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


Election manifesto of John McGovern, 6 Nov 1928

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The trajectory of John McGovern's political career makes very interesting reading. A one-time Anarchist and anti-war campaigner during the first world war, McGovern became a member of Aldred's Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation in the early 1920s and acted as Guy Aldred's election agent in the 1922 General Election.

McGovern emigrated to Australia sometime in 1923 but returned to Scotland within a couple of years, by the late 1920s McGovern had been elected as Chairman of Shettleston ILP and was considered to be an influential figure in ILP circles in Scotland. During this period he had formed close alliance's with Davie Kirkwood and James Maxton and on the death of John Wheatley in 1930, McGovern was selected as Labour candidate to contest the seat for the Labour Party. McGovern retained Shettleston for Labour with a comfortable majority. However, McGovern was expelled from the Labour Party in 1931 on the grounds that, the previous year he had cheated to ensure his victory in the selection procedure to choose the Labour candidate to contest the parliamentary seat of Shettleston. This seems to have soured McGovern's attitude to the Labour Party and in the disaffiliation debate which raged within ILP ranks throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s he became one of the most vociferous supporters of complete ILP disaffiliation from the Labour Party.

McGovern was a committed pacifist and was opposed to Britain's involvement in both World Wars. He was arrested twice in his political career once at a free speech meeting in 1931 and another time at an unemployment demonstration in 1933. He was also an outspoken supporter of the rights of the unemployed during the 1930s and joined the NUWM marches in 1933 and 1934.