Snapshot: Timeline of Red Clydeside
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Snapshot: Timeline of Red Clydeside. What was Red Clydeside?. Shorthand for events between 1915 and 1919, when strikes and demonstrations convinced the Government that a revolution might take place. Debate about significance of events. First phase: events in wartime.

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Snapshot: Timeline of Red Clydeside

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Snapshot timeline of red clydeside

Snapshot: Timeline of Red Clydeside


What was red clydeside

What was Red Clydeside?

  • Shorthand for events between 1915 and 1919, when strikes and demonstrations convinced the Government that a revolution might take place.

  • Debate about significance of events.

  • First phase: events in wartime.

  • Second phase: post-war strikes and demonstrations. Election of 10 Labour MPs in the 1922 elections.


Key events of red clydeside

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • DORA and the Munitions of War Act forbids strike action.

  • 1915: Engineers at Weirs threaten strike action over fears of their position as skilled workers and the introduction of more highly paid American engineers.

  • Weir and Lloyd George refer to union leaders as idle drunkards (most teetotal).


Key events of red clydeside1

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • Dilution of Labour dispute, Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Lang’s of Johnstone, 1915.

  • Two strikes at Fairfields over the leaving certificate system. Strike leaders punished and fined.

  • Glasgow Rent Strikes.

  • Clyde Workers’ Committee became the focus of opposition to the Government.


Key events of red clydeside2

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • John Maclean, Patrick Dollen, James Maxton, Willie Gallacher and David Kirkwood emerge as radical leaders.

  • Disastrous meeting 25 December: Lloyd George heckled and booed.

  • The Forward and Vanguard socialist newspapers suppressed.

  • 1916: socialist leaders arrested for sedition.


Key events of red clydeside3

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • March 1916, David Kirkwood and other union shop stewards arrested and ‘exiled’ to Edinburgh.

  • Most leaders allowed to return to work by 1917.

  • Only John Maclean not released until July 1917.

  • Russian Revolution, 1917.

  • January 1918, Maclean appointed the first Bolshevik consul for Scotland.


Key events of red clydeside4

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • Maclean arrested April, 1918 for sedition.

  • Vast May Day demonstration, 1918: many demands for an end to the war.

  • Maclean imprisoned. Attempts made to ‘section’ him.

  • Maclean refused to eat prison food; was force-fed.

  • Maclean released from prison, December 1918.


Key events of red clydeside5

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • Demands to reduce the working week: the Amalgamated Society of Engineers sought a 47-hour week.

  • In Scotland there was support for a 40-hour week (this would ease unemployment and was supported by the Labour Party, ILP, STUC and Glasgow Trades Council).

  • January 1919: strikes, ship-workers came out, as did other skilled workers.


Key events of red clydeside6

Key events of Red Clydeside

  • Friday 31 January: ‘Bloody Friday’ saw 100,000 demonstrate in George Square in Glasgow in support of a 40-hour working week and at the end of rent restrictions.

  • Fighting between police and demonstrators led to massive overreaction by authorities, who moved 12,000 English soldiers to the city, supported by six tanks.

  • Strike ended swiftly as strike leaders were shocked at the violence.

  • Demands of strikers never met.


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