The Economic and Social Context of Scottish Labour

Christopher Harvie

in The Scottish Labour Party

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780748617845
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672097 | DOI:
The Economic and Social Context of Scottish Labour

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This chapter considers the economic and social contexts of Scottish Labour. In the 1900s the Scottish economy was of the world's most advanced. Local consumer goods producers fed a Scottish market, in the shadow of the huge capital goods industries, whose business was steel-making and the supply of ships, marine, factory or mine engines, locomotives and structural engineering to the world. This was a segment of an interconnected industrial littoral stretching from the china clay and tin mines of Cornwall through the steam-coal, anthracite, steel, and tinplate of South Wales, to the shipping and cotton trade of Mersey, and the iron and shipbuilding of Cumbria, to the Belfast Lough–Clyde basin. By contrast, Scottish parliamentary and municipal politics were primitive, constrained by the 1884 Reform Act, which permitted barely half of adult males to vote and an archaic bias towards rural constituencies which would endure until 1918. This vested organization and patronage in a small professional elite, which coexisted with the small Scottish Office of 1885 opened ‘a road west-awa yonder’ for the educated and ambitious. If Scotland was the only European industrial state with strong out-migration, how much of its success ethic was derived from the careers of radical and socialist politicians abroad?

Keywords: Scottish Labour Party; Scotland; political parties; economic aspects; social aspects

Chapter.  6913 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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