A. McManus Vanguard, November 1915

Free Speech Fight in Glasgow

Source: November 1915, p.10;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

On Wednesday, 27th October, John Maclean, B.S.P., a teacher under the Govan School Board, was prosecuted in the Summary Court at Glasgow, under the Defence of the Realm Act.

November 10th has been fixed as the date of his trial. The charges levelled against him are that he prejudiced recruiting. Whether the statements are true or not does not matter, their utterance prejudiced recruiting.

In our opinion, this is a very serious matter. It is a deliberate attempt to suppress free speech and the liberties for which generations of the workers have fought. In the name of patriotism, only rogues and swindlers are permitted to speak, while honest men of the people must keep silent. Latitude is given to the, “Times,” “Daily Mail,” and other organs of the Northcliffe Press to criticise the military dispositions and the diplomatic negotiations in a scandalous manner. They are free to pursue their financial and personal intrigues to the greatest detriment of the country. The representatives of the workers, for expressing their honest and sincere opinions on matters concerning the working class, are severely punished and their homes ruined. Liberty for the capitalists and their watch-dogs, slavery for the workers! Under the cloak of the Defence of the Realm Act, the Government of Marconi-Ulster fame is deliberately destroying the elementary political rights of the people. In muzzling the working class they mean to destroy trade unionism. The fight against Maclean is a conspiracy against the working class. If we complacently allow this and similar prosecutions to take their course, if we permit the Government and the capitalists to pick out and intern the most active members of the Labour movement, we will be assisting in the destruction of the only valuable weapons the working class possesses.

I say again, it is not what he says, but the right to say anything but what the authorities dictate that is threatened. Now, this is something that must be fought against vigorously all over by every organisation. In Glasgow we mean to contest them every inch of the way. A permanent Free Speech Committee has been formed, and already has affiliated Glasgow Trades Council, Govan Trades Council, Scottish Brassmoulders’ Union, Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Municipal Employees’ Association, Dyers’ Association, I.L P, B.S.P, S.L.P., Scottish Prohibitionist Society, etc., etc.

This is a hint to other districts to get a move on. Get your permanent Committee and form a means of establishing communications with each other, in order that we may let the authorities see that there are still sufficient workers left to hold on to that which was won by the blood of their forefathers.

Money is wanted immediately in Glasgow. Get busy, and send ALL subscriptions to A. HENDY, Treasurer, 33 Gardner Street, Glasgow.

A. MCMANUS, President.