July 30, 1971
JIMMY Reid was the last of the Red Clydesiders and arguably one of the most celebrated.
His spellbinding oratory skills were matched by his fierce intellect and an empathy which meant it was the people who did the work in Glasgow’s shipyards who mattered more to him than the jobs.
Born in Govan, the epicentre of the city’s shipbuilding community, and an engineer by trade Jimmy was thrown into the spotlight when the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders went into receivership in 1971 as a result of the Tory Government cutting its subsidies.
Against the grain at the time, the workers didn’t strike.
Instead, led by shop steward Reid, they staged a “work-in”.
This was revolutionary for 1970s industrial relations but Reid’s address to workers made as much impact.
He called for collective discipline, with the rallying call, “there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity”.
The move sparked worldwide acclaim, with support from the likes of Billy Connolly and John Lennon, and eventually the shipyard’s Government subsides were reinstated.
The early 1970s was very much Reid’s time.
He also served as Rector of Glasgow University. His opening address, about the “rat race”, was printed in full by the New York Times and described as the greatest speech since President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.