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


Postcard entitled 'Vote for Maxton and save the children', 15 Nov 1922

image from Red Clydeside collection

In the General Election of 1922, Labour won 10 out of the 15 Glasgow constituencies, this was in stark contrast to the election result four years earlier in 1918 when Labour won only 1 of the Glasgow constituencies. This victory was greeted with unbounded joy and enthusiasm by Labour supporters in Glasgow, many believing that their vision of a more equal and fairer socialist society was now on the verge of becoming reality. Services of dedication were held throughout the city to celebrate the victory and a crowd of over 250,000 people gathered at St. Enoch railway station to give the victorious MPs a rousing send-off to Parliament.

James Maxton won the seat of Bridgeton in the East End of Glasgow at the second time of asking in 1922, he had contested the seat in the 'Khaki' election of 1918 but came second to the Liberal candidate McCallum-Scott. A variety of reasons for the electoral rise of Labour in the intervening years between the two elections of 1918 and 1922 have been put forward. Many historians believe that simply many more working men and women were proving receptive to the ideas espoused by Wheatley, Maxton and others because of their own experiences in the workplace and in and around their own communities. The years between 1918 and 1922 had proved a disappointment for many workers and their families as the promised post-war 'Land fit for heroes' had not materialised. Poverty and unemployment were still endemic within large sections of the working population.

The experience of the 40 hour strike in 1919, it is said, was important in convincing the majority of Glasgow workers that the political establishment was fundamentally opposed to their interests. The brutal suppression of the strike, firstly by the attack on peaceful demonstrators by several thousand baton wielding policemen in George Square and then by the deployment of 10,000 troops on the streets of Glasgow influenced many to vote for Labour.

Source: McCallum Scott Papers, Glasgow University Special Collections