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Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

Govanhill: Glasgow’s Southside is changing for the better

Gerry Hassan

Sunday National, August 11th 2019

Govanhill on Glasgow’s Southside is an area used to being noticed. But in the last week and a half it has been doing so on its own terms with the third Govanhill International Festival and Carnival including an annual parade through its streets.

In recent years the area has attracted attention and headlines with right-wing papers waxing lyrically about ‘Govanhell’. Their concern for social issues and inner city poverty only emerging when Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP, became First Minister.

Govanhill has always been about change and, throughout its history, subject to waves of immigration and incomers – the Irish, Jews, Pakistanis, and most recently, Roma. In each period, people arriving to make the area their home have faced challenges, discrimination, prejudice and racism.

The latest arrivals like all before them brought forth a variety of responses – some friendly, some nervous, some not so friendly, and some outright hostile. Such has been the human reaction to immigration since the dawning of time. Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the vision for Scotland’s First City: Glasgow?

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, July 11th 2019

Glasgow is Scotland’s first city in size and importance. There are of course several different Glasgows – from the official council area of 621,020 inhabitants to the metropolitan region of between 1.2 million to 1.7 million people, depending on the definition.

Glasgow matters. It’s success, wellbeing, vibrancy, the happiness of its people, sustainability, and state of its public realm all matter not just to the city, but to all of Scotland.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that to many Glaswegians. The past weekend saw GMB Scotland trade union boss Gary Smith talk of the city in fairly black and white terms. Smith called the city ‘filthy’ and ‘unkempt’, suffering from an ‘epidemic’ of rats, and claimed that it had lost its way and was in economic and political decline. Read the rest of this entry »

History cannot be written in stone: Why are public statues important?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 2nd 2019

In recent years, from US campuses to towns to the UK, public statues have increasingly become a subject of heated debate and controversy. From Charlottesville in the US where one protestor was killed, to Cecil Rhodes in Oxford, and to what kind of plaque Henry Dundas has in Edinburgh, this is a live issue.

These debates are about much more than the statues in question. They touch upon the legacy of Empire in Britain, racism, slavery and xenophobia and, in other societies across the world, memories of dictatorship. They bring up issues not only about how we remember and understand the past, but how we see ourselves today, and even whom we regard as citizen in our society.

Glasgow once had the moniker ‘the second city of Empire’ marking that its wealth, commerce and importance were shaped by the height of Britain’s dominance and military power. It is this part of the city’s history which is over-represented in public statues that give pride of place to a host of great men ranging from industrialists, scientists, and politicians, while missing out women and people from black and ethnic minorities. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is going to champion Glasgow? Life after the GSA fire and the threat to the CCA

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 12th 2018

Glasgow hasn’t had to look too far to seek its troubles of late. There has been the devastating Glasgow School of Art fire (the second in four years), followed by the seeming abandonment of Sauchiehall Street businesses and residents. And if that weren’t enough in the last week there have been concerns that the acclaimed arts and cultural venue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), shut since the GSA fire, faces the prospect of closure.

The CCA has played a vital part in the cultural story of the city. It began life as the Third Eye Centre opening in 1975 where it gave a whole host of emerging and radical artists a platform, providing a hub for debate, exchange and hanging out. This morphed into the CCA in 1992 and subsequently the space was overhauled to create a stunning atrium with a café, along with a cinema space and music venue, with over a dozen businesses and enterprises renting and using space, in a rich eco-system which made it a place to go for interesting conversation, an unusual art exhibition or film, or just food and drink. Read the rest of this entry »

People Make Glasgow: Let’s live up to that phrase after the GSA fire

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 27th 2018

Glasgow is a proud and vibrant city. William McIlvanney, who must count as the sage of this city, beautifully described it when he wrote:

Glasgow is a great city. Glasgow is in trouble. Glasgow is handsome. Glasgow is ugly. Glasgow is kind. Glasgow is cruel. Some people in Glasgow live full and enlightened lives. Some people in Glasgow live lives bleaker than anyone should live – and die deaths bleaker than anyone should die.

These words were written in 1987, but are equally true today. Glasgow has many sides and stories. It is a city of contradictions and paradoxes. All that pride and belonging – and yet, sitting alongside it, dislocation, apathy, mediocrity and in places, hurt and pain.

Glasgow School of Art’s second fire seems a tipping point for the city. One of its main arteries, Sauchiehall Street, is blocked off at two ends. Two fires have affected the street in a couple of months. Victoria’s nightclub burned down in mysterious circumstances with that landmark of city music hall and revelries The Pavilion still out of operation. Now follow the GSA Mackintosh building, an international cultural beacon, along with the ABC music venue. If that were not bad enough, a host of traders and businesses along Sauchiehall Street have been temporarily shut, including the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), while others still open have seen their trade affected by the street’s closure. This is becoming a crisis for the city centre; and for Glasgow as a cultural centre and tourist destination. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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