Thursday, November 24, 2016

Remembering War-Resisters in Scotland

Brief Book Review

Objectors & Resisters: Opposition to Conscription and War in Scotland 1914-18, by Robert Duncan (Glasgow: Common Print/Common Weal, March 2015)

Dedicated "To all peace activists, whatever your political views". 

According to the London Rebel History Calendar 2016, on 24 November 1918 a mass meeting of the North London Herald League demanded the release of jailed socialist John MacLean. His name and record of resolute opposition to the First World War will be familiar, up to a point, to many radical historians, as will several other aspects of the story told in Robert Duncan’s excellent book: the Glasgow rent strike, industrial unrest, the launch of the Women’s Peace Crusade.  It breaks new ground, however, in collating and adding to the information available on these and other topics, and deserves to be widely read.

The longest chapters are 4 and 5, dealing with conscientious objectors (COs), arguably the group whose anti-war stance cost them the most. From the Acknowledgements, the author’s work on the book was completed in January 2015, so that he would probably not have had access to the Pearce Register online. Nor does he refer to many of the secondary sources published or re-issued and updated in or shortly after 2014, which in any case tend to be rather short on information about Scotland. This means that he relies extensively on his own original research in newspapers and periodicals and often on the accounts of his protagonists themselves, providing resounding statements of principle and heartening examples of resistance.

Obtainable from the publishers - advisable to allow 2-3 weeks for delivery on recent experience.

 "In the case of hunger strikers, we could always feed them artificially in the last resort, but in the case of the work striker we can do nothing..." 
 - Excerpt from confidential Scottish Police Commissioner's report on prominent CO James Maxton in Perth prison, June 1917, on p.84 of the book.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

More November Events

1. Land For What? Conference

Sat, 12 Nov 2016, 09:00 – Sun, 13 Nov 2016, 17:00

Resource For London
356 Holloway Road
N7 6PA

""Land plays a central but unmentioned role in our country today: widening inequality, a chronic housing crisis, dysfunctional food system, poor public health and impending climate disasters. We want to bring people together to talk about how land ownership and control is central to all these issues. Together we can unite to fight for the changes we need.

Land For What? is a collaborative space for learning about and challenging the way land is owned, controlled and used in the UK and beyond. 

Join us on 12th and 13th November for a participatory weekend of learning, thinking and planning practical action.
Saturday will provide an in depth insight into where we are and how we got here. The sessions will be looking at a range of the current struggles we're facing including housing, food & farming, public space, environment and community. We'll be understanding their history, interrogating their causes as well as looking at the projects and tools that have been used to combat them. 

'English Land History', 'Learning from Scotland', 'The Colonial Legacy', 'Land Economics' and 'Land Rights' are just a few of the sessions that will be available on Saturday.

Sunday will be focusing on the questions: 
how do we challenge the status quo and what future do we want?
Discussing our visions we will be looking at education, campaigns, coalitions, collaboration, legislation, taxation,
transparency, direct action and anything else that will push us forward in our campaign to make land a common resource for all. We will also be exploring future activities, strategy and governance for Land for What?

Land for What? is hosted by Community Food Growers Network, Just Space, Landworkers’ Alliance, London Community Neighbourhood Co-operative, New Economics Foundation, London Quaker Houing, Radical Housing Network, Shared Assets and Three Acres And A Cow.

We are committed to making this event as accessible as possible. Those with young children are more than welcome to bring their children into the sessions and we will be providing childcare on site for those who would prefer their children to be less involved. The venue is completely wheelchair accessible with disabled toilets.""

More at:

Previously on this blog:
Community Food Growers and related matters
2. [Reminder and Update] 


Leading figures from the left, trade union, environmental and peace movements are coming together at a conference on November 26th with a fresh perspective on tackling current crises, using the ideas of socially useful production pioneered in the Lucas Plan. The Plan, produced by workers at the Lucas Aerospace arms company, showed how jobs could be saved by converting to make products that answer a social need, rather than weapons
See [1], or the notes below for more information on the Lucas Plan.

The conference will focus on 5 key themes:

        * The Lucas Plan and socially useful production.
        * Arms conversion and peace.
        * Climate change and a socially just transition to sustainability.
        * The threat to skills and livelihoods from automation.
        * Local/community economic and industrial planning.

Linking all these issues is the need to rethink how we can produce what people and society actually need and overcome corporate domination through their control of technology.

Highlights of the conference will include:

        * Talks by Phil Asquith, Brian Salisbury and Mick Cooney (Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine).
        * Screening of a new film on the Lucas Plan by Steve Sprung.
        * Contributions from: Chris Baugh (PCS), Suzanne Jeffery (Million Climate Jobs Campaign), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), John McDonnell (tbc), Natalie Bennett, Molly Scott-Cato and Jonathan Essex (Green Party), Philip Pearson (TUC), Romayne Phoenix (People's Assembly Against Austerity), Mary Pearson (Birmingham Trades Council), Manuel Cortes (TSSA, tbc), Mika Mino-Paluello (Global Justice Now), Philippa Hands (UNISON), Stuart Parkinson (Scientists for Global Responsibility), Dave Elliott (Open University), Liz Corbin (Institute of Making), Tony Simpson (Bertrand Russell Foundation), Dave King (Breaking the Frame), Simon Fairlie (The Land magazine), Karen Leach (Localise West Midlands), Marisol Sandoval (City University), Tom Unterrainer (Bertrand Russell Foundation), John Middleton (Medact), Gail Chester (Feminist Library), plus more speakers to be announced.

The conference on the Lucas Plan 40th anniversary will be held at
Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR)
on November 26, 2016.

The conference is being organised and sponsored by: former members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine, Breaking the Frame, PCS, UCU, Million Climate Jobs Campaign, Green Party, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Campaign Against Arms Trade, CND, Left Unity, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Red Pepper, War on Want and Conference of Socialist Economists

Tickets are £10/£5 concessions: To book for the conference, visit 
For more information, email

BACKGROUND INFO: The Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine's Alternative Corporate Plan ('The Lucas Plan') was launched in 1976 and became famous worldwide, sparking an international movement for socially useful production and workers' plans. Facing the threat of redundancies, the Combine collected 150 ideas from shop floor workers about alternative socially useful products that could be produced by the company, instead
of relying on military orders. Many of the innovations in the plan, such as hybrid car engines, heat pumps and wind turbines were commercially viable and are now in widespread use. Although the Alternative Plan was rejected by Lucas Aerospace managers, it was instrumental in protecting jobs at Lucas in the 1970s. The Combine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Mike Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award in 1982. More information about the Plan, including the 53-page summary of the five 200 page volumes, can be found on the conference website,

3. Remembering Centerprise, Saturday 26 November 2016, 11- 4 p.m.

On the Record are hosting a free, all-day event at Hackney Museum to celebrate the end of their project: A Hackney Autobiography: Remembering Centerprise 

Hackney Museum, Ground floor, Learning & Technology Centre, 1 Reading Lane, Hackney, E8 1GQ

Come and share in the history of Centerprise, the bookshop, cafe, community centre and publisher. 
Tour the exhibition at Hackney Museum: People Power: Black British Arts and Activism which includes some of the Centerprise archive. 
Take part in discussions, perform in a Centerprise inspired open mic and enjoy free refreshments. 

If you have not already registered and would like to attend, please email 


11am – 11.30 Welcoming words (including from co-founder of Centerprise Margaret Gosley)
Tours of exhibition by curator, Niti Acharya
11:45 – 12:45 Panel Discussion 1 – Education and Centerprise, past and present
12:45 pm- 13:45 
Lunch provided /  Tours of exhibition by curator, Niti Acharya
13:45 – 14:45 Panel Discussion  2 – The legacy of Centerprise
14:45 – 3:30 Open mic: performances and readings from Centerprise and beyond.
3.30 - 4.00 
Plenary discussion: have the final word on A Hackney Autobiography.

*** All day: coffee and snacks available, in learning room only*** 
Call-out for the open mic! It would be a great help to On the Record and the MC, Bernadette Halpin, if you would agree to step up and entertain for the common good - or you could nominate an acquaintance or colleague who you would like to see read/perform and put us in touch with them. Let us know if you have a piece of writing in mind which you don't have access to.
Please register your interest in the open mic by emailing us:

A Hackney Autobiography's forthcoming app and book will be launched separately in early 2017.

Previously on this blog:
Oral History Project: memories of Centerprise
And elsewhere:
Somewhere In Hackney - a 1980 film about Centerprise bookshop and other radical projects...
Centerprise's radical mailboxes - on the diverse radical groups which used the shop...
Centerprise, An Phoblacht and a suspect package - the amusing tale of a bomb scare

4. Launch of a Socialist History Society Occasional Publication

Killing Communists in Havana: The Start of the Cold War in Latin America
Speaker: Steve Cushion, Author of
Socialist History Society Public Meeting
Saturday 26th November 2016 2.00pm
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU (nearest tube Farringdon)

"The Cold War started early in Cuba, with anti-communist purges of the trade unions already under way by 1947. Corruption and government intervention succeeded in removing the left-wing leaders of many unions but, in those sectors where this approach failed, gunmen linked to the ruling party shot and killed a dozen leading trade union militants, including the General Secretary of the Cuban Sugar Workers' Federation.
Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this SHS Occasional Publication will examine the activities of the US government, the Mafia and the American Federation of Labor, as well as corrupt Cuban politicians and local gangsters, in this early episode of the Cold War."

And a whole bunch from WCML Working Class Movement Library, 
51 The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX  

Invisible Histories talk

The final free talk in our autumn series is on Wednesday 23 November at 2pm.
Malcolm Pittock   Alfred Evans, WW1 conscientious objector.

Veteran Bolton peace campaigner Malcolm will talk about his uncle Alfred Evans, one of the conscientious objectors taken to France in 1916, court martialled for refusing to fight and sentenced to death although that sentence was then commuted.  The talk will include sound recordings of Alfred speaking about his experiences and about what motivated his stand.

Radical Readings and Salford Stories fundraiser

Thanks to everyone who has already booked a ticket for our fundraiser at the University of Salford on Sunday 27 November at 2pm with Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mike Joyce and Maxine Peake. Although the initial run of tickets sold out in three days flat, we have been able to put some more on sale, and there may well be a final tranche which will go on sale nearer to the day.  If you don't have a ticket and you are not already on the waiting list, it might be worth adding your name...  

Shelagh Delaney Day 2016 - Be Inspired
Shelagh Delaney's work has inspired the young people of this generation to tell their stories of the ever-changing landscape of Salford as a collection of real life thoughts and feelings. This will be performed as part of the Shelagh Delaney Day celebrations at Salford Arts Theatre on Friday 25 November at 7.30pm, along with a live radio play written by Shelagh Delaney herself.  Tickets price £8 and more information here.
Salford Arts Theatre, Kemsing Walk, Salford M5 4BS.

Voting for Change - Wikipedia edit-a-thon
The Library and the People's History Museum are working together to acquire material related to the fight for the vote, from the Peterloo protest in 1819 to lowering the voting age in 1969. We need your help to share knowledge of these significant moments in British history and invite you to come along to the Library and spend a day researching and editing Wikipedia

The event, which is part of UK Parliament Week 2016, takes place at the Library on Sunday 20 November from 10am to 4pm - just bring a laptop and a packed lunch, and we’ll provide the coffee… It’s suitable for adults and young people, particularly for those with experience of editing Wikipedia or knowledge of British political history.  The event, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Library/Museum’s joint Collecting Cultures project, is free but advance booking is required via Eventbrite –

"We are the Lions" - looking back at the Grunwick strike [reminder]

40 years ago six workers walked out of the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in London igniting a historic two-year dispute. They were soon joined by most of the workforce.  As the first workers left the factory, one – Jayaben Desai – offered a parting shot to the management:

“What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr Manager”.

Thousands of trade unionists from around the country, including miners and steelworkers came to show solidarity with the mostly female, mostly Asian work-force. To mark the 40th anniversary Manchester Trades Council is co-organising an event to discuss this landmark dispute and lessons for today’s struggles, in conjunction with the Mary Quaile Club and NUJ Manchester & Salford Branch.

It will be taking place on Saturday 3 December 1pm to 3pm, at the Library. Drop in earlier if you want to browse WCML's James Connolly exhibition - or email us at if you'd like to book a place in our reading room that day to study Grunwick-related material.  We're open from 10am to 4pm on the first Saturday of most months.

The event will include a screening of the documentary, 'The Great Grunwick Strike' and will be addressed by speakers.  All are welcome but seating is limited, so please book in advance by emailing

LSHG seminar - John Boughton on Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise Housing

London Socialist Historians Group seminar  

Monday November 21st - John Boughton (Municipal Dreams blog), 'High Hopes - Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise housing'. 
Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1, at 5.30pm. Free without ticket - no need to book in advance.
Raphael Samuel History Centre - History and Environment seminar series  
The History of Labour and its Environmental Implications

30 November 2016, 7:30 pm, Marx Memorial Library, Clerkenwell Green, London.

‘The Generalisation of Wage Labour, and the Changing Relationship with the Land in Early Modern England’, George Yerby, author of The English Revolution and the Roots of Environmental Change (Routledge 2016)

 ‘Capitalism, the Use of Labour, and the Environmental Context’, Martin Empson, author of Land and Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History(Bookmarks 2015)

 ‘Urbanisation, Industrialisation, and their Impact on Labour Militancy’, Neil Davidson, author of Nation-States, Consciousness and Competition (2016)

Chair: Carrie Hamilton (Roehampton)
And coming up in December - 
Second Hand Book Sale @ Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU
Saturday 3 December 11am-3pm
  • Hundreds of secondhand books at unmissable prices!
  • Extensive selection of titles in economics, politics, labour and trade union history, revolutionary and liberation movements, international literature, biographies, and the arts
  • Sought-after volumes from Gollancz and the 1930s Left Book Club.
  • Rare vintage political pamphlets and Marxist classics.
  • Come early for the best bargains!

[Reminder] Independent Working Class Education Day School

Norwich* Saturday 26th November
10.30 am - 4pm

£5.00 (pay on the day) Includes lunch. To attend email Keith Venables and reserve a place: 



What do we want from socialist economics? Christine Jordan
Presentation and Discussion
 'Social production controlled by social foresight'.Colin Waugh
Free Trade or Protectionism? Dave Berry
Lots of discussion


David Heywood, former PCS national officer and TUC tutor;
Katy Jon Went, human rights activist and former economist/business owner.


The sessions are very participatory with plenty of opportunities for contributions/ ideas and discussion. 

* Methodist Church, Chapel Field Road, Norwich, NR2 1SD (venue fully accessible). Limited
parking on site but public car park in Bignold School next door to the church. Near
Norwich bus station and about 10 mins bus ride from rail station (buses 25 or 26 from the station).

Further Norwich Day Schools in 2017 will include: international solidarity, the history and future of Trades Councils, direct action and anarchism.
The next meeting of the Public History Discussion Group will take place on Saturday (November 26th) at 11.30am (tea and coffee from 11am) in the Institute of Archaeology Room 209 (refreshments on 6th floor). Poster here. The talk is entitled: 

Blind Dates: compiling and producing the London Rebel History Calendar

By Alex Hodson from Past Tense, a collective project that explores working class, 

social, subversive and underground history and geography in London

Autumn 2017 sees the publication of the 4th edition of Past Tense's London Rebel History Calendar, with radical,subversive and inspiring anniversaries for every day of the year from London's turbulent past... 

Who produces it? How is it compiled? How is it being extended into 'new technologies'? 

Alex Hodson sheds some light on research, production methods, and some of the pitfalls of the Calendar's format.

All welcome.
Public History Discussion Group Saturday 26 November 2016
Institute of Archaeology,
UCL 31-34 Gordon Square,
London, WC1H 0PY
11 a.m. tea and coffee, room 619 11:30 talk, room 209

"The Public History Group sees public history broadly as the making of histories not created for the academic seminar room as such but as the creation of histories by families, communities and nations as a way of creating a useful past in the present. Our emphasis is upon the process of creating meaning rather than a specific subject content. We hope to provide a platform for presentations from a wide range of speakers, from those who are leaders in their field, to those who are just setting out on their research.
"The group started 18 years ago at Ruskin College, Oxford, initiated by the first graduates of the Public History MA there, and formed the base for subsequent conferences. The group now meets about six times a year at UCL and welcomes new speakers and new ideas from people who are interested in diverse aspects of public history."



Claudia Jones: The World She Lived In

Sunday 27th November

Meet outside Brixton Library
London SW2 1JQ

Nearest stations: Brixton underground and rail
Buses: 2,3,35,37, 45, 59, 109, 118, 133, 159, 196, 250, 322, 333, 355,
415, 432, P4, P5

Claudia Jones was a community organiser, founder of the West Indian gazette, mother of the Notting Hill Carnival and political campaigner.

She lived and worked in South London between 1956 and 1964. 

It is 101 years since she was born.

This walk gives the background to her life and explains the growth of London and empire.

To book phone 020 7582 8248 or email

The walk will go ahead regardless of weather conditions so come prepared.

This is a Remembering Claudia Jones project for Community Support.