I WAS very interested in The Scotsman archive piece “Self-Government: Maxton and Nationalists: 1 February, 1943”. The words of James Maxton MP are as pertinent and inspiring today as they were 70 years ago.
My great-aunt, Christina Moody, née Brown, was a Labour councillor for Calton ward in Glasgow’s east end, and a close friend of Mr Maxton. Her sudden death in 1931, a few days after attending a meeting at the City Chambers, was reported by The Scotsman, and Mr Maxton gave the oration at her funeral.
My great-aunt was greatly loved in her ward for the help and support she unstintingly gave to those in need, and my father told me the people of Calton and district turned out in force to pay their respects, with men, cap in hand, weeping, as the funeral cortège passed through the streets of the east end. In due course, a by-election was held in Calton ward.
In the late 1960s, another council by-election took place in Calton and, on turning up to campaign, I found that the terrible housing conditions which my great-aunt had hated and fought against were still in existence almost 40 years after her death. In his letter (1 February), George Leslie is spot on when he writes: “Labour in Scotland was founded on the principle of self-government but when it got its greedy hands on the possibility of power at Westminster its principles soon disappeared.”
Labour in Scotland let down James Maxton, they let down Christina Moody, but worst of all, they let down the trust of the people who had wholeheartedly believed in them, and needed them the most.