Some Reflections On Glasgow East

Today the good residents of Glasgow East constituency go to the polls to elect a new MP following the abrupt resignation of their Labour MP David Marshall. I visited the area last weekend to do some campaigning for our excellent Conservative candidate Davena Rankin, and I thought I’d post one or two reflections on my time there.

I was born in Lanark and lived in the Lanarkshire town of Carluke until I was eight years old, I was a relatively frequent visitor to Glasgow when I was a small boy. Despite this, other than passing swiftly through on a train (below ground in any case!) or in a car I’ve never had cause to visit the east end of Glasgow.

(That said, by strange coincidence, I was a Primary School classmate of the SNP Councillor for Calton and Parkhead who I’ve just discovered has a blog too. I’ve not yet decided whether there’s room on my blogroll for a Scottish Nationalist – perhaps if she asks nicely!)

I spent two days in Glasgow East – on the first day in Tollcross and Parkhead, and on the second day in the Shettleston area. Even within that short period of time I saw plenty of contrasts – from the old Georgian tenements in Tollcross through well-kept housing near Shettleston train station to a gleaming new estate just to the west of Celtic Park. However the concrete tenements and flats that resulted from Glasgow’s post-war planning and expansion are scattered across the constituency. The high-rise flats and big made-to-order estates like Easterhouse (which is in the constituency) and Castlemilk (which isn’t) have borne the brunt of the criticism over the years, but the influence of that style of building is evident across the whole area. The contrast between the new build in Parkhead (mostly houses with front doors) and the old tenements they had replaced was astonishing.

Fraser Nelson from the Spectator has written eloquently (see also here and the video below) about some of the problems facing Glasgow East. At the heart of my old classmate’s Calton ward, the life expectancy for an adult male is just 54. 85% of residents live in flats or tenements. Just 44% of those of working age actually work.

I’m under no illusions that Davena Rankin will be elected as the next MP for the area this evening, I am heartened that the Conservative Party are listening to local residents there. For decades, no-one has listened to them – Labour have admitted that they have no canvass data in one of their safest constituencies in the entire country. David Marshall probably never knocked on a door.

I’ll leave you with Fraser Nelson’s film for the Daily Politics. Something to think about:

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5 Responses to Some Reflections On Glasgow East

  1. Pingback: Glasgow East by-election special - Scottish Roundup

  2. Councillor Martin O'Neill says:

    Another interesting by-election result, well not counting David Davies. Just hoping we’re on the cusp of a revolution when votes are not taken for granted because you live in a certain ‘safe seat’.
    I watched Barack Obama give his speach in Berlin and to see so many people believing in a message of hope and change was a great inspiration. A message where people will be listened to.
    It is a shame when I look at the leadership of Greater Manchester who meet today in the guise of AGMA.
    These people have twisted are democratic system into something repellant. I only hope they see the light and give the people a voice on congestion charging.
    My one hope is that any referendum is not as biased and leading to the yes camp as the so-called consultation, which has been nothing more than massage the ego’s of the regions leaders.
    The advertiser has had a representative from Wigan and MAnchester in sucessive weeks talking about congestion yet they wont talk to me.
    On reading the MEN today it makes me wonder whether the editor is in fact Richard Leese and his co-council David Ottewell.
    “my kingdom for fair and balanced reporting”

  3. To Cllr Martin O’Neill: Don’t be surprised if the Salford Advertiser/MEN Group decide to shut you out of their media monopoly. They have their own political (and business) agenda and if it doesn’t suit them to give you a voice then they won’t. It’s as simple as that I’m afraid.

    On the election result: It doesn’t surprise me that the pro-life SNP candidate defeated the Labour candidate who fully supported all the evil measures contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

  4. Hey,

    interesting post, and thanks for the add!

    I’m going to blog a bit more on the Calton when I have time, particularly after the recent WHO report. While you can’t deny the figures, I’m not convinced repeatedly telling people that they’re going to die young and sick will really help much.

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t say 85% of people living in tenements is necessarily a bad thing – but it does make leafleting more like proper excercise!

    See ya around,


  5. Iain says:

    Thanks for the comments and the reciprocal add, Alison!

    I take your point about flats and tenements – indeed I notice from the statistics that the percentage of apartments is not too dissimilar in some of the more affluent parts of Glasgow.

    However, I think that where you have poor housing – and there is plenty of that in Calton and the surrounding areas – the tenemental design exacerbates many of the problems. The communal areas become dark, neglected and threatening, and it only takes one bad neighbour to drag down the entire block of 6/8.

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