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Scottish Popular Politics

From Radicalism to Labour

W. Hamish Fraser

Paperback (Printed to Order)

One hundred years ago the Labour Representation Committee was formed - this is usually taken as the founding meeting of the Labour Party. However a month before, in January 1900, the Scottish Workers' Parliamentary Election Committee was established to achieve the same things in Scotland - the election of working-class representatives to the House of Commons who would act independently of the existing political parties. This reflected the way many of the moves towards independent Labour were pioneered in Scotland. Many of the key figures in the early Labour Party were Scots - Hardie, MacDonald, Wilkie, Henderson and Curran - and Scots have continued to play a disproportionate role in the shaping of Labour politics. This book traces the Scottish route from radical protest at the end of the eighteenth century to the formation and development of the Labour Party through to 1922 when Labour became the largest party in Scotland. The story ends with coverage of the way in which Labour had consolidated its dominance of Scottish politics to the end of the twentieth century and considers the way in which popular radicalism in recent decades has found new directions.

Key Features

  • Looks at popular movements for reform rather than at politicians
  • Shows continuing significance of radical ideals through to formation of Scottish Parliament
  • Shows importance of radicalism within Labour Party
  • Wide chronological coverage but based on original research


Fraser brings his expertise and experience into writing this pithy book … This small valuable book reflects Fraser's mastery of primary sources as well as of the secondary literature and he often deftly weaves favourable references to other scholars' contributions into his narrative. This is a fine book.
- Jerry H. Brookshire, Middle Tennessee State University, Scotia
Fraser is widely acknowledged as an authority on Scottish Labour history and a new book of this nature will be certain to attract interest not only from academics and undergraduate readers, but also the wider community of Labour activists.
Together, these books give a reader a wealth of infromation about the events and forces that culminated in a devolved Scotland and which may drive that land yet further away from Westminster control.(Reviewed with The Road to Home Rule by Christopher Harvie & Peter Jones and Claiming Scotland by Jonathan Hearn, all EUP.)
- T. P. Wolf, Indiana University Southeast, British Politics Group Quarterly
Professor Fraser provides a broad conspectus of popular radicalism in Scotland from the late-eighteenth century to the end of the First World War … It is rather surprising that a survey of this kind has not been attempted before, and this is an admirably clear and succinct treatment.
Professor Fraser has produced a thoughtful and invigorating study which will deservedly be widely read by both academic and lay audiences.