Not far from the entrance to the Central section stands the obelisk monument to one of Glasgow’s leaders of the Chartist movement, Malcolm McFarlane.
In the early 1800’s the aims of the Chartist Movement were a three point fundamental change to the voting system:
•every man should have a vote in
parliamentary and municipal elections regardless of any property qualifications.
•elections should be held annually
•that votes should be carried out by secret ballot.
Chartists also backed a campaign to abstain from all taxed and excisable articles including spirits, beer, sugar and tea. They set up co-operative shops to help protect the poor from exploitation. The movement organised its campaign on the basis of a network of locally based groups whose main purpose was to educate people as to the awareness of their, often quite poor and dire, situation and how it could be remedied by a politically and socially aware united movement. During its heyday, Malcolm McFarlane was a prominent speaker and a member of national committees. He was particularly concerned with the growth of the Chartist Churches (set up due to the lack of support from the established church) and presided at the first service of the first church in the High Street of Glasgow in September 1839. Later he preached in many others including one in the Gorbals.
He was also a strong supporter of the movement to abstain from all excisable articles not only because it attacked the establishment’s financial power, but because like other early socialists he saw alcohol abuse as a trap for the working man.
When the Chartist organisation collapsed, Malcolm McFarlane continued to work for the fledgling
Temperance Movement and also for the abolition of slavery. But above all he strove for the growing awareness that the improvement of standards of life and labour for working classe people, depended on their ability to work together. His monument also bears the inscription of a dove carrying an olive branch, symbolising hope after disaster. Suitable for a man who did so much for the betterment of others