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Jimmy Reid

Jimmy Reid

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James "Jimmy" Reid was a Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 activist, orator, politician, and journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 born in Govan
Govan
Govan is a district and former burgh now part of southwest City of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated west of Glasgow city centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Kelvin and the district of Partick....

, Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

. His role as spokesman and one of the leaders in the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in between June 1971 and October 1972 attracted international recognition. He later served as Rector of the University of Glasgow and subsequently became a journalist and broadcaster. Formerly a communist and a Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 member, Reid joined the Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland which campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom....

 and fully supported independence
Scottish independence
Scottish independence is a political ambition of political parties, advocacy groups and individuals for Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom and become an independent sovereign state, separate from England, Wales and Northern Ireland....

. He died in 2010 after a long illness.

Early life


Reid was born in Govan, Glasgow, then, as now, a major British shipbuilding centre. In his youth, Reid joined the Young Communist League
Young Communist League (Britain)
The Young Communist League is the name of both the youth wing of the former Communist Party of Great Britain and the current youth wing of the Communist Party of Britain ; an organisation that sees itself as the successor to the Communist Party of Great Britain.-Original Young Communist League...

 and was later a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

. He was involved in organising a major apprentices' strike at the Clyde shipyards.

Union career


Reid came to prominence in the early 1970s when he led the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in to try and stop Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

's Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 government from closing down the shipyards on the River Clyde
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

. The government had decided that the shipyards should operate without state subsidy, which would have resulted in at least six thousand job losses. An engineer by trade and shop steward of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, Reid, along with his colleagues Jimmy Airlie
Jimmy Airlie
Jimmy Airlie was a leading Scottish trade unionist. While a shop steward, along with Jimmy Reid he was particularly remembered for his role as convenor of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in of 1971....

 and Sammy Barr, decided that the best way to show the viability of keeping the yards open was by staging a 'work-in' rather than by going on strike. This meant that the workers would continue to complete what orders the shipyard had until the government changed policy.

In a famous speech given to the workers, Reid announced the workers control and discipline over the shipyard:

The occupation received support from across the world, with a series of fundraising events and foreign unions, celebrities (such as John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

 and Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly
William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin...

) and members of the public providing donations. The campaign was successful in persuading Heath to back down the following year, and the Clyde shipyards received £101 million in public support over the next three years.

CPGB years


He was elected as a Communist
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

 councillor in Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

, where prior to the local government reform of the mid-1970s there were a few Communist councillors. He stood for the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

 in East Dunbartonshire
East Dunbartonshire (UK Parliament constituency)
East Dunbartonshire is a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election....

 in the 1970 general election.

Reid also served as Rector of the University of Glasgow, elected in 1971, largely on the back of his union activities. When installed as Rector he gave a critically acclaimed speech, which became known as "the rat-race speech". The New York Times printed the speech in full and described it as "the greatest speech since President Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

".

In the February 1974 general election
United Kingdom general election, February 1974
The United Kingdom's general election of February 1974 was held on the 28th of that month. It was the first of two United Kingdom general elections held that year, and the first election since the Second World War not to produce an overall majority in the House of Commons for the winning party,...

, Reid stood for the Communist Party in Central Dunbartonshire
Central Dunbartonshire (UK Parliament constituency)
Central Dunbartonshire was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1974 to 1983...

, which was dominated by the town of Clydebank, against sitting Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 member Hugh McCartney
Hugh McCartney
Hugh McCartney was a Scottish Labour politician. Born in Glasgow, McCartney studied at John Street senior secondary school and at the Royal Technical College in Glasgow. He joined the Independent Labour Party's Guild of Youth at the age of 14 and began a textile apprenticeship. He joined the...

. He got 18% of the vote, the best result for a Communist Party candidate in Britain for some time, but it seemed like a disappointment as some thought he might win. It was a controversial campaign, the ballot paper described him as "Engineering Worker", which some thought was disguising his Communist identity. One Roman Catholic priest gave a sermon advising his parishioners only to vote for candidates who were consistent with Christian principles. In his speech at the count, Reid described his opponents as "Falangists" in reference to their perceived Catholic nationalism. He stood again in October 1974
United Kingdom general election, October 1974
The United Kingdom general election of October 1974 took place on 10 October 1974 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. It was the second general election of that year and resulted in the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson, winning by a tiny majority of 3 seats.The election of...

, when his vote was down slightly.

Leaving the CPGB for Labour and Journalism


Around 1975 Reid left the Communist Party. The breakaway Scottish Labour Party
Scottish Labour Party (1976)
The Scottish Labour Party was formed on January 18, 1976, as a breakaway from the UK Labour Party, by members disaffected with the then Labour Government's failure to secure a devolved Scottish Assembly, as well as with its social and economic agenda...

 considered recruiting him, but its leader Jim Sillars
Jim Sillars
Jim Sillars is a Scottish politician. He is married to current member of the Scottish Parliament, Margo MacDonald.-Early life:...

 said: "If we have that chap in he'll be taking time away from me on the box".

About a year after he left the CP, Reid joined the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

. He was their candidate in Dundee East
Dundee East (UK Parliament constituency)
-Elections in the 2000s:-Elections in the 1990s:-Elections in the 1980s:-Elections in the 1970s:-Elections in the 1950s:...

 in 1979
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

, but lost to the then Scottish National Party
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland which campaigns for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom....

 (SNP) leader Gordon Wilson
Gordon Wilson (Scottish politician)
Gordon Wilson is a former leader of the Scottish National Party and current leading figure in the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Scotland...

. The decision by Dundee East Constituency Labour Party
Constituency Labour Party
A Constituency Labour Party is an organisation of members of the British Labour Party who live in a particular UK parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales. The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has, since February 2009, been organised as a province-wide Constituency Labour Party...

 to select him as their candidate was controversial as he had been a party member for less than the two years normally expected. He is sometimes referred to as "the best MP Scotland never had".

Reid then became a journalist and broadcaster, writing opinion columns for various newspapers, including The Daily Mirror
The Daily Mirror
The Daily Mirror is a British national daily tabloid newspaper which was founded in 1903. Twice in its history, from 1985 to 1987, and from 1997 to 2002, the title on its masthead was changed to read simply The Mirror, which is how the paper is often referred to in popular parlance. It had an...

, The Herald
The Herald (Glasgow)
The Herald is a broadsheet newspaper published Monday to Saturday in Glasgow, and available throughout Scotland. As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 47,226, giving it a lead over Scotland's other 'quality' national daily, The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh.The 1889 to 1906 editions...

, The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

and The Scotsman
The Scotsman
The Scotsman is a British newspaper, published in Edinburgh.As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423, down from about 100,000 in the 1980s....

. He also presented a chat-show called the Reid Report for Grampian Television
Grampian Television
Grampian Television is the ITV franchisee for the North and North East of Scotland. Its coverage area includes the Scottish Highlands , Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and parts of north Fife...

. In 1984 he wrote and presented a series of documentaries entitled Reid About the USSR when his previous status within the Communist Party gave him unprecedented access and resulted in two BAFTA awards. In 2000 he helped establish the Scottish Left Review
Scottish Left Review
The Scottish Left Review is a bi-monthly publication of the political-left in Scotland. Established in 2000 by several figures of the Scottish left including Henry McCubbin, Jimmy Reid, Roseanna Cunningham and John McAllion it collects articles on a number of issues written by various individuals...

, a bi-monthly publication. He also wrote an "As I Please" column in Tribune
Tribune (magazine)
Tribune is a democratic socialist weekly, founded in 1937 published in London. It is independent but supports the Labour Party from the left...

, emulating George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

.

During the UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

 Reid was highly critical of the strike and its leader Arthur Scargill
Arthur Scargill
Arthur Scargill is a British politician who was President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 to 2002, leading the union through the 1984–85 miners' strike, a key event in British labour and political history...

 in his newspaper column. Reid's stance led to he himself coming under strong criticism from many former supporters in the labour movement, he was described by Mick McGahey
Mick McGahey
Michael "Mick" McGahey was a Scottish miners' leader and life-long Communist, with a distinctive gravelly voice. He described himself as "a product of my class and my movement".-Early life:...

 as "Broken Reid" and by Dennis Skinner
Dennis Skinner
Dennis Edward Skinner is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Bolsover since 1970, the Chairman of the Labour Party from 1988 to 1989, and has sat on the National Executive Committee numerous times since 1978.Born in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, Skinner is the...

 as "Jimmy Weed".

Leaving Labour for the SNP


Reid continued to support Labour up until the 1997 General Election
United Kingdom general election, 1997
The United Kingdom general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997, more than five years after the previous election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party ended its 18 years in opposition under the leadership of Tony Blair, and won the general...

, but thereafter became disillusioned with the New Labour phenomenon, and subsequently urged people to support either the SNP or the Scottish Socialist Party
Scottish Socialist Party
The Scottish Socialist Party is a left-wing Scottish political party. Positioning itself significantly to the left of Scotland's centre-left parties, the SSP campaigns on a socialist economic platform and for Scottish independence....

 (SSP). In the 2004 SNP leadership contest, he urged SNP members to support Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
Alexander Elliot Anderson "Alex" Salmond MSP is a Scottish politician and current First Minister of Scotland. He became Scotland's fourth First Minister in May 2007. He is the Leader of the Scottish National Party , having served as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Gordon...

 for leader and Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon is the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy, Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party and Member for Glasgow Southside....

 for deputy leader, and he joined the SNP the following year.

In 2007 a play by the writer Brian McGeachan was performed focusing on his life. Entitled From Govan to Gettysburg, it starred John Cairney and toured as part of Jimmy Reid's 75th birthday celebrations.

Later life


Reid retired to Rothesay
Rothesay, Argyll and Bute
The town of Rothesay is the principal town on the Isle of Bute, in the council area of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It can be reached by ferry from Wemyss Bay which offers an onward rail link to Glasgow. At the centre of the town is Rothesay Castle, a ruined castle which dates back to the 13th...

 on the Isle of Bute
Isle of Bute
Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Formerly part of the county of Buteshire, it now constitutes part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. Its resident population was 7,228 in April 2001.-Geography:...

. On 10 August 2010, Reid died at Inverclyde Royal Hospital
Inverclyde Royal Hospital
Inverclyde Royal Hospital, which opened in 1979, is a district general hospital in Greenock which serves a large population area of 125 000 consisting of Inverclyde , Largs, Isle of Bute and Cowal Peninsula...

. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier in the week and had been in poor health for a number of years.

After a private service in Rothesay
Rothesay
Rothesay or Rothsay may refer to:Places*Rothesay, Argyll and Bute, on the Isle of Bute, Scotland*Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada*Rothesay , Canada*Rothsay, Minnesota, USA*Rothsay, Western AustraliaPeople*Duke of Rothesay...

 on the Isle of Bute
Isle of Bute
Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Formerly part of the county of Buteshire, it now constitutes part of the council area of Argyll and Bute. Its resident population was 7,228 in April 2001.-Geography:...

, his hearse was driven into Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 for a secular funeral service at the Govan Old Parish Church
Govan Old Parish Church
Govan Old Parish Church was a parish church in the Church of Scotland, serving Govan in Glasgow. It was also known as "St Constantine's". Since 2007, the congregation has become part of Govan and Linthouse Parish. Govan Old Church is no longer used for regular Sunday services, but the building...

 on 19 August. The cortege passed the BAE Systems Surface Ships yard in Govan
Govan
Govan is a district and former burgh now part of southwest City of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated west of Glasgow city centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Kelvin and the district of Partick....

, one of the Shipyard
Shipyard
Shipyards and dockyards are places which repair and build ships. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial...

s saved after the collapse of UCS, where hundreds of workers had gathered outside in tribute. The funeral service at Govan Old was attended by notable figures including Ed Balls
Ed Balls
Edward Michael Balls, known as Ed Balls, is a British Labour politician, who has been a Member of Parliament since 2005, currently for Morley and Outwood, and is the current Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer....

, Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband
Edward Samuel Miliband is a British Labour Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition...

, Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

, Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
Alexander Elliot Anderson "Alex" Salmond MSP is a Scottish politician and current First Minister of Scotland. He became Scotland's fourth First Minister in May 2007. He is the Leader of the Scottish National Party , having served as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Gordon...

, Sir Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson
Sir Alexander Chapman "Alex" Ferguson, CBE is a Scottish association football manager and former player, currently managing Manchester United, where he has been in charge since 1986...

 and Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly
William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin...

.

He was survived by his wife Joan, three daughters and three granddaughters.

External links


Sources

  • Jimmy Reid. Reflections of a Clyde-built Man (Souvenir Press); ISBN 285 64824 1