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Category: Political Science & Politics, Scottish history

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August 2003 James Maxton was one of the leading figures of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in Glasgow and a key political figure during the Red Clydeside period. Like many of his colleagues in the ILP, Maxton was a pacifist and campaigned against Britain's involvement in the first world war and against the introduction of conscription. Maxton was imprisoned in 1916 for delivering pro-strike speeches at a demonstration to oppose the Munitions Act. Maxton was elected MP for Bridgeton in 1922 and devoted much of his political life to alleviating poverty within the city of Glasgow. Maxton attempted on several occasions to steer the Parliamentary Labour Party in the direction of a strictly socialist programme of policies.

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In the centuries before there were newspapers and 24-hour news channels, the general public had to rely on street literature to find out what was going on. The most popular form of this for nearly 300 years was 'broadsides' - the tabloids of their day. Sometimes pinned up on walls in houses and ale-houses, these single sheets carried public notices, news, speeches and songs that could be read (or sung) aloud.

The National Library of Scotland's online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what 'the word on the street' was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions - all these and more are here.

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