Reformers’ Election Song

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Glasgow election broadside by William Johnston, 1837.

In 1837, James Oswald MP – a vocal campaigner for the 1832 reform bills – stood down from his Glasgow seat and there was a by-election. The poem commends Oswald’s work and advises voters to select an MP who can continue the reform movement. John Dennistoun, the Liberal candidate, is preferred over Robert Monteith, the Tory.

Performer: Adam McNaughtan.

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Mr Oswald now we find, that his seat he has resign’d,
Reformers their loss they may deplore;
Our laws he did maintain, but in Parliament again
Our patriot he’ll never sit more.

For Glasgow city he now has left a vacancy,
So reformers find one in his place;
That will your rights maintain, if you don’t I’ll tell you plain,
That your great metropolis you will disgrace.

To the poll, to the poll, now Reformers every soul,
All that hae got a vote in this town;
Mr Dennistoun’s the man, elect him now if you can,
But young Menteith the Tory keep down.

Poll away, poll away, keep the Tory out I say,
Who’s plan is to keep you in thrall;
One of that name I say, the brave Wallace did betray,
Keep him out and your fame I’ll extol.

To your post, to your post, for the Tories they do boast,
Of their wealth and great strength in this town;
Now is the day now is the hour you have it in your power,
To unite now and keep them all down.

Keep them down, keep them down, let them see in Glasgow town
That your rights you will manfully maintain,
Give to no man a seat but a Liberal candidate,
Then applause for yoursel’s you will gain.

Mr Dennistoun will do all he’s promised for you;
Now Reformers what do you want more?
In Parliament he will all his pledges there fu’fil,
As your Champion brave Oswald did before.

To the poll, to the poll, Glasgow voters every soul,
You have no time to delay;
Turn out now to a man, muster all the votes you can,
Let them say that Dennistoun has won the day.