JOHN MacLean, Scotland’s favourite socialist “saint”, died aged 44 on St Andrew’s Day November 30 1923, broken in health but not in spirit. He died of pneumonia after suffering spells of hard labour in Peterhead Prison, force-feeding and poverty through loss of his teaching job.

It was typical of the man that he gave his only overcoat to a black Jamaican comrade in his final winter years.

Born on August 24 1879, in Pollokshaws, then a busy industrial town in Renfrewshire near Glasgow, he was the sixth child of working-class parents who were themselves victims of the Highland Clearances. His father, Daniel was born in Mull and his mother, Anne MacPhee, in Corpach, a small village in the shadow of Ben Nevis.

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His daughter and biographer, Nan Milton, who died in 1996, told how “Wee Johnnie” was told from his mother’s knee of the depredations of the Highland Clearances, forcing crofters off the land to the industrial lowlands or to be scattered around the globe.

His background coupled with his zeal for social justice led him to study Marx and struggle for world revolution. Marx’s harrowing description of the Highland Clearances may have been ignored by the very English left, then and now, but was not lost on MacLean and his followers.

MacLean stood for a separate Scottish Communist Party, earning him the everlasting vilification of the British Nationalist left. All the British biographies, articles and pamphlets on him acknowledge his internationalism but from this point on declaring him “insane”. Their reasoning is not hard to understand.

To this day they will declare that any Scot who does not wish to be ruled from London must be “insane, fascist, racist”, etc. Any slander will do. For evidence of MacLean’s “paranoia,” they cite the word of prison warders and intelligence agents paid to watch him round the clock.

Also, the word of two prison doctors are good enough for these revolutionaries to prove his “insanity”. Prison doctors today are not noted for their liberalism, let alone in these heady days.

MacLean’s wife and other visitors believed he was drugged and were shocked by his physical condition. He had refused to take prison food in that belief and was forcefully fed. There is nothing new in using drugs to control prisoners, patients etc and even experimenting with mind drugs, here and abroad.

According to recently released records the head of military intelligence, Basil Thompson, knew MacLean was not insane, but believed him to be the most dangerous man in Britain and said two years earlier that he would smear him, and Sylvia Pankhurst, by spreading rumours about their sanity. Sylvia Pankhurst supported MacLean in his Gorbals election campaign when he stood as a Scottish Workers Republican candidate. They both kicked the doors of the Glasgow City Chambers.

MacLean stood for Independence some 20 odd years afore the formation of the SNP. For Dick Leonard to compare today’s Royal Labour Party with the “Red Clydesiders” is surely adding insult to injury? One hundred years after the Labour Party was formed they have move further away from the ideals of Keir Hardie, Jimmy Maxton, John Wheatley. RB Cunninghame Graham, Dr Clarke, and all the other Scottish Republican Socialist saints and Home Rulers who opposed the capitalist wars, the House of Lords, Monarchy, etc. Today, London boss, Jeremy Corbyn cannot even pick up the gauntlet from the SNP to abolish Nuclear weapons on the Bloody Clyde.

Donald Anderson