Death of UCS leader Jimmy Airlie

Jimmy Airlie

In March 1997, Reid’s long-time comrade in the Communist Party, in the trade union movement and, most importantly, as his double act in the UCS occupation, Jimmy Airlie dies following a six-month battle with cancer, aged 60.

Airlie’s unfortunate passing did not make for any happy ending. The pair were rumoured to have fallen after Reid’s resignation from the Communist Party, only for Airlie to make the same move. Biographies and testimonies of the fall out suggest that there was a chance meeting in the street which nearly ended in a fist fight. Whatever the details, the fact was that despite both being the recognisable faces of the UCS work-in and its success, Jimmy Reid was not invited to speak or deliver the valedictory
address at Airlie’s funeral.

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