14 thoughts on “British Christian anti-war socialist George Lansbury

  1. The records were pretty scratchy in those days. Have you heard my music album “Manaus Where Two Rivers Meet” by swo8 Blues Jazz? It was just released April 30th 2014 and you can access it from my web page. Just click on the album cover and it will take you to iTunes where you can sample it for free. My two favourites are “Midnight in Manaus” and “O Rio Amazonas”. Let me know what you think.


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  13. Monday 4th September 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    An Eagle in the Hen-House: Selected Political Speeches and Writings of RB Cunninghame Graham

    Edited by Lachlan Munro (Ayton Publishing, £9.99)

    THE name RB Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) is largely unknown today, even among his fellow Scots.

    Born in Buenos Aires, on inheriting the Gartmore estate in Scotland in 1883, he settled in Britain. With his wild bush of hair, pointed beard and gaunt, aristocratic figure — the epitome of Don Quixote, with whom he was often compared — he was a gift to cartoonists. During his lifetime he was renowned as a passionate campaigner and committed socialist.

    The historian Lachlan Munro has done a fine job of resurrection in this intelligently edited compilation of his speeches and writings. He captures admirably the man’s wit, passion and commitment to justice.

    Cunninghame Graham became a friend of Friedrich Engels, William Morris, Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde and the author Joseph Conrad, among numerous others.

    Despite his privileged upbringing and wealth he espoused many causes, among them working-class emancipation, and campaigned for universal and free education, Irish independence and the eight-hour day.

    He entered politics as Liberal MP for the industrial constituency of Coatbridge in 1885 but later became a founder member and first president of the Labour Party. He was probably the first socialist to sit in the House of Commons.

    Cunninghame Graham was not just a speech-maker and writer, though. In November 1888, he attended a big demonstration in support of imprisoned Irish nationalists. He and the trade unionist John Burns were beaten up by the police and charged with unlawful assembly and assaulting the police. The day became known as Bloody Sunday.

    At the famous, massive demonstration for the eight-hour day in 1890, he was on the platform alongside other leading socialist and trade union figures such as Engels, Shaw, Edward Bernstein, Eleanor Marx and George Lansbury.

    The descriptions in his pamphlet A Plea for the Chainmakers (1888), on the living and working conditions of women chainmakers in the west Midlands, are as grittily descriptive and harrowing as Engels’s descriptions of Manchester.

    On foreign interventions, his words are as apposite as ever: “What I have deprecated is engaging in useless wars merely to push class or political interests.” And his maiden speech on the Queen’s own speech in 1887 could be reiterated today: “On glancing over the Queen’s speech, I am struck with the evident desire which prevailed in it to do nothing at all.

    “There is not one word to bridge over the awful chasm existing between the poor and the rich; not one word of kindly sympathy for the sufferers from the present commercial and agricultural depression, nothing but platitudes, nothing but views of society through a little bit of pink glass.”

    A fascinating and rewarding read.

    John Green



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