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


James Maxton with John Taylor, Fenner Brockway and John McNair, 1934-1936

image from Red Clydeside collection

John Taylor was Secretary of the ILP in the early 1920s and the man who was responsible for organising the successful ILP General Election campaign in Glasgow in 1922. Although never part of the ILP Westminster group, Taylor was still considered an integral part of the ILP policy and strategy team during Maxton's leadership of the ILP in the 1930s and he, along with Brockway and McGovern, supported the ILP's decision to disaffiliate from the Labour Party in 1932.

Fenner Brockway founded the No Conscription Fellowship in 1914 and served over two years in prison for conscientious objection during First World War. He was chair of the No More War Movement (which later merged with the Peace Pledge Union) and chair of the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors for many years. Brockway played a pivotal role in securing support for Maxton's campaign for ILP disaffiliation from the Labour Party in 1932 although he later rejoined the Labour Party and was elected as Labour MP for Eton & Slough between 1950-64. Fenner Brockway became a life peer in 1964 and died in 1988.

John McNair (1887-1968) was a Tynesider who devoted his life to the socialist cause and who was General Secretary of the Independent Labour Party from 1939-55. During the Spanish civil war he fought alongside George Orwell on the Republican side writing a book of his experiences entitled 'Spanish Diary' in which he highlighted how volunteers fighting for the Republican cause fared as badly at the hands of Stalinists as they did from Franco's fascists. McNair also ran the ILP office in Barcelona where he coordinated the money, materials and men raised in England by the ILP for the benefit of the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista, the United Marxist Workers' Party), whom they regarded as their sister party. McNair was James Maxton's close friend and biographer and published his book 'Maxton: beloved rebel' in 1955.

Source: Maxton Papers, Glasgow City Archives