Saturday, 31 October 2015

Corbyn quotes John Maclean who wouldn't touch Scotish Labour with a barge pole.

 Jeremy Corbyn speech to "Scottish" Labour yesterday was an interesting one but as an attempt to put Labour in Scotland (a more apt title I think) it was futile one

  It can be summed up as he tried to claim for Labour in Scotland the mantle of a Scottish Socialist Icon John Maclean

Across the UK we now have over 380,000 members and, here in Scotland, the number of members and supporters has more than doubled to over 30,000.
And having our numbers bolstered also gives us the opportunity to remind people of our historic and current purpose to look after and transform the lives of all our people, not just those at the top.
As that great Scottish socialist and poet John Maclean said:
“I am a socialist, and have been fighting and will fight for an absolute reconstruction of society for the benefit of all.”

Mr Corbyn failed to mention  one aspect of John Maclean and that was his uncompromising commitment to Scottish Independence
In 1910 Maclean  formed The Scottish Workers Republican Party (SWRP) . It advocated the political doctrine of communism, whilst also supporting Scottish independence. This dual communist-nationalist doctrine was heavily influenced by the thinking of James Connolly who similarly believed in socialism and independence for Ireland and had set up his Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896.

MacLean argued that the break-up of the British state and empire would aid the cause of world-wide socialism and thus he supported the idea of an independent Scotland. This inherent nationalism alienated the SWRP from the mainstream British left though. The SWRP carried on its political activity for some time after the death of MacLean in 1923 but never made any real impact politically.

Maclean may have recongnised a common cause with Corbyn himself but would  not see any allies in the rest of the Conference Hall.

 In her biography of her father John Mclean Nan Milton wrote of the election of the Red Clydesiders in the General Election of 1922 and refers to the leader the ILP’s 10 Cydesiders ,James Maxton addressing Glasgow City hall before departing for Westminster.

People talk about the atmosphere of the House of Commons getting the better of the Labour men. They will se the atmosphere of the Clyde getting the better of the House of Commons. All the Labour members are personal friends. We are not leaving Glasgow as so many individuals but as a team working towards a goal-and that is the abolition of poverty.

Eighteen months later in the same hall. Maxton has a very different tale to tell. In unambiguous terms he illustrates the inevitable loss of vitality and growing frustration of the group when separated from their popular roots #, and confounded by the arrogance and contempt pf English MPs who regarded them as parochial bumpkins. Maxton clearly anticipated the danger to political integrity….such surroundings would breed, and his solution was short and unequivocal one. The Clydesiders must return to the Clyde and take up the challenge of creating a Socialist Commonwealth in Scotland.

I doubt Jeremy Corbyn as he looked around the conference hall saw anything like the Red Clydesiders desperate to take up that mantle even if they did not recognise that it would be  futil.

But certainly there was no future John Maclean in the Hall.


  1. Glyn, Keir Hardie and John Maclean would power the whole of Scotland for nothing turning in their graves if they could see what their Party has become.
    Kezia Dugdale must have created a record on Question Time the other night, not one bit of applause. Looking a pictures of the Party Conference in Perth this morning I was moved to say that this is what an irrelevance looks like, because sadly this is what they have become in Scotland.

  2. true glyn - but he wouldnt touch the pro big business SNP either. The scottish socialist party are probably the nearest thing in scottish politics today to maclean's socialist and republican traditions. One disappointing feature of 16 years of welsh devolution, to those of us of a republican and socialist bent, is that a welsh equivalent of the SSP hasnt yet emerged.

    1. True but he would see a few kindred souls in the SNP I think.

  3. Maxton's observations echo the predicament in which the 56 find themselves.

    1. Except they plan not to be there for long.

  4. In her recent interview with Brian Taylor (BBC) kezia acknowledges that Labour in Scotland are in fact an accounting unit of UK Labour Party. A few minutes later she is still talking up the Scottish Labour Party. Until she and others of Labour in Scotland get the basic details correct how can they be taken seriously whenever they open their mouths to carp.