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


Agitators on the Clyde who desire our defeat, 16 Jan 1916

Small coterie of local leaders who are working to make trouble

image from Red Clydeside collection

The upsurge in industrial militancy and the general air of revolutionary feeling which pervaded the Clydeside workshops during 1915 and 1916 soon became a focus for the British national press. Not surprisingly many of the English journalists who came to Glasgow to report on these events chose to depict the actions of the workers as not only selfish and un-patriotic but also as acts of treason.

Since the introduction of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) in 1914 the authorities had taken a very keen interest in developments within the workshops and yards on Clydeside. The introduction of DORA allowed the government to mount a concerted campaign against the leading socialists and militant trade unionist figures in the Clydeside region. Under DORA, freedom of speech became a casualty of the war and the government used the clauses in this act to successfully deport, prosecute and imprison those who it feared were spreading discontent amongst the workers in the munitions districts.

Clydeside figures imprisoned or deported under DORA included anti-war campaigner John Maclean, Clyde Workers' Committee leader and leading advocate of syndicalist tactics on Clydeside, William Gallacher, editor of 'The Worker' newspaper John Muir, leading ILP activist, James Maxton, and also leading British Socialist Party activist James MacDougall.

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