death of his father in 1883 he changed his name to Robert Cunninghame
Graham. He returned to England and became interested in politics.
He attended socialist meetings where he heard and met William
Morris, George Bernard Shaw, H. M. Hyndman, Keir Hardie and
John Burns. Graham was converted to socialism and he began to
speak at public meetings. He was an impressive orator and was
especially good at dealing with hecklers.
a socialist, in the 1886 General Election he stood as a Liberal
at North-West Lanarkshire. His election programme was extremely
radical and called for the abolition of the House of Lords,
universal suffrage, the nationalisation of the land, mines and
other industries, free school meals, disestablishment of the
Church of England, Scottish Home Rule and the eight-hour-day.
Supported by liberals and socialists, Graham defeated the Conservative
Party candidate by 322 votes.
Graham refused to accept the conventions of the House of Commons.
On 12th September 1887 he was suspended from Parliament for
making what was called a "disrespectful reference"
to the House of Lords.
main concerns in the House of Commons was the plight of the
unemployed and the preservation of civil liberties. He complained
about attempts in 1886 and 1887 by the police to prevent public
meetings and free speech. He attended the protest demonstration
in Trafalgar Square on 13th November 1887 that was broken up
by the police. During what became known as Bloody Sunday, Graham
was badly beaten and arrested. Both Cunninghame Graham and John
Burns were found guilty for their involvement in the demonstration
and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment.
was released from Pentonville Prison he continued his campaign
to improve the rights of working people and to curb their economic
exploitation. He was suspended from the House of Commons in
December, 1888 for protesting about the working conditions of
chain makers. Graham was a supporter of the eight hour day and
made several attempts to introduce a bill on the subject. He
made some progress with this in the summer of 1892 but he was
unable to persuade the Conservative Government, headed by the
Marquess of Salisbury, to allocate time for the bill to be fully
his great friend, James Keir Hardie, Graham was a strong supporter
of Scottish Independence. In 1886 the two men formed the Scottish
Home Rule Association and while in the House of Commons made
several attempts to persuade fellow MPs of the desirability
of a Scottish Parliament. On one occasion Graham humorously
argued that he wanted a "national parliament with the pleasure
of knowing that the taxes were wasted in Edinburgh instead of
the House of Commons Graham became increasingly more radical.
He supported workers in their industrial disputes and was actively
involved with Annie Besant and the Matchgirls Strike and the
1889 Dockers' Strike. In July 1889 he attended the Marxist Congress
of the Second International in Paris with James Keir Hardie,
William Morris, Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling. The following
year he made a speech in Calais that was considered by the authorities
to be so revolutionary that he was arrested and expelled from
In the 1892
General Election Graham stood as the Scottish Labour Party candidate
for Glasgow Camlachie. He was defeated and this brought his
parliamentary career to an end.
being out of the House of Commons Graham continued to be active
in politics. He retained a strong belief in Scottish Home Rule.
In 1928 he was elected President of the National Party of Scotland
and was several times the Scottish Nationalist candidate for
the Lord Rectorship of Glasgow University.
life Graham had a large number of books and articles published.
Subject matter included history, biography, politics, travel
and seventeen collections of short stories. Robert Cunninghame
Graham died on 20th March, 1936.