‘Mary Barbour, Scottish anti-World War I activist, deserves a statue’

Mary Barbour Mary Barbour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This music video from Scotland is Alistair Hulett, Mrs Barbour’s Army.

The lyrics are:


(Alistair Hulett)


‘Cos I’m frae Govan an’ ye’re frae Partick
This yin here’s fae Bridge o’ Weir and thon’s fae Kinning Park
There’s some that’s prods, there’s some that’s catholic
But we’re Mrs. Barbour’s Army and we’re here tae dae the wark

In the tenements o’ Glesga in the year one nine one five
It was one lang bloody struggle tae keep ourselves alive
We were coontin’ oot the coppers tae buy wor scraps o’ food
When the landlords put the rent up just because they could
A’ the factories were hummin’, there was overtime galore
But wages they were driven doon tae subsidise the war
Oot came Mrs. Barbour from her wee bit single end
She said, I’ll organise the lassies if I cannae rouse the men

Mrs. Barbour made a poster sayin’, We’ll no’ pay higher rent
Then chapped on every door of every Govan tenement
She said, Pit this in the windae an’ when you hear me bang the drum
We’ll run oot an’ chase the factor a’ the way tae kingdom come
When the poor wee soul cam roon’ he was battered black and blue
By a regiment in pinnies that knew just what tae do
Mrs. Barbour organised the gaitherin’ o’ the clans
And they burst oot o’ the steamie armed wi’ pots an’ fryin’ pans

Mrs. Barbour’s Army spread through Glesga like the plague
The maisters got the message and the message wisnae vague
While oor menfolk fight the Kaiser we’ll stay hame and fight the war
Against the greedy bastards who keep grindin’ doon the poor
If ye want tae stop conscription stand and fight the profiteers
Bring the hale big bloody sandpit crashin’ doon aroon’ their ears
We’ll no’ starve, said Mrs. Barbour, While the men we ca’ wor ain
Are marchin aff tae hae their hairt’s blood washed like watter doon a drain

Well it didnae take the government that lang tae realise
If you crack doon on the leaders then the rest will compromise
They arrested Mrs. Barbour and they clapped her in the jile
Then they made an awfy big mistake, they let her oot on bail
She ca’d the men oot o’ the factories on the Clyde and on the Cart
They marched up tae the courthoose sayin’, We’ll tear the place apart
Mrs. Barbour’s Army brought the maisters tae their knees
Wi’ a regiment in pinnies backed by one in dungarees.

Mary Barbour campaigned against World War I.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Activists fight for Mary Barbour statue

Saturday 7th March 2015

CAMPAIGNERS launched an appeal yesterday seeking funds for a statue of Glasgow hero Mary Barbour marking the centenary of the 1915 rent strike she and other working-class women organised.

Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty launched the Remember Mary Barbour Committee, saying the the Red Clydesider had “revolutionised housing and vastly improved social conditions for so many people.”

Barbour became one of the city’s first women councillors in 1920 — standing for the Independent Labour Party. She fought throughout her life for women’s rights and led campaigns for free school milk, municipal wash houses and the first family planning clinic in Glasgow.

Mary Barbour’s Army — the name given to the thousands of working-class women who rallied to the cause — has been mobilised once more by current women activists to campaign around issues like the bedroom tax and the group has developed a play based on her life and campaigns.

The funding appeal and statue bid has the council’s support.

One of the largest demonstrations ever seen in Glasgow took place a 100 years ago towards the end of 1915. Willie Gallacher, who would later become a Communist MP, caught the mood beautifully. He called the huge protest of thousands of rent striking housewives accompanied by shipyard and engineering workers “Mrs Barbour’s Army”: here.

4 thoughts on “‘Mary Barbour, Scottish anti-World War I activist, deserves a statue’

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