The Story of Alexander MacCallum Scott

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The Story of Alexander MacCallum Scott

Alexander McCallum ScottAlexander MacCallum Scott was born at Boathouse, Blantyre in 1874. The cottage of his birth was the old Ferryman’s house and nestled beside the Priory and opposite the village of Uddingston. Apparently it is thought that Boathouse was part of the original orchard planted by the Augustinian Monks from the nearby Priory, who originally came to Blantyre, from their Mother Abbey in Jedburgh, in the early part of the 13th century. Whatever may be, it was here that in 1866, MacCallum Scott’s father, John Scott, started a market-garden. The Scott family were grafters of fruit and had honed their skills in the orchard, by swinsy hill, Carluke.

The ferry operated between Blantyre and Uddingston and it is thought it cost 1 Ha’ penny single, 1 Penny return. Villagers from on Uddingston used to attract the Ferryman’s attention, by calling ‘Boat Jock, Boat Jock,’ whenever they wanted the ferry to cross the water of the River Clyde.

Boat House, BlantyreMacCallum Scott’s father once offered old Archie Reid a job at Boathouse: “Whit John Scott” was the indignant reply: “Wud ye ask a Latin Scholar to cairt dung tae Glasgow. Na! Na!” That same season Archie Reid was employed pulling fruit with Bob Scott of Totham cottage, Uddingston.“What dae ye call this in Latin”asked Bob, pointing to a ladder? “Ledderibus” said Archie Reid. “Weel” said Bob Scott, “tak that Ledderibus, an gan’ tak that treeibus an pull the pearibusses!” Archie Reid was dumbfounded and gasped “when did you learn Latin Bob?”

Later, John Scott removed to another fruit garden at Millhill, Polmont. There MacCallum Scott started his education at the village school, passing on to the High School at Falkirk. His father died when he was at the age of fourteen, and it was only by the self-sacrifice of his mother that he was able to complete his education. He took one of the Gaff Trust Bursaries, which enabled him to go to Glasgow University, where he graduated M.A. in 1897.

MacCallum Scott took an active part in the corporate life of the University, and gained his first experience in journalism and politics. He became in turn Editor of the“Glasgow University Magazine,” President of the University Liberal Club, and President of the Students’ Union. A contemporary and friend at University at College was John Buchan, novelist and historian. Buchan was to become a Unionist politician but he believed that Gladstone had taught people to combat materialism, complacency, and  authoritarianism; and at one stage he admitted to friends that he was “becoming a Gladstonian Liberal.”

From College MacCallum Scott proceeded to London, where he continued to devote himself to journalism and politics. For some years he had a hard struggle to obtain a footing in the journalistic world. Having no influence to obtain a post, he had to depend entirely on his pen for a living. He visited Russia and Siberia as correspondent for the “Daily Chronicle” in 1905 at the end of the Russo-Japanese War, and was in Russia at the time when the Duma, or first Russian Parliament, was created. Having acquired a knowledge of the language, he has ever since been a keen student of Russian affairs, and has closely followed all the developments of the Revolution there.

In 1908 MacCallum Scott became a barrister-at-law at the English Bar, but he did not cease his journalistic work. At the same time he continued his public work. He was Secretary of the League of Liberals against Aggression and Militarism and of the New Reform Club and took an active part in the work of the Gladstone League in suppressing political intimidation in the English Counties. In 1908 he became Private Secretary to Lord Pentland, who was then, Secretary of State for Scotland. And in the General Election of December, 1910, he was elected Member of Parliament for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow in succession to his old college friend, Mr J.W. Clelland.

A few months before entering Parliament he married Jessie Hutchison, the eldest daughter of Dr, John Hutchison, ex-Rector of the Glasgow High School. They had one son.

In Parliament MacCallum Scott became an active Member of the Radical Group of Scottish Members who conducted a vigorous agitation in support of Scottish Home Rule, and in favour of increased consideration of Scottish local needs. He introduced the first “Home-Rule-all-around” Bill and succeeded in carrying the first reading. The part which he took in the long discussions on the National Insurance Bill made him a recognised authority on industrial subjects. He also defended the interests of the Trade Unions, when the Trade Union Act of 1912 was before Parliament. In August 1917 MacCAllum Scott was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Winston Churchill.

Churchill biographyMacCallum Scott writes the first biography of Churchill

At Winston Churchill’s suggestion Lloyd George made MacCallum Scott the coalition government’s Scottish whip in the early summer of 1922

It is quite clear that MacCallum Scott felt that the Liberals, who were part of a coalition government with the Conservatives, had conceded too many of their principles. Commentators of today’s Coalition, which is of the same constitution, might conclude as MacCallum Scott did 90 years ago: “Under your leadership [Mr Asquith] at the last election a pact was made with the Conservative party which reduced the Liberal party to the position of a spare wheel in the Conservative car.”

Two years later MacCallum Scott had defeated James Maxton at the general election of 1918 but had no chance of repelling him in the Glasgow Labour surge of November 1922. Persuaded that Labour, not a disintegrating Liberal Party, was where radicals now belonged, he joined the Labour Party, Independent Labour Party, he wrote to the
former Liberal Prime Minister in late 1924: “Dear MR ASQUITH, I beg to announce to
you, the Leader of the Liberal party, that I have decided to join the Labour party.” Two years after he was adopted as prospective Labour candidate for East Aberdeenshire, the seat held by the colourful progressive tory Robert Boothby.

Presentation to Scott

MacCallum Scott served Bridgeton for 12 years as MP. He left the Liberals for the Labour Party in 1924

MacCallum Scott did not live to aforest Scotland. At 11am on the 25th August 1928 the plane he was travelling in with his wife plunged into Puget Sound. The two pilots of the Ford 4-AT-B Tri Motor plane, and the five passengers, were all drowned. The service between Seattle and Victoria had only commenced nine days before and this was to be the first reported Canadian air disaster. MacCallum Scott was not to fight another election and Peterhead had lost its labour candidate.

A Ford 4-AT-B Tri Motor British Columbis Aeroplane. A Ford 4-AT-B Tri Motor British Columbus Aeroplane. Identical to the plane that crashed into Puget Sound

27th August 1928, 9.30pm. Patches of oil and two hats have been found on the Washington coast. The weather is extremely foggy.

Reuter. 28th August 1928, 1pm. An unidentified fisherman has reported that a large
monoplane circled low ever his boat and crashed into the water some distance away. By the time he reached the spot there was no sign of the aeroplane or its occupants.

In Montreal waiting for his parents was 17 year old John. He was being looked after by Mr Ramsay MacDonald, a close friend of MacCAllum Scott and who was himself was to be returned to office for the second time as Prime Minister of Britain. Left as an orphan McCallum Scott’s son, John, spent a fair amount of time staying with Ramsay MacDonald and his family at no 10 Downing Street.

Source and the rest of the Story here: Hole Ousia


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