Jimmy Reid’s funeral ceremony was a fitting mix of sadness and affectionate nostalgia. Even The Sun, no friend of left-wing politicians, offered a warm and respectful account of the ceremony and the man
It was one of those ironies. I watched part of the ceremony playing out silently above me, on a flat screen in the Cafe Bar area of Manchester Business School. Homage to a one-time communist leader, silenced in what might be regarded by many of Jimmy’s admirers as a bastion of capitalism. Saw Alex Ferguson full but muted cry. The camera shot cut to the funeral card held by a mourner, capturing an echo of perhaps Reid’s most famous words.
“The family request that during this celebration of Jimmy’s life there will be no bevvying…”
As The Sun pointed out in a remarkably warm piece on the funeral, that was a reference to Reid’s “There will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying” speech prior to the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipyards work-in that saved 6,000 jobs.
Working Class Hero
Social identity theory suggests that we form our impressions of leaders through our personal constructs of leaders. Alex Haslam talks of leaders as entrepreneurs of identity. The theory implies we repeatedly monitor information about leaders we have tucked away in the same cognitive filing cabinet. For me, Jimmy Reid will be remembered alongside two other working class political leaders of his day, Arthur Scargill and Neil Kinnock. I suppose they come out of my filing cabinet of left-wing charismatic leaders. All three became hate figures of the political right and its media supporters. Jimmy maybe transcended the vilest of the smears that Arthur and Neil suffered. As the Sun pointed out, Reid’s finest hour was to end in political victory. Scargill and Kinnock were to rise and fall politically, as Margaret Thatcher’s revolution advanced across the land.
Trust the Sun
I don’t think I have written particularly enthusiastically before about The Sun’s approach to journalism. Over the years I have been intrigued at how their very bright political journalists translate their ideas into Sunspeak. It was with some relief that the old Sun ethos remained elsewhere in the paper. UK Invaded by giant rats read another headline.