Remembering Jimmy Reid and his Legacy

Feedback on Issue 88, July/August 2015

Reid and the Coordinating Committee of Shop Stewards from all the yards never called for supporting strike action but asked for solidarity and financial support, and got it not only nationally but internationally across Europe, America and the Soviet Union. Such was the hegemony created by UCS that in the days of the two mass demonstrations, workers across the west of Scotland just walked out of their factories to join the demos and traffic just came to a standstill across the city.

The only really major significant figure to consider alongside Reid is Mick McGahey of the Scottish miners. Both he and Reid were in the leadership of the Communist Party in Scotland. Apart from fostering left unity across the Scottish labour movement, McGahey moved the historic motion at the 1968 STUC calling for a Scottish Parliament. In the light of massive opposition from Labour, reflected in the leadership of many unions at Congress, McGahey remitted the motion to avoid defeat, so that it remained on the STUC agenda. In the early 1970s, his colleague, George Bolton, moved a motion for a proportional representation voting system at the elections, again at the STUC. Again this was vehemently opposed by the Labour and union leadership and again the miners’ union remitted. These two motions were the basis years later for Campbell Christie and the broad left General Council of the STUC, creating the historic steering council committee of the STUC, which led to the Scottish Convention and ultimately the creation of a Scottish Parliament. To its credit, by that time Labour had joined the Convention, along with the Lib/Dems, Communist Party, the churches and many civic organisations. Despite being approached, the SNP would not participate and called it a ‘Mickey Mouse Parliament’. Changed days indeed!

John Kay, ex-Industrial Organiser, Communist Party