John Maclean Internet Archive
From the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement

Election Address

(General election, November 1922)

by John Maclean

Delivered: November 1922
Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John Maclean Internet Archive (, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

I stand in the Gorbals and before the world as a Bolshevik, alias a Communist, alias a Revolutionist, alias a Marxian. My symbol is the Red Flag, and it I shall always keep floating on high.

For twenty-five years I have been a socialist and have devoted the best of my energy to convert workers to socialism and to teach Marx’s writings on wealth production and his interpretation of the course and meaning of historical development during that period.

When war broke out in 1914, I stuck to my Red Flag. In November 1915, I was dismissed as a schoolteacher by the Govan School Board and the same day I was sentenced to five days in prison or pay £5 for a breach of the Defence of the Realm Act. Being allowed a week to pay the fine, I was free the day after to play a part in the great Clydeside rent strike, the first open display of the class war since the war began. The Govan strikers carried me shoulder high through Glasgow to the Sheriff Court, and at a meeting outside I was instructed to write Asquith, then premier, threatening a continuous strike if rents were not brought back to the pre-war level. Asquith took the hint and I went to Duke Street Prison for five days — on principle. The Rent Restriction Act was passed.

I played an active part in the Clyde shop-steward delegate meeting addressed by Lloyd George and traitor Arthur Henderson in the St Andrew’s Hall, on Christmas Day 1915. Lloyd George was beautifully tripped up and fooled. In rage he returned to London and on 8 January 1916 he brought in his Industrial and Military Conscription Bill.

In February I was arrested and taken to Edinburgh Castle as a prisoner of war, was bailed out, and was sentenced to penal servitude for three years at Edinburgh High Court on 12 April 1916. When Jim Connolly saw how things were going in Edinburgh he resolved on the Easter Rebellion in Dublin, the beginning of Ireland’s new fight for freedom, a fight that can only end in an Irish workers’ republic based on communism.

The February revolution (1917) in Russia forced my release from Peterhead Convict Prison and Perth Penitentiary in June 1917. The November or Bolshevik revolution saw me appointed in January 1918 Russian Consul for Scotland, an honour due to my efforts to get Peter Petroff and Tchitcherin (Russia’s Foreign Minister) out of London prisons. I was little more than a month acting as Consul when I was again arrested, and again at the Edinburgh High Court was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. I was released in December 1918, not through the efforts of traitor G.N. Barnes, but by the Cabinet purposely to be used as the Bolshevik bogy against Labour Party candidates, seeing that I was put up as Labour candidate in the 1918 Election for the Gorbals as a challenge to the government.

In 1919 I started a campaign for a united effort to overthrow British capitalism by a General Strike, and at my meetings I made public that I had been drugged in prison through my food like other convicts. The government’s reply was the break-up of my family, the blocking my every move through traitors inside the socialist movement, the attempted ruin of my reputation and loss of my tutorship in the Scottish Labour College (founded by me after my dismissal by the Govan School Board) through the dirty work of that communist clown, William Gallacher.

Due to my stand for the unemployed and the miners I got a three months’ sentence under the Emergency Powers Act (prepared in 1920 by Lloyd George for the purpose of shutting up real communists) at Airdrie on 17 May 1921. A month after my release I was again arrested. I did eighteen days’ hunger strike, before forcible feeding started, as a protest against detention prior to trial. An old brute, Sheriff Boyd, acting for Glasgow’s ex-policeman Lord Provost, gave me twelve months. Although getting food through “friends” I found that my food was still being drugged and I gave out a bottle of cocoa and one of tea to William Stewart, Scottish organiser of the ILP, and James Maxton MA, Glasgow organiser of the ILP, showing clear evidence that these drinks had been interfered with. After the election I’m going to carry this devilish prison (and political) practice into the light of day and show John Bull (”Gentleman”) up in all his satanic infamy to preserve his right to rob and boss the world.

I feel it necessary to fight him on every occasion. Hence my candidature in the Gorbals. I’ll fight till John Bull kills me or I die naturally, but I stand aside for no other man in the working-class movement.

I object to the existing form of society, now known to everyone as capitalist society. Why? Because a few people own the world (outside Russia) and the factories and machinery of wealth production. These are the propertied class, including landlords, capitalists and moneylenders. Most other people have to sell their brain-power or body-power, in short their labour-power, to this class for a return in money called wages. This class is the wage-earning class, or the wage-slave class.

Wages are not based on the money value of the goods produced or services rendered by the slave-class, but on the cost of living. We have seen an unprecedented crash in wages, and still wages are crashing even now to a level for miners and other workers so low that public relief has to be granted to many of them to prevent actual starvation. The next “spring offensive” will be against railwaymen’s “Hindenburg line”, now that the railways have been melted into four mammoth trusts. By next summer the workers’ wages will be so low that they will be less than those given in 1920 to the extent of £700 million per annum; or close on £15 million per week down. The bosses have cruelly seized their chance of unprecedented unemployment to gain their vile end.

Their argument is that the lower wages are, the lower prices will be and the easier sales will become. Thus will trade revive. A lie, I say. United States wage-slaves have a standard of living at least twice that of their fellow-workers in Britain and already the trade boom has started. On 1 October 1922, the United States put on new tariffs of half the price of many imported goods to keep out the sweated goods of Britain and Europe.

We marxians have taught for two generations that the lower wages are compared with the value of the goods produced, the greater the surplus left with the bosses which the workers cannot buy.

Increased production at present would add to this surplus. But the war has left the people of the world too poor to buy these surplus goods; hence the glut, hence the trade depression, hence unemployment and starvation — a disease peculiar to capitalism. Robbery of the workers is the root of all the world’s troubles, the war with Germany and the coming war with America included. It is the struggle to get rid of these surplus goods on the world market that has led capitalist countries to steal other people’s lands all over the globe. The greediest and dirtiest of all has been John Bull (”Gentleman”). Out of the recent war he has stolen a million and a half square miles of the world. Pressed by Churchill, J.B. spent a hundred million pounds trying to steal Russia from the Bolsheviks and only succeeded in paving the way for the most frightful famine the world has experienced. The drought in South-East Russia could not have wrought the havoc it has done (wiping out a population almost three times that of Scotland) but for the bloody policy of J.B.’s government — Liberals and Tories alike — against Russia. Russia’s ruin is the triumph of brutish British capitalism. Mesopotamia has cost another hundred millions and is under the military dictatorship of General Cox.

France has been embittered by Britain’s greed against the Germans and by Britain’s refusal to help her to get the restoration of the French property destroyed during the war out of the Germans. France therefore has blocked every conference called by Lloyd George, and has helped the Turks against the Greeks (Britain’s paid hirelings); and at Mudania France managed to restore the Dardanelles to Turkey and beat Churchill’s second rush to seize these straits and Constantinople as an addition to J.B.’s empire. Hence Lloyd George’s permanent downfall and Churchill’s appendicitis (prison methods). Woodrow Wilson got his knock-out after his folly at the Versailles conference. Assassination is now partly antiquated!

Bonar Law will never play the confidence trick on France, and I calculate France will continue to fight Britain in Europe to prevent a revival of J.B.’s trade on the continent. France’s actual or potential ally, the United States, has Japan by the throat and is out to capture the markets in eastern Asia.

The Amritsar massacre and forced belly-crawling in 1919, the imprisonment of Gandhi and thousands of other splendid champions of Indian independence, and Britain’s defeat by the Franco-Turkish alliance are conspiring towards not only the political loss of India but the commercial loss of India, too.

The imprisonment of Saglul and other champions of Egyptian independence and the present open dictatorship of Egypt by Lord Allenby, are making not only for political separation but for trade boycott as well.

The murder of British and Boer workers on the Rand so as to ensure a growing influx of cheaper black wage-slaves will lead to political and economic consequences harmful to J.B.’s trade.

The cruel torture of Ireland has largely ruined Ireland already. Clearly, then, John Bull’s empire is breaking up politically and economically, and the final burst-up will come after war with America unless a world revolution averts the approaching war.

By no accident has Bonar Law, a Canadian of Scottish parentage, of Glasgow business training, and representative of the business Central Division of Glasgow, been appointed Tory premier; and by no accident did he outline his policy in the St Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow. He must retain Canada’s loyalty to London as a Canadian and as a Scot he must keep the colonies also loyal — colonies largely run by men of Scottish birth or descent.

Against him I stand out as the Scottish workers’ supreme champion. I wish a Scottish workers’ republic, but Scottish workers to be joined in one big industrial union with their British comrades against industrial capitalism.

I wish Scottish comrades in Canada to establish a Canadian workers’ republic independent of John Bull or Uncle Sam (”Gentleman”) politically, but linked up with all other American workers in one big industrial union. I wish Scottish comrades in other colonies to do the same.

If we can break up John’s blood-soaked empire by separation we shall probably avert a war with America. If not, John must do his own bloody work himself. We must refuse to murder our fellows of this planet at his autocratic bidding.

When all empires are broken up and the workers by political control start to make land and wealth-producing property common property, when of the wealth produced all get sufficient to give them life abundantly with leisure and pleasure and education added thereunto, then all the independent workers’ republics will come together into one great League or Parliament of Communist Peoples, as a stage towards the time in the future when inter-marriage will wipe out all national differences and the world will become one.

To get a Scottish workers’ republic I shall not go to the London House of Commons, but stay in Scotland helping the unemployed, standing by those at work, educating in the Scottish Labour College, and carrying revolutionary propaganda all over Scotland (and into England too).

I’ll support any fight for palliatives honestly started by the workers, until OUR DAY ARRIVES.

If you understand the above fully you’ll see that no detailed programme is necessary in this address.

If you cannot agree with me then vote for George Buchanan, the representative of the Labour Party. On no account vote for anyone else. Yours for the world revolution.