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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Connolly's anger at job losses
Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly: "Government should have done more"
Comedian and former shipbuilder Billy Connolly has accused the government of failing to save the jobs of workers in his native city.

The 59-year-old, who was back in Glasgow to receive an honorary doctorate, expressed dismay at a decision to cut 1,000 jobs at the BAE Systems yards in Govan and Scotstoun.

He said the UK Government should have done more to support the shipbuilders and successive administrations had been guilty of neglecting the shipbuilding industry on the River Clyde.


I have been made redundant before and it is a terrible blow, redundant is a rotten word because it makes you think you are useless

Billy Connolly
Connolly, who worked in the Clydeside shipyards during the 1960s, added: "It is a very difficult time for the shipyard workers, it is a terrible thing.

"I have been made redundant before and it is a terrible blow, redundant is a rotten word because it makes you think you are useless."

Connolly said it was very difficult for a "working man" to pack up and move on to a different trade.

"The government could have done more and should have done more years ago. They should have got behind the Clyde.

'Little value'

"The Clyde was brilliant and we built stunning ships, it takes my breath away how little they value it," added Connolly, who now lives in the US with his second wife and three daughters.

The entertainer left school at the age of 15 to start an apprenticeship as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards.

But music and comedy were Connolly's big inspirations and he soon received his break on the Parkinson show in the mid-1970s.

He moved to the US in the early 1990s where he has developed his comedy and acting career.

John Caughie, Dean of the Faculty of Art at the University of Glasgow, said during the degree ceremony: "Contrary to those who mutter 'sell out', one of the things we might most admire about Billy Connolly is his ability to reinvent himself without losing what it was he started with.

Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex: Former yard worker
"He has refused to be a professional Scotsman using his celebrity to instruct us from afar in how it is to be Scottish."

Another former shipyard worker - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson - was also in the city to receive an honorary degree.

He was among the guests at Glasgow Caledonian University's degree ceremony at the city's Royal Concert Hall.

The football boss, who was born and brought up in Govan, received his honour alongside veteran broadcaster Magnus Magnusson.

Sir Alex, who plans to retire from top-flight football at the end of next season, has already been given the freedom of the cities of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Manchester.

He was awarded an OBE in 1984 and is only the eighth football manager or player to receive a knighthood.

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See also:

10 Jul 01 | Scotland
BAE axes 1,150 shipyard jobs
10 Jul 01 | Scotland
Rough times for Clyde workforce
18 May 01 | Man Utd
Ferguson to quit Man Utd in 2002
21 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Connolly wins web name battle
08 Nov 99 | Scotland
Home tribute to soccer boss Sir Alex
18 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Big Yin turns over new leaf
12 Jun 99 | Queens birthday honours
Knighthood for treble-winner Ferguson
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