Recordings of Talks

Talk by James Ramsay MacDonald

This recording is of the leader of the Labour Party, Ramsay MacDonald, exhorting supporters of the Labour movement to buy the Daily Herald. The Herald was founded in 1912 and ran until 1964, when it became The Sun. At the time of this recording, the paper was owned by the TUC and had a large circulation. MacDonald was a major figure in the early days of the Labour Party, and was Prime Minister twice (1924 and 1929-1935). However, following his desertion of Labour in 1931 to form a National Government with the Conservatives, he was regarded as a traitor by many in his old party.

Talk by George Lansbury

This recording features a talk by the future leader of the Labour Party, George Lansbury (1859-1940). Lansbury was on the left of the Labour Party and at the time of this recording had not long completed a spell in prison for his part in Poplar Council's refusal to remit money to the London County Council. Here, he defines the Labour movement as a revolutionary movement. In support of this, he quotes lyrics from the series of songs which are to be published on gramophone record by Lansbury's Labour Weekly. Lansbury's rhetoric is significant, focusing on unity, the struggle and the need to win emancipation for the workers.

Talk by James Maxton

This speech, by the firebrand orator and MP James Maxton (1885-1946), was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. Maxton was closely associated with a prominent strand of left-wing Glaswegian Socialism known as Red Clydeside. The rhetoric employed in this speech is a good example of the views of much of the Socialist left - there is no need for individual greed when there is plenty to go around.

Appeal to the Workers of Britain by A.J.Cook

This speech by the General Secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, A. J. Cook (1883-1931), was distributed by the New Leader newspaper. The New Leader was associated with the Independent Labour Party, a grouping on the left of the main party. The 1920s was a period of great industrial conflict in the UK, culminating in the nine-day General Strike of 1926. Cook was a leading figure in this struggle, and a leading figure on the left of the Labour movement in general. A noted orator, here he describes the working conditions of his members and the attacks they have had to endure from their opponents.

An Appeal for Unity by Willie Gallacher

This recording of a speech by the Communist MP Willie Gallacher (1881-1965) was distributed by the Daily Worker. The Daily Worker (founded in 1930) was the house newspaper of the Communist Party. Gallacher, a leading figure in the Red Clydeside period of Glaswegian radicalism, was a founder-member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920. He served as MP for West Fife from 1935 (when this recording was made) to 1950. Here, he attacks the policies of the Tory-dominated National Government. He then proposes a United Front against Fascism between Communists and other leftists, whom Communists had previously been instructed to regard as Social Fascists by Moscow.