David Kirkwood

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Lord Kirkwood Lord Kirkwoods.jpg
Lord Kirkwood

David Kirkwood, 1st Baron Kirkwood, PC (8 July 1872 – 16 April 1955) was a British politician, trade unionist and socialist activist from the East End of Glasgow, Scotland, viewed as a leading figure of the Red Clydeside era.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Red Clydeside was the era of political radicalism in Glasgow, Scotland, and areas around the city, on the banks of the River Clyde, such as Clydebank, Greenock, Dumbarton and Paisley, from the 1910s until the early 1930s. Red Clydeside is a significant part of the history of the labour movement in Britain as a whole, and Scotland in particular.



Kirkwood was educated at Parkhead Public School and was trained as an engineer. Kirkwood's earliest political involvement was through his trade union, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and the Socialist Labour Party, which he left in 1914 to join the Independent Labour Party (ILP). He was recognised as the Scottish engineers' leader for many years.

Machinist profession

A machinist is a person who machines using hand tools and machine tools to create or modify a part that is made of metal, plastics, or wood.

A trade union, also called a labour union or labor union (US), is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve many common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits, and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by the creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

Socialist Labour Party (UK, 1903) British political party active 1903-1980

The Socialist Labour Party was a socialist political party in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1903 as a splinter from the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) by James Connolly, Neil Maclean and SDF members impressed with the politics of the American socialist Daniel De Leon, a Marxist theoretician and leading figure of the Socialist Labor Party of America. After decades of existence as a tiny organisation, the group was finally disbanded in 1980.

He served on the Glasgow Trade Council and was a member of the Clyde Workers' Committee (CWC), an organisation chaired by William Gallacher. The CWC grew out of the Clyde engineers' pay dispute of 1915. Until its effective suppression in early 1916 it organised shop floor opposition to the policies of the Ministry of Munitions with regard to Leaving Certificates and Dilution of Labour. Kirkwood was the convenor of shop stewards at Parkhead Forge of William Beardmore and Company, where, in January 1916, he helped to secure a dilution agreement. In March 1916, as a result of a strike related to the implementation of the dilution agreement, Kirkwood was arrested and deported from Glasgow to Edinburgh, an event which greatly increased his profile. He returned to Glasgow in 1917, and was employed as foreman at the Mile-End Shell Factory. In January 1919 Kirkwood was prominently associated with the 40 hours' Strike. Batoned and arrested at a riot in George Square, Glasgow, he was tried for incitement to riot and acquitted. In the 1922 General Election Kirkwood was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) Dumbarton Burghs. He had previously served for four years on Glasgow Town Council.

Clyde Workers Committee organization

The Clyde Workers Committee was formed to campaign against the Munitions Act. It was originally called the Labour Withholding Committee. The leader of the CWC was Willie Gallacher, who was jailed under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 together with John Muir for an article in the CWC journal The Worker criticising the First World War.

Willie Gallacher (politician) Trade unionist, activist and communist

William Gallacher was a Scottish trade unionist, activist and communist. He was one of the leading figures of the Shop Stewards' Movement in wartime Glasgow and a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He served two terms in the House of Commons as the last Communist Member of Parliament (MP).

William Beardmore and Company Scottish engineering and shipbuilding company

William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish engineering and shipbuilding conglomerate based in Glasgow and the surrounding Clydeside area. It was active from 1886 to the mid-1930s and at its peak employed about 40,000 people. It was founded and owned by William Beardmore, later Lord Invernairn, after whom the Beardmore Glacier was named.

Kirkwood was one of the leading figures of the ILP in Parliament as it came into increasing conflict with the Labour Party. In the 1931 general election he was returned as one of five ILP MPs without Labour Party support. However, when the ILP, with the support of James Maxton, decided to disaffiliate from the Labour Party in 1932 this was a step too far for Kirkwood, and he left the ILP to join the new Scottish Socialist Party and again took the Labour Party whip. [1] Kirkwood published his autobiography, My Life of Revolt in 1935.

James Maxton British politician

James Maxton was a British left-wing politician, and leader of the far-left faction of the Independent Labour Party. He was a pacifist who opposed both world wars. A prominent proponent of Home Rule for Scotland, he is remembered as one of the leading figures of the Red Clydeside era. He broke with Ramsay MacDonald and the second minority Labour government, and became one of its most bitter critics. As the leader of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), he disaffiliated the ILP from the mainstream party in 1932. After that he was a marginal independent figure on the far left-wing.

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom which has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) was an organisation of former Independent Labour Party members who wished to remain part of the Labour Party after their former party disaffiliated.

Kirkwood became a Privy Counsellor in 1948. When his constituency disappeared at the 1950 general election he was elected for the new constituency of East Dunbartonshire. He left the Commons in 1951.

East Dunbartonshire (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 2005 onwards

East Dunbartonshire is a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster). It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The current MP for East Dunbartonshire is Jo Swinson.

Kirkwood was created Baron Kirkwood, of Bearsden in the County of Dunbarton on 22 December 1951. [2]

Bearsden town in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Bearsden is a town in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, on the northwestern fringe of Greater Glasgow. Approximately 6 miles (10 km) from Glasgow City Centre, the town is effectively a suburb, and its housing development coincided with the 1863 introduction of a railway line. The town was named after Bearsden railway station, which was named after a nearby cottage.

He died on 16 April 1955.

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  1. James Jupp, The Radical Left in Britain: 1931-1941, p.47
  2. "No. 39420". The London Gazette . 28 December 1951. p. 6740.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Taylor
Member of Parliament for Dumbarton Burghs
1922 1950
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Dunbartonshire East
1950 1951
Succeeded by
Cyril Bence
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Kirkwood
Succeeded by
David Kirkwood