The margin of defeat for the Scottish National Party in the recent parliamentary election in northwest Glasgow has proved a setback for the separatist agenda of splitting Britain. The much trumpeted ‘referendum on independence’ is now on hold, with opinion turning against the exercise - especially as the capitalist collapse begins to bite with resultant closures and job losses.
However, with the lowest ever turnout in a parliamentary by-election (just over 32 per cent) the now moribund Labour Party hardly comes out of this with any credit. Their 74 years of control in the area has caused nothing but steady decline.
On analysis it appears that the slanderous accusation of “apathy” against the 67 per cent majority who did not vote for these discredited parliamentarians is highly inaccurate. The level of anger found during doorstep and high street campaigning was palpable and some of the largest and most vociferous tenants’ actions and demonstrations in Scotland recently have emanated from this area of the city.
The long delays in the proposed demolition of the Hamiltonhill district of the constituency, for example, have caused decay, insecurity and ill health to hundreds of residents. The whole area has been blighted by high unemployment, which came in waves in the 1950s, 1960s and again under Thatcher.
It was once the home of renowned high-skill industries such as MacFarlane Engineering whose ornamental ironwork in bridges, fountains and gates were found around the world. The Hydepark Locomotive works and BREL Engineering had global reach - some of their steam trains are still to be seen in operation today in India and China. Many other suppliers, transport depots and smaller manufacturers crowded into the area.
Springburn and Possilpark became synonymous with a hard working, tough, unsubdued industrial working class culture. That once proud, skilled and cultured community had most of its life crushed out of it in the last five decades - social work students of the mid seventies studied what they were told was the ’most socially deprived area in Europe’.
A BBC 2 documentary famously slandered the area in the early 1980s as the “heroin capital of Britain”. What remains now, in the minds of those there who have not succumbed to total despair, is a bitter resentment and simmering hatred of the system that caused this - and of its representatives.