Jimmy Reid (born 1932) is a Scottish journalist and ex-trade union activist born in Govan, Glasgow. He came to prominence in the early 1970s when he led the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in to try and stop Edward Heath's Conservative government from closing down the shipyards on the River Clyde. An engineer by trade, and a union official, Reid, along with his colleagues Jimmy Airlie 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. The 'work in' received support from across the world and John Lennon lent his support in the form of a large personal donation. The campaign was successful in persuading Heath to back down.
Reid was at this stage a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and was a counciller in Clydebank. He also received the most recent respectable number of votes for any communist candidate for a House of Commons seat when he polled over 6,000 votes in the Dunbartonshire Central constituency in February 1974 against Hugh McCartney. Reid's experiences as a committed Communist were expressed in his 1976 memoir, Jimmy Reid: Reflections of a Clyde-built Man.
Reid also served as Rector of the University of Glasgow, being elected in 1971, largely on the back of his union activities. When installed as Rector he gave a critically acclaimed speech which was published in full in the New York Times.
He later moderated his political position and joined the Labour Party, and was a candidate for them in Dundee East in 1979, but lost against the then Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Gordon Wilson. He is often referred to as "the best MP Scotland never had."
Reid became a journalist, writing opinion columns for various newspapers, including The Daily Mirror, The Herald, The Sun and The Scotsman. He also presented a chat-show called the "Reid Report" for Grampian Television. In 1984 he wrote and presented a series of documentaries entitled “Reid About the USSR” when his status within the Communist Party gave him unprecedented access and resulted in two BAFTA awards. In 2000 he helped establish the Scottish Left Review, a bi-monthly publication.
Reid continued to support Labour up until the 1997 General Election, but thereafter became disillusioned with the New Labour phenomenon, and has since urged people to support either the SNP or the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP).
On 21 April 2005, Jimmy Reid announced he had joined the SNP.
|Rector of the
University of Glasgow