Click a term to initiate a search.
August 2003 James Maxton was one of the leading figures of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in Glasgow and a key political figure during the Red Clydeside period. Like many of his colleagues in the ILP, Maxton was a pacifist and campaigned against Britain's involvement in the first world war and against the introduction of conscription. Maxton was imprisoned in 1916 for delivering pro-strike speeches at a demonstration to oppose the Munitions Act. Maxton was elected MP for Bridgeton in 1922 and devoted much of his political life to alleviating poverty within the city of Glasgow. Maxton attempted on several occasions to steer the Parliamentary Labour Party in the direction of a strictly socialist programme of policies. As co-author of the 1924 policy document, 'Socialism in our time' he urged the Labour Party to abandon its reformist outlook and to adopt policies based on socialist doctrine. Although gaining support in some quarters of the party, the right-wing Labour leadership largely ignored Maxton's advice. Following the 1929 General Election, Maxton was again highly critical of the Labour Government led by Ramsay MacDonald for its failure to enact strong socialist measures. When MacDonald formed the National Government in 1931 Maxton successfully persuaded the Independent Labour Party to disaffiliate from the Labour Party in 1932. Maxton was a highly popular and charismatic figure, and following his death in 1946 a group of his close friends, including the Lord Provost Patrick Dollan, organised an annual Maxton memorial service of music and song. Hosted initially at Glasgow Green and later in Queen's Park in Glasgow, these events attracted prominent Labour politicians as well as ordinary Glaswegians amongst the large crowds which turned out every year. The annual service continued into the early 1950s, by which time the gradual demise of a whole generation of Glasgow socialists who had grown up with a memory of Maxton meant that the event was attracting fewer and fewer people. The last Maxton memorial service was held in 1951. However, Maxton's memory continues to be honoured in various ways. In the 1960s, Maxton's second wife Madeline gifted a plot of land to the people of Barrhead on which the local council built a memorial garden as a tribute to Maxton. In addition, Hutcheson Grammar School, which Maxton attended between 1897 and 1901, has held an annual Maxton memorial speech since the 1950s. The Glasgow Digital Library was able to secure a small amount of funding from the Resources for Learning in Scotland consortium to digitise a representative selection of materials from the Maxton family collection held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. Items selected for the digital collection include personal letters, election materials, family photographs and related items.