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Posts Tagged ‘The Glasgow Effect’

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 »

Does Glasgow have a chip on the shoulder?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 1st 2016

Glasgow is not Scotland. For most of its history it has seen itself as bigger than the nation that hosts it – looking out to Transatlantic trade and commerce routes, and linked to the world through shipbuilding and human connections.

Since the early 19th century Glasgow has seen itself as a ‘Big City’ – even though it is now half the size it was at its peak, in the mid-1950s. This bigness is about swagger, attitude (both good and bad), and having a sense of importance. It isn’t an accident that outside of London the most written about and talked about UK city is Glasgow – a veritable ‘Glasgow industry’.

‘No other city in Britain carries the same resonances, the same baggage of expectations and preconceptions’, wrote travel writer Charles Jennings about Glasgow. That has a good side in the attachment and pride people feel for the place, but also a darker one where there is a constant feeling of being slighted, of not having your due place acknowledged, or being at the end of middle class conspiracies from high heid yins in Edinburgh or perfidious Albion. Read the rest of this entry »

Glasgow’s Success is Key to Scotland’s Success

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 29th 2016

Glasgow is Scotland’s biggest city. It may only contain 606,340 people in its council boundaries, but the Greater Glasgow conurbation is double that – at 1.2 million.

Glasgow is one of the drivers of the Scottish economy and society: a place of great wealth, enterprise, jobs and culture. But it is also characterised by staggering degrees and levels of poverty, inequality and disadvantage. This isn’t anything remotely new and has been the case since the city experienced rapid industrialisation from the early 1800s, but it limits the city and the potential of its inhabitants.

Take the debate on public health – centred around what has become known as ‘the Glasgow effect’. This shows that, allowing for poverty and material circumstances, the city’s health record is much worse than elsewhere in Scotland – and to comparable cities like Liverpool and Manchester. 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 »

What is the story of Scotland’s biggest city and who will tell it?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, April 14th 2012

The forthcoming local elections are reduced in most of their coverage to their impact on UK and Scottish politics.

Most attention is focused on the tragi-comedy and pantomime of Boris versus Ken, with even the plethora of local referendums on Mayors across some of England’s cities concerned with what happens to this or that Labour MP.

The only other place that gets a serious look in is the battle for Glasgow, between Labour and SNP for control of the council.

This may not have the box office appeal of Boris and Ken but it still has a lot of hooks. A city with a once dominant Labour tradition now in crisis, and a resurgent SNP hoping it can for the first time win an overall majority. However, in a week when both major parties issued their ‘Glasgow manifestos’ much of this debate can be seen as threadbare or mere positioning. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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