Following the news that the police have now formally charged Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry, the infamously litigious George Galloway has announced his decision to stand as a candidate for the Westminster seat of Glasgow East. According to the Herald a source close to the Gorgeous One said that the lycra clad cat impersonator and praiser of the indefatigability of dictators was planning to stand “should there be a by-election”. Nice to see you’ve not pre-judged Natalie there George. Not that he has of course, oh no. George is well aware of the perils of casting aspersions seeing as how he’s the only person in the country more likely to run to a defamation lawyer than JK Rowling.
I don’t want to say too much about the troubles in which Natalie McGarry is mired. I have no inside information, I know no more than has been reported. Like a lot of independence supporters in the East End I campaigned for her election and am saddened and troubled by recent developments. I supported her because the down trodden and neglected communities of this part of Glasgow where I was born and brought up and where I still live deserved better than the carpet bagging neglect that Labour MPs have subjected them to for generations. I’d have given the same support to any pro-independence candidate. And I will do again.
Now while the wheels of the legal system slowly turn we can only wait and see what happens. Those of us in the East End who campaign for independence very much hope and trust that she’s cleared, for her own sake, and also because no one likes to see the faith they’ve placed in an individual shattered and discarded in the ashes of disappointment. But I also know that whatever happens to an individual, the hope and faith that the people of the East End have put into the dream of independence will remain shining and pure.
The only way that we will ever tackle the poverty and deprivation that blight our communities is to achieve a government that is answerable to the people of Scotland and no one else. We learned that during the summer of independence of 2014. The natural born cynics of the East End who learned young that hope was something for other people learned to hope again. We learned that it was possible for us to aspire for something better for our communities. And we liked it. It lit our hearts and warmed our souls battered and bruised as they were by the cold dark fear campaign of the Unionist establishment. Meanwhile George tried to warn us that Catholics should be afraid of an independent Scotland while the Orange Lodge campaigned for the Union.
What I do know, what remains unshaken, is the belief that Glasgow East is not and should never be a mere springboard for personal ambitions. The people of Shettleston, Parkhead, and Easterhouse are not a platform for career progression. We are not stepping stones to publicity for a fame seeker. The friends I had who died of drug abuse before reaching 21, those who succumbed to alcohol as a means of numbing the bleak hopelessness which was all they could see in their future, they deserved better. Those of us alive today deserve answers. We deserve hope. We won’t get those from George Galloway and his otiose orotund oratory. All there is is a man who defends the unity of the UK and the primacy of Westminster while dressing it in the clothes of his own particular brand of radical socialism that Westminster will never espouse. You can gild a turd all you like, but it will forever remain a turd. George says that he wants to stand because the SNP can’t out left him. Pity that his credibility out and left him a long time ago.
This week a report was published showing that younger people have half the assets that people born a decade or so earlier had acquired by the same age. We’re getting poorer and poorer. The economic and political system of the UK is weighted against working class people and increasingly concentrates power and wealth in the hands of a few. And it’s only going to get worse. Brexit is looming, and it’s going to be ugly. The people who are going to suffer will be the people of places like the East End of Glasgow. People who don’t have the financial resources, the assets, or the connections necessary in order to cushion themselves.
George tells us that he’s no nationalist. And I believe him. He defends a viciously nationalist state in the name of internationalism. He tells us his flag is the red flag. And I believe him. Yet George hates nationalism so much that he wants us all to remain with the red white and blue so that he can wave his red flag and tout the false dream of a British parliamentary road to socialism that ends in the tears of an Easterhouse mother who can’t feed her weans because she’s been sanctioned.
Unless there’s a mass conversion of the population of the UK to George’s political viewpoint, and there’s far less chance of that happening than there is of me becoming the next fashion model for a shampoo company, then voting for George will only condemn us all to generations of Tory rule, of continuing disappointments, of lost generations and a future where drug and alcohol medicated hopelessness substitute for dreams and plans. But George will again have a political platform that will allow him to get on the telly and that makes it all worthwhile. Glasgow East doesn’t need a personality. It’s got plenty of personality of its own, what it needs is a hard working MP who will put the interests of Glasgow East before anything else. We won’t get that with George. We’ll never get that with Westminster. We’ll only get it by doing it for ourselves.
There is no by-election planned for Glasgow East, and I hope and trust that there won’t be one. But there is a need for socialism in the East End of Glasgow. There is a need for a politics that prioritises the aspirations of communities which have had aspiration battered out of them for generations, where the only aspiration it was possible to realise was an aspiration to escape. But it needs to be an organic socialism, a socialism born of the communities that make up one of the most deprived parts of Scotland. It needs to be a socialism that’s born in the struggles of those communities and which knows how to articulate them. The East End of Glasgow has its own socialist voices, it doesn’t need George’s.
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