I saw this sculpture towards the end of my walk along the Clyde and back through Anderston during my recent visit to Glasgow. Made from plasma cut sheet steel, a technique that’s used in the traditional local industry, shipbuilding, he three figures represent “local heroes” – Tom Weir (a climber, writer and broadcaster), James Watt, of steam engine fame flanking a modern figure representing former communist and shop steward Jimmy Reid.
Born in the Gorbals in 1932, Jimmy was one of the leaders of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in which took place between June 1971 and October 1973, a response to the decision of Ted Heath’s Tory Government to shut the yards.
In a speech to the shipyard workers he said
We are not going to strike. We are not even having a sit-in strike. Nobody and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without our permission. And there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity.
The campaign was successful and the Government backed down, keeping the yards open. Alas, few are left today.
Jimmy left the Communist party, joining the Labour Party. Later, disillusioned with “New Labour” he defected (sadly) to the SNP. He died in August 2010.