John Maclean

John Maclean was a schoolteacher and revolutionary socialist of the Red Clydeside era, notable for his outspoken opposition to the First World War, his formation of a Scottish Communist Party, and his spells on hunger strike when in captivity.

Born in Pollokshaws, John trained as a schoolteacher through the Free Church, then attended the University of Glasgow, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in 1904.

Glasgow Times:

First coming to politics through the Pollokshaws Progressive Union, John became convinced that the living standards of the working-classes could only be improved by social revolution.

John strongly opposed the First World War, feeling it was a form of imperialism which divided workers from each other. He became well known to the authorities around this time working in anti-war circles and, worried as they were about the rise of communism, arrested John under the Defence of the Realm Act in 1915 and sacked from his teaching post at Lorne Street Primary School.


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Instead of taking this as a warning, John became a full-time Marxist lecturer and organiser. He was elected to chair of the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets in 1918 and appointed Bolshevik consul in Scotland. John was arrested again for sedition, refusing bail and conducting his own defence at his trial in Edinburgh. He was sentenced to five years penal servitude in Peterhead prison where he went on hunger strike.

Upon his release, he formed the Scottish Labour College and the Scottish Workers Republican Party, which combined Communism with a belief in Scottish independence.

He died in 1923 at the age of 44 after his health deteriorated from forced feeding, and thousands lined the streets of Glasgow to see his funeral procession pass. His legacy is claimed by both the SNP and by Labour, making him unique amongst historical political figures.

Winnie Ewing

Winnie Ewing is one of the UK’s longest serving politicians.

Born in 1929 in Glasgow, Winnie was educated at Battlefield school and Queens Park secondary school. She studied law at the University of Glasgow in 1946, where she became active in campaigning for Scottish independence through her membership of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association.

Glasgow Times:

Winnie was elected the SNP Party President in 1987. During her time as an MEP she acquired the nickname Madame Ecosse (French for “Mrs Scotland”) because of her strong advocacy of Scottish interests in Strasbourg and Brussels. By 1995 she had become Britain’s longest serving MEP.

As the oldest member, Mother of the House, it was her duty to preside over the opening of the Scottish Parliament, where she stated : “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th day of March in the year 1707, is hereby reconvened”.


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In June 2001, having turned 72 years old, she announced that she would retire from Parliament, and in July 2005, she announced she would be stepping down as President of the Scottish National Party at its September Conference, ending her 38-year career in representative politics.

She is still celebrated as one of the longest serving Scottish politicians, and has been awarded multiple honorary degrees from the University of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Stirling. Her portrait, painted by David Donaldson, hangs in the Scottish Parliament gallery.