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Jimmy Reid as Rector of Glasgow University

Historic speech of 1972

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Extract from Jimmy Reid's speech after he is robed as Rector of Glasgow University. Reid cautions against mindless participation in the rat race, stating: "We're human beings! ... reject the insidious pressures in society that... would caution silence in the face of injustice, lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion".

Questions & Activities


  • Who was Jimmy Reid?
  • What does he mean by the rat race?
  • What does the robe he is wearing signify?
  • What is a rector of a university and how does he become one?
  • What makes this speech effective?


History: Research the role of Universities within modern society. What is their importance to the economy and culture both in the short and long-term view?

History: Post-War British History: Research and present your investigations into the history of the UCS. Who was Jimmy Reid and why did he become famous? Why is UCS important in British Labour history? What lasting effects did the UCS have on British politics?

English: Look at how the speech was framed and its use of metaphor. What makes it effective and how does he use quotes? Research the art of speech writing. Write your own speech about something that you believe is important today. You could do this in the style of Jimmy Reid of another famous orator.

Look at Learning and Teaching Scotland's resource on Jimmy Reid.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-004-191-C
Resource Rights Holder Courtesy of Scottish Television
Project Ref T0126
Date 1972
Genre TV News Insert
School Subject Politics, History, English
Subject Matter Citizenship, Literacy
Who Scottish Television (production company)
Where Hillhead, Glasgow
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 1:52
Film Length 01:52