Jimmy Gordon

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James Stuart Gordon
Born (1936-05-17) 17 May 1936 (age 81)
Kelvingrove, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Education St Aloysius' College, Glasgow
Alma mater
  • Glasgow University, MA Classics, 1958
  • Political Editor, STV, 1965–1973
  • Managing Director, Radio Clyde, 1973–1996
  • Chief Executive, Scottish Radio Holdings, 1991–1996
  • Chair, Scottish Radio Holdings, 1991–2005
Spouse(s) Margaret Anne Stevenson (married 1971)
Children Daughter and two sons
  • James Gordon
  • Elsie Riach

James Stuart Gordon, Baron Gordon of Strathblane CBE (born 17 May 1936) is a Scottish businessman and manager.


Born in Wilton Street, Maryhill, Glasgow to shipyard clerk James Gordon and Elsie Riach, the young James Gordon made a name for himself as a brilliant debater in the 1950s. He was privately educated at St Aloysius' College, Glasgow and graduated with a Master of Arts in Classics from the University of Glasgow in 1958. While at university he made a name for himself as a brilliant debater, taking the Observer Mace as the outstanding student debater in Britain.


A subsequent debating tour of Canada saw him interviewed on STV and it was suggested that he might want to work for them. While teaching Classics at his old school, St Aloysius, he was a part-time face on programmes such as Here and Now.

Standing unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the General Election of 1964 (see below) laid the foundations for Gordon becoming political editor at STV from 1965 and 1973.

Radio Clyde

After nine years at STV, Gordon had been considering an offer from ITN in London when he was invited to join a consortium bidding for the Glasgow independent radio licence, with the prospect of becoming managing director if successful. He spent the summer of 1972 writing the application

In 1984 his salary was £35,000.

Politics and business philosophy

Gordon stood as Labour candidate in the Conservative stronghold of East Renfrewshire in 1964. The seat was subsequently held by the formidable Betty Harvie Anderson with a majority of 11,343. Gordon later admitted that there was never any chance of him winning. In a newspaper interview in 1984 he discussed his politics, commenting: "I had to move a bit to the left to be identified with the Labour Party of 1964. So that gives you some idea of where I stand today!"

He described himself as being an advocate of 'distributism' while at university — an economic ideology that developed in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching. In line with this ideology, Gordon believed that people should have shares in their workplace, a principle he later put into practice at Radio Clyde. He told the Glasgow Herald in 1984: "I see management's role as providing a service to its workforce, not to dictate to them but to create the working conditions in which they can do their jobs properly and to make sure there are adequate financial resources. If people do things 90% the way I would like, then I wouldn't press for the 10%."

In the same interview, conducted at the height of the Thatcher administration, Gordon argued that if some of the Conservative government's policies had been applied 20 years prior, the measures introduced by Thatcher would not have had to be half as drastic. He believed that any future government would be saddled with high unemployment unless it started boosting the service industries.

Gordon was disappointed that Radio Clyde did not win the Ayrshire radio licence. Amid English stations struggling, and some even closing, he predicted that mergers were likely and that, in Scotland, there would be a sharing of programmes in the evenings and through the night.[1]

On 11 September 2014, seven days before the Scottish independence referendum, Gordon joined Labour Party politicians and activists on a procession through the centre of Glasgow in support of a 'No' vote. Meeting dozens of Labour MPs off the train from London, the procession was heckled by a pro-independence supporter on a rickshaw, blaring out the 'Imperial March' (Darth Vader's Theme from Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back) while welcoming Scotland's "imperial masters" on a megaphone. Filmed and posted on YouTube, Gordon was captured asking the man "Where are you from?", to which he received no definitive answer. When the man asked the same question of Gordon, he replied: "I'm from Glasgow."[2]

Scottish Development Agency

Gordon was member of the Scottish Development Agency between 1981 and 1990. The SDA had been created in 1975 as non-departmental public body, becoming Scottish Enterprise in 1991.

Chairman, Scottish Exhibition Centre

Gordon was chairman of the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow's docklands between 1983 and 1989. He believed at the time that it "could be the single most important and beneficial thing to happen to Glasgow since the Second World War". "It could make a tremendous difference to the city if we start bringing in lots of visitors who will see that the image of Glasgow is totally wrong, that it is a wonderful place in which to live and work."[3]

Other business interests

  • Director, Clydeport Holdings, 1992–1998
  • Chair, Scottish Tourist Board, 1998–2001
  • Member of Scottish Advisory Board, British Petroleum, 1990–
  • Non-executive director, Johnston Press plc, 1996–2007[4]
  • Chair, AIM Trust plc (later Active Capital Trust), 2003–2009
  • Chair, Radio Audience Research (RAJAR), 2003–
  • Director, Cavendish Moore Property Partnership (New Houghton) LLP, 2010–present
  • Director, Deil's Craig Dam Proprietors Ltd, 1995–present[5]