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Posts Tagged ‘Glasgow’

Govanhill: Glasgow’s Ellis Island and the Battle for the Heart of Nicola Sturgeon’s Constituency

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 4th 2016

A couple of years ago a community arts project in Glasgow designated Albert Drive on the city’s Southside as ‘Scotland’s most ethnically diverse street’. It was a good strapline – filled with positivity and pride, but inaccurate. Instead, that byline should be held by the nearby community of Govanhill, with 53 different languages recorded in its small area.

Govanhill has always been in transition and a place for immigrants: known for a long while as Glasgow’s Ellis Island. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it saw Irish immigration; after the Second World War, Italian, Polish and Jewish incomers and then from the seventies, Asian immigration, mostly from Pakistan, and in the last decade, Roma newcomers. Each, including the most recent, has been met with a degree of welcome, besides some unease and local tensions.

Govanhill is an area of great change, energy and enterprise that buzzes with activities and potential, but does have problems. It has some awful, slum housing with terrible living conditions, dampness and over-crowding. There are concerns about crime and policing and parts of the neighbourhood have a sense of decay and neglect, with overgrown backcourts and uncollected piles of rubbish.

For years Govanhill has had a palpable feeling of falling between the cracks and not receiving council and government regeneration policy and funding. It isn’t by any stretch one of the most poor parts of Glasgow or Scotland, but this has meant it has consistently missed out of funds, priorities and influence. Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Glasgow Effect on all of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 10th 2016

Glasgow is many things. It is a place, an idea and a story.

Willie McIlvanney once captured this writing: ‘Glasgow is a great city. Glasgow is in trouble. Glasgow is handsome. Glasgow is ugly. Glasgow is kind. Glasgow is cruel.’

There is a Glasgow industry of books about the city – the biggest and most burgeoning concerning any UK city – London apart, which is over ten times its size. There are dry academic accounts and studious examinations. There are cultural tours. Then there is football – ‘the Old Firm’ and occasionally Hampden, Queen’s Park and the Scotch Professors. There are gang memories of violence and crime of a grim, Razor City. For light relief there are celeb biographies of the city’s celebrated sons and daughters from Dorothy Paul to Elaine C. Smith. Finally, there are coffee table books of photographs – sometimes historic, sometimes of the present.

This adds up to seven types of Glasgow Book which according to Christopher Booker in his ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ is the number of elemental stories in the world. Let’s leave aside that he attempts to have his cake and eat it, by both having lots of micro-stories below the seven, and one unifying story which unites the seven. His point is that there are a limited number of stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Glasgow is not Scotland so let’s stop pretending it is

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 10th 2015

Someone observing Scotland from afar could easily fall under the apprehension that all there is to the nation is Glasgow.

A Martian, or alien from another world, who had the misfortune to only follow and comprehend our country through the transmissions of BBC Reporting Scotland or STV News at Six would think that we were a strange land. They would imagine that all there was to this country was a few streets, only inhabited by men, where football and crime were the only topics of conversation and that all of this was located in Glasgow.

Glasgow is a great city. It thinks of itself, whatever its population decline, as a big city, and as a place of attitude, imagination and swagger. And one which like all big cities sees itself as bigger than it actually is, and bigger than the nation it sits in. This is explicable, for it is the attitude of Big Cities the world over, from New York to Berlin to Moscow: we even could call it the Manhattan Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

The Myth of ‘Glasgow Man’

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 1st 2015

‘Glasgow man’ is expected to be a critical factor in the forthcoming general election contest in Scotland.

He, or it, is central to Jim Murphy’s attempt to save Scottish Labour and win back 200,000 Labour supporters who voted Yes in the referendum. It is also pivotal to the SNP’s attempt to breakthrough in traditional Labour seats.

Glasgow man is shorthand for a certain political demographic – the equivalent of ‘Basildon man’ who supposedly won it for Thatcher, and of ‘Mondeo man’ who contributed to Blair’s three election victories.

Glasgow man is meant to represent men in the city, and in North and South Lanarkshire, aged between 25-40 years, who voted Labour in the 2010 Westminster election and didn’t in the 2011 Scottish Parliament contest, and who voted Yes in the referendum.

Glasgow man implies a certain outlook: masculinist, certain and sure of their views, and reflecting the city, its politics and culture. Underneath there is a definite whiff of caricatures of working class men – of football, drink and tobacco, and more subtlely, of a sepia tinged radicalism and potent nostalgia. Read the rest of this entry »

The Glasgow Games, the Great War and A Requiem for the Post-War Dream

Gerry Hassan

National Collective, August 4th 2014

Two very different tales of a city and a country – Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games followed by the Glasgow Cathedral commemoration of the outbreak of World War One when the UK declared war on Germany.

The Commonwealth Games showcased Glasgow on a Scottish, UK and global stage, aided by ‘Team Scotland’s’ best ever haul of medals. The games profiled Glasgow as an international city and tourist destination – a transition which has been underway for at least the last 30 years. How big a change this is can be underlined by the British Association’s annual conference proceedings in 1958 which took place in Glasgow. In its foreword the association boldly declared:

Our visitors are likely to know little of us. Glasgow does not rank as a tourist attraction: the Glorious Twelfth takes them to the North, the Royal and Ancient to the East and the Festival to Another Place.

The Glasgow of the games was very different from this, and from the powerful hackneyed and miserablist images of the city which have crowded out other accounts. It came across as vibrant, full of stunning Victorian buildings and animated people, yet at the same time this was a carefully choreographed creation: the brand of ‘official Glasgow’ which has co-opted everything from the patter to the infamous traffic cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head outside the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). 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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