John Maclean in December of 1918 upon his release from prison
John Maclean in December of 1918 upon his release from prison

John Maclean – Scotland’s Forgotten Revolutionary

Red Clydesider – John Maclean.

In a couple of weeks our podcast will be from a talk by Henry Bell about John Maclean. The talk is the Third Jim McVicar Memorial Lecture and was hosted by Scottish Socialist Party. I was there helping to record the event. Although I knew the name of John Maclean I knew very little else about him. By the end of Henry’s excellent talk I knew a lot more. Have a listen to the podcast when it’s published, it’s well worth it.

John Maclean Red Clydesider. Scottish Independence Podcasts

On Trial for Sedition

One thing that caught my attention was reference to Maclean’s speech from the dock in the High Court, Edinburgh during his trial for sedition in 1918. One quote from that speech is well known amongst Scottish left-wingers:

I wish no harm to any human being, but I, as one man, am going to exercise my freedom of speech. No human being on the face of the earth, no government is going to take from me my right to speak, my right to protest against wrong, my right to do everything that is for the benefit of mankind. I am not here, then, as the accused; I am here as the accuser of capitalism dripping with blood from head to foot.

John Maclean, on trial for sedition in 1918.

He spoke in his own defence for 75 minutes. Not sure he’d get away with that these days! But the outcome was still a guilty verdict and he was sentenced to five years penal servitude in Peterhead Prison. Thankfully he was released after only a few months, on 1918 November Armistice.

The transcript of his speech is too long to include here but you can find it on various websites. The Marxist Website has a John Maclean Archive with a biography, and his speeches and articles.. You can find the Speech from the Dock there.

A Red Clydesider Statue for Glasgow?

Statue of John Maclean. Red Clydesider.

A few days after the talk, a friend told me about a crowdfunder campaign to raise funds for a statue of John Maclean. The project’s aim is to raise the money required to pay for a life-sized statue of him to be commissioned and erected in Glasgow city centre. They have obtained a quote for the statue which gives an estimated breakdown of the costs and the total cost (Inc. VAT): £56,280.

Over and above this total this project needs to raise an additional £2200 which is the approximate cost of the preparation of the foundation site for the statue, which would be undertaken by Glasgow City Council.

So total cost is £58,480. They have had one very generous donation of £10,000. So the outstanding cash required is £48,480

So I’ve done a bit of arithmetic:

  • there are 162,000 Glaswegians living in the city. Of course there are many more living elsewhere.
  • Let’s divide £48,480 by 162,000 Och let’s round it up to £50,000. The result is 8p.
  • So if every Glaswegian gave the crowdfunder 8p, it would reach it’s target.
  • Or if just in a hundred Glaswegians gave £8, it would reach it’s target.

Surely that’s doable?

I think it’s doable. But maybe the crowdfunder team needs to promote their project. Maybe this will help. I hope so.

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