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James Leatham`s Politics

Aberdeen-born James Leatham was a journalist and socialist who became editor of the Peterhead Sentinel in 1897. He had been born into a Scotland wracked by social unrest, dislocated by industrialisation, and presided over by a wealthy upper class at a time when working people often had to go without. 

So Leatham took to socialism and the struggle for a better, more even world. Leatham wrote a series of articles in North East Scots (aka the Doric), under the pen name Airchie Tait, which he used to comment on all manner of subjects, politics included. 

In the two articles selected (see PDF document below) Leatham speaks about the working life (in Hingin’ In) and the way in which many comfortable commentators (he cites writer Thomas Carlyle) wrote with hypocrisy. He also used his article to criticise the lifestyle of Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha who was crowned as Edward VII in London in 1901. In his biting style Leatham commented that it must have been hard work for Edward having to tour so many foreign lands, having to wine and dine, attend plays, and meet with actresses. 

In the second article (Mair Prejudeece) our writer argues for a Scottish parliament to be re-established. Devolution had formed a part of the early Labour movement programme in Scotland but once Scottish Labour was absorbed by the new British Labour Party based in London - in 1909 – devolution was often passed over or drowned in a sea of Westminster politics. Leatham’s dream would not become reality until 1997, after many years of political struggle, and prevarication on the part of British parties who regarded Scottish devolution with indifference.