London: Independent Labour Party, 1947. First edition. Pamphlet. This item is from the personal collection of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. This memorial pamphlet for James Maxton, Labour MP and Chairman of the Independent Labour Party from 1926-1931 and 1934-1939, contains a 13-line tribute from Winston S. Churchill. In his tribute Churchill acknowledges that Maxton’s “views were very different from mine”, but goes on to honor him as “the greatest gentleman in the House of Commons.”
The politics of James Maxton (1885-1946) were largely influenced by his experience as a young schoolteacher in Glasgow. The poverty of his pupils shocked Maxton and prompted him to reject the Conservative politics he had inherited and immerse himself in Socialist reformist politics. In 1904 he joined the Independent Labour Party which he served as the Chairman in the coming years. Maxton was a naturally gifted speaker, and his speaking in WWI brought him both positive and negative notoriety.
Maxton was a pacifist and conscientious objector, and a 1916 speech protesting the deportation of shop stewards brought a sedition conviction and a prison sentence. In 1922 he was elected as Labour MP for Glasgow. In 1923 he called Conservative members who supported a government motion to cut health grants “murderers”. In response he was suspended from the House of Commons. Despite his often divisive views, Maxton’s personal warmth and political passion won him friends and admirers from across the political spectrum including Winston Churchill, who notes in this tribute “Our free Parliament gives opportunities for such figures to live and shine even though they may never hold or wish to hold any public office or become the leaders of large Parties.”
Maxton held his seat until his death in 1946. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that Maxton holds “folk hero status in socialist circles.” This 10 x 6.375 inches (25.3 x 16 cm) pamphlet is bound in tan textured wraps and bound with red yarn. The 30-page pamphlet includes a tipped in portrait, 37 tributes, a short biography, a transcript of the BBC broadcast tribute, and funeral notes. Condition is very good plus. The pamphlet is clean with light wear and minor toning to the extremities. The contents are crisp, bright, clean, and free of markings and spotting.
Reference: Cohen B104. Item #004867