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James (Jimmy) Reid


1932 - 2010

Politician, author and infamous trade union leader. Born in Govan (Glasgow), Reid left school at fourteen and served his apprenticeship as an engineer. He led his first strike and nineteen and was soon elected a shop-steward. He came to prominence in the early 1970s as a leader of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) work-in, an alternative to a strike, which persuaded the Conservative government not to close the shipyards. Through Reid's use of the media and tight discipline, the campaign attracted widespread public support. Reid was noted for his widely-broadcast speech to the workers which made clear that "there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, and there will be no bevvying, because the world is watching us."

A speech Reid made to University of Glasgow students on "rejecting the rat race" in 1971 appeared in full in the New York Times and he was elected Rector of the University the following year. He stood as a Communist for Dunbartonshire Central constituency in the general election of 1974 and polled a significant number of votes. He went on to become a Councillor in Clydebank but moderated his views in later life, joining first the Labour party and then, disillusioned with 'New Labour', the Scottish National Party. He was quick to criticise both political opponents and former colleagues, such as Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill, when he felt they made mistakes.

In 1976, he published his memoirs Jimmy Reid: Reflections of a Clyde-built Man and, by the 1980s, he had turned to journalism, writing regular columns for the Herald, Scotsman, Sun and Daily Mirror, together with presenting a chat-show for Grampian Television and documentaries such as The Reid Report and Reid About The USSR.

Reid retired to the Isle of Bute, and died in Inverclyde Royal Hospital (Greenock). His funeral in Govan Old Parish Church was attended by notables such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown (b.1951), First Minister Alex Salmond (b.1954), football manager Sir Alex Ferguson (b.1941) and comedian Billy Connolly (b.1942).


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