fear the editor has succumbed to the wiles of the new “Optimists.” It is a beautiful inspiration to get “Capital” and “Labour” to dwell in unity so long as “Capital” acts as the treasurer to the concern. Make me treasurer, and I would risk the very company and co-operation of his Satanic Majesty himself.
A series of articles has appeared in the “Herald” descriptive of Industrial Lanarkshire. From one we select these snatches: “Imagine streets of dingy brick dwellings, each of them a single room, some of the rows back to back with not even decently primitive ventilation, with sanitary accessories and middens brazenly flaunting in the main streets and fouling the air, with coals stowed under the bed in a single room where a family of half-a-dozen and more may dwell – kitchen, parlour, drawing-room, and bedroom in one awful, combination; that, in bald epitome, is the general condition of things over a large part of Lanarkshire coal towns.” “In Lanarkshire, during a period of twenty years, 23,500 children under one year of age died, and that does not include the death-rate of the burghs. In Bournville, taking the same ratio of population, the deaths numbered 15,000, an excess in rural Lanarkshire of 8,500, or about 42 per 1,000.” “The death roll is heaviest in the mining communities where the housing conditions are of the squalid character described; so that the source of the slaughter of the innocents would seem to be bad housing.” Of course, that is just the talk we Socialists have been giving vent to and we were called wild, hare-brained agitators for our pains. Let us on with the work, since such encouragement is afforded us.
From: Justice 8 January 1914, p.6.
Our Scottish Council spent New Year’s day in a profitable manner; not in the earnest endeavour to add to the surplus value streaming steadily into the banks of the landlords and capitalists, but with the conscious purpose of so moulding the minds of the workers within our “modest” little country during the coming year that more speedily will the time when that aforesaid flood of goodly-created things will form a loch from which only workers may draw the means whereby life may be continued, deepened, and brightened. One significant resolution, a New Year one that must not be broken, was enthusiastically carried, requesting branches to strain themselves to the utmost to gather the funds needed to contest certain specified constituencies.
In 1906 we put up Tom Kennedy for North Aberdeen when we were few in numbers and as poor as church mice. Since then we have substantially increased our organised force and our public support. Our greatest difficulty will be certain Labour wire-pullers who in the selection may wish to claim a say in the selection of candidates in any area we may wish to fight. It must be clearly understood that it has been their practice in the past to put down their own candidate and then ask us to fall into line. The latest instance was South Lanark, where, however, a formal adoption of Tom Gibb took place at Lanark in the presence of and with the consent of delegates from B.S.P. branches. Still, Gibb was really selected beforehand and would have been run even had our men protested that they had no genuine say in the selection of the candidate.
A general election may have come and gone before fusion of Socialist and Labour forces is possible, with deadlocks in areas claimed by us; so therefore we must be prepared if necessary to treat “Labour” candidates as we have treated Liberal ones. The editor of “Forward” labours hard to show that apart from the seats held by the miners’ representatives those held by most of the other Labour M.P.s have been conceded by Liberals through fear or taken from the Liberals by sheer force of numbers and political effectiveness. Whilst Mr. Philip Snowden, has twice, at least, confessed that the Labour Party lives by the grace of the Liberals, we are for the moment prepared to accept the contention of the editor of “Forward.” That being so, we must be just as prepared to deal with the Labour Party as the editor of “Forward” claims the Labour Party has dealt with the Liberal Party.
As this year’s president of the Scottish branches of the Shop Assistants’ Union, our comrade Malcolm McColl, who by the way, has created a reputation for himself by his industrial history lectures at our Glasgow class – especially in his references to Scotland – gave the address at the Conference at Dundee.
His main contention was that the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees has no reason for a separate existence in so far as Co-operative workers have to sell labour power in exactly the same way as those toiling for private traders and capitalist companies. He asserted that Co-operative employees are neither better nor worse off than their fellows; they have the same interests to conserve and consequently ought be in the same union. With that position we heartily agree and so do our comrades who are members of the A.U.C.E. It strikes me it is their duty to force forward fusion of the rival forces, as their organisation is the laggard.
He rightly gave publicity to the unscrupulous conduct of Glasgow Council’s Shop Committee, which tried to suspend the operations of the Act during the Christmas rush and then, when informed that this was outside their powers, publicly stated that no shop-keepers would be prosecuted if they kept open after hours and during fixed half-holiday.
At the Annual Conference of the Scottish I.L.P. branches Mr. J. Keir Hardie, M.P., talking on resolutions anent a land policy for the Labour Party, said Socialism meant freedom, and could only be secured by the abolition of class rule over land and capital. That could be obtained by the education of the workers into the great principles of Social-democracy and not into items of programme. Labour representation (why not Socialist representation, Keir?) was a note of deeper import and greater meaning than all the reform proposals, even when they went as far as nationalisation, that the Party could put forward. In spite applause, a Leith I.L.P. branch proposal calling on the N.A.C. to formulate a definite scheme for land nationalisation and the production of title deeds was unanimously carried.
In a lecture on Sunday at the Glasgow Metropole, Keir got back to the same theme. They must not forget that Socialism was a great principle, not a thing of patchwork reforms. It was revolution, they were out for. Programmes were a delusion and a snare and brought discord and divisions in their ranks. But the day before he praised his Party’s work for women’s suffrage and anti-militarism, and in to conclusion of his Sunday’s lecture he said the forefront of reforms he would put a adult suffrage, then the right to work, then education.
Keir’s seeming contradictions may be due to bad reporting, but in spite of all we congratulate him on his conversion to the revolutionary position, our position.
From: Justice 15 January 1914, p.10.
THE announcement that our Scottish Council intends to find the means to contest four constituencies other than those already being considered by the Executive of the Party has created no little stir throughout the country, if we are to judge by the widespread comments in the Press and the tittle-tattle in political circles. The usual measure of ridicule and sarcasm has been indulged in, and ought to spur on our men, not only to gather sufficient to contest four seats inde pendent of central aid, but several others as well. Some papers imagine that because no mention was made of the Dumfries Burghs all thoughts of contesting that division have vanished. That is a mistake. The local Socialist organisations having taken the initiative there themselves, it was considered the wisest course to let them proceed as they have been doing, especially as they were un-represented at our New Year Conference. It is a pity we have not the money, or we would have a Socialist in every Parliamentary fight. The Press again has it that Joe Duncan is going to be the Labour Party Candidate in North Aberdeen. All right. We will then have our own out of that gentleman. It is likewise rumoured that five candidates will aim at the Commons through Kirkcaldy, a suggested Labour candidate being Robert Smillie. We doubt that, as he is alleged to have stated he would again try his home constituency of Mid-Lanark. However, we may assume that the Labour Party annual gathering in Glasgow will allay further suspense.
A remarkably fine attendance characterised the re-start of our educational class in Glasgow, last Sunday, when Malcolm McColl made his debut as a lecturer in Economics, and J.D. Macdougall gave the first of a series of new lectures applying the materialist method of interpreting historic changes at outstanding periods and dramatic moments. We would counsel even “retired” members to take another course in view of the change of programme. Two special lectures will be given on the history of trade unionism right up to this moment of Syndicalism and the greater unionism by Mr. William Watson, M.A., who through stress of other work un fortunately is prevented from giving his wonted lectures on the evolution of the British Parliament.
The co-operative guildswomen have just started speakers’ classes in Edinburgh under our old friend Andrew Young, and in Glasgow under J. Maclean. At the opening in the Glasgow class about 70 mature matrons turned up enthusiastic about the matter. We presume the same will apply to the Edinburgh one as well. When, oh when, will we get the men and the women of our movement to turn up to speakers’ classes in such numbers? This example ought to spur us on to achieve results far surpassing our past efforts in this important direction.
The other week I commented on the profits distributed amongst the Coats’s shareholders and the huge reserve held over, and before that on the fortunes left by some of the Coats’s family who have unfortunately been called away to conquer other worlds. It transpires that within two years five of the family have died, the latest being Mr. Peter Coats, and have left behind them fortunes aggregating to almost eight million pounds. There’s thrift for you I imagine hear the death-gurgle in the throat of poor old Shylock as he reads this astounding statement. To kill the suspicions of Englishmen who sometimes imagine that we are not thoroughly “civilised” in the North here, let me give details: Mr. James Coats, junr.; left £1,964,745; Mr. Arch. Coats, £1,499,125; Sir James Coats, Bart., £1,773,870; Mr. P.M. Coats, £211,588; Mr. Peter Coats, £2,526,270. What these fine fellows have spent and given away as “philanthropy” is beyond our ken, but we may safely say that the bill would total up a million or two. Just as Carnegie has immortalised himself by his libraries, church organs, and educational endowments, so have these men by “their “gifts” to Paisley and the cases of innocuous books now to be found in all the schools from John o'Groats to Maidenkirk. If we are not a well-read race, at any rate we are a well-booked one. The Coats’s family must now be immortals.
The enthusiastic South Ayrshire Branch of the Nati6nal Service League on November 13, 1913, took a plebiscite of the electors of that constituency to find out whether they favoured or opposed the League’s objects. Of the 19,104 circulars issued 9,298 or about 50 per cent., were returned; of these 5,211 were against, 3,888 for, and 36 neutral. In any constituency just about 50 per cent. at most have principles of any kind; the others vote for persons or for protection against the persistent canvasser.
The firemen at Thornton Junction in one day almost paralysed the trade of Fife by a brief strike. Some Perth firemen were brought in as engine-drivers over their heads. The sooner the men fight for equal pay for firemen and engine-drivers the better for the cause of industrial solidarity.
From: Justice 22 January 1914, p.6.
In a letter to the “Glasgow Herald” Mr. J. Keir Hardie takes Lord Lyell to task for boasting that the Union Jack ensures “freedom, law and order” at the James Watt dinner last Friday. Keir wishes to know if the workers in their struggle (in South Africa) for better conditions are entitled to the protection of the British flag. If they are, he further wishes to know if the Sheriff will speak out against the outrage of every principle of the British Constitution by the Government of South Africa, aided and abetted by Lord Gladstone, the Governor-General, and the Colonial Office. If the Sheriff fails to protest, then Keir must assume that the flag only ensures “freedom, law and order” for the ruling rich. He ends by threatening Lyell and his class that if they persist in talking their nonsense about patriotism and loyalty in the hope that the workers will continue blind to their own interests, then there is a rude awakening in store for them. I would like to know what Keir means by his “rude awakening.” I am of opinion that when the workers awaken there will be a “rude sleep” for the dominant class, for certainly the capitalists will not move off to the Land of Nod without some effective means to drive them there.
A leader writer in the “Herald” lets Hardie know exactly the capitalists’ position, and the sooner he conveys the news to his “flock” the better for him and for them. Socialists should leave it to Syndicalists to buoy themselves up by some great illusion. We Socialists ought to know the exact state of affairs as a preliminary to successful action. Thus the “Herald,” then: “We do not know the grounds on which the Government based its resolute action (in South Africa): But even if it should prove that there was a technical breach, there are some ancient maxims touching the welfare of the State, which justify the civil authorities in secluding those whose actions tend to the subversion of the Commonwealth.” Be it noted that one of the “ancient maxims” upheld by this ancient paper in Glasgow is that “force rules the world.” That being so, we are entitled to conclude that the writer implies in his word “secluding” not only imprisonment, but also burial – a more lasting form of seclusion. And lastly, brethren, we would point out that the word “Commonwealth” means the present capitalist State, in which the wealth is most uncommonly distributed. For did I not tell you last week that five members of the Coats family have died within two years’ leaving behind almost nine million pounds, whilst day and daily lack of any wealth at all forces people to die of hunger, disease and suicide?
The same issue of the “Glasgow Herald” contains a report of the address delivered by Arthur Henderson at the P.S.A. meeting held on Sunday in the Palace Theatre, Glasgow. He told his audience that “upon the raising of the standard of the individual, both morally and ethically, depended the prosperity of the State, and the formation of character was indispensable to the progress of democracy. The nation owed more to the staple forces in the character of the people than to any other factor.” “The workers had more to lose than any other section of the community if they neglected the cultivation of character, which was indispensable to democracy if it was to attain its ideals.” After Leith, Dublin and South Africa, let alone the “Herald’s” reply to Keir Hardie, that sweet Hendersonian sermon is a positive side-splitter. He ought to trot the globe with our own Harry Lauder. Certainly a great future is in store for him.
An Edinburgh doctor has now told the world, through a Medical paper, that his investigations in that city clearly demonstrate that 90 per cent. of cases of tuberculosis can directly be traced to the milk of tuberculous cows. He concludes that the matter needs national action. Yes, of course. We suggest that the people ought to own all the cows and the land, and ought to manage the production and distribution of milk, and all other farm produce as well. The County Councils could be used as a preliminary organisation to knit farming and dairying into one national scheme, for production, at any rate.
In spite of the protests of the Greenock Housing Council, of which our able and energetic comrade Harry. Campbell is secretary, the Greenock Corporation have decided to erect room and kitchen houses, 135 in all, at a cost from £30,000 to £40,000. Campbell points out in his letter urging the erection of a number of houses containing two rooms and a kitchen that the scheme of the Corporation will crowd 300 person on to an acre, whereas the densest part of the Cowcaddens has but 214 persons per acre. The activity of the Housing Council has forced forward this housing scheme, but it is quite apparent that the Council intends to do the worst possible in the circumstances. The irony of the situation is that the Government’s Admiralty Department a year hence intends to plant about 350 more men in the area, just when these Corporation houses will be ready, and the Admiralty assures Greenock’s representative, Mr. Godfrey Collins, that it intends to leave the erection of houses of its employees to private enterprise Just when Greenock Corporation has been forced to provide houses of a kind unprovided by private enterprise this dreadnought enterprising Admiralty (so magnificently managed by Winston) complacently tells Greenock’s Liberal M.P. that he need not worry about houses for the coming Admiralty workers. I must have been a simpleton indeed for fancying that Lloyd George had some scheme of urban as well as rural housing. From the Admiralty’s attitude it may be taken as private enterprise again brought forward under the cover of a word-cloud.
Mr. Geo. Kerr has entered the Glasgow Corporation as the seventeenth member the Labour group at a by-election. He defeated Mr. C.J. Russell in Cowlairs by 1,585 to 1,018, 41.3; per cent. of the electors voting.
Lloyd George will soon visit Glasgow. Meanwhile, Radicals here distrust him because he has evaded their long demand for taxation and rating of land-values. Even Liberals are finding him out
From: Justice 29 January 1914, p.6.
One Church organisation is trying to raise a million shillings for spiritual purposes and the Glasgow publicans are aiming at same modest sum for spirituous ends. Publicans, fearing dire consequences when the Temperance Act begins to operate in 1920, intend to fight for their lives. Surely we then, who are fighting for eternity can pull ourselves together to subscribe half of the 20,000 shillings the Party so modestly aims at. Some of us Scotspeople are really renowned in the art of attracting “sillar” as for example, the just deceased Lord Strathcona. Having always been convinced that this strong trait in the national character can be found here and there in our narrower midst, I am sanguine enough to expect Scotland to realise ten thousand pieces of silver. At any rate, let us have a bid.
Once more Mr. Lloyd George has deferred his long-looked-for visit to Glasgow. It had been arranged for him to speak in the St. Andrew’s Hall on Wednesday of this week, but an unfortunate Cabinet meeting has compelled him to postpone it till next Wednesday. In view of the Labour Party Conference in Glasgow this week and the Labour Demonstration on the Thursday, same of us have concluded that the lie graceful has been handy in saving him from the criticism of those who would succeed him. Not that I intend to imply Lloyd George is afraid of the mighty blows that would be hurled hot and fast at him by that tiger-slayer, J. Ramsay MacDonald. On that score I should fancy he feels safe and sound. It is the horrid humiliation of simply throwing oneself into a position that no professional politician would excuse.
Two years ago the Kirkcaldy and District Trades and Labour Council was formed with an affiliated membership of about 1,500. Now the membership is over 6,000, inside 28 trades. This is the most remarkable development that has taken place in working class life within recent times in Scotland. Our B.S.P. comrades can claim a vast amount of the credit, and get it, inside Kirkcaldy. Kirkcaldy Branch is one of those that have constantly circulated “Vanguard,” and thus have shown their desire to develop the economic knowledge and the political outlook of their class as well. Is it any wonder our comrades there are anxious to test the feeling of the place at the next General Election? In the place there has been no I.L.P. branch and yet I expect that Party’s wirepullers have been doing their utmost to claim the constituency for the Labour Party. We are in for good, anyway. The people are going to have a chance to vote on the straight Socialist ticket, come who may.
The Right Hon. T. McKinnon Wood, M.P., the Secretary for our be-Liberaled land, addressed his constituents in the Public Hall, Springburn, last week. At question time he had a rough passage, not rough enough yet though for him and his mankilling Govern-men. When cornered by questions concerning the martial law, the Johannesburg machine-gun, and the locking up of union leaders he tried to wriggle out by pleading that he was no lawyer. Neither must he be a “great” politician, for a amendment of no confidence was actually carried, in spite of the declaration of the chairman to the contrary.
One poor Paisley fellow must bless Lloyd George. Ambitious to aggregate wealth he lifted eight hens and a cock from a coop, and carelessly dropped his Lloyd George card. He is now reflecting on the beauties of the Insurance Act and will do so for the following three months in the “King’s Hotel,” bed and breakfast gratis.
Contrast the punishment of this poor devil with that of the bogus business man, Robert Aitken, who appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Criminal Court the same day for taking £430 for his use out of money laid down as guarantee money by employ travellers. Some of these men got the money from friends, and must now be in a bit of a moral as well as financial plight. Yet this “business” man got twelve months. The lawyers of Glasgow over a “dram,” may orate about the purity of the bench, and yet will, not convince me as long as a poor bottom-dog gets three months for the theft of a few shillings worth of fowl, whilst a supposed gentleman, for absorbing £430, and involving several people directly and indirectly, gets twelve months. My training leads me to the conclusion that social status does tell in our boasted Scottish courts, with the result that equity and purity are absent.
The lace weavers in the Irvine Valley from Darvel to Kilmarnock, about 5,000 in all involved, look like celebrating the Burns’ anniversary in the new style – the striking one, I mean. They are demanding a 15 per increase, and the masters look like refusing it. If it comes to the worst the Kilmarnock Socialist Hundred will acquit themselves like men as in the brave days of old.
Mr. Robert H. Craig, late Liberal M.P. for Govan, died last August leaving £126,361. Fancy Govan’s shipbuilding slaves returning such as he as the “friend the people.” He certainly did stick closer than most brothers to some poor slave victims or he could not have left that pile.
From: Justice 5 February 1914, p.6.
Some six years ago one or two Socialists attending Glasgow University put up Keir Hardie for the Lord Rectorship, with the result that he obtained about a hundred votes. Preparations have been in process since the winter session started in October last to run a candidate at the Rectorial election in November of this year.
Accordingly, on Tuesday last, January 27, at the Union (the students’ rooms), before a large audience representative of all parties, R.B. Cunninghame Graham was announced as the Socialist standard-bearer. Mr. A.R. Palmer, chairman of the University Socialist Club, presided at the meeting, and called on Mr. Clifford Alien, president of the University Socialist Federation, to make the announcement. He referred to Cunninghame-Graham as an aristocrat in the real sense of the term – a man who by his contributions to modern thought and by his actions, had shown that he cared about all the things that were good in literature and art, and about the beautiful side of life as well as the political. If they returned a Socialist for Glasgow University, they would send out to the working-class movement a message that would show that student opinion was with them in their struggles.
In the evening of the same day the Committee had an “At Home” in the Union. All the Labour Party delegates received an invitation and a few attended. Likewise Representatives of the various Socialist and Labour forces had a welcome, and amongst them was “Gael” to do duty for the B.S.P. More than 170 were present, a great gathering indeed, and indicative of the advance of Socialism amongst students, as well as the importance attached to the campaign by the city’s organisations. For one night and, I believe, for this one cause there was and there will be Socialist Unity. Only one did I see wear the Graham tartan, and that was our old friend and comrade, W.G. Leechman – more man than lawyer.
The Committee seem to be anxious to leave no stone unturned, for by Thursday they had in circulation the first issue of their propaganda magazine, “The Lord Rector.” In it appears “An Appreciation” of the candidate from the pen of that facile writer, David Lowe; but an article, “Christian Socialism,” by the Rev. A. Herbert Gray, is an insult to the intelligent youths to whom the magazine is supposed to appeal, as a great sprinkling of them are Agnostics. The editorial is breezy enough, but the strange thing is that Socialism is defined as everything except what it fundamentally stands for – the social ownership of the land and the means of production. Moreover, a pathetic appeal is made to the Liberals and the Unionists not to put up opposing candidates
The candidate is the living representative of the Grahams of Gartmore, in Perthshire, just on the borders of the Trossachs. Born in 1852, he succeeded to Gartmore in 1883, an estate which afterwards he sold. Educated at Harrow, he proceeded to Mexico to obtain his finishing touches on the prairies. That may explain his later travels in Spain and Morocco, upon the latter of which countries he is an acknowledged authority, and in which he was once made a prisoner, perhaps because the natives learned that he was a wandering Scot
Returning to Scotland from Mexico he was elected as a Liberal for North-West Lanark (recently contested by Robert Small) in 1886, and held the seat till 1892. David Lowe tells us that “it was in the month of January, 1887, that he made his maiden speech in the House of Commons during a debate on the Queen’s Speech: He said that he was struck by the evident desire which prevailed to do nothing at all; he had not heard one word about reducing taxation (on the poor, I suppose), not one word of effort to bridge over the awful chasm existing between the poor and the rich, not one word of sympathy for the sufferers of commercial and industrial depression.”
In 1892 he contested Camlachie as a Socialist, and naturally was defeated. Since then he has made no effort to enter the House. That does not imply any lack of faith in political action, but probably that he is too high-tempered to worry himself over the filthy meannesses that inevitably wind themselves round political work. We never now hear from “C.G.,” or know where he may be staying, until some great strike or fight for freedom is attracting public attention, and then, with dramatic suddenness he appears on the scene to bear his share of the battle and the consequences. [The fact that he was arrested with John Burns in Trafalgar Square on “Bloody Sunday,” 1887 is omitted. – ED. “J.”]
We congratulate the students on their choice of the worthiest Scot to hold aloft the Red Flag of Socialism, knowing that thereby an increasing interest will be taken in our views and principles by students old and young throughout the land; and we trust that by November we can again congratulate them on electoral success, knowing that victory would bring a wealth of grist to the Socialist mill.
From: Justice 12 February 1914, p.6.
Mr. Lloyd George has come and gone, and the strange thing is that tens of thousands seem to have been most interested in his flying visit, so interested that admission tickets were forged and sold to hundreds who scrambled in to the exclusion of official ticket-holders. Probably this is the only county where people would even think of issuing false tickets for a capitalists’ defender.
He said one cause of emigration from England was low agricultural wages; he asserted also that wages in Scotland are higher than in England and yet he had to admit that emigration is going strong from Scotland. I have repeatedly shown that emigration from Scotland is so large that our population is going down, and I hear that all our Clyde companies are booked up till the end of June already. Agricultural wages cannot be so very large here after all, or there would be an inroad from England. Mr. Lloyd George attached no blame to the capitalist farmer for these low wages; the landlord seems to be the only black sheep. He admitted the failure of the Small Landholders Act. That Act shows the wonderful incapacity of the Liberals to tackle the land question. He talked of the slums in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the physical and moral consequences thereof, and concluded that the greatest difficulty is the high price of land.
His Celtic imagination on the young Scots must have carried him away. Out of every pound that goes in rent to the owners or fencers of land at least eight pounds go as interest on the capital needed to build the house. The interest-monger is the greater burden and enemy of the people. Even as things are to-day, Glasgow, through the use of its tramway surplus, can erect cottages that can be let at £8 a year, rates included. If Lloyd George would only purchase his “Justice” regularly and read “Scottish Notes” carefully, he would not have wallowed about so blindly as he did. Of course, he was perhaps put up to it by the Young Scots, who held a first meeting last Saturday in the Christian Institute on Glasgow’s housing. One of the principal speakers criticised and attacked Wheatley’s £8 cottage scheme, and no one else defended it. We can, therefore, conclude that the game is to defeat us by raising the land taxation dust. One young Scot approached a member of our Pollokshaws Branch with the view to getting Tom Canning to stand aside that he himself might run. All our member did was laugh and assure him that we have no intention of standing aside for anyone.
Lloyd George’s Scottish advisers have not taught him enough about the Highland clearances. One, “Scotus,” writing in the “Glasgow Herald,” assures us that “however discreditable may have been the Sutherland clearances, the people concerned, from Lord Stafford down to Patrick Sellor, were one and all Liberals of the most orthodox type.” Here, is another tit-bit “My concern is with the second Marquis of Breadalbane, Lord Chamberlain under more than one Liberal Administration, who died in 1861. From 1837 till his death in 1861 he was unfortunately in possession of the Breadalbane estates. He was wealthy and childless, and no financial pressure existed to justify the policy which he deliberately pursued.” The population of Glenorchy and Inishail, he goes on to show, which in 1831 had been 1,806; in four years after his advent to the control of the estates was reduced to 831. The same displacement of people for sheep went on all over the estates, 700 square miles in extent. I trust our comrades will rub that with salt into the hides of Liberal working men.
Further, I trust they will show the uses to which a peasantry can be put. The strikes in South Africa and New Zealand have been broken by armed farmers and peasants. The demonstration of Swedish peasants in Stockholm also indicates the determination of this class to let nothing stand in the way of its interests. Liberal town wage-slaves, by encouraging the Liberal land muddle of a policy, are simply creating a means whereby they as ordinary trade unionists will be crushed in the industrial conflict against their immediate master It is up to you, comrades, to use Lloyd George as he tries to use our thunder.
Here was his peroration, a glorious one indeed, but only when impregnated with the Socialist conceptions. Explain the moral, then, to your Liberal friends: “Ah, I can see the day of the resurrection, the dawn of the resurrection of the oppressed in all lands already gilding the hilltops.” With my telescope, turned towards South Africa I can see the dawn, darkened by Boer suppressive measures aided by Liberal Lord Gladstone. Yes, lads, let us rub it in.
And let us begin in Leith Burghs, whose representative, Mr. Munro Ferguson, has been banished to Australia to act there as Governor. A meeting called by the Executive Committee of the Trades Council met at the Labour Hall last Saturday, to discuss the situation. The desirability of having a candidate was agreed to. Another meeting will be held at the beginning of this week to select a candidate. If one is not put up, we must fill the breach ourselves with a definitely Socialist candidate. In January, 1910, Wm. Walker, who now has a Government job, obtained 3,724 votes, against 4,540 for the Unionist, and 7,146 for Munro Ferguson. It would be folly to let this chance slip past, especially in view of the brutality meted out to the dockers during the recent Leith Strike. You may remember that gunboats, blue-jackets, soldiers from Edinburgh Castle, and hordes of country policemen were inside the town or in its vicinity ready to spill blood for the capitalist employers. The Liberal Government, there as elsewhere, showed its hand, and therefore I consider it would be rank treachery to let the occasion slip without the workers showing their political teeth – even though they be only the milk ones.
From: Justice 19 February 1914, p.6.
If there is one hero on the staff of “Justice” it certainly is he who attempts to set up the product of my wonderful pen, and accordingly before him I perform my deepest salaam. He certainly is not to blame for the creation of a new economic category called “fencers.” I was trying last week to show that Lloyd George’s imagination or the hypnotic influence of the Young Scots induced him to attribute the slum problem to land monopoly by a hint that for every pound going to the owners or fuears of land at least eight went to the interest-monger. A feuar is one who feus the land from the original landlord for a period of 999 years, or “in all time coming,” as a rule. For that period he may pay feu duty at the rate of £20 an acre a year. He may erect property on the land and then sell it, with a provision that he must be paid an annual rent on the land at the rate of £30 an acre a year. By this means he obtains £10 an acre to himself, having only to hand over to the “superior” £20. This is in important factor in connection with “unearned increment” on land, in so far as only a fraction of the increase in land rent, perhaps none of it, goes to the man who has the original deeds attached to the land. Capitalist builders of the speculative type, I am told, often feu land, build on it, and sell out on condition that an increased rent for the land is given them. This process may go on twice or thrice until the land demands a very heavy toll. It is quite apparent, then, that the capitalist comes in and plays his little part in land rent-raising, and is quite as open to the shafts of Lloyd George as the dukes. We Socialists know that it does not suit the book of Lloyd George, the land taxers, or the Liberal Party to show that the capitalists are as involved in the land question as the typical landlords. It is all the more reason why we, who recognise in the capitalist a greater wealth-sucker than the much-abused landlord, should lay bare the situation to the working-class camp-followers of the Liberals.
A spicy instance of the unconscious hypocrisy of the Scotch bourgeoisie has just been related to me by a friend who was there. It was at a half-guinea dinner under the auspices of a Glasgow Haggis Club, where besides the “Mountain Dew” there flowed in copious floods fine wines and rare liqueurs. As might be expected, the principal toast was to “The immortal memory of Burns,” the reply to which came from the eloquent lips of a noted bailie. Inspired by Bacchus, he sang loud the praises of our peasant poet, then suddenly, charmed by an apt quotation from “The Cottar’s Saturday Night,” he switched off on to the moralising strain, and, as might be anticipated, his subject was the belaboured working class. In spirited style he held that if the workers were thriftier and less inclined to champagne and liqueur – pardon, beer and adulterated whisky – they would be more contented and able to rub along with the wages so generously found for them by their benevolent employers. Amidst the thunderous plaudits of his boosing pals, into his seat fell the perspiring bailie with a mien of self-satisfied virtue, more than ever convinced that he lived and moved and had his being in the best of all possible worlds.
We are gratified to learn that the organised workers of Leith have definitely decided to contest that division at the forthcoming by-election. The working-class standard-bearer is Mr. J.N. Bell, of the National Amalgamated Union of Labour, who receives the patronage of the Labour Party. As the town is strongly Socialist – Yates, long ago having been selected for that area by the old S.D.F. – Bell’s fight will be a Socialist one, no matter what the views of the candidate may be. It is the business of our comrades to weigh in vigorously and give the fight as ruddy a complexion as possible. It will be to the lasting shame of the Leith workers if Bell does not ring the bell this time.
A deputation of the Scottish Landholders’ Association recently interviewed the Secretary for Scotland, the Lord Advocate, and several M.P.s for Scotland, with the view of obtaining a grant of £16,000 from the Development Fund to buy their members sheep and other farm stock. At the same time a Credit Bank for Scotland was proposed. Now is the chance for the working class. We are as entitled to get loans to build houses for ourselves as the peasants are to stock their little plots, and we must clamour for the same concession – the money to be lent at a quarter per cent. at the highest.
The anticipated strike of Ayrshire lace weavers has materialised, 1,000 men coming out and involving about 2,000 more. The dispute is with reference to rates of pay. It will be a determined fight, but we trust the men will fight. The men may, in their new leisure, start Haggis Clubs – without the attendant half-guinea dinner – and when toasting the immortal memory with inspiring draughts from the village pumps their spokesmen no doubt may be heard to sigh for the time when their masters shall drink less and be more thrifty, so that more adequate wages be paid as “a step in the right direction,” towards that end when “man to man – the warl ower shall brithers be for a’ that.”
The other week, like a recording angel, I announced that a late member of the Perth firm of Pullar and Sons had left behind him more than half a million. It now appears that this firm has victimised about 20 of its employees, and that trouble may ensue. We await development with interest, as this firm, or its members, is credited with being “benevolent.”
From: Justice 26 February 1914, p.6.
Britain’s figurehead and his better half are going to visit Glasgow this summer. We advise their advance agent to takes them through the Calton and the Cowcaddens and along by the Broomielaw. It would be better than the Riviera or Switzerland, if they are anxious to know “their” people and their stately homes. The party might be accompanied by the City Fathers. It would be interesting to hear the speeches after that day’s performance.
If it goes on like this we shall all be apologising for our existence this side the border line. Why, here we have two of our bold Liberal friends, Gulland a Whip, and Murray an ex-Whip, apologising in the Commons and the Lords for their words and deeds: Gullland for his thinly concealed promises in Wick that if his piratical comrade Anderson were returned for the Wick Burghs, then the Government would unloosen its purse strings to help the harbour extension; and Murray for his most innocent investment of his own and his party’s funds in Marconis (American). Before it comes to my turn to bow humbly for a persistent existence, I am awaiting in expectant mood the coming of the contrite heart to all Liberal working men for returning such apologies as the Gullands and the Murrays.
The Parliamentary Committee of the Scottish Trades Union Congress interviewed McKinnon Wood, the Londoner who rules Scotland through St. Rollox, and amongst other things drew attention to the rise in rents when the present compounding system was introduced. Poor man, he could give no help. So, as we always believe in doing good for evil, we advise the workers of Springburn and district to give him relief by taking from him the weighty responsibility of representing them in London. We do not altogether blame McKinnon Wood, or yet the House Letting Act, which must have hastened the death of Sir Alex. Cross, for all over Glasgow, in houses rented, above £21 a year as well as those under, the rents are going up just now one to two pounds. The landlords have us in their grip in spite of the large number of empties, because they have obliterated the law of supply and demand by forming a syndicate association, an inverted one at least.
Our Buckhaven comrades are to be congratulated on a little victory in their town by the Forth. Through their doggedness the Council intends to have 50 houses closed by November, and to have 30 municipal substitutes erected. Why not 50, though? But there you have another example of the practical turn of mind of the capitalist majority that are forced to act before the storm bursts upon them. Go on, comrades, you have made a start for Fife. What sayeth the trade union Prophets of Kirkcaldy? Can you not force your Council, now freed from the pernicious influence of Munro-Ferguson, to go one better? Our workers can look out for the advent of hard times again. At the annual dinner of the Glasgow Ship Owners’ and Ship Brokers’ Benevolent Association, the chairman, Mr. William Cuthbert, alluded to the great fall in freight rates and the likelihood that they would not rise this year. A shrinkage in the transport trade will mean a decline in production.
In reply to a question by the Marquis of Tullibardine, Mr. McKinnon Wood stated that up till December, 1913, there were applications for 4,744 new holdings and 3,388 enlargements. Only two or three hundred have had satisfaction so far. Meantime, tens of thousands of our best blood have slipped off to the ends of the earth, and the outward tide is again beginning to flow. For every one who applies for land here ten prefer to go elsewhere, and for every thirty who apply about one gets satisfaction. This, oh this, is the momentous outcome of the Liberal land reform for two generations and more. If I had my way of it – and the money – I would raise a mighty monument (unfinished, of course) on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, to the memory of the Great Practical Party.
Pity the poor capitalist who has all the worries of finding work and the money to keep the ungrateful workers going. At the day’s end the worker retires to his home, sweet home, free from every care except the irksome one of disposing of his weekly fortune. The risk his capital is always running weighs heavy on the tired mind of the dear master. He never has the expectant sensation of at any moment being blown right up to heaven that some over-favoured and never-satisfied workers have. At Ardeer last week, again as last March, we had eight of Nobel’s princely-paid workers suddenly vanishing in tiny fractions to seek a mansion in the sky, whilst hundreds of women went frantic or fainted because their turn had not come. We must have a peculiar constitution, but we really cannot understand these working-class advantages or the workers’ particular anxiety to retain them. We are rather inclined hand over these to the masters and accept their risks and worries.. Perhaps we are suffering from a strange malady.
The annual report of the Leith Chamber of Cornmeree deplores the growth of Syndicalism as the cause of the present unrest. Syndicalism had nothing to do with the late Leith dock strike, nor has it with the present by-election for Mr. J.N. Bell, the Labour candidate, when questioned, stated that he is a Socialist and he was selected by the working class bodies of Leith. Nor can we find any evidence throughout Scotland of Syndicalism.
Mr. Malcolm Smith, the Liberal Candidate at Leith, in reply to a questioner, justified the deportation of the nine trade union leaders from South Africa. If that does not drive the workers to put Bell in, what will? We hope next week to congratulate him on victory.
Mr. E. Shirwell is suing Mr. Havelock Wilson for £1,000 damages for alleged slander. The result has not been declared yet. So far as I can see, Lord Anderson, the judge is seizing every opportunity to spit forth contempt on both. Perhaps both deserve it.
From: Justice 5 March 1914, p.6.
We regret to learn that witty Jamie Johnstone, than whom no one has done more to expose the shoddy and ridiculous aspects of capitalism, than whom no one (amongst the older men) has worked harder for the establishment of the Socialist Republic, has been taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary to be operated on for some disorder in the digestive organs. We wish him a speedy recovery, for propaganda without him now would be cheerless and dull.
We have to congratulate James D. Macdonell for his accomplished unfolding of the French Revolutionary drama before a great gathering in the Pavilion last Sunday, the first occasion on which he addressed so large and keen a gathering. We expect our Greenock Branch to pack the theatre they hold forth in this Sunday for this young hopeful.
I understand that Watson, one of the deported from South Africa, was a member of our Greenock Branch before he sailed southwards. A great reception is in store for him by the Clyde – a sugary one, should one say?
Since Lloyd George’s Glasgow speech great controversies have been raging round the Sutherland clearances. Some political bounders on the Tory make are citing bogus authorities to prove that no clearances took place. If they go on they will soon convince us all that no such place as Sutherland exists in Scotland. It is a pity J.M. Robertson is not a Tory, for he is the very man for such a job as that.
Of course there were clearances, and descendants of the evicted now living in London intend to hold a centenary celebration in Kildonan this autumn. As it will be a Liberal show, we feel quite calm about the event.
So keen is the interest in Liberal circles, in the Highlands that the whole of the March 1 issue of the “Missionary Record” of the United Free Church is devoted to the northern half of Scotland. The item of interest to us is an article, “The Economic Position of the People,” by J. Barron, editor of the “Inverness Courier.” In a Church magazine his first sentence is surprising. “The economic situation lies at the root of the changes that have taken place in the Highlands during the past century, and perhaps if we could ascertain the facts we should find that the greater part of Highland history during the past five hundred years has been dominated by economic conditions.” He points out that sheep drove out people, and that deer have now scattered the sheep. From Nairn to Caithness the population in 1851 was 253,665 and in 1911, 226,144. During the same period the towns grew and so the rural districts were depleted to the tune of 46,000. He admits that the Crofters Act of 1886 did nothing to stem the outward flood, and that the Small Landowners Act is also useless. He predicts that it will take a long time to re-people the Highlands. As we have repeatedly enforced, the Liberals backed by the Young Scots cannot do it. The latter body has issued a manifesto thanking Lloyd George for his Glasgow speech, but it seizes upon his admitted ignorance of the Scottish land question to prove that only a Scottish Parliament can solve the difficulty. That is sheer bluff. Only the working-class, with or without a home Parliament, will put the land to the full use.
The comedy of the Land Court, its economic futility, I mean, is brought out strikingly when we learn that the salaries paid in connection with it during the last nine months of 1912 amounted to £5,100 and the travelling expenses to £1,469 10s. 3d., a total of £6,569 10s. 3d. What it came to last year we are not told, but we may safely infer that it approached £10,000. This enormous expenditure to knock a pound or two off the rents of a few crofters is further demonstration of the practical nature of Liberal (and Tory) efforts. What a joke!
The capitalist Press is making a great fuss over the death of the Scotsman killed in Mexico, William Benton. That it is sheer political cant with an underlying economic purpose is quite apparent to us when we likewise learn that another Scot, this time a mere lad, has been murdered, this time on Vancouver Island. Already I have drawn attention to the miners’ strike there, starting last May Day. I have just had word from Comrade G. Pettigrew that he narrowly escaped seven years’ imprisonment in connection with it. Machine guns and the usual violence were used against the strikers, and the leaders, with hundreds of others were rushed into prison and kept there without trial for many weeks – all to break the strike. This failing, the trials came off, some getting two or three years. One lad, Joe Mairs, late of Ardrie, although too ill to take active part in the strike, was cast into prison with his father. There he has died. Absolute murder. We refrain from the use of the reams of violent language indulged in by that vulgar penny paper, the “Glasgow Herald” which has turned on the tap, in connection with Benton but we expect our comrades to point out the moral to their friends and to use the visits of the South Africans for emphasising the dastardly conduct of the Canadian Government in Vancouver.
Mr. Shinwell has managed to get £50 damages against Havelock Wilson. I suppose he still awaits payment.
From: Justice 12 March 1914, p.6.
The School Board elections have now begun and a good start it has been for the forces of Socialism. Last Friday the New Kilpatrick election came off with the return of J. Biggor, who laid special stress on free books, especially in Milngavil where the undersigned at a special meeting did his best for an old friend. This was followed by a battle royal in Eastwood on the Saturday. For five years R.G. Blair had held aloft the flag by himself, and was subject to the rebuffs and petty insults usual in the circumstances. Undaunted, he regularly reported at the branch and then at our meeting places inside the parish. Five times he raised the demand for free books, only to receive the support of the two Catholic priests.
Our Pollokshaws Branch determined to put up a second candidate, feeling confident that after the large vote obtained by us at the parish council election in November last we had a fair chance of victoriously scoring. James D. Macdougall, who with Blair was almost successful at the parish election, was accordingly nominated as our second standard bearer. Whilst free books was placed first, both stood for the fullest application of the Education Act (1908), together with secular education, an item the I.L.P. all round are trying to kill for fear of the Catholic forces.
Fifteen candidates came forward for nine seats. For the first time a woman has been successful in public contest in this locality. She was prepared to run with us, but we assured her we could not do so as she was only an advanced Radical. However, as she adopted our full programme we were pleased she ran, hoping she would defeat reactionaries in petty middle-class areas closed to us. She romped to the top of the poll. The two priests were also returned, and our men came in seventh and eighth. I might here say that the aggregate vote of the two would have put Blair at the top of the poll easily, and is treble what he obtained five years ago. That is satisfactory in itself, but it becomes a mighty victory when we know that five out of a board of nine are on the side of real progress even though the sum total of progress may not very much affect capitalism.
Be it noted that two clergymen were defeated, none now sitting on this board. Our declaration for secular education has thus in no way damaged us so far as Calvinism is concerned. Furthermore, the priests polled fewer than they did five years ago, although the Catholic population and voters have increased. We know that a growing number of Catholics voted our ticket, in spite of our declaration against schools being used for religious purposes. I detail this to show timid comrades and I.L.P.ers that a steady and consistent fight for our class in the end will gain us a growing support, for the principles and policy of Social-Democracy applied to the immediate problems of to-day. If our opponents insist of the teaching of Christianity in the schools, ten our comrades will press for the like privilege so far as Socialism is concerned. When it is remembered that economics from the Marxian point of view has been taught under the same board for some years now in one evening school, readers can take it from me that it is no idle assertion when I say there will be a fight – and a fight to victory – for the inculcation of Socialism, the most sacred principles the world has ever known.
On all secular issues the priests will have to follow our lead, or we will break their power, and we are neither “practising Catholics” like the Wheatley show nor ex-Catholics as a majority. We always can, in this district, depend on the fighting instinct of the Irishman, even although on two occasions we may have been denounced as his indirect enemy by voting down the Liberal, and defeating him at that. This all goes to show that the bold policy will win in the end, and victory is on a sure and certain foundation.
The comrades in the neighbourhood of Eastwood seem to have been inspired too, for one is going to be run in the Mearns Parish and one in Cathcart Parish. The Govan Branch has again agreed to run G.M. Hale for the Govan parish. The whole four parishes cover almost the constituency of East Renfrewshire and Govan, Partick and others as well. It is to be regretted that no comrades so far have been put up for the Glasgow School Board, the most influential in the country. To be frank, our city men ought to be ashamed of their lack of initiative.
We trust, nevertheless, that they, with all our good friends throughout the country, will strain their every nerve to put up candidates and fight for victory. Hundreds of districts are ten times as suitable as Eastwood for our cause, so it is all the more up to the “fighting party” to show that it can do genuine battle in a small way for the working class. I have expressly filled this week’s contribution on the education issue, as Scotland has a tradition for educational efficiency; that must be made a living reality, and can only be made so by the vitality and directive genius of the forces of Socialism. There, then, goes forth my fiery cross to the clans from Lerwick to Dumfries, and I know that the victory at the Eastwood skirmish will inspire with enthusiasm and confidence our gallants from north to south.
P.S. – We extend the heartiest welcome to our veteran, H.M. Hyndman, on his visit north to Glasgow, and hope his coming will be fruitful.
From: Justice 19 March 1914, p.6.
We congratulate our comrade Snowden of Thornton, on being returned at the head of the Markinch School Board with 1,643 votes, but we regret that, owing to a slip, two other comrades’ nomination paper were held to be invalid, and hence other two gains, were ingloriously snatched from us This ought to be a warning to others to see that the papers are in correct form, so as to avert similar disaster.
As a result of comrade Hyndman’s visit to Glasgow our comrades there are almost unanimously in favour of taking steps forward towards Socialist unity. The great meeting in the Pavilion Theatre on Sunday evening showed clearly that the mass of Socialists are prepared for the fusion of forces.
One of the little humours of life has arisen in connection with the Glasgow School Board election. The editor of the “Scottish Co-operator,” Dr. Henry Dyer on previous occasions used to be termed the Co-operative candidate, and was returned on the strength of that body’s votes and influence. This year he was thought to be in a similar position inside co-operative circles, and was again openly declared to be its candidate for one of the three divisions into which for this election the city has been divided. It transpires that this worthy gentleman had himself put forward as the nominee of the Established Church. Those of us who have had the measure of the man through his contemptible hits at Marxism below the belt in the columns of the “Scottish Co-operator” are not by any means surprised but it must come as a stunner to those who took his moralising seriously.
The Kirkcaldy Trades Council has agreed to support a Socialist candidate, if we put one forward. The linoleum workers, as an earnest of their determination to get the full product of their labour by the establishment of Socialism, are meantime claiming a wage increase of ten per cent. We heartily wish them every success. The fight’s the thing.
Dr. Macnamara has just visited Dunfermline to see the model lodging-houses that are filled with Rosyth labourers night after night. If the worthy Mac had but written to your humble servant on the matter, he would have saved himself the bother of going, and visiting Carnegie this and Carnegie that as well. We know these Dunfermline models, and we are persuaded that if this beloved of the Suffragettes does not at once have cottages erected at Rosyth for the men engaged there, then he is a fit companion for such as Nero. Ah! I withdraw that because it is too harsh and politically crude to expect any Liberal Minister to do anything sensible in favour of the workers.
The Scottish coalowners are demanding a reduction of a shilling a day on the miners’ wages. These gentlemen are growing mellow with advancing years, for in their earlier days they would have been wishing to get seven shillings a day knocked off. My wonder is how long the men are going to stand the see-saw to which their wages are subjected. Our comrade Robert Smillie informs me that this is characteristic of wages in Scottish colliery fields. Wages in mining seem just to be as uncertain as life itself. By the way, Bob pleaded for Socialists to close up their ranks in view of the rapidly growing cohesion of the forces of capitalism. That was the refrain of his address at the B.S.P. social at Stonehouse last Saturday.
Last week an unprecedented incident occurred in Glasgow. I always like the “unprecedented,” otherwise my weekly gossip would cease. A suffrage demonstration was arranged for Mrs. Pankhurst in St. Andrew’s Hall. The Scotland Yard men, aided by their Glasgow fellow spies and policemen tried to capture her as she entered but these she skilfully evaded – as usual. Enraged at their defeat, they rushed the platform as soon as she stepped on to it from the balcony when called on by the chairwoman to speak. A perfect riot ensued. Multitudes who oppose militancy – even the ponderous “Herald” – denounce the Cossack conduct of the police, and multitudes of women who formerly disliked the methods of militants are pouring into their ranks, so that from now on Glasgow, which was not pronounced in its support of this spurious vote agitation, will show strongly in its favour. On Sunday last a huge demonstration was held in Cathedral Square to protest against the law-and-order rioters. The women Liberals, assembled in conference in Edinburgh, refused to support a resolution condemning the police. This can probably be accounted for by the desire to remain loyal to their Party. We therefore claim that we are entitled lay the blame at the door of the Liberal Government, the party of batons, bayonets, bullets and battleships.
MacCallum Scott asserts that the Land Court shows signs of “sympathetic administration.” So do all courts in Scotland but the sympathy is never with the working class. It is as a result of his knowledge of this that Scott can accuse the Liberals of using the Land Court against the landlords.
From: Justice 26 March 1914, p.3.
We regret that the “Vanguard” is very late this month, but next month it will be out earlier if contributors send their notes by the end of the first week at latest. The circulation is fairly good and steady, but to be really effective half a million would have to be spread round by the branches. With such a number going round at these crises in South African and in Irish affairs we could readily ripen and prepare the workers for the Social Revolution; for let us clearly grip that we have the ball at our feet now if we but dare to kick it. We also request general contributors to send on their short articles as well.
This week I received copies of two school board election addresses, one from comrade A. Cairns, Kilmarnock, and the other from comrade J. Leiper, Lanark. Indirectly I have heard of activities in other places, in Stenhousemuir, Arbroath, Falkirk, Kirkcaldy, etc. In the three latter cases our men are running jointly with others under a Labour Committee or a Trades Council. We wish them all every success. It is particularly plucky of J. Leiper running in Lanark, because we have no branch there, and he is going out on his own. We expect him to win if his successful fight for housing and free meals during the miners’ strike has any weight with the workers.
The second issue of the “Lord Rector” has struggled forth – amid the usual Socialist poverty, we suppose. This issue easily excels the first, although “J.L.” accepts a meaningless series of words spun by H.G. Wells as a preliminary definition of Socialism. Let him try Jack London next issue, for London knows his subject, and can make it as clear as any living writer. A splendid photo of Cunninghame Graham adorns the front of the magazine, and is well worth the money demanded. The concluding article is G.B. Shaw’s “Notes to ‘Captain Brassbound’s Conversion’,” through which, in Shavian style, he shows his indebtedness to Graham’s “excellent book of philosophic travel and vivid adventure entitled Mogreb-el-Acksa (Morocco the Most Holy.)” A magnificent appreciation of Graham prefaces a penetrative article, “The Cause of Peace,” that shows how Liberalism as the expression of capitalism is bound to proceed with swelling armaments. Other fine articles are by Fred. Henderson, Mrs. Despard, Mrs. T. Billirrgton Greig, and others. We ask readers to encourage our University comrades by pushing the sale of their magazine.
To-night three of the Scottish deportees will appear in the St. Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow, with comrade Robert Smillie in the chair. We know that the workers will more than pack the hall. We trust all our branches will try to get the services of these men while still in Scotland.
Eleven squatters and fishermen from the townships of Kneep and Valtos, in Lewis, appeared last week in the Court of Session for breach of an interdict granted to Major Duncan Matheson. The Lord President ordered them to be sent to prison for six weeks. They lie at present in Calton Gaol. If the Suffragettes wish to attack anything in Scotland as revenge for the onslaught on them in Glasgow, might they not concentrate on this modern Bastille that holds eleven innocent men whose one desire is to get a chance to live? After Lloyd George’s Glasgow speech in denunciation of Highland landlordism and his “dawn of the resurrection of the oppressed” peroration, this sentence, if allowed to stand, is a cynical reflection on the worth of Scottish Liberalism. We hope the Young Scots feel proud. Let our branches and our members’ unions and councils protest against this infamous injustice to men who wish to work for a living and are denied. The peasants, like the farm servants, must be taught that their only friends are the toiling industrial slaves.
From: Justice 2 April 1914, p.6.
Nearly a month ago the first School Board election took place, and perhaps before the nine hundred odd boards are appointed we will be on the eve of next election – years hence. So leisurely do we arrange our affairs educational that probably future historians, if criminals of this brand are tolerated, will dub this epoch in our ragged land the School Board Age.
Within the week we have had some heartening victories, and if it goes on like this every other member of our Party will be found to be a member of a school board. Our friend Ronald got a walk-over in Cathcart, whilst J.W. Fyfe in Mearns, Alex. Cairns in Kilmarnock, and P.W.K. Leiper in Lanark gained signal victories. Readers may remember my anticipations about Lanark, where Leiper stood all alone and won, whilst the I.L.P. ran two nondescripts who came in last and lost.
But the greatest triumph so far has been scored in Fife, for in East Wemyss – including Denbeath, Methil and Buckhaven – we have captured five out of nine seats, our men (Gillespie, Smart, Baxter, Cormie, and Flockhart) following one another from the second to the ninth position. This is a gain of two seats. It must be noted that this is the first occasion on which the working class in Scotland has captured a school board. Three cheers for East Wemyss! It should be noted that the place is dominated by the B.S.P. We shall, with bated breath, await new intellectual impulses from the East, and hope that this “airt” shall retain its reputation for the issue of wise men. Those who imagine that the forces of Social-Democracy are dead in Scotland had better awake. We are alive, and very much kicking. In West Fife Bowhill boys had better look to their laurels. It would be shameful to let the men of the coast outstrip them. We look to them to put up record number two. What say Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir? Now, lads, set to and give us a few other sensations, for being victims of this dull, dreary system we, one and all, live from sensation to sensation. Life will soon be worth living, upon my word it will!
The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society has just held its annual meeting in Edinburgh. It is interesting to note that whilst rural depopulation proceeds apace, those still clinging to the soil tend more and more to cling to one another also. There are 51 farmers’ co-operative associations, and these carried through transactions amounting to £388,000 in 1913, and their trade is always on the increase. Recently the S.A.O. Society, as faithfully recorded in this column, started to foster co-operation amongst fishermen, with what immediate success is not mentioned.
Through some misapprehension a rival institution has been brought into being, one known as the Smallholders’ Association. The promoters of the latter seem to have been under the belief that the older society specially appealed to the larger farmers, but it seems that these farmers rarely indulge in co-operative effort at all. Both organisations are thus catering for the same type of land workers. However, no matter whether the two fuse forces or not, the drain from the land will not be stayed at all. Our peasantry are ever growing more sick of their work here, and are keener and keener on emigration. Owing to bad trade in the Colonies general emigration is considerably less than at this period last year, but that must apply mainly to industrial workers, for the peasantry are still streaming forth to seek their fortunes in all parts of the world.
The conduct of Mr. McKinnon Wood and the Liberal Government towards the eleven Lewis crofters, lying in Calton Gaol whilst their eighty dependants are living on the sympathy of others, is in keeping with their general treatment of the working class. Mr. Ian MacPherson tenaciously catechised Wood over their imprisonment, and thoroughly aired their grievances in the Commons. But as our old friend, Mr. J.L. Kinloch, who fought the Balloch land case and after defeat became secretary to J. Wedgwood, points out to MacPherson and others, it is not on account of poverty or misconception of the interdict issued by the Court of Session that these men have stubbornly insisted on tilling the soil they seized, but on principle. If that be so, the silence of Lloyd George is significant. So far as he talks about the Highlands, he depends on this very Ian MacPherson, who has taken up the defence in the Commons of the Lewis squatters. If MacPkerson is to be relied on when speeches are the order of the day, why is he not relied on when a just act can be performed? Lloyd George will have to answer that. He cannot shuffle the responsibility on to McKinnon Wood, whose shuffling especially roused the ire of Mr. Pirie, of North Aberdeen (Liberal). Pirie denounced the late Secretary for Scotland, Lord Pentland, as a nonentity and Wood as a fraud. Wood is such, because he is the willing flunkey of stronger men in the Cabinet. It would, therefore, be possible for that great drummer, Lloyd George, to force the release of the eleven men, and thus prove that his speeches are from the heart and not from the lip. George will have to act quickly if he wishes to avert a terrible catastrophe inside his party, for Hogge, of Edinburgh, has threatened to abstain from dining with Wood unless, the men are released.
From: Justice 9 April 1914, p.6.
Last Saturday was a real stunner in sporting life in Scotland. In the west Scotland’s select eleven beat England’s doughty team in great style, and in the east at Ladybank Mr. Asquith, our Prime Minstrel (as a schoolboy defined him in a promising essay), so hammered the Unionists that they have decided to put up no Opposition candidate. In spite of the momentous issues at stake in both cases no serious disturbance arose – not even from the Suffragettes, who must all be settling down to the fuller life. Pardon me, innocent reader, if I explain the cause of the strange calm in the circumstances. Well, then, an all-wise Government department let it be known that a hundred million gallons of “plain spirits” were in bond in distillers and in general warehouses within the bounds of our fraction of the larger isle. What sensible man could let his passions loose with such resources behind his country? for are we not largely supporters of this great Government of graft?
Seriously, we heartily regret that East Fife does not include the neighbouring parish of Wemyss, where our comrades got a majority on to the School Board, for then Featherstone Asquith would have got a run for his money – and a fright, too. East Fife being largely rural with a, sprinkling, of tiny hamlets, impervious so far to our teachings, it would have been folly on our part to run a candidate, although we have a fair grip on Leven, the central village in the constituency. It is up to our energetic Fife men in the mining belt to undertake the breaking of new ground in East Fife and in the St. Andrew’s Burghs.
The capitalist papers are lamenting the fact that whereas in 1910 our 114,012 recipients of parish relief cost £1,551,000, in 1913 we spent on 103,574 of them £1,576,000. They pretend not to understand why, with 10,500 fewer on the lists, the cost should rise about £25,000. Innocents that they are, they do not seem to understand that with rising prices and rising working-class agitation, representation, and demand for a more varied and ampler subsistence for our helpless poor, the cost per head must rise. Their despair just about verges on the pitiful when they recollect that in the United Kingdom about £12,000,000 are now being disbursed in the form of old age pensions, and that of this sum a considerable portion comes to Scotland. With a united heave we could easily force both totals up to double their present height,
The triumphal march north of the Grand Old Duke of York – pardon, Mr. Asquith – has not been in vain. Afraid at the advance of this stern, new lord of “ours” hosts of war the authorities governing the Calton Jail, Edinburgh, hastily opened their gates and let the eleven Lewis squatters out free men. As was to be expected, the Young Scots made excellent capital out of their release, as would have Asquith’s minions had a contest been forced on him across the Forth.
Readers some time ago must have become tired of my incessant allusions to the Glasgow housing problem and the cottage solution. It is becoming a burning question indeed, for the capitalist councillors are now out in defence of their old “cautious” policy of lining the pockets of slum-owners by paying them fancy prices for their “Black Holes of Calcutta.” The shade of the Nabob of Bengal in Clive’s time must pardon us for thus comparing his prison with the workers’ palaces in Glasgow – the world’s limit in city planning and housing. The councillors’ chief purpose is to kill the £8 cottage scheme proposed by Socialists and Labour men. At the same time they are exerting their wits as to ways and means of disposing of the tramway surplus after May for upon that surplus depends the success of the revolution in housing. Men who opposed our forces when we demanded the doubling of the halfpenny distance are now anxious to give three stages for a halfpenny, six for a penny, and so on in proportion. That means about a mile and three-quarters for each halfpenny. A reduced income would then be anticipated along with greater outlay. The congested traffic would then become more entangled, and that, would necessitate new bridges at the expense of the tramway department. The profits could thus easily be absorbed, leaving nothing to build cottages with.
The workers in three jute mills in Dundee have. struck for more money, some wishing 2s. a week extra, others 1s. a week extra, and others again 1d. per hour and 5d. per day. It is anticipated that unless some settlement is immediately arrived at the masters will declare a lock-out. Workers of Dundee, unite. The sooner we have one textile union the better for the workers. Just the other day, in the Irvine valley in the west, we had the lace workers out. That industrial dispute has had its natural political effect, for in the parish of Newmilns four Labour men have captured the School Board of seven. The group includes John Young, the general secretary and organiser of the workers in one of the textile unions embracing the lace makers. This is the second board that has been captured by workers. We congratulate Young and his comrades.
From: Justice 16 April 1914, p.7.
Everyone will be pleased to learn that our old stalwart, Jamie Johnstone, has sufficiently recovered from his operation in the Royal Infirmary to assure me that he will toe the line with the best on May Day. Such good news is too good to keep, so I send the wire along to temporarily disappointed branches and Jamie’s great circle of friends who are perennially refreshed by his exposure of that ridiculous fraud, capitalist society. All hail! prince of Socialist humorists, for even now the murky clouds are rolling off.
When some time ago Dundee’s carters and mill workers were on strike, the city (and the Empire) was saved by the happy advent of police and soldiers. Again, wonderful to tell, salvation has come through the instrumentality of the duke of donors, Sir James Caird, whose lucky inspiration may save the city from lock-out or the destructive consequences of such – after the manner of the imagined wreck of Johannesburg. Some time ago I referred to a few ten thousands he had spent on his Party, the Liberal Party (the Party of the workers, you know), and on local philanthropic work. Over and above these “gifts” he has presented Dundee with a park costing £25,000. Now he comes along with £100,000 for a City Hall and Council Chambers. After that the slaves of Dundee will be willing to return to toil for even less than the jute Cairds – pardon, capitalists – are prepared to pay at present, for, do you not see, they will be anxious to show their appreciation in a form that perchance may yet bring forth other such munificence. There is, however, a small, yet active, band of that wicked class of men called Socialists who have a nasty way of looking “gift” horses fair an square in the face, and by telepathic agencies – superior to Reuter’s – I hear of these aforesaid wicked ones assuring their sweetly innocent fellow slaves that the good Caird obtained his money by the robbery of themselves, and that the real gift is one from them to the propertied class, who certainly will make more use of the new hall and chambers than themselves.
Is there some visible connection between Dundee and Glasgow? In this other beautiful city the Fathers have just formally accepted and opened a new “lung,” a “gift” of two acres, in Cathcart from this time, a Tory landlord, Sir J. Stirling Maxwell, who in aeons to come will be known as much by his strenuous absence from the Eastwood School Board as for his various land and monetary “gifts.” Readers may remember that the doughty Lloyd George, in his recent Glasgow speech, for the thousandth time repeated the price the Cathcart School Board paid “Sir John,” as he is familiarly called, for the site of a school. This “gift” is likely to take the wind out of the sails of the Liberal land crowd hereabouts. But, again, within my hearing persist a few of those previously-mentioned wicked men who will laugh at the showy display, the fulsome flattery, and the discomfiture of the Liberal land maniacs, and will assert that this is but a “step in the right direction,” as say Labour M.P.s, and will clamour for the whole land for the whole people.
The unveiling of the busts of George and Thomas Hutcheson afforded our Glasgow magnates and their servile Press the opportunity to gloat over other “gifts,” of the persistent and growing kind. Living in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the former as a banker and the latter as lawyer, they left endowments – George £4,017 and three tenements, which have evolved into property worth £600,000 and giving an annual income of £22,000 for hospital purposes for 1,700 men and women. Other parts of their investments go to the maintenance of two grammar schools, one for boys and one for girls. These were originally intended for the poor; but, like the George Heriot Schools and Heriot-Watt Institution in Edinburgh, founded by Heriot, a contemporary of the Hutchesons, with £23,000 now grown to £880,800 and yielding over £34,000 a year, these two schools are essentially middle-class snobbish schools.
At the Convention of Royal Burghs, John McKenzie, Clydebank, moved that the Convention take steps to obtain for burghs in Scotland the same privileges of providing cheap housing as were at present being given to Irish rural labourers. Ex-Provost Keith, Tory from Hamilton, in seconding, said that either the Govermnent had to subsidise housing schemes or raise the minimum wage of the workers. Perhaps I am dull, but I see no obvious reason why both ought not to be executed at once, friend Keith, and a thousand other changes in favour of the slave class into the bargain.
Robert Small, secretary of the Shale Miners, has issued a pamphlet, being the report prepared by him to present to the Housing Commission anent the conditions in the area covered by the shale mines.
Of 3,500 houses about which information was obtained 1,580 were without water-closets, 1,490 without water in the house, 450 with single apartments, 250 built back to back. Give us a drink. Bob always does his work in thorough fashion, and this latest effort will force the oil companies to do better in providing houses than they have done in the past seeing that the Government is likely to buy their oil.
From: Justice 23 April 1914, p.6.
It is not part of our business to prophesy when a General Election will be sprung upon an innocent nation: that we leave to Press dotards of a muddled society that has reached its political dotage – for a few decades at least. Still, when these pressmen continue to repeat that we are within stonethrow of a fierce political conflict, we had better get guns ready for our part in the fray; or, if not guns, at any rate what is just as effective in constituencies. Need I mention that what we need is that (to us) great illusion, gold, glittering gold. Living, as we do, on a base, material earth, we cannot proceed very far on ideas, even though these might be the profoundest and truest ever held and propagated by mankind. We need matter, and especially the kind that alone matters at election time, the yellow metallic kind.
The legal fraternity, posing as returning officers, demand of us a huge tax before we can have our candidates’ names inserted on the ballot paper. A tax on those who wish to do the highest duty in society is one of those absurdly unfair things that puzzle the average right-thinking citizen, but yet are quite explicable to us, who maintain that those little barriers are put in the way of the workers to keep them “off the grass,” to keep them in the path ordained by an all-wise Providence. If the workers paid less attention to the gaining of unrealisable fortunes off horses, footballers, and other animals of that category; if for a full month they considered the insult to their class by this lawyer’s tax and a few other such-like brazen impositions, we feel confident that they would give the taxers a fright they would never be inclined to forget.
We would advise our comrades to arouse the sleepers, and after they have expressed indignation, urge them to subscribe something to our fund for the payment of this tax in a few constituencies as the most effective means at the moment of protesting against the individual payment of election expenses. Cards have been issued throughout Scotland, and these are expected to yield sufficient to run a few candidates. If we went to our workshops, our unions, our co-operative societies, and wherever workers congregate, and made a push, we could easily raise the needed amount. Extra open-air meetings would likewise assist in bringing in more money, so, consequently, we advise all who have heads, lungs, and tongues to hustle along with this trinity, and “free will” into the bargain. We can do it, lads and lassies. Let us do it.
We are pleased to note that McKenzie’s account of “The Highland Clearances” has again been issued after being out of print, and very difficult to get, for thirty years. As it ought to be in every library in the country, we give it a free advertisement. Have your orders sent to William MacKay and Son, Inverness, and send half-a-crown at the same time.
A Bill has been printed, and backed by Messrs. Adamson, Barnes, Wilkie, Cowan, Watt, A. Henderson, and Ramsay MacDonald, the object being to provide a holiday for farm servants on Saturdays from twelve noon, except for eight Saturdays at most, when payment at the rate of sixpence an hour at least, or time during week-days, must be given in compensation. Jock sadly heeds the holiday, so we wish the Bill “bon voyage.”
We regret James Muir lost his seat at Larbert, but the loss was due to comrade Turnbull being put up with him when a Labour man was also run. Although our combined vote exceeded that of the Labour man, Webster, yet he got in, and we failed to hold our own. In the neighbouring parish of Falkirk, however, our comrade Primrose gained a brilliant victory, as well as comrade McPherson, of the I.L.P. An extra push and McFarlane, Labour, would have gained a seat, too. Two seats are very good for a first attempt. Healthy sign for Falkirk Burghs at the General Election.
We have held our own in Bowhill by the return of comrades Stott and Marshall. It is a pity Cameron just failed, and it is a still greater pity, that Wilkie, a colliery manager, should get more votes than our three men put together. Now for Kirkcaldy, our last big centre. By the way, these school board activities account for the small contingent of Scottish delegates at the Party Conference a fortnight ago. The broad area contested by us on this occasion, and the successes obtained, are ample evidence that we are in a better position than ever before. Had Greenock, Paisley, Edinburgh, and Dundee branches seen fit to run candidates we would have had the certain pleasure of recording other victories. I am open to work overtime as the cheerful recording angel, so there is a chance for you, the brawny sons of toil.
An effort is going to be made to do a great thing in Glasgow this summer. All the hundreds of old members had better get together, and either collectively or individually write to J. Maclean, 42, Auldhouse Road, Pollokshaws.
From: Justice 30 April 1914, p.10.
To make preparations for really effective work in and around Glasgow this summer it would be advisable for all to rally together for the May-Day Demonstration on Sunday, May 3. In the middle do the field on the Green our forces might be gathered, there to discuss what we must do in the city. We trust that this hint will be accepted and acted upon.
It is gratifying to learn that at a special meeting of the Renfrewshire Co-operative Conference educational delegates a motion was passed at the instigation of James D. Macdougall that school boards be urged to start classes in Marxian economics and industrial history if groups of twenty could be obtained. It was further resolved to carryon such classes if the boards failed to do their duty in the matter. MacDougall was specially requested by the Pollokshaws educational committee to go to the Conference with his suggestions. Others elsewhere must now follow suit or go one better, for life is too short to lag by the way. We would earnestly urge comrades to brush up their knowledge so as to equip themselves as teachers of those subjects. If we have the trained men we can lead the studies and mental development of our class without difficulty. All the old prejudices and obstacles are being rapidly swept away.
This was demonstrated amply by a magnificent paper read a fortnight ago at Larkhall by Mr. William Gallacher, director of the S.C.W.S., to the Central Co-operative Conference. He irrefutably showed that the poor were becoming poorer through rising prices and the rich richer, and that the only solution was the social ownership of the means of production and transit. He was eloquently supported by Robert Smillie, of the Miners’ Federation, and several others of influence in working-class circles. The tide is rising, if slowly, yet steadily. Have hope, brothers.
Whatever we do we must keep going our summer outdoor propaganda, as that is the most important work yet in the education of our class. With the advent of May-Day, – after the spring cleaning – let us come forth spick and span ever more eager against the great dragon – Ignorance. As we wax he wanes. Can we reduce him to a shadow by autumn? Let us all try.
Some of us used to maintain that George Durward retired to Aberdeenshire to get clear of Socialism. Lo, and behold! no sooner does the unrest affect the farm servants of the North than in steps George to do his bit in organising these men. Now comes his victory in the school board elections. This is just about on a par with Leiper’s victory in Lanark. We lift our glass to this veteran of the old Glasgow S.D.F.
As was expected, two gains are recorded for Socialism in Falkirk, and two in Kirkcaldy. We congratulate the comrades there on their great and good work. As we anticipated, we easily held our own in Stonehouse, where tremendous work by comrade Anderson and a band of active young men. Had we a thousand candidates we could show great results in Scotland. The old story about the harvest and the reapers. By the way, I mean to invent a device by which we can with fewer hands reap the harvest. Improved agricultural implements will not be in it, you take it from me.
Stimulated by the decision of our Scottish New Year Conference, the Montrose Burghs L.R.C. has been spurred into activity, and efforts are being made to find a Labour candidate. Similarly the Edinburgh District Trades Council has decided to call a meeting of all the working-class bodies in the neighbourhood to decide upon political action. It is hinted that the Southern Division of Edinburgh is likely to be contested. We hope soon to see every division in Scotland contested by the working class.
In connection with the Glasgow University Rectorial Election, the Unionists have decided to select as their candidate Mr. A. Bonar Law, whom G.N. Barnes knocked out of Hutchesontown and Blackfriars in 1906. The Liberals’ nominee is Lord Strathclyde (Alex. Ure), likewise a Glasgow man. It ought not to be difficult, if the Socialists put their back into it, to place Cunningham Graham at the top of the poll. His return would create a tremendous impression on the younger “intellectuals” of Scotland.
From: Justice 7 May 1914, p.6, ( words)
Again His Pluvius Majesty spat plenteously upon Glasgow’s May-Sunday’s demonstrations and manoeuvred grotesquely with those held in other “airts.” What we have done to earn the contumely of this most potent of the deities none but the committee can say. Perhaps before anyone else in the country He had turned Syndicalist and thus shows signs of His feelings towards the “antiquity” of most of our notions – and particularly our resolutions. If I thought the dismissal of the present delegates to the May-Day Committee could assuage His rage, I would at once advocate such a drastic course. Perhaps, however, the cynical old soul is resolved, by means of an annual wet blanket, to turn us from our observance of the first Sunday in May to the first day of May. If so, we exonerate him entirely. Let us follow London – once in a lifetime; but on the stern understanding that no precedent his thus been set.
Now that every trade union is represented on the committee, and the men as well as their banners are demonstrating in thousands – in increasing thousands, to be correct – it ought not to be difficult to test the feeling of these men as to taking a holiday n May-Day.
I would suggest that the committee circularise all the trade union branches in the Clyde Valley, urging them to arrange for “shop meetings” at which the men could decide whether they were prepared to stop or work. With the results sent in from the union branches the committee could then determine whether it would be wise or otherwise to proceed with the demonstration on the proper day or not.
From our standpoint the gathering did not vanish without fruit. The men to the south of the city have again resolved to launch forth in the furtherance of our cause. A revival week begins on Monday, May 18, at the corner of Crown Street and Cumberland Street, to be followed by other outbursts at other old and new stances. Concurrently a regular Sunday meeting will be re-instituted at Paisley Road Toll. The week following, beginning on Monday, May 18, our wise men of the east will do likewise at or near Parkhead Cross. If this effort yields results, as we know it will, these wise ones will be found during the season anywhere on the go from Glasgow Cross to Jerusalem.
The week after that will find the ebullition manifesting itself in like manner at the Govan Cross. The canopy of Glasgow’s heaven being rather blacker than is its wont we could not plan beyond the third week, but sufficient has been mapped out to satisfy the most greedy for work. All we now need is a strong whitewash (chalk will do as well, of course) brigade as a preliminary to painting the town red.
Comrades, all this is just a preliminary canter to the “Red Week,” for we in Glasgow must beat the world in increase of membership. The Germans will not be in it once we Scots make up our minds to set the ball a-rolling towards Socialism. Now then, into the fray as men ne'er entered the battlefield before.
As before, Stonehouse had a. magnificent May-Day demonstration last Saturday, in every respect exceeding all previous efforts. The South Lanark Cycling Club has again been set a-going to carry the light into the utmost recesses of the district, and large numbers have already joined. We congratulate our two Stonehouse comrades, Mitchell Sorbie and John Carr, on their re-election to the local School Board. Like out ‘Shaws men they have at once moved for free books, and we trust they will be just as successful.
We regret that W.B. Small lost a seat on the Hamilton School Board by a few votes after making such it good poll. Better luck next time. In Newbattle John Morris, late of Methil, has done better, having been returned along with three other Socialist and Labour men. If I am not mistaken, this is now the fourth Board that has been captured by the working class. Up and up the full tide flows.
No Scottish comrade has worked harder for the cause than Laurie Anderson. Laurie is standing for organisership of the tool makers. If successful he is prepared to run for Glasgow Town Council as a member of the B.S.P. Scotland expects every superman to do his duty.
What was my astonishment on Sunday to see W. Gallacher, of Paisley, back from America. Lecture organisers had been pouncing down upon him. And when they are at it let them inquire for Paisley’s new hopeful, Campbell who is a second MacDougall.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress met in Kirkcaldy. It was attended by 164 delegates, representing 340,000 members – a record. It passed many good old resolutions, few new ones, squabbled over sectionalism, elected the Parliamentary Committee, selected Falkirk as next place of meeting, and then had the good sense to go home. Most of the time is spent on work the Labour Party exists to see to. If next year it would form an Industrial Committee to carry or joint trade union propaganda in Scotland, act as a court in big sectional disputes, and devise Means of amalgamating closely-related unions, it would be exercising itself in a better way than at present. Who will take the first step?
From: Justice 14 May 1914, p.6.
The death of Sir William A. Smith, the founder of the Boys Brigade – a movement that has been largely copied here and there throughout the Christian world – is leading to an output of journalistic gush that must astound those idealistic, peace-propagandists who have imagined that their cause was making substantial headway. Like the “muscular Christianity” outgrowth, this boy’s movement started in Glasgow in 1883, has been defended on the ground that it proves to vigorous youth that Christianity is not exactly the same as effeminacy. Whether Christianity does or does not convert men into old wives is no concern of ours. But we cannot see how earnest Christians can seek to justify the actuating principles of the “Prince of Peace” by training lads in the art of handling a gun – even though it be but a toy one. We are of opinion that the success of the Boys’ Brigade can be attributed to those who have sought, and are seeking, to keep up the supply of the men willing to shed their blood for a “country” (capitalist class) that at other times robs them to its heart’s content. We Socialists wish youths to be brave and disciplined, but these virtues can only be exercised when our lads and lasses have learned the meaning of working class life and struggle, and by concerted agitation among the young around them prepare themselves for the fuller life and discipline of the organised forces of the working class. For this preparation the Young Socialist League has been instituted. There is no reason why it ought not to be more attractive than the Boy’s Brigade, the Boy Scouts, and other such side-tracking allurements.
We are assured on all hands that hundreds of thousands last Sunday forenoon flocked to the Clydeside to see the departure of the monster Aquitania from its berth in John Brown and Co.’s shipyard at Clydebank to the Tail of the Bank, preliminary to proceeding to Liverpool, there to begin its career of profit-making for the Cunard Company. People obviously found greater interest in watching this leviathan, the largest built in these isles, than in attending church. One wise clergyman at Kilpatriitk delayed his mid-day service in order to avoid exhorting empty seats to be good for following six days. We Socialists cannot now be accused of being the greatest sinners in keeping the masses away from church; we regret we are but a sorry second to the Aquitania.
I can imagine the multitude of unsought testimonials granted in praise of the monster vessel, its designers, and its actual makers. Yet, how many were aware that at least the makers are the slave property of the company, which besides getting all the profit, receives all the official praise for the construction of the ship? The men are slaves who cannot go from yard to yard, as they think they are entitled to, on the assumption, that they are free men. A threatened strike at another yard brings before our notice in vivid fashion the fact that the workmen are slaves, tending more and more to become they living property (when profitable) of particular employers.
Some four squads of riveters recently left Messrs. Henderson’s yard and started at Messrs. Napier and Miller’s. They seem to have had no quarrel in the former yard; they simply wished for a change. To their surprise, a day or two afterwards they were stopped through the intervention of the Clyde Shipbuilders’ Association, which apparently keeps the industrial, and probably social biography of the workers in all the yards. Napier and Miller are quite willing to re-start the men if the Association withdraws its embargo. The Henderson crowd are not likely to let the Association do that in view of the relative scarcity of good men. The position is clearly this: the men’s feelings and desires must not be considered but simply the interests of the masters. If they are very busy the men will not be allowed to go elsewhere, even if the men have some petty quarrel about the rate of piece work; if they are slack, then off go the men till again sent for. That is a thousand times worse than chattel slavery, since under the older system the slaves were provided for whether work was at hand or not.
What the life of the stokers on board Aquitania will be we can only imagine from the pictures of hell served up by men-monsters to our hapless, trusting youth. No ancient slave ever had equal experience of infamous drudgery. And then to think that this wondrously equipped floating hotel will be for the sole enjoyment of the wealthy idlers of the world! The thought of it ought to act as a stimulus to the slowest of our class, and make him rise in righteous wrath against the system of robbery and slavery the mass of mankind at present tolerate.
The Glasgow campaign has started and this incoming week will see us busy in Parkhead, and neighbourhood. Our national organiser has wirelessed me to the effect that I must assist him in rousing the Clyde to do its duty in beating Germany during Red Week next month. Had he let me know sooner, I might have hired the Aquitania for a day’s pilgrimage down the Clyde, with red flags flying and the sides draped with scarlet. That would have drawn the people we would get at. In lieu thereof perhaps he will allow me to ask for the loan of the Boys’ Brigade for a parade or display. If I am not mistaken, we will lick Britain away north-west here. Kennedy is confidently smiling, and so is
From: Justice 21 May 1914, p.6.
I have just received from Geo. Pettigrew, Vancouver Island, B.C. a pamphlet by our Mexican comrade, Teodoro M. Gaitan, entitled “The Mexican Revolution, 1906-1914” in which he gives a concise account of origin and development of capitalism, the woes of the peons (land serfs) and of the wage-earners, and the rise of the forces of working-class revolution since 1900. He points out that, behind the political forces of Huerta on the one hand, and Villa and Carranza on the other, there are the Indian peons, led by Zapata, who is not a bandit, as stated by the capitalist Press. I wish particularly to draw attention to the appeal that Gaitan makes to us Scotch workers, as to all the others in the Empire, as to Benton, who was recently killed, and other British capitalists who may yet be killed. Gaitan says Benton in the end lost his life because he robbed the Mexican workers. “What we will point out to every English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh and British working man is that William S. Benton was one of the enslavers of the Mexican proletariat. During twenty-five years he robbed the Mexicans, and in that way he made a fortune of 1,000,000 pesos. He had mines, cattle, lands, farms, houses, etc., all products of the workers. He was as guilty as Diaz and Madero were, and all and every one of the Mexican exploiters. For that he received his punishment at the hands of the workers, and, no doubt, was condemned to death for his robberies of the Mexican people.”
Mr. James Maxton, secretary of the Glasgow Branch of the Class Teachers’ Association, has been selected as Labour candidate for the Montrose Burghs. He is a good Socialist, and will do splendidly.
The Scottish coalmasters are claiming to reduce the miners’ wage from 7s. 3d. to 6s. 3d. It is a pity the miners are a weak-kneed lot, for otherwise no reduction ever would take place.
The Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act, 1913, came into force on May 15. One feature is that school boards will be forced to provide for defectives till the age of 16. It is an exceedingly grievous blunder to have omitted an extension of the age to include those working men who still vote Liberal and Tory from “conviction.”
The Nobel Dynamite Trust realised during the year ending April 30 a net profit of £381,275. It has a reserve of £800,00. Whatever happens to the workers the profits never seem to be blown into nothingness. In this industry it is much safer to be a shareholder than a slave. Our Scottish branches must invest their huge reserves in Nobel shares.
It is rumoured that Argyll’s Limited and the Darrecq Co. are amalgamating. The capital will be about a million. This ought to incite metal workers to follow suit.
A prospectus is out for the “British Isles’ Oil Producers” for a capital of a million pounds. What interests us is that it is negotiating for leases for 62 years for the oil shale and other minerals under an area of about 6,757 acres forming part of the Newhall and Carlops, Penicuik and Machiehill estates in Mid-Lothian and Peebles, This will mean more Government graft, since Lord Murray, of Galashiels, is now an expert both in oil and graft.
The Lanarkshire County Council has, by 20 votes to 15, resolved to build 50 houses at Cleland at an estimated cost of £10,729, and 100 at Harthill for £20,854 This is the first instance of a county in Scotland, as far as I am aware, tackling the housing question. It could hardly have brought forward a smaller scheme. Yet, in the words of the law and the prophets (new edition), it is a beginning, so, therefore, we must smile and look happy.
Still, again, has Bailie Tom McKerrell expanded himself on the vile housing conditions in Ayrshire, especially around Kilmarnock, at the meeting of the Insurance Committee for the county of Ayr. This he did in reply to the attitude taken up by the Kilmarnock District Committee of the County Council, which seems to have resented interference by the Insurance Committee in the housing conditions of the people. We hope soon to see the County Council follow the example of Lanarkshire.
At an educational conference in Edinburgh last Saturday Dr. Alex. Morgan, principal of Edinburgh Provincial College, deplored the decreasing number of men entering the teaching profession, and spoke vaguely about a movement taking place in education that would soon bring good conditions into the teaching profession. More money the teachers wish,. as do other victims of this money system.
In the Church of Scotland there has been a drop of membership to the extent of 17,000. Some causes given are “indifference and carelessness,” “certain well-defined peculiarities of religious belief” and “anti-Christian Socialism.” In our propaganda we do not attack religion, although we have occasion to criticise the Churches, and the ministers when they side with the capitalist against the workers. The Church of Scotland is a Tory institution, and that suffices of itself to encourage clear headed workers to give it the go-by.
From: Justice 28 May 1914, p.6.
Our English comrades are familiar with a host of Socialist clergymen who not only use their pulpit, but also their Socialist platform, for the exposure of capitalism. Only one or two in the whole of Scotland have dared to stand on our platform. I only recollect four, at the moment: MacKay (Aberdeen), E.T. Russell (Unitarian), Herbert Gray, and Colin Gibb (Glasgow). Most Scottish ministers have been dour opponents of all things advanced by us. It is all the more important, therefore, that I exclusively devote my column to the presentation of the essence of the speech made by Dr. Reith (Glasgow) at the United Free Assembly in Edinburgh on Tuesday, May 19 when he took his place as Moderator of that body for the ensuing year.
He sees the Church losing its grip on the Country, and he attributes it rightly to the people looking after their material welfare first. He consequently wishes to know if the Church has a message on the social problem, an ethical one at any rate, with which the Church may retain its grip. Are there lines of alleviation, conciliation, admonition to enable it to restore confidence between the classes? He confesses that charity, as organised by the Home Missions, whilst good. in itself, has failed to achieve any permanent good, since it has dealt solely with effects, not causes. It was like the work of the surgeon and the nurse on the battlefield. What we really wish is the prevention of the wounds by the prevention of the battle.
He took it for granted that no one cared to defend the existing social or economic order because of the evils springing from it. The problem, then, was not to palliate evils, but to deal with causes. He wished to know if the present order of society, with its sharp and shocking contrasts, its poverty and its wealth, its clash of class against class, its monopolies of land and means of production, its seething and frankly revolutionary discontent was a state of things from which they could not escape, or was it essentially antagonistic to the will of Christ? Did the Church exhaust her duty in preaching contentment to those who suffer under such inequalities of life, and charity to those who enjoy life’s sunshine?
He held that the present system ought not to be approved because it was inevitable; because it was shielded by law; because the entire social organisation was involved in it, and because interference might mean serious dislocation amounting to revolution.
It was not God’s intention that a few should be at the top of the tree of life sitting secure; that the many should be struggling to get or keep a mere foothold on its lowest branches; that men of the same race should be divided into castes estranged in sympathies and in a relation of mutual suspicion and distrust, deepening into positive hostility. In his fifty years’ experience in Glasgow, Dr. Keith admitted he had seen an ever-widening gap in both the inward and outward aspects between the East End and West End. No earnest-minded Christian man could afford to overlook this. He could not see that the Church ought to view this unhappy condition of things with equanimity and abstain from pronouncing the social and economic order that produces never-ending struggle of the weak against the strong to be contrary to Christ’s will.
He contended that slavery was no darker offence against the law of brotherhood than the abject condition of millions to whom the inexorable economic order brought little or probably no chance at all. The time might come, when the present system of wage-earning would seem as out of date, perhaps as anti-Christian, as slavery seemed to-day.
They must therefore maintain that the fundamental law of Christian ethics, brotherly love and mutual service; should be the basis on which our social system was to be reconstructed. When workers asked him why life should mean this for him and that for them, he had no answer to give that satisfied his own judgment, much less his conscience.
If the rich used wealth unselfishly, the condition of things, though economically and inherently unsound, would not excite the irritation and restiveness in the workers’ minds which it now did, since self-indulgence, ostentation and display inflamed men’s minds.
A system in which market value was one thing, and human value another, in which market demand was one thing and human need another, led to nothing more or less than a practical servitude.
Had the time not come for the Church, in the name of Christ and humanity, to begin to insist on the eradication of the cause which leads to social evils A reunited Church of Scotland should present itself in the eyes of their fellow countrymen as one concentrated force, bent, in Christ’s name, on grappling with, and ending the social sores from which our beloved land suffered; bent on having His will done on our own Scottish earth as it is done in heaven, and on turning her wilderness into Eden.
I think I have given the gist of Dr. Reith’s remarkable address. I certainly have stuck very closely to the report of his speech. That he has a clear grip of social evolution and economic determinism as suggested by Marx is amp1y evident by many passages, mixed up here and there with the cult of Christ. He faces the situation fairly and squarely as an economic problem viewed from the standpoint of one who dwells on the moral aspect of all issues or actions.
From: Justice 4 June 1914, p.6.
One aftermath of the South Lanark by-election is manifesting itself in the attempt of the Stonehouse School Board to prevent the promotion of our staunch comrade, A. Anderson, who represents the Scottish area on the Executive Committee of the B.S.P. The master of the larger school in the village having retired it was the duty of the Board to appoint our friend Anderson to the position, he being the master of the smaller one. In spite of his splendid service for twenty-two years, bringing with it many bursaries and scholarships for his pupils – last year being his most successful in this respect the Board (largely Liberal) determined to punish him for his steadfast work for the people. By four votes to three a young, inexperienced man was promoted over his head. The three includes two comrades. Sorbie and Carr, and the Rev. Mr. Wallace, Liberal. Three Liberals voted against him along with a Tory.
So highly respected is our friend that immediately a huge protest meeting was held in the village hall, addressed by teachers and public men outside our movement entirely. The agitation will go on until: justice is done. Some of us anticipated this move to crush Anderson when we knew the composition of the Board. They had their minds made up from the time they started as a new Board. Their coming guilt betrayed itself at the first meeting of the Board, when an attempt was made to exclude the reporter of the “Lanarkshire.” This attempt luckily and necessarily failed, so we are indebted to the columns of the “Lanarkshire” for the very full report of the speeches leading up to the appointment. At the last meeting of the Board free books were lost by the same vote, the same men voting as in the present instance. Here we have a Liberal Education Act allowing school boards to provide free books, and yet Liberal members vote against the measure. South Lanark of itself will rise in wrath against this misdeed, and we shall see to it that the rest of Scotland shall judge the Liberals on this foul miscarriage of justice. In the meantime, our respect for the “Socialist Schoolmaster” – as he is popularly known – has risen a thousand per cent.
On Monday, May 25, in the Bank Street Hall, Greenock, the Local Government Board started a three days’ inquiry into the housing conditions in Greenock. Nothing new emerged, but the situation was thoroughly well put before the two Commissioners, Messrs. J. Walker Smith (engineering inspector) and J. Wilson (architectural inspector). The Housing Council, backed up by their lawyer, Mr. R.B. Shearer, exhaustively dealt with overcrowding, insanitary conditions, consumption, etc.; whilst the Tenants’ Defence Association, backed up by that expert, Mr. Thos. McCann, showed how, through scarcity of houses, and the operation of the House Letting Act that seems to have killed its author, Sir Alex. Cross – rents had been raised enormously, and how farming out at extravagant rents had become quite prevalent.
Some facts are worth jotting down. It appears that 83 per cent. of the single-roomed houses, and 72 per cent. of the double-roomed ones are over-crowded, resulting in 5.86 per cent in the former and 3.99 per cent. in the latter being infected with tuberculosis. The sanitary inspector is taking steps to close 454 uninhabitable houses out of 780 such that shelter 3,500 people, whilst the Town Council is moving forward (very slowly) with a scheme of 200 houses. Houses, are so scarce that people are said to be living in stables. Of course, they ought to feel proud, as Christ was born in one. Young couples cannot get married because shelter is unobtainable. Others live in farmed-out houses, and the Parish Council refuses to give aid to people in this situation because all the relief money goes to pay rent. Others, again, have to travel daily to Paisley, Johnstone, and Glasgow, and that means extra time and money lost. Still others, as was pointed out by Commander Achlom of the Torpedo Factory, have been compelled to rent large houses, the rents and rates of which absorb 30 per cent., a third of the workers’ wages At the Torpedo Factory the skilled men get about 33s 9d., so that men have to pay between 10s. and 12s. for the right to live.
Renfrewshire County Council intends to build cottages for their labourers, because these poor fellows have been driven from their insanitary houses by their employers. That action may have been inspired by the decision recently arrived at by Lanarkshire with reference to houses at Cleland and Harthill.
Joe Sullivan and Jas. Turner are driving the Lanarkshire County Council to consider the housing in and around Bellshill and Bothwell.
Rents are rising in Kirkcaldy, and a Tenants’ Association will soon fight for municipal houses.
The town and county councils of Scotland have just had their second conference on housing. The first was held three years ago. They may hold the next three years hence but it is up to the Socialists to see that the housing problem is tackled, It is easy to talk, confer, inquire, investigate and all that, as well as do a Highland fling around slums or cottages but what we want is the goods, decent houses for all whether “economic rent” is paid or not.
From: Justice 11 June 1914, p.6.
With the victory at the Falkirk School Board election has come free books and classes in economics and industrial history. We wish our comrades there good luck in their endeavour to squeeze the Education Act to the utmost.
A petition, very largely signed, though hardly as large as it would have been had time permitted, was presented to the Stonehouse School Board urging the rescinding of the decision that has so unjustly lowered the position of comrade Anderson for the assistance given to Tom Gibb. The Socialist teachers of Glasgow have resolved to issue a statement on the matter to the electors, and intend to hold a demonstration in Stonehouse on Saturday, June 20. Those willing to spend the afternoon and evening there might write Mr. R. Nichol, Auldhouse Avenue, Pollokshaws. This group, has also written the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union with the desire to obtain the support of that body on behalf of Anderson, as the present disgraceful situation is the outcome of his ardent support Tom Gibb at the by-election held at the close of last year. It will be interesting to see what can and will be done. The miners have certainly no better friend, outside their own ranks, than our comrade Anderson.
We are pleased to note that the Glasgow branches are reviving, and with a push for the rest of the season should be strong enough to contest several seats at the municipal election in November, and to run a series of winter lectures. A great amount of work is being done this “Red Week” in fact, such as Glasgow never witnessed before – and it will end with a demonstration at the Monument, Glasgow Green, Sunday, June 14, at 3 p.m. It is the duty of everyone to talk about it, chalk it down on the pavements, advertise it anyhow, so long as everybody knows about it and promises to come to it. A crowd of eager men have threatened to chalk their side of the city white. That is the spirit that accomplishes things.
Since the tramway strike in 1911 the insurance company has been putting up the premium on Glasgow, largely, as 1 believe, because of the inability of many motor-men who took the places of victimised strikers. The accidents to vehicles and persons have been on the increase to such an extent that the insurance company this year demanded £30,000. Rather than grant this the Corporation, through the tramway department, has taken on the third party risk. Now the car-workers and the public are being deluged with advice. The public early last week were amused to see placards at the front and at the rear of most cars with the words “Safety first.” This week the legend runs, “Run no risks.” These two warnings could well act as mottoes indicating the object and intent of Socialism.
The cant behind these words is mountainous indeed. If the Corporation considered the safety of the citizens first, they would plunge heartily into the £8 cottage scheme advanced by Socialist and Labour men. The tramway income this year is £1,078,691, an increase of £71,038. This ought to bring in its train a larger profit than last year, and the possibility of wiping out the debt of three and a-half million pounds incurred in laying down the tramway plant. Shortly, a quarter of a million ought to be at the disposal of the city out of the tramway income to be used to erect cottages. The fight for these is going to arouse one of the keenest battles the propertied people have ever waged against the workers in Glasgow.
In Woodside Ward the workers have a chance of returning Geo. Smith in place of ex-Bailie Pratt, now M.P. for West Lothian, who, by the way, will face Geo. Dallas as Labour candidates for West Lothian at next General Election. As we are celebrating “Red Week” in the district, we are doing all we can for our old comrade Smith.
About three years ago the Corporation defeated the tram-men in a strike for more money. Now the Labour group has wrung £13,000 extra wages out of the tramway department for the men, and reduction of hours for many from 54 to 51 without reduction of pay.
The Labour group has also managed to get the minimum for all Corporation employees raised to 27s. a week. If the city workers vote straight it will be 30s. this time, next year. Mr. Renfrew said that if the Corporation paid 27s. a week it would touch every trade in the city. Well we have argued so too and hope so. All this ought to favour the chances of Smith.
At the Co-operative Congress in Dublin, when he learned that the Co-operative Union had correspondence classes in Marshall’s economics, comrade Macdougall urged that Marxian economics ought to be taught. It was agreed to look into the matter and devise a scheme of “co-operative economics.” If our good friends all round make up their minds, this newly manufactured article will have a close approximation to working class or Marxian economics. It is to be hoped others will push our educational ware in co-operative and trade union circles as steadily and effectively as Macdougall.
From: Justice 18 June 1914, p.6.
In the vote for district organiser for the Society of Amalgamated Toolmakers our comrade Laurie Anderson came in top with 1,988 votes to 829 for the next candidate. As Anderson missed success by just about 200 votes against all the votes cast for the other candidates, a second ballot is necessary. Scotland is safe for Anderson, so therefore we appeal to English comrades to do their best for his return. Bear in mind that, if victorious, Anderson will be a tower of strength to the Party in Glasgow and will be free to contest a ward at the municipal elections this November. We are confident, as a result of his past work for the unemployed, that he will win a seat at a canter. Every vote obtained, then, is a vote for revolution.
“Red Week” is now gone, but not without results in Scotland. In Glasgow, between twenty and thirty meetings were held prior to the demonstration on Glasgow Green last Sunday afternoon, most of them being highly successful, so far as new members are concerned. The Green meeting was easily the best this last fifteen years under our auspices, and more new members were enrolled than at any previous meeting I have ever heard of in Scotland. The demonstration cost not a single penny except what was spent in pipe clay, of which a considerable quantity must have been used, for wherever I went I saw “Red Week” writ large. I can safely say our men never chalked with so much good will before. From collections I got handed over to me about £2, and to this will be added several pounds, the gift of the Anderston Branch, who, like the rest of us, are determined that Glasgow shall have an organiser. We shall have one right away now, and if we revive and grow as we have done this week we shall soon be able to flood the country with others. As the week’s campaign idea is catching on, because successful, we will use it right on till winter begins. Now, then, comrades, you have all seen what good hard work in one week can do; keep it up and we can soon sweep the workers on to Socialism.
What applies to Glasgow equally applies to Paisley, which was thoroughly chalked and talked last week by Gallacher, Campbell and others. The Sunday demonstration on the County Square was almost as good as that on the Green. This summer huge piles of literature have been disposed of among the “buddies,” a very healthy sign indeed. “Keep your eye on Paisley.”
It is not surprising to know that Hinshelwood and his merry men of Greenock made things hum there all last week, ending up with a magnificent meeting on the Esplanade addressed by J.D. Macdougall.
A few more speakers and nothing could hold us back. Oh, for the gift of tongues!
On Saturday, June 20, at 7 p.m., the Scottish Socialist Teachers’ Society will hold a demonstration at Stonehouse Cross in support of comrade A. Anderson, M.A., Socialism and Education. From the leaflet circulated in the district I gather that the following will speak: James B. Houston; M.A. (Pres.); John Maclean, M.A. (B.S.P.); J. Carstairs Matheson, M.A. (S.L.P.); Thomas Henderson, B.Sc. (Fabian Society, LL.P.); Robert Nichol, M.A, (University Socialist Club and B.S.P.); Helen Currie, M.A. (W.S.P.U.); Jas.Maxton, M.A. (Labour candidate for Montrose Burghs and Chairman Scottish Divisional Council I.L.P.); John Summers (I.L.P. and B.S.P.); R.W. Roxburgh, M.A., M.A. L.L.B., I.L.P.); and John Linton, M.A. (I.L.P.). After this dose of letters the parents of Stonehouse will not need to send their children to school till after the infant stage!
The delegates to the S.C.W.S. quarterly meeting last Saturday decided that all employees be members of a trade union. That is the way they do it in Hamburg.
The mine owners in Scotland are pressing for a shilling reduction on the miners’ wages. This if carried would mean only 6s. 3d. per day. The men are determined not to let their wages fall below a minimum of 7s. To prevent a fall the county organisations are holding delegate meetings to settle a policy of working four days a week. The Scottish Federation will hold a conference on June 23 to give final form to the men’s decisions. The masters maintain that this policy of restricted output will prevent them executing contracts, and it is inferred that they will apply the lock-out to beat back the men into the mines. Interesting times are ahead of us in Scotland. Our branches and our Scottish District Council had better prepare plans for the worst, so that whatever the immediate outcome the men will be fired with revolutionary Socialist principles.
From: Justice 25 June 1914, p.6.
This week freaks of the propertied class are doing their best to excite us all about Robert the Bruce and Bannockburn, a battle fought six hundred years ago by serfs for the benefit of a few barons. In Glasgow the St. Andrew’s Society has been successfully active. It had arranged a special service in the Cathedral. Bailies and many other busybodies attended to hear the choir sing “Oh, Father, whose Almighty Power.” I presume this sweet praise was sung to Wodin or Mars, or some other of the old-fashioned gods that revelled in destruction by lightning or on the field of battle. It certainly could not have been to the Father of Christ. We are told that in one solo the recurring “Arm, arm, ye brave,” with the prophecy of Divine help in defence of “your nation, religion, and laws,” was as effective as it was appropriate to the occasion.
Considering the composition of the audience, property-owners who believe in war when carried on by hireling wage-slaves, the appeal no doubt would be effective, and remembering the circumstances inducing the song, the words were just as appropriate; but if cathedrals exist for softening the hereditary brutal instincts in man and turning the mind forward and upward instead of backward and downward, then why, oh why, was the ceremony performed in a cathedral?
The ministers are coming the patriotic game pretty strong when they have “Scots wha hae” played in church on a Sunday, whilst the collection is being taken. Perhaps the minister who was guilty on this occasion – Rev. Donald MacMillan, D.D., of Kelvinhaugh, Glasgow – was not thinking of Burns’s poem, but solely on the financial significance of the first three words!
The Glasgow and Govan school boards have circularised their teachers requesting them to “tell their classes the story of the War of Independence, and of the battle itself, and to point out its lessons.” One lesson I hope that will be emphasised by teachers who have not lost their sanity is that, whether Bannockburn was a decisive battle or not, whether it was fought for “independence” or not, the wage-earners are still slaves, and have their “War of Independence,” to pass through yet. However, as Burns said, “It’s coming yet for a’ that.”
Lord Balfour of Burleigh has decided that the miners’ wage has this week to drop from 7s. 3d. to 7s. It is rapidly dropping. I expect that shortly the mine-owners will be putting in a claim that the miners work for nothing a day, so that Balfour may have an excuse to reduce it to 3s. When are the miners going to get sick of this see-saw system of wage payment? When are they going strike out for the abolition of the master class altogether?
Lord Provost Stevenson, of Glasgow, Fabian, has been adopted as prospective Liberal candidate for Leith Burghs. The Lord Provost has recently been voting steadily with the reactionaries against the Labour group in the Town Council, Stevenson has now been made a baronet.
The Glasgow and South-Western Railway Conciliation Board has granted increases of 1s. and 2s. a week to shunters, porters, collectors, and men of that grade. We trust that next time it turns generous it will be less timid and disburse 10s. a week extra.
The Glasgow trams, after putting aside £l02,606, as, sinking fund and £212,642 as renewal and, depreciation, showed a net surplus of £53,892. Only £100,000 are now needed, and Glasgow’s trams, worth three and a-half million pounds, are communal property that will yield at least a quarter of a million pounds profit. As the “Glasgow Herald” puts it, this will produce a “Problem of Prosperity.” Yes, for the capitalist class – not for us.
The “Herald,” that gloats daily over Ulster says that the surplus must not be used for “sectional purposes"! Properties must be bought to widen streets, and slums must be bought to clear foul areas. These are two typical suggestions emanating from the editor. Why we should give the surplus to house-owners who live miles from Glasgow puzzles some of us. If that is not giving the benefit to a section, a very tiny section, I am unable to fathom the meaning of the word. Never a word does the editor breathe about erecting cottages for the people. In ten years the city can be absolutely changed and shelter reduced to a tithe of its present cost. All can thus benefit. This, to the editor of the “Herald,” is sectionalism. Had I Jenny Geddes’s stool near at hand it would fly in the direction of this worthy old humbug.
We are delighted to know that the Glasgow Trades Council has appointed a committee of nine to prepare for a housing demonstration in September. We trust that every working-class body will be represented on the final arrangements committee. If not, someone, or more will lose a reputation. Slippery men and slippery words have damned progress in Glasgow till the moment, but that has to cease – or the Devil will have his own.
From: Justice 2 July 1914, p.6.
The traditional idea in England is that the inhabitants of Scotland are as poor as cavemen and as hard as misers. As an ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory, I wish to kill that myth. We just learn that the late Mr. James Howden, of forced draught and other appliances has forgotten to take from this earth capital and other property valued at £417,539 – apart from what he squandered whilst in our midst. That disposes of those who imagine we are all poor this side the Tweed. On, many occasions I have seen hundreds of workers entering and leaving Howden’s engineering works in Glasgow, but never Howden himself!
Whilst he did a little inventing, yet the machinery issued in his name was actually made by men who have a struggle to live, and, in all probability, will leave nothing behind of any greater importance than debts. Can we do anything other than assume that these busy bodies were the medium by which the huge fortune left was realised? That surely disposes of the mysterious slander that we Scots are hard!
Laurie Anderson has secured the organiser-ship of the toolmakers by 2,972 votes against 1,385. We wish him every success until the metal workers are all gathered into the one great fold, when a greater future lies before him.
George Smith gained the municipal by-election in Woodside Ward, Glasgow, and now forms the eighteenth member of the Labour group in the town council. Six seats have been won in as many months. If we stick to the municipal cottage scheme it will not take long till the working class capture an actual majority of the seats.
Some correspondence has lately been passing between our Aberdeen B.S.P. branch and the local L.R.C. in connection with the contesting of North Aberdeen. That constituency is ours meantime, and Fred. Hall is at present our prospective candidate. There are many good constituencies elsewhere in Scotland worthy of a fight – South and North-West Lanark, say – and we would politely suggest to those who are anxious to steal North Aberdeen from us that they had better try some of these others. If our suggestion is not attended to, then we can but come to one conclusion, and from that proceed along one concerted line of action.
It is advisable that our members should be gathering money to finance contests in Scotland. With a determined effort we ought to obtain as much as would enable us to pay four returning officers’ taxes. If comrades would only squarely put the situation before union branches, considerable help could be obtained.
Mr. G.N. Barnes asked a question in the Commons on the treatment meted out to our comrade, A. Anderson, but was informed that the affair was the exclusive matter of the School Board and the ratepayers. If that is so, the ratepayers ought to demand the dissolution of the Board and the appointment of a new one on the issue that is arousing so much just indignation in and around Stonehouse. Anderson will be at Aberdeen this week-end, and it behoves every member and sympathiser there to leave no stone unturned to give him a reception such as no Socialist has yet received in the Granite City. It is, indeed, somewhat tragic to recollect that teachers have been urged to “draw lessons” from Bannockburn and the “War of Independence” when their assertion of independent thoughts, about capitalism brings unmerited insult and degradation of position. Where is the “freedom” won for us by our valiant ancestors led by Wallace or by Bruce?
The Scottish miners have now definitely decided to work only four days a week. They will be none the worse of the extended rest; since last year they turned out 2,937,887 tons more than in 1912. That handsome increase, by the way, nails down in right style the inspired insult to the miners, that the establishment of a minimum wage for those working in abnormal places would lead to the men cheating the masters. The only decreases I have heard of are decreases in the ranks of the men through fall of roofs and other fatal accidents, and decreases in wages, one or two of which I have recently recorded with the fidelity of the recording angel herself.
Some southern comrades imagine there are no beauty spots in Aberdeenshire. Our Aberdeen comrades are anxious to remove that figment and request men to invite holiday-makers to their camp up Deeside. There will be sport, scenery, pure air, discussions on how to run Mars as well as the earth, and plans prepared to solve the whence and the whither of the universe. These wonderful men are prepared to carry all this through at far less than a sovereign a week. Had I not promised to visit some friends in the moon on my aeroplane, I would myself willingly have snapped at this unique chance. Those willing to risk this life “under the greenwood tree” had better write to G.A. Cooper 173a Union Street, Aberdeen, and he will put them right. In a short time I will be scanning the papers for news of a suspected citizen army preparing plans to capture Balmoral!
From: Justice 9 July 1914, p.6.
The following is the order in which appear the names of the prospective Parliamentary candidates voted on by Scottish branches, according to the votes, recorded: Messrs. Hynds, Maclean, Macdougall, McCall, and Hinshelwood. The next step must now be decided on by the District Council.
At the last fortnightly meeting of the Falkirk and District Trades Council a letter was read from the Pattern Makers’ Association stating that they intend to take no action in regard to the proposal that they should financially support the British Socialist Party candidate in the Falkirk Burghs at the next General Election. In that event it is the business of our local members to approach each member individually and find out exactly those who will subscribe voluntarily. Persistence tells.
On the Falkirk School Board our comrades McPherson and Primrose are making themselves felt. A month ago they obtained free books, and now they have obtained the abolition of home lessons, together with the restriction of corporal punishment. Their comrades on the Parish Council have won another concession to their aged recipients of relief by the abolition of skimmed and butter milk to give way to the sole use of sweet milk. They and other parish councillors might use their position to draw attention to the needless tax of 30s. 1d. imposed on those marrying through the sheriff, to power being granted to the registrar to complete a marriage without the intervention of a sheriff, to the charges taken for extracts of death needed to satisfy funeral and friendly societies, and to other such impositions demanded by registrars in the prosecution of their duties. All feudal barriers and charges ought to be swept away, so that all the legally imposed duties of registration and certification of births, marriages, and deaths may be carried out by people free from trouble and expense.
Scotland is being specially favoured with shows and showmen at present. As I write General Bramwell Booth has just finished his visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow with his many-coloured crew of merry Salvationists. It is quite refreshing to have his description of himself as stated in St. Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow: “I am engaged in the occupation of a hallelujah showman,” he said, “and whatever you may think of me as a showman, I believe you will think well of my show.” From what I saw of it, I am convinced it was very amusing, and would have caused even the late Barnum to have grown green with envy. As a means of doing the people real good, however, the whole show has been a complete failure; and, as a barrier in the path of genuine education, it has been a vast danger.
J.D. Macdougall has now started his work as organiser for the Glasgow area, and it becomes imperative that every Socialist in and around that city join up to keep him in the position until he may be drafted to London. The work is proceeding quite successfully in Glasgow, especially as Socialists are beginning to realise that it is a greater betrayal to be outside a Socialist organisation than outside a trade union.
That another great coal war is approaching no one will deny. Just the other day the miners’ wages were reduced 3d. a day to 7s., and now the masters are demanding another reduction of 1s. a day. That would bring the day’s average down to 6s. In the meantime, the men have resolved on a four days a week policy, and to bring this into effect the Fife miners have given the usual 14 days’ notice that will terminate on July 18. The Fife Masters have replied by notifying the men that after that date their services will no longer be required.
It is now absolutely necessary that every branch of our Party, and every individual Socialist reader of “Justice” living in or near the coalfields, make immediate preparations to seize this opportunity for educational purposes. Let them at once write our Scottish secretary, J.D. Macdougall, who will make the necessary arrangements to get speakers and literature. As the second half of July is a general holiday period, it ought to be easy to get a flood of speakers. It would also be advisable if our Party, executive saw fit to draft and issue 100,000 leaflets pointing out the significance of the struggle and the need for the overthrow of capitalism with its see-saw wages system.
I, for one, volunteer to do a fortnight in any of the coal-mine areas. Others at once send to Macdougall.
We look to the Kilmarnock Socialist Hundred to make preparations in Ayrshire, to the Edinburgh and Bonnyrigg branches to attend to the Lothians, to the Falkirk and Stenhousemuir comrades to rally around the Stirlingshire miners, and to Fife and Lanarkshire to eclipse even the great work they have done in the past. Should a crisis come, I trust I shall not need to pillory any branch for failing to do its duty.
From: Justice 16 July 1914, p.6.
Somehow or other there appeared in this column a fortnight ago a statement to the effect that Fred. Hall was our prospective candidate for North Aberdeen. No such a person is in our Party, so everyone will be pleased to know that Fred. Knee still is the man. May he be the first Social-Democrat (since the passing of the lamented John Burns) to enter that corrupt place, the House of Commons. No better man could be selected to wrestle with the “devils” there, as our Carlisle men assert, that Fred. is not afraid to tackle anyone in the good old “Coomberland” style. The “heid yins” of our B.S.P. secretly admit he is our genuine champion. As we are of those who believe that “leaders” should lead, not follow, we cannot be accused of malice in our wish to see Fred. try conclusions with the “wrigglers” of the front bench Liberals and Unionists. Were it not for the prospective rise in the price of our “mountain dew” through the formation of another combine we would drain a dram to his success.
Yes, with sad and bated breath, we must announce the coming of a Lowland Malt Whisky Combine. The rise in prices and the Liberal land reforms have driven many brave descendants of Wallace and Bruce to seek homes in Canada or Australasia, but the possible rise in the price of our one and only solace may drive us all hence to warmer climes, where the vintage has not yet been cornered. Lament as we may, and yearn as we may, for a Burns to give form to our sad thoughts, the fact still sternly looks us in the face that a combine with a capital of £300,000 has been formed. Here are the names of the combining units: Glenhinchie Distillery Company, Ltd., Clydesdale Distillery Company, Ltd., A. and J. Dawson, Ltd., Rosebank Distillery, Ltd., and Wm. Young and Co., Ltd.
Pity the poor Anchor Line (Henderson Brothers) shareholders. The total profits for the year were £314,572, and with last year’s balance £390,716. The Ordinary shareholders got 10 per cent. and another 5 per cent. bonus, or 15 per cent. in all, and this swallowed just £37,500, whilst Debenture holders obtained £19,704 interest and Preference shareholders £16,832. All these outlays involved only £74,036 out of the £390,716 that could have been paid the shareholders. The dividends paid here clearly show that big firms only give a fraction to claimants, apart from what has been paid during the year to other sections of the parasite class and included in current expenses. It is time the seamen and other workers, out of whom the Anchor Line and similar companies make a fat living, bestirred themselves and demanded a little more than they are presently obtaining. I say “a little more” because the workers of these Isles do not seem anxious to get all they create; they would be uncomfortable if they were free from the fleecers. For heaven’s sake, sailor lads, make a bid for “a little more.”
As far as I can gather the Lochgelly Coal and Iron Company are giving £1 10s. dividend for the last half-year on £10 shares. For the year it has been £2 10s., or 25 per cent. In view of these small profits I fear I must change my mind, and instead of going out to help the miners, if the masters lock them out for working four days a week to keep up wages, I seem to feel it is my duty to urge the “public” to demand that miners work seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, for the matchless boon of visiting their families the rest of the time. Pity the poor masters who get only 25 per cent. for generously finding work – and death – for those ungrateful miners.
We are told that the Government intends to spend £2,000,000 on housing at Rosyth. They would be better to do the whole of Fife when they are at it Their gunners could get fine practice on Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, and other parts of the “golden fringe,” to clear the way for better and cheaper houses for the people.
Glasgow Corporation would rather spend £30,000 in buying a new park beside Loch Lomond than build cottages for the citizens, whilst sending delegates to the Conference on the Prevention of Consumption at Leeds.
At Leeds Sir William Younger, Bart., member of the Royal Commission on Housing in Scotland, in the opening address stated that he had recently visited a good many dwellings, both in town and country, and when he saw and realised the horrible hovels (“horrible hovels” just fills the bill) in which so many of his countrymen are condemned to live and bring up their families – single-room or two-room dwellings in buildings jammed and huddled one against the other – he felt a sense of wonder and despair; wonder that the people have so long tolerated in patience such hideous conditions of existence, despair at the thought of the costly and elaborate system which has now been established throughout the land, the benefits of which must be largely neutralised by these deplorable housing conditions. I have given some the facts already relative to Glasgow, but I am just tempted to mention on his authority that in Glasgow 10,000 people are forced by poverty to sleep with 2,500 sufferers from phthisis. To this he attributes the partial spread of the disease.
From: Justice 23 July 1914, p.6.
Last Monday and Tuesday, July 13 and 14, saw the reproduction of the Woolwich strike on a small scale at G. and J. Weir’s, Cathcart. On the Tuesday of the King’s visit the men left at breakfast-time for the day. Next day one man approached the manager to see if the hours thus lost would not count against them before getting their overtime pay. On the Saturday he was dismissed, on Monday morning his squad struck in sympathy, on Monday at dinner-time Macdougall and Maclean by chance spoke at the works’ gate, and on Tuesday fully 1,000 men were out. On the Wednesday the men had a meeting and decided to return to work after the Glasgow Fair holidays, pending negotiations between their Executive Council and the firm of marine pumpmakers involved. These are the bare surface facts. But more lies underneath. No British firm has been more Americanised than this pump-making monopolist, one that supplies the Navy as well as the merchant fleet. It is hustle, hustle, hustle all the time and every time.
By chance a circular meant exclusively for the foremen has fallen into my hands. The Socialist who reads this and denies the Marxian theory of value ought to hie him to a nunnery or a hermit’s cell until his trump blows. I reproduce it as I got it.
“In view of the large increase in the size of the establishment the directors desire to draw the attention of all foremen to the necessity of maintaining a high degree of efficiency, together with strict discipline, in their departments. The directors are conscious that the discipline could be improved, and ask the co-operation of all foremen to assist them in respect to this matter, which is the first responsibility of a foreman. The following matters are specially insisted upon:-
“All foremen to be in their departments before the second whistle is blown to see that the men start at the correct time.
“Until the whistle is blown no foreman to leave the department. He should see that no preparations for leaving are made by the men; in particular, no hot water to be drawn by the men before the whistle blows.
“Foremen are expected to remain in their own departments as far as possible; sectional hands should bring the work.”
“In this direction the directors must insist on greater efficiency, in view not only of the increase in the rates of wages, but also the increase of the ratio of labourers’ charges in almost every department. The directors feel that much greater care should be taken in the selection of labourers. Only strong and active men should be employed, and they suggest to each foreman that he should review most carefully his labourers’ staff and bring up the efficiency by carefully weeding out all non-efficients, and at the same time concentrate his efforts on reductions in numbers without loss of efficiency.”
“The directors desire to draw the attention of foremen to the large increase in capital expenditure during the last three years. This expenditure has been largely incurred in providing improved facilities, more efficient machine tools, and general labour-reducing plant. Accordingly, it is hoped the fullest and most efficient use be made of these facilities, and in the case of machine tools the foreman should insist on the co-operation of their men in the attaining of improved results.”
This policy of rushing men to get the work done more quickly not only supports our contention that articles tend to sell according to the time taken to make them, but shows that in the process the men are nagged at until any excuse is seized to come out on strike. This clearly explains the strike.
The Weir family are believers in the tariff. Naturally. Tariff lecturers tell us they are anxious to find employment for all workers. That is a lie, with as many strong adjectives added as the ingenious reader likes to supply. The above circular shows that the tariff capitalists are as anxious to dismiss slaves, as their Free Trade capitalist “opponents.”
When is our class going to rise against this system that uses inventions and shorter methods of production to dismiss and starve the slaves? The sooner we get production for use instead of for profit the better for the workers, at any rate. How long is our class going to remain docile, profit-producing slaves? How long, oh ye gods, how long”)
In the acreage and livestock returns of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland we learn that during 1913 the area of cultivated land has decreased by 23,415 acres and the number holdings by 274. I trust the Liberals are now proud of their Small Landholders Act. These “practical” politicians, who always are kind enough to sneer at anything we Socialists suggest, were going to return the people to the land. The above official figures show that in spite of all their efforts the people are leaving the land, and that those remaining are more and more given to the growing of grass. We can hardly blame the landlords if they give more and more land to grouse and other game. At any rate, their blame must now partly fall on the Liberals, who have all along insisted that they could solve the land problem. I now request every comrade to note these facts for 1913 during which the Liberal Act was in operation, and thereafter choke every Liberal who dares talk land. Only Socialism will put land to its fullest use.
From: Justice 30 July 1914, p.7.
Some few months ago, when some folks went raging mad about the late David Livingstone, I had to remind ardent Christians that David, whilst directly serving his God, indirectly conferred a greater boon on that Devil incarnate, Capital, by pioneering the way for the supply of negroes for the diamond and gold mines of South Africa. But for David, Wernher and Beit would not have left twenty millions.
Similarly I take it on myself to puncture the inflated notions some mathematicians have of John Napier, of Merchiston, who invented logarithms, just 300 years ago to shorten the labours of those who otherwise had huge multiplication and division sums to do. I grant that but for him scientific work would have been retarded. What these brainy men have to remember, nevertheless, is that the advance of science has often meant loss of employment for thousands by new labour-saving methods. Just to the extent that Napier’s discoveries have aided human advance, so almost to that extent has he helped to injure one section or other of the working class. Now we find that Professor Whittaker, of Edinburgh University, has invented machines to use Napier’s logarithms and get answers without any working at all. These machines will be of extreme use to engineers, statisticians, laboratory computers, actuaries, and business men in whose premises many calculations have to be made. These men are crowding to the exhibition at Edinburgh University to see the wonderful machines, and we know that many will be induced to buy them to save expense – in other words, dispense with workers. We trust that many of the “superior, intellectual” wage-slaves will now awaken to the fact that machinery is now making of them unskilled labourers.
At the Ayr Sheriff Court, Sheriff Brown, in passing sentence on a bookmaker, stated it as his opinion that “bookies” are parasites on society. No “bookie” would deny that. “Bookies” may, however, pride themselves on this virtue, that they force no one to bet and no one is compelled to bet before earning a livelihood. That cannot be said for landlords and capitalists, who live as parasites on unwilling victims. I am worrying out this business. I can see myself one day on the bench judging a capitalist. I am puzzled as to what sentence I would have to pass upon him for living as a parasite upon working men when Brown fines his victim £20 or sends him to prison for 60 days. I have it I – I shall just purchase a Whittaker calculating machine and allow it to work the billions of years’ hard penal service I shall put the scoundrel to. And then it shall be a bit easier to deal with sheriffs, parasites on parasites, or the square of one parasite!
As a result of the inquiry into the number of railway servants working more than 12 hours in any one day during the month of March it was found that out of 15,187 railwaymen in Scotland 3,212 had done so. More than 20 per cent. Since then my favourite hymn has been, “Britons never shall be,” etc.
Belfast and Glasgow members of our “Imperial” race ought to read this choice description of these products of British Christianity and capitalism. A party of Dutch journalists travelled via Glasgow to Belfast to see the launch of the Statendam, the new ship of the Holland-Amerika Company. One of them on his return home thus contrasted our cities with Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the “Rotterdamsche Courant”: “We do not see here the awful poverty and depravity which exist in Belfast, and which I have only seen in a worse form in the larger and still more sombre city of Glasgow – by day the shameful, dirty people, the shuddering drunkard; by night, drunken men, drunken women, drunken girls. In Glasgow I saw immoral girls of 12 or 13 years, with eyes bleared by whisky, standing on the pavements of even the most important streets, while ragged, bare-footed boys rush about selling the evening papers.”
Was it not Robert Burns who said something like this:-
“Oh! that some power the gift wad gie us
To see oorsels as ithers see us!”
In spite of it all, we shall have King Carson boasting of the wealth and prosperity of Belfast, and pot-bellied Glasgow bailies in after-dinner style orating grandiosely on the greatness, grandeur, and glory of this the second city of the Empire.
A lock-out of tenters is on in Dunfermline, and blacklegging is being indulged in by mechanics and mounters, as well as a few women. The local Trades Council has invited John Maclean through for about a week to help the men involved by holding a series of public meetings. There are all the signs of a stir up in the linen industry before long, although one trouble is the unorganised condition of the women. Should these women come out, the trade union movement in Scotland will have to render them assistance in the hope that they will join their union, federate all the unions more closely than at present, and then amalgamate all unions into one great national textile union.
Note by transcriber. The First World War broke out the following week. Thereafter “Scottish Notes” cease to appear.