One of the miners he made a link with was Keir Hardie, although there was other people around as well, and Keir Hardie certainly saw the link between the land and royalties but the other thing he noticed was the Highland Land League had been able to stand candidates against both Liberals and Conservatives and win these four seats and that was one of the inspirations behind him eventually standing as a Scottish Labour Party candidate. Originally he wanted to stand as a Liberal candidate. In the adjacent seat, Cunningham Graham had successfully stood as a Liberal candidate, albeit on his own Socialist platform. When Hardie wanted to stand in the mid Lanarkshire seat, Liberals wouldn’t let him stand and so eventually he was persuaded: “I’ll stand independently,” and hence you got the launch of the Socialist Labour Party at that particular time. So the other thing you’ll find, when you actually do come to 1889, is that many activists that were involved in the unions in London but also Sunderland, Glasgow ... I mean, new unionism spread throughout the whole of the islands. Had a ... particularly in Dublin, it had a huge impact in Dublin although a very short-lived impact. So many of the activists were from the Land League tradition, both Highland and Irish, therefore I think if you’re looking for this new wave of Labour insurgency, the starting point has to be 1879.

  • Allan Armstrong
Tuesday 25th May 2010