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Red Clydeside



There is currently no entry for Red Clydeside or Red Clydesiders in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL), but the Red Clydeside period was an important part in the history of the Scottish Labour movement. Many of its activists went on to play significant roles in Westminster; notably Emanuel (Manny) Shinwell who, although born in London, moved to Glasgow at an early age. He became a trade union organizer and was imprisoned for his involvement in disturbances in Glasgow in 1919.

Another noteworthy and much more radical Red Clydesider was John Maclean. His stay in Peterhead prison caused his health to deteriorate and he died in Glasgow in 1923 at the age of just 44. He is remembered to this day (Glasgow Times, June 2021):


“Council bosses have been told to work with the Sir John Stirling Maxwell School Trust, who want to see the Pollokshaws school turned into an eco-hub, to secure the building’s long-term survival. It was where the school’s legendary Red Clydeside leader John McLean taught courses in Marxism and is named for the Tory landlord who gifted the site to the state”


Mary Barbour, a Red Clydeside activist, was the main organiser of the Govan rent strike in 1915 and a founder member of the Women’s Peace Crusade. The Sunday Post of August 2021 quoted Maria Fyfe:


“I was asked to chair a campaign to create something in her memory. A statue was eventually erected at Govan Cross and is serving its purpose well, not just commemorating this Red Clydeside hero, but as a reminder that you can fight injustice and win.”



This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at