Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


John Maclean at his trial in Edinburgh, May 1918

image from Red Clydeside collection

Photograph of John Maclean at his trial in Edinburgh in 1918. Throughout the winter of 1917 and early 1918, Maclean agitated tirelessly for a worker's revolution and for an immediate end to the war in Europe. After a week's touring and speaking in the minefields of Durham in April 1918, Maclean was arrested and charged with making statements likely to prejudice recruiting and cause mutiny and sedition among the people.

At his trial in Edinburgh in May 1918, in which he conducted his own defence, Maclean was found guilty of all charges and given a prison sentence of five years.

The Clyde District Defence Committee was formed in the immediate aftermath of the trial to campaign for Maclean's release, weekly marches were held in Glasgow and public demonstrations took place in London, in addition to support from socialist and libertarian organisations in Europe and Russia. After sustained national and international pressure, the coalition government of Lloyd-George eventually agreed to Maclean's unconditional release in December 1918.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives