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Scotland and the Impact of the Great War. Anti-War sentiment. Thornliebank War Memorial. Watch the following clip:. Lesson Starter Red poppies are associated with remembrance, what are white poppies associated with?. You will learn about:.

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scotland and the impact of the great war

Scotland and the Impact of the Great War

Anti-War sentiment

Thornliebank War Memorial

watch the following clip
Watch the following clip:

lesson starter red poppies are associated with remembrance what are white poppies associated with
Lesson StarterRed poppies are associated with remembrance, what are white poppies associated with?
you will learn about
You will learn about:

The anti-war sentiment in Britain

Groups who did not support the war

Treatment of those who were pacifist

opposition to the war
Opposition to the War

Although there was a wave of patriotic fervour that swept Britain on the outbreak of war there were many people who did not fully support the war .

At first these men refused to volunteer and then as the war progressed they fought conscription.

early opposition
Early opposition

Bertrand Russell, a pacifist, said that before the war if a an Englishman killed a German they would be hanged but after the outbreak of war they were a hero.

At the same time as Kitchener was launching his campaign to increase the number of men volunteering, some people were questioning the need for war.

Soon after war was declared 5000 people joined an anti-war demonstration held in Glasgow.

the ilp

Keir Hardie at London Rally

The Independent Labour Party was arguably the opponent of the war.

It was critical of the official Labour Party’s support for Kitchener’s Campaign

This view was not popular and they were widely criticised for being unpatriotic.


In the 1st 2 weeks of the war there were 20,000 casualties

One member of the ILP said that families who has lost relatives would be even less likely to support their anti war campaign.


The ILP and other socialists argued that workers fighting workers was wrong

They said that the ordinary workers who fought and survived would not benefit form the war, that their lives would not be any better

By end of 1914 ILP membership has fallen by 3000

But regular anti-war meeting were held in Glasgow, Dundee and Leith.


Unlike European countries Britain did use conscription at the start of the War.

Some argued that it was the duty of young men to go and fight.

As early as Dec 1914, the Glasgow Herald called for conscription as the number of men volunteering fell.

By 1915 conscription seemed inevitable


Anti-war supporters had thought that conscription would only be a matter of time.

Jan 1916 Military Services Act introduced conscription for single men 19-40

May 1916 included married men.

1918 men up to age of 50.

  • Some men were exempt:

*men who were physically or mentally unfit

There were 3 other categories:

1-work that was of national importance e.g. miners

2-if it would cause serious hardship e.g. owned a business

3-grounds of conscience (religious or political beliefs), known as ‘conscientious objectors’ or ‘conchies’.


1914 No Conscription Fellowship was set up and spread throughout Scotland

ILP kept own register of Con. Ob’s

Dundee had many Con. Ob’s.

NCF and ILP had similar campaigns

Press said they were cowards and peace cranks

Military Tribunals decided whether or not a Con. Ob’s claims were to be accepted.

Tribunals made up of locals including business people, landowners, shop keepers and a member of the military.


A tribunal

Aimed to conscript as many men as possible so many appeals were rejected.

In Scotland estimated 70% were ILP members.

Read page 58 in the textbook to read a typical argument.

UK 5970 Conscientious Objectors were sent to prison

Treatment was harsh and at least 73 died.

UK total 16000 refused to fight most were pacifists


Conscientious objectors were given options other than prison:

Work in non-combat roles e.g. stretcher –bearers 7000 took this option. 1500 refused this as ‘fighting by proxy’.

Many took on civilian work – ILP members often took this as their cause would not be heard in prison.

religious groups
Religious Groups

Divided over conscientious objectors

Big church groups backed war

Hard for parish ministers to speak out when their parishioners had lost relatives

Represented on tribunals but often rejected religious arguments.

after the war
After the War

The argument about state power over citizens continued

ILP called for repeal of the Military Services Act.

11 April 1919 meeting at St Andrew's Halls in Glasgow. Speakers spoke out for the end to conscription and the release of the Con Ob’s

1300 were still in prison 5 months after the armistice (remember the war was not officially over till 28th June 1919)

May 1919 Con Ob’s began to be released and by August they were all released.

When they returned to civilian life, many were shunned by their families, they could not get work and Parliament tried to ban them from voting for 5 years.

effects on the ilp
Effects on the ILP

St Andrew’s Halls, Glasgow

ILP stayed committed to the anti-war campaign throughout the war and by 1918 many Scots had listened to their arguments.

ILP branches grew form 112 to 167

Membership grew form 3000-9000

BUT compared to the millions who were involved in the war effort pacifists were a tiny group – less that ½% of population

Dec 1920 conscription abolished.


Read pages 54-60 for more information