Via freelance journalist Alex Tiffin (@RespectisVital), I got pointed to the Rebel City Podcast, a podcast made in Glasgow by Paul Shields and Matt Diamond.
On a recent episode, the podcast featured Ray Barron-Woolford (@Raywoolford), the author of a new book, The Last Queen of Scotland (2019). It’s not about that Queen of Scotland. Nope. It’s a fascinating history of Kath Duncan (1888-1954), a Scottish political organizer, labor activist, and advocate for the poor. Here is an excerpt of a review by Chrissy Hamlin of The Hidden Herstories blog:
Woolford’s book tells how Kath Duncan was a highly significant champion of the poor and the unemployed. She was a tireless campaigner for workers’ rights and spent 2 jail terms in Holloway prison for making political speeches. The National Council for Civil Liberties supported her in a landmark court case on the freedom of speech but not many history books will tell you that fact. Duncan also opposed fascism, took part in the Battle of Cable Street and was central to the Aid to Spain movement in the 1930’s. She was a key player in these things – so by rights she should be a household name or have a memorial or statue erected somewhere.
Woolford’s very well researched biography defiantly places Kath Duncan’s story right back into the public eye where it belongs, and restores her to her rightful position as one of the leading civil-rights activists of our time. Her political campaigning can be linked to several of the most significant moments in 20th century British history and has relevance to many of the social and political issues we have today.
In a year when we are celebrating 100 years of some women getting the vote in the UK – it is vital that we also recognise and acknowledge the life and work of Kath Duncan – a working class woman who played just as significant a role in politics as The Pankhurst’s, Nancy Astor or Barbara Castle. In a world where we constantly strive for more equality this book has an important message about how society deals with freedom of speech and civil liberty. Kath Duncan’s story has finally been uncovered by Woolford and all of us really ought to read it.
The podcast episode is here, among other places (search “Kath Duncan” and “Rebel City Podcast”). I learned a great deal!