Eye Spy Glasgow: John MacLean, the Red Clydesider who fought against war

Britain is preparing to mark the anniversary of a war that saw thousands of young men march off to their deaths.

Loading Comments

But it is worth remembering there were many who were vehemently opposed to the idea of fighting and dying for king and country.

In Glasgow, one man stood head and shoulders above the rest - John MacLean.

He was born into a working class family in Pollokshaws and went on to espouse socialism and become one of the leading figures among the Red Clydesiders.

His working life was spent in education but he devoted his efforts to agitating against the First World War.

In a speech to the court during his famous trial for sedition he said: "I am not here as the accused; I am here as the accuser of capitalism dripping with blood from head to foot."

MacLean was jailed for his beliefs. In Peterhead Prison he went on hunger strike and was force-fed twice daily using a stomach tube.

His wife Agnes wrote that MacLean was being subjected to torture and described the feeding process as "slow murder".

After the war he was released from prison to great public fanfare. Songwriter Hamish Henderson in the John MacLean March wrote that "Great John MacLean has come hame tae the Clyde".

Matt McGinn wrote of him as the "fightin' dominie" and 90 years after his death at the young age of 44 he is still revered in Glasgow as a champion of the left.

The statue pictured was erected in Pollokshaws, beside the old Pollokshaws Town Hall in Pleasance Street.

The plaque reads: "In Memory of John MacLean, born in Pollokshaws 24th August 1879. Died 30th November 1923. Famous pioneer of working class education. He forged the Scottish link in the golden chain of world socialism."

There is at least one other memorial to MacLean in Glasgow, a plaque in Candleriggs in the Merchant City.

Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You Couldn't Make This Up

Revenge, a dish best served up all chewy.

Times Out



Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.

A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

My baby news, the Sound of Music and scran at the Scullery.

Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.