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


Election manifesto of James Maxton, Dec 1918

image thumbnail  image thumbnail  image thumbnail  image thumbnail 

James Maxton was born in Pollokshaws, an affluent district in the South-side of Glasgow in 1885. His parents were both schoolteachers and they encouraged James to excel in his academic pursuits. Maxton attended Hutcheson's Grammar School and then Glasgow University where he took an M.A. and joined the teaching profession.

Exposed to the writings of Marx and others during his student days, Maxton soon converted to socialism. He joined the Independent Labour Party and soon began to make a name for himself as a political orator at meetings throughout Scotland. He also became involved in the formation of teachers' unions in Scotland, including the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Socialist Teachers' Society. By 1912 he was a leading figure in the ILP and being a pacifist was strongly opposed to Britain's involvement in World War I, finding himself imprisoned for a year for his anti-war agitation's in 1916. Maxton was defeated in the 1918 General Election and for the next four years was Divisional Organizer for the ILP and a member of the Glasgow Education Authority. In the 1922 General Election Maxton was elected as MP for Bridgeton alongside nine of his fellow 'Red Clydesider's'

The Clydesiders were constant critics of the moderate policies of the Labour leader, Ramsay MacDonald, and they seen as irritants by the more sedate members at Westminster. Maxton was on occasion abusive towards members of the Conservative Party and was several times suspended from the House of Comments for his comments. Maxton served the constituency of Bridgeton until his death in 1946.