Living in the East End of Glasgow in the 1940’s
My first brush with the politics of Glasgow came in July 1946. I was a teenager, living, with my family, in a single end in Kent Street, Calton. Myself and two of my friends were returning from a Socialist Party political meeting being held on, “the Green”. Speakers had been extolling the benefits of a new, “inclusive post war nation”.
My mate had been given a leaflet on which was printed the words of the, “Red Flag”. He insisted on singing the song as we entered the, “Gallowgate” and proceeded up the road towards Kent Street. I noted two, “Bobbies” on the other side of the street, standing near to, “the Sari Heid” and told him to stop singing so as to avoid trouble. We still got it. A gang of, “Billy Boys” steamed out of, “Doo-Hill Road” shouting, “Communist Bastards” and gave us a severe beating. The policemen, (who witnessed the incident) did not come to our assistance. We managed to get back to my place and cleaned up.
Later, my father, (a committed communist) offered the reason we were beaten up was most likely my mate’s singing since there were very strong links between, (the Scottish Protestant League), (the Billy Boys), (the Police), (the Orange Order) and the Tories. He went on to say that the only way to bring about change, improving housing, health and wealth and gaining full employment was for, “oor sort” to stick together and gain power through the, “ballot box”. From that time, (the bulk of Roman Catholic Glasgwegians have voted Labour). My father was right, from 1945 -to date, through the ballot box, the Glasgow electorate has been committed to, (a contract of care) under control of the, “Labour Party”.
When Glasgow was declared host to the 2014 Commonwealth Games the urgent need for new sports facilities, accommodation, removal and redevelopment of run down parts of the east end of the city, (where the bulk of Roman Catholics live) exposed a disgraceful lack of progress, over 70 years, under the auspices of Labour councils that had been returned to power unchallenged. Poor health continues to plague families. Early death, (55y) is the sad fate of many Glasgow Eastenders. Poverty is rife. Unemployment remains higher than the national average and housing stock is run-down.
Labour Councillors have also, (through a litany of dodgy deals enhancing their personal finances) brought ridicule and anger upon themselves and their offices in Glasgow District Council and the Labour Party. Deals since exposed and banned by the Scottish National Party Government. The referendum provides opportunity for change. I know it will be difficult for Roman Catholics in the East End of Glasgow to vote other than Labour. But there is an alternative. Vote, “Yes” in the independence referendum. In our country, freed from the excesses of the past it will be possible to elect Councillors who will work for their constituents not themselves or the Labour Party in England.