May 3, 2022
Yes! Yes! UCS! , a play by Townsend Theatre Productions, has just finished its UK wide tour. This is the stirring account of the shipyard workforce of the Upper Clyde and the successful occupation of their shipyards and their unique work-in. An inspirational story of community strength, leadership and the power of collectivism. It was funny and moving, with excellent acting and a cleverly designed set. Highly recommended if it ever returns. It’s almost 50 years to the day that Jimmy Reid, one of the UCS leaders, made his famous Glasgow Uni Alienation rectorial address. Always worth a read.
Reid’s inaugural address took place in Glasgow University’s Bute Hall on 28 April 1972, the same day as the government approved the rescue deal for UCS. Although some previous rectors had used professional speechwriters, Reid wrote his speech himself the day before the event. The address formed part of a grand ceremony with the university court present in academic dress; Reid wore the rector’s robe and, for the first time in his life, white tie. Some disruption was caused when two students dressed as a pink pantomime horse attempted to enter the hall but otherwise Reid was not interrupted during his address, except for rounds of applause from the audience. Reid spoke in his usual working-class Clydeside accent and presented his address as a reasoned argument, not as a rabble-rousing speech. At its conclusion he received a two-minute standing ovation.
Reid’s address was entitled “Alienation” and its primary subject was Marx’s theory of alienation. Marx described social alienation as a consequence of the capitalist mode of production which he claimed seeks to divide society between professions and remove the individual’s connection to the product of their labour. Marx thought alienation led to the working class having little understanding, control or influence of the world in which they lived, leading to indifference and passivity.
When this speech was reprinted (in full) in the New York Times, it was described as ‘the greatest speech since President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address