We’re Not Rats..We’re Human Beings

On Tuesday 24th November at 5.30pm outside of Bute Hall, Gilmorehill in the University of Glasgow, Let’s Save Govanhill campaigners will be raising awareness of the ghetto like conditions to be found in Govanhill at the 3rd Annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture which will be delivered by Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland.


 Jimmy Reid was installed as elected Rector of the University in the Bute Hall in 1972, where he made his famous “The rat race is for rats” speech. In Govanhill despite the plague of rats to be found in our homes, backcourts and streets, local residents know they are not rats that they are indeed human beings. They also understand all too well alienation defined so eloquently by Jimmy Reid in his now famous speech, for indeed they have rationalised it and they understand it. At public meetings and politicians surgeries they have articulated it, but too often left feeling ignored and abandoned. They have held demonstration marches, protests and signed petitions all to no avail.  

Their neighbourhood continues to decline and is now known as Scotland’s Ghetto. They have witnessed the cries of their families, friends and neighbours who feel themselves the victims of blind political and economic forces beyond their control. They live with the frustration of feeling excluded from the processes of political decision making and they know too well the feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies because of this.

In his famous speech Jimmy Reid cautioned us about another form of alienation. This form of alienation is capable of alienating some from humanity. It can lend itself to dehumanising some people, especially those with power or authority over others, making them insensitive, ruthless in their handling of fellow human beings, self-centred and grasping.

Jimmy Reid was appealing to the students of Glasgow University in his speech in 1972 to reject the values and false morality that underlie being a fully paid up member of the rat race. He urged them to remember that they are not rats, they are human beings. To not bow to the dangerous burden of our society that encourages the blunting of critical faculties to give an honest appraisal of what is happening around you and instead stay silent about the injustices you know exist in case you risk the loss of promotion and advancement in your chosen career.

Let’s Save Govanhill campaigners know they are not rats and will urge their local constituency MSP and First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to remember this too as she takes to the podium to address the audience gathered together for the 3rd Annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture. 

For as Jimmy Reid told the audience at his Rectoral address at Glasgow University in 1972 “This is how it starts and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”

They will implore First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to use her political power to save Govanhill, for indeed she has that power and yet has failed to act on her pre election promises to deal with the ghetto like conditions which plague Govanhill. They will urge the First Minister to refuse to be a fully paid up member of the rat race, instead they will ask her to choose to keep her dignity and human spirit. They will ask her to use her political power to save Govanhill.

Jimmy Reid

Jimmy Reid Rectotal Address Glasgow University





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