Friday, 10 September 2010

A Tribute to Jimmy Reid

Following the recent death of Jimmy Reid a friend gave me a copy of his address to Glasgow University students and Governors, as their recently elected Rector, back in the early 1970s. What he said back then is worth repeating and is still highly relevant to the situation we face over 30 years later.

At that time Jimmy was the elected spokesperson of the Upper Clyde shipbuilders during their work-in to defend thir jobs and industry in the face of Tory attempts to butcher them both. He was at that time a member of the Communist Party and on its National Executive Committee. In subsequent years he joined the Labour Party and later in life the Scottish Nationalists. He maintained throughout his life a passionate belief in social justice, particularly for working people. I hope that he would appreciate me reproducing some of what he had to say at that time.

In a direct address to students he said:

"Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties in all that is happenning around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you're a fully paid up member of the rat pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit."

"Profit is the sole criteria used by the establishment to evaluate economic activity, from the rat race to lame ducks.... the facts are there for all to see. Giant monopoly companies and consortia dominate almost every branch of our economy. The men who wield effective control within these giants exercise power over their fellow men which is frightening and is a negation of democracy."

"All that is good in man's heritage involves recognition of our common humanity, an unashamed acknowlegement that man is good by nature. Burns expressed it in a poem that technically was not his best, yet captured the spirit. In "Why should we idly waste our prime..." he says

"The golden age, we'll then revive, each man shall be a brother,
In harmony we shall live and till the earth together,
In virtue trained, enlightened youth shall move each fellow creature,
And time shall surely prove the truth that man is good by nature"



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