Billy Connolly spoke at some length at Jimmy Reid’s funeral service today. He clearly had a strong regard for Jimmy Reid, and was moved by his death. His speech was very funny and conveyed the core of Glasgow working class humour in the way that only Connolly can deliver.
But it contained little of the real essence of Jimmy Reid, his burning political convictions and his love of Scotland.
Perhaps we could not expect a recognition of those convictions, especially Jimmy Reid’s most recent views, from the man who coined the phrase “wee, pretendy Parliament”, a phrase that has been quoted again and again by every commentator hostile to Scotland’s devolved Parliament and to the aspirations of its people to run their own affairs.
One recent quote from the man who embodied the values and pride of the Scottish working class and indeed of all Scots will suffice -
31st March 2007, just before the Scottish National Party’s historic win in the May 2007 Holyrood election.
“New Labour has ceased to be Labour. It has betrayed all the principles, all the reasons why the Labour Party was founded, and it has become, quite frankly, a kind of Conservative Party. It’s a Thatcherite Labour Party, which is a contradiction in terms. So I couldn’t stay in the Labour Party – so always having been a political activist, I’ve got to ask myself – what do I do? What’s the next step – as a Scot?
“I was always a nationalist – that wing of the Labour movement that was for Home Rule, going away back to Maclean - John Maclean …
“People forget this – that was part of the fundamental principles of Scottish Labour. Quite frankly, I find it impossible to contemplate voting for Labour – because if I vote for Labour, I’m voting for the Iraq War – I’m voting for the PFI – I’m voting for economic policies that still retains elements of the working class in Glasgow among the poorest people in Europe.
“There’s no reason to vote Labour – and here we’ve got the SNP. I believe in the Scottish Government, sir, and what really chokes me is that Scots say, that somehow or other the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Irish – they can all govern themselves, but we’re so deficient in politics and in governing capacities that we can’t do it. What an insult that is! We can do it --- and I hope it comes reasonably soon, because I want to see it.”