Monday 3 December 2018

ATUC commemorates John Maclean's release from Peterhead jail 100 years to the day

Aberdeen Trades Union Council delegates and friends gathered at Aberdeen Railway Station today, Monday 3rd Dec to remember “the great John Maclean,” schoolteacher and revolutionary socialist.

It was 100 years to the day that our ATUC comrades gathered to welcome John Maclean as he journeyed back to Glasgow on his release from Peterhead Prison, having been jailed on a charge of sedition for opposing the first world war.

The John Maclean Memorial Band (aka Irn Broo) provided the soundtrack to the event and had the train station rocking with their renditions of the John Maclean March, the Freedom Come All Ye and the Ballad of John Maclean, as those gathered added their voices to the singing.

Fiona Napier
Addressing the gathering Fiona Napier, ATUC Secretary said, “On this day 100 years ago, John Maclean was released from Peterhead jail. 

"He travelled back to Glasgow, stopping for a time in Aberdeen, where he was greeted by comrades and joined a reception organised for him by ATUC."

Fiona added, “The inhumane treatment he received during his imprisonment - including a regime of brutal force-feeding - contributed to his early death at the age of just 44.

"John Maclean died too young, but his legacy lives on. The injustices that he fought against all his life are still with us today. 

 “If our comrades 100 years ago could come together to show him solidarity and support as he travelled back from penal servitude in Peterhead Prison, then it seems only right that in the 150th anniversary year of the ATUC we mark this anniversary.”

Kate Ramsden, Exec member, quoted from Maclean’s famous speech from the dock. “I am here as the accuser of capitalism dripping with blood from head to foot.”

Kate Ramsden
She told those gathered that the capitalist system in this country – that Maclean fought so hard to oppose – is alive and well and still oppressing working people as it amasses ever more wealth to itself.

“There are still huge swathes of people paying the price of rampant capitalism – especially since the financial crash.

“We would all hope to be as brave as John MacLean, standing up for the poorest in our society and across the world.

She reminded those gathered that we still face many of the same challenges that were around then – child poverty, poor wages, insecure labour and homelessness, even though this is the 5th richest economy in the world..

“Maclean’s opposition to capitalism, and his call for a more equal society is one that we still give voice to 100 years on.

“It is right that we celebrate his life, his sacrifices and his brief visit to Aberdeen this day 100 years ago.”

For more photos and videos go to the ATUC Facebook page.

The John Maclean Memorial Band (aka Irn Broo)