Henry Bell – John Maclean: Hero Of Red Clydeside (4 stars)

Henry Bell – John Maclean: Hero Of Red Clydeside

The life of the revolutionary Scottish socialist and icon of the Scottish left is revealed

John Mclean is an icon of the Scottish left and a hero to radicals worldwide. Born in Glasgow in 1879, he helped radicalise a generation of Scottish workers through his teaching and activism. Feared by the British state, Maclean was jailed several times, an ordeal that undoubtedly contributed to his tragic death at the age of 44.

Henry Bell deftly places the details of Maclean's life against such momentous events as the Glasgow Rent Strikes, WWI and the Russian Revolutions. From the harrowing picture Bell paints of the hardships endured by Glasgow's working classes – Maclean lost his father to an industrial illness in his teens – we gain a clear sense of where Maclean's revolutionary socialist convictions came from.

Maclean was no orthodox Marxist, and his opposition to the war, and attempts to instigate a general strike, brought him into conflict with some comrades on the left. Maclean's support for Scottish home rule made him a hero to left-nationalists, but Bell is careful to avoid claiming him for any one faction. As capitalism leads the world towards disaster, Maclean's message is as vital, and inspirational, as ever: 'We are out for life and all that life can give us.'

Out now on Pluto Press.

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