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Maxton, James

Maxton, James (1885–1946). Socialist agitator. The son of a Glasgow schoolteacher, and initially a teacher himself, Maxton joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1904 and acquired a well-deserved reputation as a fiery but witty orator in the socialist cause. In 1916 he suffered imprisonment for calling a general strike on Clydeside in protest against the deportation of engineers who were opposed to wartime measures permitting the ‘dilution of labour’—that is, the employment of those who had not served regular apprenticeships. In 1919 Maxton became an ILP organizer, succeeding to the chairmanship of the party in 1926; meanwhile he had been elected as ILP MP for Glasgow Bridgeton (1922–46). Jimmie Maxton was ever a rebel, the leading member of the Clydesiders whose unshakeable faith in Marxist socialism became a feature of parliamentary politics in the inter-war period. But he was also a perfect gentleman, much admired (if unloved) on all sides in the Commons.

Geoffrey Alderman

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