Ballad Of John MacLean

Words & Music : Matt McGinn
Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

Tell me whaur ye're gaun, lad,
An who ye're gaun tae meet
A'm headed for the station
That's in Buchanan Street,
A'll join 200,000
That's there tae meet the train
That's bringing back tae Glesca
Our ain dear John MacLean

Dominie,
Dominie
There was nane like John MacLean,
The fightin Dominie

Tell me whaur he's been, lad,
An why has he been there?
They've had him in the prison
For preachin in the Square,
For Johnny held a finger up
Tae aa the ills he saw,
He was right side o the people,
But the wrang side o the law

Johnny was a teacher
In one o Glasgow's schools
The golden law was silence
But Johnny broke the rules,
For a world o social justice
Young Johnny couldnae wait,
He took his chalk an easel
Tae the men at the shipyard gate

The leaders o the nation
Made money hand ower fist
By grindin doun the people
By the fiddle an the twist,
Aided an abetted
By the preacher an the Press
John caad for revolution
An he caad for nothin less

The bosses an the judges
United as one man
For Johnny was a danger
Tae their '14-'18 plan,
They wanted men for slaughter
In the fields o Armentiers,
John caad upon the people
Tae smash the profiteers

They brought him to the courtroom
In Edinburgh toun,
But still he didnae cower,
He firmly held his ground,
An stoutly he defended
His every word an deed,
Five years it was his sentence
In the jail at Peterheid

Seven months he lingered
In prison misery
Till the people rose in fury,
In Glesca an Dundee,
Lloyd George an aa his cronies
Were shaken tae the core,
The prison gates were opened,
An John was free once more


Song Notes

John MacLean He was a Scottish schoolteacher ("Dominie" in Scots) and Marxist educator who was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in 1918 for agitating against the carnage of World War 1. Due to popular outrage and demonstrations, he was released after 7 months but the harsh treatment he received in prison seriously damaged his health and he died a few years later.

His vision of an independent Scottish Socialist Republic disagreed strongly with Lenin and with Gallacher and other leading Scots Communists of the time as he was opposed to the integration of the Scots within the British Communist Party. (see : VI Lenin, 'Left Wing Communism', Willie Gallacher, 'Revolt on the Clyde' and Nan Milton 'John MacLean')


Top of Page