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


Guy Aldred - communism and religion, 1912

by Guy Aldred

image from Red Clydeside collection

Born in London in 1886, Guy Aldred made his first public impact at the age of 16 as a child evangelist. However, by the age of 18 he had become an atheist and shortly thereafter embarked on his life-long career as an exponent of anarcho-communism. During Aldred's lifetime he edited five periodicals, The Herald of Revolt, The Spur, The Commune, The Council, and The Word and had engaged in such diverse causes as that of Indian independence, the distribution of birth control literature and anti-war agitation and anti-conscription agitation during both World Wars.

Aldred suffered imprisonment several times throughout his political career for his beliefs and principles. In addition to his years spent in prison as a conscientious objector during WW1, Aldred was also sentenced to a year's hard labour for publishing a banned Indian nationalist paper, The Indian Sociologist, in 1909. In 1922 he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for referring in a pamphlet to his support for the 'Sinn Fein tactic' and in 1931 Aldred was prosecuted for speaking at a free speech meeting on Glasgow Green. Aldred along with John McGovern, then of the Independent Labour Party, and Harry McShane, a member of the CPGB were all fined for their participation in this meeting.

Aldred was deeply opposed to the Labour Party and the Trade Unions, he viewed both of them as 'reformist' organisation's run by careerists who were incapable of truly representing the working classes. Aldred was also deeply critical of the CPGB for their slavish adherence to Moscow and the party line, and Aldred was vociferous in his denunciation of what was happening in the USSR under Stalin, calling it a travesty of all he believed Communism to stand for.

Source: Bissett Collection, Glasgow University Special Collections