Glasier found work as an apprentice draftsman but considered
becoming a church minister until he read Charles Darwin and
T. H. Huxley. Glasier was completely convinced by the theory
of evolution and as a result lost his religious faith.
the City of Glasgow Bank failed with debts of £10 million.
In the year following the bank's crash, almost a thousand Scottish
firms went into liquidation. Glasier lost his job and for the
next twelve years found it difficult to find regular employment.
Glasier began to read books and newspapers that suggested that
capitalism was the cause of poverty. In 1882 Glasier heard H.
H. Hyndman, the leader of the Social Democratic Federation,
speak at a public meeting in Glasgow. Glasier was impressed
with Hyndman's arguments and became one of the leading SDF activists
1885, Glasier left the Social Democratic Federation and joined
the Socialist League, an organisation that had been set up by
William Morris, Eleanor Marx, Edward Aveling and Walter Crane
after a dispute with Hyndman. Glasier formed a branch in Glasgow
and became a regular contributor to its journal, Commonweal.
League failed to become a successful working-class party and
in 1893 Glasier and his wife, Katherine Glasier, joined the
recently formed Independent Labour Party (ILP). The ILP's leader,
James Keir Hardie, argued that the main objective of the party
would be "to secure the collective ownership of the means
of production, distribution and exchange". Leading figures
in this new organisation included George Bernard Shaw, Tom Mann,
Henry Hyde Champion, Ben Tillett, Philip Snowden, Edward Carpenter
and Ramsay MacDonald.
In the 1895
General Election the Independent Labour Party put up 28 candidates
but won only 44,325 votes. All the candidates were defeated
but the ILP began to have success in local elections. Over 600
won seats on borough councils and in 1898 the ILP joined with
the the Social Democratic Federation to make West Ham the first
local authority to have a Labour majority.
birth of her first child in 1897, Katherine Glasier and her
husband toured Britain giving lectures on socialism. Devout
believers, the Glasiers described their socialism as "the
Light of the World". At one meeting arranged by the Fabian
Society in Manchester, John Glasier and a fellow speaker, Emmeline
Pankhurst, were arrested and charged with speaking at an illegal
meeting. Glasier was found guilty and fined £5 but when
he refused to pay, the courts decided to drop the case.
was a strong opponent of the Boer War. In wrote that: "The
more I read and get to understand about the causes of the war,
the more ashamed I am of my country. And yet one feels so powerless
to actually stop the war, or save the brave Boers from the cruel
havoc of our guns."
John Glasier was elected to the National Administrative Council
of the Independent Labour Party. Along with James Keir Hardie,
Philip Snowden and Ramsay MacDonald, Glasier was considered
to be one of the four main leaders of the party. In 1900 Glasier
replaced Hardie as chairman of the ILP.
February 1900, representatives of all the socialist groups in
Britain (the Independent Labour Party, the Social Democratic
Federation and the Fabian Society, joined trade union leaders
to form the Labour Representation Committee. The LRC put up
fifteen candidates in the 1900 General Election and between
them they won 62,698 votes. Two of the candidates, Keir Hardie
and Richard Bell won seats in the House of Commons.
was a contributor to many socialist newspapers including the
Workman's Times, Commonweal, the ILP News and the Clarion. In
1904 he became editor of the ILP's new journal, the Labour Leader.
Under Glasier's leadership the journal's circulation increased
In the 1906
General Election Glasier stood as the Labour Party candidate
for the Bordesley seat in Birmingham. Although the party had
twenty nine successful candidates, Glasier failed to win and
was the only Labour Party leader not inside the House of Commons.
continued to work for the Labour Leader until 1909. He also
worked for the official newspaper of the Labour Party, the Daily
Chronicle and edited the Socialist Review.
was a strong opponent of British involvement in the First World
War and writing for the Labour Leader, was was very critical
of socialists who took part in recruitment meetings or encouraged
hatred of the German people. In August 1915 the Labour Leader
office in Manchester was raided and its editor, Fenner Brockway
was charged with publishing seditious material.
developed cancer of the bowel in 1914. He spent most of the
remainder of his life writing two books, The Meaning of Socialism
(1919) and William Morris and the Early Days of the Socialist
Movement (1920). John Bruce Glasier died on 4th July, 1920.