May Day: Building on Our Radical Past

May Day on Glasgow Green 1913
May Day on Glasgow Green, 1913.

Our May Day History

May Day has been a festive holiday for centuries. As a workers’ holiday, May Day arises from events that took place in Chicago in 1886 when a bomb exploded as police charged a rally. Four of the organizers were unjustly executed although they were not responsible for the bomb. In July 1889, the Socialist International called for rallies on May 1st, 1890, out of respect for those executed and for the solidarity of the international working class.

On the first Sunday of May in 1891 the first May Day event in Glasgow took place on the Glasgow Green.

After 1891, the Left in Glasgow continued to commemorate May Day with a march to the Green. In August 1914, John Maclean held his first anti-war protest on the Green. May Day in 1917 was huge, with 100,000 people on the Green. The next year, May Day was celebrated on May Day itself, a Wednesday, as thousands stopped working as a protest against the First World War.

The Glasgow City Council responded to this upsurge by banning rallies on the Green. Sporadic protests followed until in 1931 when the United Socialist Movement, Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation, and like-minded groups organised civil disobedience on the Green. Their arrests led to unrest around the
city and pushed the Council into revoking the bye-law.

Throughout the Depression years of the 1930’s, and into the 1960s, May Day on the Green remained an important focal point for dissent. To curb this, the City Council has imposed high fees on mass rallies on the Green. May Day has not been celebrated on the Green since Workers City and Glasgow anarchists organised Free Speech Platforms there in the 1990’s.

Every May Day, we honour our radical history and have fun, too.

May Day belongs to the people of Glasgow. It belongs on the Green.

See you there!


Building on Our Radical Past By…

Working together to build a broad, militant anti-austerity/anti-capitalist movement; taking direct action against workfare and housing issues; making connections between the campaigns we are involved with.

Meeting up for conversations and discussions about our lives; how we can loosen the grip global capitalism has on us; the pressing social, political, and economic issues of the day; and the vision of the future we are working toward.

Sharing resources with migrants and refugees as they get settled in a new country and maintain contact with those back home; joining the struggle for their rights, engaging with other workers to link workplace organising and action with privatisation, deregulation, permanent unemployment, precarious work, and discrimination.

Acting with persistence and passion on our demand for an end to war; bringing a strong radical voice to anti-war and peace and justice networks, coalitions, and actions; rejecting nationalism and bigotry.

Maintaining an international, revolutionary perspective by staying in touch with other workers and agitators around the world who are fighting back against poverty and oppression; and fighting for free speech, dissent, and human rights;
caring for ourselves, each other, public spaces, and the planet.

Challenging top-down structures and systems that are meant to keep us in our place by diverting us from our revolutionary principles and programme of local, regional, and international communication, coordination, and worker self-management; working for solidarity within the global working class against the politics, social control, inequality, and injustices of the capitalist system; and staying hopeful.

And remembering that another world is possible!


More information and updates about May Day on the Green is available from:
annarky[at] and

Click here for a pdf version of this leaflet.

, ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: