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Posts Tagged ‘1970s’

John Paton was born in Aberdeen, his father a master baker and his mother a paper factory worker. In his life he was employed in a bewildering number of occupations: apprentice compositor, warehouseman, apprentice baker, hairdresser, milkman and salesman of false teeth. He became involved in politics as a teenager through membership of the Clarion Club and the Shop Assistants’ Union. He joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) around 1906, often going to the Clarion Club room beside Marischal College to meet other like minded individuals. He was interested in socialist propaganda and often spoke in public around the usual gathering points such as the Castlegate.

He had some troubles in his work because of his vocal socialist viewpoints, and he moved to Glasgow around 1910. He became disillusioned with the ILP and became interested in the writings of Mikhail Bakunin and with others re-formed the Glasgow Anarchist Group. He returned to Aberdeen around 1912 becoming heavily involved again with the ILP. He became ILP representative on Aberdeen Trades Council, often putting forward anti-war resolutions and was the ILP nomination for North Aberdeen in 1918, but his anti-war stance worked against him. In 1920/1921 he was ILP Northern Organiser, and then until 1924 party organiser for all of Scotland. He stood for election in South Aberdeen in 1923, and was near to standing for Parliament again in 1928 but was unable to do so alongside his new role as General Secretary of the ILP. He left the ILP in 1933 over his opposition to what he regarded as its pro-communist policies.

He was also secretary of the International Committee of Independent Revolutionary Socialist Parties, secretary of the National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, editor of The New Leader and also The Penal Reformer. He eventually became a Labour M.P. for Norwich from 1945 to 1964.

He wrote a 2 volume autobiography: volume 1 covers early life until 1919, whilst volume 2 (1919 – 1933) is mainly about his professional work with the ILP, after he leaves Aberdeen. The volumes are very detailed describing his formative years learning about socialism and atheism, the Aberdeen Clarion Club, Aberdeen ILP, his pacifist work in World War One (including a few occasions of conflict, such as when Ramsay MacDonald spoke in the city), the role of the ILP Northern Organiser and also the re-founding of the anarchist group in Glasgow.

Related entries: Aberdeen Clarion Club and Musings: Daily acts of rebellion no:1

References: 2 volumes of autobiography: Proletarian Pilgrimage (John Paton, George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, 1935) and Left Turn! (John Paton, Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd., London, 1936). Entry in Biographical Dictionary of European Labour Leaders (2 volumes, A Lane, Westport Greenwood Publishing Co., 1995)

Sources: 2 volumes of autobiography noted above. Some items of correspondence are held at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre (People’s History Museum), Manchester.

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Dave Campbell was born in Aberdeen and worked at the Stoneywood Paper Mill in Dyce. He was Chairman of the Donside Paper Workers Union and led the Mugiemoss workers out on strike in the 1930s, with the consequence that he was blacklisted. He was then employed in the construction industry and became union officer in the Constructional Engineering Union. In 1946 he moved with his family to Birmingham and became a full time local organiser for the union.

He was an active member of Aberdeen Trades Council, specifically with the local Trade Union Organising Committee, which was set up by the Scottish Trades Union Congress in the 1930s, to build up union branches. He was also a local leader of hunger marches (to London in 1938) and Council Vice-President in 1938.

A life-long member of the Communist Party, he was a friend of fellow communist Bob Cooney, who stayed with him in Birmingham, and shared an interest in folk music.

References: Aberdeen Trades Union Council annual report 1989 and website of Graham Stevenson which features hundred of biographies of Communist Party members.

Sources: unknown.

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The Scottish Minorities Group was a national homosexual campaign group founded in Glasgow in 1969. The group had an information centre in Edinburgh from 1975 and introduced Gay Switchboards into Edinburgh in 1972 and Glasgow in 1977. The organisation changed name in 1978 to become The Scottish Homosexual Rights Group and again in 1992 to, Outright Scotland. The organisation continued until around the mid-2000s.

There were members and meetings held in various parts of Scotland, including Aberdeen. The Aberdeen group were part of protests, which also involved the University Gay Society and the Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group, when a group of men were refused from being served drinks at the Scotia Bar in Aberdeen.

References: article in Solidarity: For Social Revolution (January 1978) and adverts placed in Gay News (sourced online).

Sources: papers of the national group are held at the National Archives of Scotland and also at the London School of Economics.

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The National Council of Women of Great Britain was originally formed in 1895 as the National Union of Women Workers. It came out of the 1880s national movement of several women’s philanthropic organisations concerned about civil, educational, religious and social issues affecting women. A body which was part of this movement was the Aberdeen Ladies’ Union (originally called the Ladies’ Union for the Care and Protection of Women and Girls), founded in 1883. The Union had a key role in forming the Central Council of the Conferences of Women Workers in 1891, which was a precursor to the formation of the National Union. In 1897 the Ladies’ Union became the Aberdeen branch of the The National Union of Women Workers.

The Aberdeen Union of Women Workers was made-up of numerous affiliated organisations which worked with women and concerned itself with issues such as poverty, social reform, equal rights, family rights and also suffrage. The affiliated organisations had representatives on the Executive Committee: organisations such as the Aberdeen Clothing Society, Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Employment Exchange and the Aberdeen Women’s Citizen Association. In 1909 the Union worked with the Women’s Liberal Association, Primrose League, National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies to promote female representation on the school boards in Aberdeen and this included joint canvassing work for candidates.

The National Union of Women Workers changed its name to the National Council of Women of Great Britain in 1918. The Council is affiliated to the International Council of Women.

References: website and see below.

Sources: Aberdeen Union of Women Workers papers (1900 – 1926) and a few items as part of the Mary Esslemont papers (an Aberdeen physician) are held at University of Aberdeen Library. National records are held at London Metropolitan Archives.

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Aberdeen World Poverty Association was founded in 1970 on the instigation of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen. The aims were: to collect and make available information about the causes, nature and extent of world poverty and about endeavours to combat or alleviate it; to keep the questions of world poverty and needs of developing countries before the public elected representatives and local interests in north-east Scotland and to co-ordinate efforts of individuals and organisations concerned with these questions. The Association held public events, lobbied and tied up with national groups such as the World Development Movement.

The Association was still active in 1982.

References: see below

Sources: a few items are part of the Mary Esslemont papers (an Aberdeen physician) and are held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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The Scarlet Women Group was a national socialist collective set up in 1976, who split from the Woman’s Liberation Movement, and there were active members living in Aberdeen. Members contributed to a publication called MSPRINT: A Scottish feminist publication (which was the successor to Scottish Women’s Liberation Journal).

References: advert in The Big Print (Aberdeen Peoples Press), MSPRINT sourced on-line and The Women’s Liberation Movement in Scotland (Sarah Browne, Oxford University Press, 2017).

Sources: unknown.

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A University of Aberdeen society which advertised in the Freshers’ magazines. The society were involved in numerous actions including two ‘sit-ins’ of University buildings.

The Southern Africa Solidarity Campaign was a national movement and launched in 1976 in response to the Soweto uprising. The campaign supported all movements fighting against apartheid and for liberation in Southern Africa.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown.

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