Last night I chaired the Jimmy Reid Memorial lecture and introduced Jeremy Corbyn who gave a thorough lecture on an industrial strategy to an enthralled crowd of 600 people in the resplendent Govan Parish church. A highlight in my lifetime of speaking at political gatherings, matched only by the public sector strike day rally in Glasgow’s Barrowlands, November 30 2011. Here is what I said:
Welcome to the fourth annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture. I am Lynn Henderson, national officer of the Public and Commercial Services Union. A lassie that grew up in the shadow of Leith docks, honoured to be across here to with you in Govan for this immensely important event in the labour movement calendar.
Thank all of you for coming out and thanks to Jimmy’s family, the UCS veterans and the Reid Foundation volunteers for making all of this happen.
I met Jimmy several times and once had the job of transcribing a lengthy verbal contribution of his on the scourge of international child labour. Anyone that has ever transcribed, will realise what an intimidate relationship develops with the person’s voice. Jimmy’s words and his voice stays with us all and speaks loudly to us still. His language was rich, fluent and poignant – never missing a moment to emphasise his absolute abhorrence of international capitalism.
Jimmy was born, bred and worked in Govan. Many of us were privileged to attend his funeral here in Govan Parish church.
Like our speaker tonight, an awful lot of people had something to say about Jimmy Reid. Let us be reminded that like our speaker, Jimmy was first and foremost a socialist. Writing the first editorial of Scottish Left Review in December 2000, “social democracy in a Scottish context” was Jimmy’s indictment of New Labour. It reads now like a prophetic message on the ultimate fall of Blairism itself. A dire prophecy come true!
Well Jimmy would be thankful those days are gone now. Today, the British Labour Party is led by a proud socialist, a trade unionist with a lifelong dedication to international solidarity and progressive causes. Those of us here tonight stand on a bridge that extends across the Clyde to the Thames, bringing together the class politics of Jimmy Reid and Jeremy Corbyn in common purpose to defeat the Tories and make advances for our class.
I wish to pass on a personal greeting of solidarity from my own union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, who is currently in hospital awaiting a heart transplant. Mark blogged this week on his pride in the NHS, and his unstinting support for Jeremy. It’s with Mark’s encouragement I stand here tonight as a female national officer of my union.
Although PCS is not affiliated to any political party, our national executive in July voted to support Jeremy Corbyn in his leadership bid as in the interests of our members. Jeremy and John McDonnell are both founding members of the PCS Parliamentary group in Westminster. McDonnell on becoming shadow chancellor last year passed the chair on to Glasgow SNP MP Chris Stephens who is doing a wonderful job in his place. Jeremy was the first Labour leader in office to address our union’s annual delegate conference in which he committed a future labour govt to reversing the hated delegated pay system introduced by Thatcher in the 1980s to divide and rule on civil service pay and drive down wages. This is something to which no Labour leader until now has been prepared to commit.
Which leads me to the topic for Tonight’s lecture – “Industrial Strategy: A Productive Economy and Good Secure Jobs”. Jeremy is committed to an industrial strategy – investing in research and development, better training, ending zero hour contracts, providing safe working conditions, ensuring fair equal pay and giving workers a say in how their organisation is run. He is not a recent convert to these ideals but has a long track record of support. So let’s hear it from him.
Tonight is Jeremy’s first engagement in Scotland since his magnificent re-election. Twice elected leader of the Labour Party, on a massive mandate for change, please welcome to Govan, Jeremy Corbyn.