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


Leaflet entitled 'Manifesto of The Reconstruction Society', 1919

image from Red Clydeside collection

The fear and suspicion within the British political establishment of a Bolshevik inspired revolution on British soil was widespread from 1916 onwards. William Weir, with his upper middle-class background and his experience as a major employer and as a Government minister, was to prove himself a willing and able participant in the propaganda battle to prevent the growing influence of Left-wing political ideology and organisation during this period.

The Conservative right had been instrumental in establishing and organising an extensive and sophisticated network of anti-socialist, anti-Marxist and anti-trade union organisations in Britain. Furthermore, this network operated in conjunction with the intelligence and security apparatus of the state with which it had very close links.

From 1916 onwards, on the orders of MI5, the ILP had its letters opened and its telephones tapped, and a campaign of systematic harassment was conducted by the Special Branch. This suspicion of the Left continued after the war and it is now widely acknowledged that in 1927 MI5 colluded with Britain's first fascist movement, British Fascists (BF), in its work for the "Clear Out the Reds Campaign". A campaign which was organised and launched by high ranking British military personnel including Sir Henry Page Croft and Winston Churchill.

Source: Weir Papers, Glasgow University Archives