Mrs Barbour's Army

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Mrs Barbour's Army

Postby crusty_bint » Tue Jul 04, 2006 2:54 pm

At the Mayday Festival this year I went to a folk song event at Saint Andrews in the Square and heard of, for the first time, a lady called Mrs Barbour and her army. Mrs Mary Barbour was your, well probably not-so typical wee wummin fae Govan who mobilised a city in protest of spiteful landlords who implimented huge rent hikes in the early months of the First World War.

Image

Here's an (short) account of Mary Barbour, who also went on to become the Labour Party's first woman Councillor as well as pioneering contraception for married women and setting up the city's first Family Planning Clinic.

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/redcly092.htm

At the event in St Andrews was Allisatir Hullet (forgive me if thats the wrong spelling of the surname) who sang a wee song written in her honour which went a litle sumthin like this...

"Am fae Govan, and she's fae Partick
This yon here's fae Bridge o' Wier and that wan Kinning park.
There's some are prods, and some are Catholic
But we're Mrs Barbour's army and we're here tae dae the work!"

(...It's Run DMC and Jam Master J... heh)

And work they did!

Anyway, my point: I felt kinda inspired by this song and thier plight. A city long delineated by class and religion united by a common cause. Something lacking in our society these days. A point expressed by Allistair at the afore-mentioned event was that Mrs Barbour has no lasting memorial in the city, a fact which saddened him and me both and something I would like to see rectified and wondered if anyone else thought it worthy?

Also, does anyone else know more about Mrs Barbour? Did anyone ave relations in er army? And does anyone know the rest of the song?
Last edited by crusty_bint on Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Vladimir » Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:20 pm

Maybe a statue is in order. They were talking about doing up George Square anyway, maybe it could be placed there. Go for it...

(Im amazed by you Crusty, Id have thought you would be dead against this type of person. Joke!! ::): )
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Postby crusty_bint » Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:23 pm

All you know about me are second hand stories matey :wink:
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Postby Vladimir » Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:25 pm

Come on, I have first hand experience of your wrath! ::):
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Postby crusty_bint » Tue Jul 04, 2006 3:28 pm

hahaha oh come on, I'm not the wrathsome type :wink:

Anywho, lets stick to the subject, the good Lady Barbour is far more worthy of discussion :)
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Postby Schiehallion » Tue Jul 04, 2006 5:25 pm

If you put 'rent strike' in Scran there are a few good press cuttings and publicity material to do with the rent war.
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Postby DMcNay » Tue Jul 04, 2006 5:53 pm

The series "Not Forgotten" hosted by Ian Hislop had a section about Mrs Barbour. They interviewed some people who knew her. Her daughter (I think. Some relation at least) still lives in Glasgow. She's interviewed in the series.

If you ask me nicely in a PM I'll do you a DVD of said series...
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Postby escotregen » Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:40 pm

Crusty it's always good to hear of someone else picking up on the critical role of women in Scottish social progress. Much of the mythical rubbish about the labour movement that later came to be called 'Red Clydeside' was done on the back of the womens' pioneering, and often brave, work. It was the women who demonstrated the power of peacefull mass civic action.

Another example of high achieving women in the social field around that time was Octavia Hill. She, virtually single-handedly, invented a highly intensive model of housing management to not only bring decent housing for rent to the poorest classes, but also to help educate and support them into sustaining their tenancies.

Of course, the profile of gutsy women who used intelligence and a genuine collective and caring spirit did not at all suit the macho 'Red Clydesider' men of the labour movement in Scotland. And so the womens' role was always either ignored or underplayed. Instead the Labour movement took up with the mythology of aggressive industrial action, male leadership and a macho pecking order among the various trades and industries.

The first time that working class women came near to escaping from their kitchens was during WW2 when they were needed in the factories for wartime industrial production. They belied the male myths about 'weak womenfolk' when they undertook many skilled jobs with minimal training But the trade union power in the post WW2 Labour Government ensured that the wummin were sent back home 'where they belonged', as it was said, and the skilled jobs were 'given back' to the men.

Ironic that the growing post WW2 labour shortage, partly caused by the underemployment of women, meant industry turned to mass (male!) immigration as a source of labour... the consequences of which we are still struggling to work through.
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Postby Dexter St. Clair » Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:44 pm

Of course, the profile of gutsy women who used intelligence and a genuine collective and caring spirit did not at all suit the macho 'Red Clydesider' men of the labour movement in Scotland. And so the womens' role was always either ignored or underplayed. Instead the Labour movement took up with the mythology of aggressive industrial action, male leadership and a macho pecking order among the various trades and industries.


You just about admit there are myths and this is one of them. Women did not have it easy then again neither did men. Do women have it easy now? Some do but most don't.

Women were mobilised into Industry and into Bearmore's in particular in the First World War. Common myth had it the male dominated unions were against it. Whilst I'm sure that some men were and some men still are opposed to women in the workplace what the unions were opposed to was the dilution of the workplace in that women were going to be paid less undercutting the rates paid to men.

Given that industrial history from the workers' point of view but still written by academics is still a fairly new field. As it is University thesis driven there's a revisionist point of view every few years.

Try a subscription to Scottish Labour History for Macho posturing. These Guys (and Gals) are vicious.


http://slhs.org.uk/index_of_contributors.htm
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Postby escotregen » Tue Jul 04, 2006 9:03 pm

Dexter, I'm not being funny or sarcatic, but I don't understand the points you'r making?... like you posted: "You just about admit there are myths"

But on one point, if I do understand correctly you're saying that industrial history from the workers point of view is "still a fairly new field" -you're plain wrong on that.

However, I'm not going to enter into a ding dong match over definations and interpretations of so-called 'workers' history. People who are into that are best left, like Evangelical religious types, to their own devices. Mind you it's striking that as soon as the reality of treatment of women by the labour movement in Britain, is brought up it generate some awfully defensive and over-sensitive reactions. Mmmm maybe a message in that.
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Postby Dexter St. Clair » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:20 pm

Mind you it's striking that as soon as the reality of treatment of women by the labour movement in Britain, is brought up it generate some awfully defensive and over-sensitive reactions. Mmmm maybe a message in that.


Your reality not mine.

And Robert Tressel is recent to me whilst the second world war might seem to you to have been "The first time that working class women came near to escaping from their kitchens was during WW2 when they were needed in the factories for wartime industrial production". Actually the First World war saw women in heavy industry.

"But on one point, if I do understand correctly you're saying that industrial history from the workers point of view is "still a fairly new field" -you're plain wrong on that."

and your evidence is ?

and your definition of "fairly new" is.

Mine is in comparison to traditional written history from the point of view of kings, popes and their lackeys which dates back substantionally longer.
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Postby My Kitten » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:23 pm

Doc Lightning wrote:The series "Not Forgotten" hosted by Ian Hislop had a section about Mrs Barbour. They interviewed some people who knew her. Her daughter (I think. Some relation at least) still lives in Glasgow. She's interviewed in the series.

If you ask me nicely in a PM I'll do you a DVD of said series...


I'd recommend that programme. I never knew about her until this.
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Postby escotregen » Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:24 am

Just a couple of final points. There were no accompanying arrangements or 'progressive' steps taken to support the women who were drafted into the WW1 factories. Moreover it was a strictly (working) class restricted excercise. So there was nO possibility that this WW1 experience was a 'route out' for women. Women got the rent strikes organised and the men... well they went on strike against wartime restrictions on pub opening hours ::):

Secondly, today in the Herald we have contemporary evidence of the labour movement's continuing marginalisation of women in their own ranks. The issue is the massive Equal Pay for women settlements that local authorities have to fund. The main reason this impending financial disaster (and it is a disaster) has hit local authorities in Scotland, was the obdurate refusal of the labour dominated local authority system to acknowledge and then act on the injustice of their female employees' pay from when it was clear and plain some years ago that it was unjust - oh! and illegal.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/65361.shtml

I listened to a report on BBC Scotland radio some months ago on this issue. They interviewed the female employee, and trade unionist, whose legal case has forced the whole issue (I think she was employed in Aberdeen). She spoke with anger about the constant neglect or indifference that she and her colleagues received, not least from her Trade Union (male of course) representatives. In the end, against her own choice, she was forced into legal action to get anywhere.

Maybe things do never change Mrs Barbour?
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Equal pay for Work of Equal Value

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:49 pm

These are the original cases relating to equal pay for work of equal value.



Julie Hayward, a qualified cook employed by Cammell Laird in the canteen at its Birkenhead shipyard was supported by her union, the GMB, and the Equal Opportunities Commission. She claimed equal pay for work of equal value with several male craft workers. The case went to the House of Lords, where in 1988 Hayward won the right to higher basic pay.

In 1987, backed by the union, MSF, a number of women speech therapists claimed equal pay with clinical psychologists and hospital pharmacists. Thirteen years later in 2000, the women won their claim, receiving a total of £12 million.
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