Friday, August 13, 2010


Another part of my past has gone with the passing of Jimmy Reid; I was in my twenties when Reid came to prominence. He rose from relative obscurity as one of the leaders of the takeover of the shipyards by the workers to prevent closure by the Tories; out with the coal disputes the greatest political upheaval since before WW 11. Reid was not the leader of the shipyard workers as some lazy journalists are now saying he never claimed to be and never would, there were people beside him and behind him who were every bit as important particularly the razor sharp mind and iron will of Jimmy Airlie, Reid was their spokesman and what a spokesman he was. He was inspiring at the time of the “work in” and he made the period burst into flames as he challenged the Govt. As a young activist these were heady days; we learned a lot and it stayed with us, as William Wordsworth said about the French Revolution, “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven”

Throughout my life in politics I have always enjoyed public meetings where you could hear great speakers or orators to give them their due and he was one of the best, among those I have heard and met were him, Tony Benn; Norman Buchan; Gordon Brown; Mick McGachey; Reid’s nemesis Arthur Scargill; Lawrence Daly and still way out in front Michael Foot. I even had the great fortune to hear The late legendary Rev. Donald Soper at Hyde Park Corner and spoke to him after his address to the crowd; he was a frail old man at the time but his voice carried far, he was inspirational.

Jimmy Reid rose like a lion; blazed brightly for a couple of years and like Icarus he fell and never rose again, I remember my late great friend Davie Speirs saying to me when I asked him if he had seen Reid on the Parkinson show; “that was the end of Jimmy Reid the revolutionary” and as was so often the case Davie was right because it was the end. His new found celebrity made it possible to “get aff the tools” as we say here and his life changed entirely. So much so that his former comrades in the Communist Party who were tough men and women devoted to their cause never saw him in the same way again and neither did I. I still met him a few times after those days although I couldn’t say I knew him but he was a different guy by then he was Jimmy Reid the TV star every establishment show’s favourite socialist.

“Every political career ends in failure” (Enoch Powell) and Enoch was right you don’t hear me say that often but, Powell was referring to political failure when they eventually lose and stand down, that wasn’t Reid’s case he lost a lot more than a political credibility and he became very bitter, leaving the Communist Party where he belonged but couldn’t get elected; Labour where he tried and failed again; then the SSP which was a cruel joke on him considering his past and finally to the SNP, the great International Socialist fetching up with a bunch of narrow minded hidebound nationalists. As a young communist he crossed swords with the young Arthur Scargill and Arthur beat him in an election for an important post, Reid never forgot or forgave.

So it was that decades later when the miners were locked in their desperate struggle with the Thatcher Govt. he turned on Scargill publicly saying that if “Kamikaze pilots had a union Scargill would be their shop steward” that comment finished him with his former comrades and admirers. Nothing more needs to be said about that but, the old warrior McGachey called him “broken Reid” a terrible state of affairs.

Jimmy Reid made his mark and he rightly enjoys a high place in Scotland’s Labour movement, my cousin in Chicago recently sent me this quote and I now paraphrase him and F.Scott Fitzgerald “the golden cup was broken but it was golden and no one can take that away” I will look back fondly on him, he was not the first and won’t be the last to be led astray by the acclaim and bright lights, he learned the hard way what “the system” can do to someone whom they consider to be dangerous.


Anonymous said...

perhaps the thing that the UCS workers should be remembered for, Terry, is taking positive action on their own account and not relying on useless politicians of the capitalist system (including Labour, long time supporters of Wars and Capitalism).
as i dont think you are a socialist Terry (you are i.m.o a left reformer of the capitalist system,but not out to abolish capitalism), I dont think Jimmy (although a very likable and charismatic man) was a communist or a socialist. If you read his rectorial glasgow uni address carefully, although much of interest and some universal truths, he talks about the "right to work". Under capitalism, there is no right to work for most, just the pressure to be a wage slave to make ends meet. The work-in was a good trade union tactic at the time, and gave some years of respite,so there was something postive came out of the struggle. Jimmy was a likeable Stalinist for much of his life, a "communist" councillor in Faifley, Clydebank,just like some people claim they are "socialist" when they are members of a political party which has an ongoing history of supporting Wars,the Capitalist System and Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

I could have sworn I saw Tony Benn and thousands of other Labour politicians, members and voters on these marches and involved in the work in, maybe you are getting these events mixed up with something else.

I’m not really interested in whether you think I am out to abolish capitalism or not, judging by your contribution here I wouldn’t give you the time of day.

Reid wasn’t a communist, he wasn’t a socialist and I’m not a socialist either, the socialist world that you inhabit must be pretty small but; that’s the way you like it isn’t it? you were in that Monty Python sketch weren’t you? ”we are the people’s front for the liberation of Judea” not the “popular front for the liberation of Judea, we hate those bastards” you are pathetic, no wonder you afraid to name yourself. People like you are impeding the struggle not helping it.

Anonymous said...

"Reid wasn’t a communist, he wasn’t a socialist and I’m not a socialist either."

"I represent Ward 4 Paisley North West. I'm a Socialist "


Are you on the sauce again Terry?

Anonymous said...

So you are no longer a socialist Terry?

You had better change the front page of your blog and let everyone know.


Cllr Terry Kelly said...

The anonymous comment sent on Aug 14 2010 at 1.55 am said these things and I was quoting him/her. Are you a contestant on the stupidest person on the planet show by any chance?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

The anonymous comment sent on Aug 14 2010 at 1.55 a.m. said these things and I was quoting him/her. Are you another contestant on the stupidest person on the planet show by any chance?

Anonymous said...

When quoting someone, you are supposed to utilise inverted commas or quotation marks to identify this. Otherwise there is no way of differentiating your words from those of others.

The way that you have laid this out would lead anyone to read that these are are your words.

Perhaps you need some English lessons Councillor.

Anonymous said...

I knew Jimmy well for many a year. He would have been appalled to even see his name mentioned on a web site like this, filled as it is with personal hatred, jealousy and childlike attacks on your political opponents. I have seldom spent a sadder half hour than to look through some of your writings on here. We have never met and I hope we never will. Please leave us to grieve for Jimmy. He does not need your version of sympathy.

Bill. T.

Ariel said...

Terry at 12.09

Dont let these Pretenders panic you, Councillor.

In my book, your position as the 'Stupidest Man on the Planet' is unassailable.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

“Please leave us to grieve for Jimmy. He does not need your version of sympathy. Bill. T.”

I simply told the truth and I am far from being alone; what he doesn’t need is sycophantic grovellers telling lies about him; do you think they were grieving for him in the coal fields?

A great many people; me included have been grieving for Jimmy Reid for 30 years; some people would rather delude themselves; some people need heroes because of their own weaknesses.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

You are far too modest no such competition would be complete without you surely?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

There are 2 explanations for someone who would think these were my words, 1 is stupidity and the second is lies. Perhaps in your case there is a third, stupidity and lies!

Anonymous said...

When I heard of Jimmy's death I wondered if you would comment on his passing - given the abuse you have heaped on him in the past. I thought perhaps that a dignified silence on the matter would be fitting, however it appears that this is beyond you.
There are obviously people who have known and met the man, who occasionally visit this site, and I'm sure that an expression involving the lacing of boots will be the first thing that springs to their minds. I'd really be interested to know how you can justify such a spiteful article - and don't pretend it isn't, the faint praise and the mocking sympathy are much worse than a more honest direct attack. Is it jealousy, is it pure tribal loyalty - to lash out against anyone who hasn't travelled to the right with you and the rest of New Labour?
Yours etc, Tam.

Anonymous said...

You said "do you think they were grieving for him in the coal fields? "

The fact that we have no coal fields left says someone about you and your comrades.

Jimmy was a giant. You are a pathetic wee man.

Bill T.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

“given the abuse you have heaped on him in the past”

I have praised him and criticized him as well in the past; when someone betrays the Labour movement you better believe I will abuse them, so would you if you had a backbone.

“a dignified silence on the matter”

I regard the truth as far more dignified.

“I'd really be interested to know how you can justify such a spiteful article”

I’d really be interested to know how you can go along with the “Jimmy Reid” legend and ignore the truth about him.

“to lash out against anyone who hasn't travelled to the right with you”
So you think Reid didn’t travel to the right then? did he stab the miners in the back from his position on the left?

I can understand why some people can’t face the truth about someone that they; and me; placed such high hopes in but I can’t join in such hypocrisy; if it makes you feel any better Kinnock and plenty of others were the same.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

Reid stabbed the miners in the back at the height of their struggle; one of the most dramatic betrayals in modern Labour history; live with it!

“Jimmy was a giant”

That is a true statement with the proviso that it has to be confined to a couple of years in the seventies / early eighties, the last 30 years of his life were a slow motion undignified car crash.

Latterly Labour movement activists dreaded seeing him on TV or a public platform, his every appearance was treacherous and painful to watch; what happened to him was a tragedy.

Ariel said...

So Terry, Reid was 'Led astray by acclaim and bright lights.'

Reminds me of George Best's story of the room service waiter, who, finding him sharing a bed of £50 notes with Miss World, asked 'George, where did it all go wrong?'

Suspect Jimmy took George's view that life was for living

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

Yes a good old story but not what happened to Reid; he triumphed with the UCS and never reached those heights again. That made him bitter and resentful of those who left him behind; he was probably sometimes right that he was far superior to some who went on to bigger things but that doesn’t make him unique.

As I said before his ego and those PR TV people destroyed him, it was tragic.

Anonymous said...

Dear Terry,
I think that your comments on Jimmy deserve a wider audience. It takes a special type of man to continue to put the boot in so soon after his recent death and, most inspiring of all, on the day of his funeral. I'm sure his family will be eternally grateful that he is in your thoughts today, of all days. As you say, it is indeed a tragedy that you and your fellow travellers (Blair, Mandelson, the Alexanders etc) were unable to convince him to do the right thing and accompany you to the glorious, thatcherite, sun-lit uplands inhabited by New Labour. That he chose, instead, to dissociate himself from the type of snivelling wretch who sold the party down the river in return for a council seat or 30 pieces of silver or a ministerial Mondeo, is to his detriment. Instead he had to rely on his intelligence, charisma and wit to get himself heard. On a day like today as the tributes are paid and old differences set aside - there is one lone voice demanding attention; like a petulant child so lacking in the aforementioned intelligence, charisma and above all wit. As I said, it takes a special type of man.......


Cllr Terry Kelly said...

“Dear Terry, I think that your comments on Jimmy deserve a wider audience. It takes a special type of man to continue to put the boot in so soon after his recent death and, most inspiring of all, on the day of his funeral. I'm sure his family will be eternally grateful that he is in your thoughts today, of all”

The proximity of his death; the day of his funeral; and of course his grieving family, don’t forget the grieving family. Is there anything else or anyone else that you can think of to use and manipulate to try to bolster your pathetic attack on me?

The time of his passing and his funeral and his grieving family are nothing to do with this and the fact that I am writing now is because you! yes you! decided to have a go at me on these specific days, you are living in a glass house and you are a hypocrite.

I didn’t even know his funeral was today but I would have replied to your comments anyway. The people who are attending his funeral and singing his praises are referring to a man who effectively stopped being the Clydeside Firebrand and workers orator a long time ago, They are right to remember that man fondly and with pride; I was there at the time and I shared the views of everyone who was involved in the struggle and that was that he was a great man; but that was then, during the struggle.

I think it is wrong to try to turn him into something that he was not; he was human with human flaws like the rest of us and he had his time when he was famous and rightly so, as I said in the post I wrote about him no one can take that away from him and he will always be remembered for what he did.

For my part I find it impossible to turn a blind eye to other aspects of his life and you should not try to behave as if I am alone in this, there are a great many; lots of whom marched with him and looked up to him who share my view of the good things he did and the sad direction that he ended up taking.

When I think of Jimmy Reid I remember the great days with pride and I bitterly regret his demise., it’s a great pity that some people find the truth to difficult to accept.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that you chose to write such a spiteful eulogy of a man who towered above cretins such as yourself.

Your hypocrisy is unbelievable, when you crawl up the the backside of guys like Jim Sheridan who chose to rip off the taxpayers by feathering his own nest at their expense, whilst pretending to be a socialist. You are sycophantic moron.

Crawl back into the dark and slimy hole that you came from and leave the memory of Jimmy Reid alone.

He was only laid to rest yesterday and yet you continue pour scorn over a dead man.

The reality is that you could not stomach the fact that he moved over to the SNP.

Whilst you may not have liked this , it is no excuse for pouring out spite and venom over a man who has just passed away. you should be utterly ashamed of yourself.

Let the man and his family be at peace.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By Anonymous on UCS _ SEE YOU JIMMY - REID AND AIRLIE - WASN'T THA... at 07:51

I wrote a balanced and fair article about Jimmy Reid and came under attack from people like you because I was not prepared to grovel and lie about him, since then I have simply been responding to vile personal attacks telling me to desist from writing about the subject. You might be the kind of creep who crawls away when attacked by I’m not.

By continuing to pile on such vicious accusations and bile against me you give me no choice but to answer you so keep it coming if you want.

One other thing; I have enough regard for Jimmy Reid’s memory to know that like me and obviously unlike your mob he would never dream of writing an anonymous letter, despite his latter demise he would never associate with cowards like you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your broad sentiments Terry.

The "golden cup" was long shattered - started with the back stabbing of the NUM during the 1984/85 struggle. What was particularly despicable was that the NUM had been to the forefront of the support for the UCS work-in. You could also have mentioned Reid's connection with Murdoch's "Sun" newspaper and the effective scabbing on the 5000 sacked printworkers at Wapping.

Enough ill spoken of the deid.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

I did not seek this confrontation and I appreciate someone writing and saying what the Labour movement really thought of Jimmy Reid. None of us chose to attack him because of his past but what we have been witnessing over the past few days is beyond certainly my powers of hypocrisy.

Along with probably just about everyone else I could have accepted “Jimmy Reid has passed away he was famous for the UCS sit in etc.” Not the over the top outpouring of sentimental and unsustainable guff we have been submitted to.

I attended a hustings today with Ed Milliband and Reid was on the menu, everyone including me was kind and respectful, but no one went overboard and there were some interesting conversations on the subject after the meeting, suffice to say my article just about got it right.

Ariel said...

Kelly @ 6.53
'I attended a hustings with Ed Milliband.'

Thought the Old Labour Harpy,Ms Abbott was your preferred candidate?

Please clarify your position on this.

Anonymous said...

You went to a hustings today with Ed Milliband !!! - a good socialist him - ho ho ho ho ! Another Bliar clone in a suit. No wonder Jimmy left the Labour Party.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By Anonymous on UCS _ SEE YOU JIMMY - REID AND AIRLIE - WASN'T THA... on 22/08/10

No wonder Jimmy left the Communist Party, no wonder Jimmy left the Labour Party, no wonder Jimmy left the Scottish Socialist Party, no wonder Jimmy ended up in the Scottish Nationalist Party!

It's not necessary to say anymore is it?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

By Ariel on UCS _ SEE YOU JIMMY - REID AND AIRLIE - WASN'T THA... on 21/08/10

Clarifying my position to you would be tantamount to showing you some kind of respect, why would anyone do that?

Anonymous said...

If you put out a pig with a red rosette to stand in Jim's area it would probably poll even more votes than Jim.

Th added benifit is that the pig wouldn't want to rip off the taxpayer by buying luxury goods at their expense.

It would do a better job too.