A Rose Loupt Oot

Poetry and Song Celebrating the UCS Work-in

A Rose Loupt Oot celebrates the historic work-in at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in the early 1970s. With the Glasgow and Clydebank shipyards facing closure and the Tory government refusing to invest in 'lame-duck' industries, a dynamic group of young Communist shop stewards led a working occupation of the yards. Within a few weeks the fight to save jobs had become a national and international campaign for the right to work. 80,000 people marched to Glasgow Green in support of the work-in. The worlds of poetry and music added their support to the shipyard workers' campaign at a series of high-profile benefit concerts starring The Dubliners, The Laggan, Billy Connolly, Matt McGinn, Brendan Behan, Dick Gaughan, Jim McLean, Jimmie Macgregor and Hamish Henderson. John Lennon and Yoko Ono donated £5,000 to the cause. After more than a year of intense struggle, the government caved in. The four threatened shipyards were saved, and the right to work upheld.

'Folk music has no meaning unless it expresses the lives and struggles of ordinary people. In 1971, when the shipyard workers on upper Clyde refused to accept the butchery and dismantling of their yards, it was inevitable that the folk song world would give it expression.'

Jimmy Reid

A Rose Loupt Oot brings together, for the first time, songs written during the UCS work-in, as well as poems looking back on the campaign by writers like Alistair Findlay, Jackie Kay, Edwin Morgan and Aonghas MacNeacail. Illustrated with cartoons by Bob Starrett and sketches by Ken Currie, with an introduction by Ann Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the STUC.


Sample Poems

Pack Your Tools and Go

Words by Jimmie Macgregor; tune 'Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill', traditional American song about mining
	
Monday morning early by the clock
The Clydeside men were working on the dock,
When the gaffer comes round, he says bad news,
The Upper Clyde is bound to close.

So pack your tools and go. Pack your tools and go
For the word's been said, the yards are dead,
The big old gates are closing,
So pack your tools and go.

The word's gone round in London town,
The yards all round are closing down,
You're all on the dole, so no more booze,
And no more for the kids' new shoes,

So pack your tools and go. Pack your tools and go.
For it's just too bad, but you've all been had,
As your fathers were before you,
So pack your told and go.

There was Gilmour, Airlie, Barr and Reid.
Says  they, we'll win if we keep the heid,
For we've got the brains and the old know–how.
We won't bow down and we won't kow–tow.

Pick up your tools let's go. Pick up your tools let's go.
For we'll make our way without their say.
And keep the hammers ringing.
Pick up your tools let's go.

Here's a word for the man down south.
You're big in the belly and big in the mouth.
You live far away and you don't give a damn
For the life and the pride of a working man.

So pack your tools and go. Pack your tools and go.
For we're here to say you've had your day,
It's time that you were leaving.
So pack your tools and go.

You're on the run, your day is done,
So pack your tools and go.

Doon through The Years

Words by Arthur Johnstone; tune traditional Scottish or Irish.

I've worked for over forty years
Frae Fairfields doon tae Broons.
I've even worked at the Tail o' the Bank,
Wi the lads frae Greenock Toon.
I've been on trials on the measured mile,
Noo I've done it aa wi pride,
For I've helped tae build the giant ships
That sails the oceans wide.

When we built the new Q4,
It was a mighty sight.
There was electricians, engineers,
And even the odd shipwright.
There was Harry the Horse who selt us tools,
The best American brand.
He said he got them frae New York,
But his story didnae stand.

I was workin back in Fairfields
When the word was passed aroon:
The government was shuttin doon
Aa the yairds in Glesga Toon.
They said oor yairds they didnae pay
And we would have tae go.
But the men aa stood together,
And we proudly answered No.

Jimmy Reid and Airlie,
Barr, Gilmour, and the rest,
They aa went doon tae London Toon
The government tae face.
They telt them we were workin in,
That we were gaun tae stay.
When the government relented,
UCS had won the day.

As I look back doon through the years
At the changes we have seen,
They're buildin aa they yuppie flats
Aa the way tae Glesga Green.
But the Govan lads are workin on
And Yarrows seems alright.
I hate tae think whit might have been
If we hidnae put up that fight.

Ballad for Upper Clyde

George McEwan


Ach Peggy lass, ach Peggy, pit mah workin boots away
An' don't lay oot mah biler suit for ah'll no' work the day.
The hammers they are silent, the welds are getting caul'
An' ower aw the shipyairds ye can hear the silence fall.
Nae mair the mighty ships o' steel will sail oot faur an' wide.
They've sent the Liquidator in tae murder Upper Clyde.

But, Wullie love, Oh Wullie, the news is gaun the roons
That there's a michty steer aboot doon at the gates at Broon's.
The stewards hae met the gether wi' the lads that goat their cairds.
They've thrown the Liquidator oot, they've occupied the yairds.
Wi' Jimmy Reid an' Airlie, they've made the Tyrants reel,
An' Heath an' aw his cronies shall taste oor Iron Heel.

The workers o' the Clydeside hae rallied tae the cry,
Men an' weemen aw determined no' tae let their livin' die.
This damned humiliation's the straw that broke the camel's back.
Enough, enough, we've had enough; this time we're fightin' back.
Naw, no' wi' swords or spears or guns, but wi' oor hauns an' sweat.
We'll show them how it should be done; we'll beat the bastards yet.

An' so the fecht went oan they days, remember them wi' pride,
The workin' men an' weeman whae strove tae rescue Upper Clyde.
'Nae slackin', naw nae bevvyin'!'  Reid's challenge it was clear,
An' tae a man they laugh alood an' rally when they hear 
Wi' baith Jimmys, Reid and Airlie, an' support frae roon the World,
At the bosses feet in prood defiance the Gauntlet it was hurled.

Noo mony years hae been an' gaun; they days are in the past.
The names lie in the Ha' o' Heroes; in memory they're cast,
The gallant few who Alba's freedom socht an' fearless took the lead,
The Wallace, Bruce, and  unsung folk of whom we never read.
Noo tae that list o' fechtin' men whae strove baith lang an' fairly,
Carve wi' respect an' honest  pride the names, 
       Jimmy Reid an' Airlie.

Reviews

'a great book.'

The Skinny

'a potent mix of the heartfelt, the analytical and the honest... Highly recommended.'

Morning Star

'a hugely varied and enjoyable book of poetry... another feather in the cap for Smokestack.'

The Recusant

'a book to inspire us.'

Penniless Press

'I strongly recommend this work. It is a partisan account, and none the worse for that.'

Communist Review

'a superbly edited, expansive anthology... a valuable counterweight to more orthodox studies of the UCS work-in... engaging and enjoyable.'

Socialist Review