Pampered by poverty

I fondly remember my first state hand out.

The old clinic building in Baillieston is where you received your free orange juice.

My aunt took me there as my mother was at work.

I have no idea what age I was, but it is an early fuzzy memory.

The OJ came in a kind of Lee & Perrins shaped bottle and was thick and gooey.

This was the early 1960s.

My mother’s side of the house had come to the Lanarkshire coalfield from County Carlow during the Land War troubles in that part of Leinster.

Her grandfather was down the “pit” hand digging coal that powered furnaces and steam engines across Clydeside.

He quickly became a union organiser.

After a  particularly bitter strike he was blacklisted by the mine owners.

Murphy, they concluded, was trouble.

In his forties he was forced to earn a living as a bareknuckle fighter in order to feed his five children, including my grandfather.

It is no coincidence that the Irish gave a cutting edge to the radicalism of Red Clydeside.

They had an ethnic as well as a class consciousness.

There was a double alienation at play.

His son, my grandfather, reared me and it is from his struggles that I know that social progress is possible.

When I sat on the wooden seats at the clinic in Baillieston I was part of Britain’s finest hour.

Britain, of course, has much to be ashamed of historically.

During their period of global dominance the British committed great crimes across the world.

The British ruling class controlled a narco state and they imposed their opium law in the South China Sea.

Think of the Medellin Cartel in control of the US Navy.

Scary thought.

In the Indian sub-continent the British cultivated and manipulated ancient ethnic enmities and deepened wounds that even today haven’t healed.

When their hegemony was challenged they carried out a genocidal revenge for a decade.

Adolf would have approved.

And of course there is Ireland.

When Britain was at her imperial zenith  people in Ireland, a net food exporter, starved in the name of free trade.

A century after An Gorta Mor the National Health Service in Britain was keeping a promise that had been made during the Great War and then had been promptly broken when the Kaiser had thrown in the handtuch.

The guys in the trenches did not come back to “homes fit for heroes” not a bit of it.

As Britain withdrew from empire the citizen army who had fought in North Africa and Normandy were in political power.

When I sat waiting for my juice the British state was run by people like Denis Healy, who was the beach master at Anzio and Tony Benn who had served as an RAF pilot.

When I was born the Prime Minister, as a young man, had spent a day  lying  in the mud with a bullet in his pelvis during the Somme.

Even a Tory grandee like MacMillan realised that a basic standard of living was the hallmark of a civilised society and that the state had to be the guarantor of that social contract.

However not everyone in his party agreed with him.

The hatred of the poor has always found a home in the Tory party.

Slowly the deal with the guys who fought  in the war was, bit by bit, being reneged on.

By the time that the Blessed Margaret decided I was hopelessly addicted to milk every day it was already too late for me.

I grew up with a sense that all of the people should be taken care of and that benefits all of us.

The east end of Glasgow today is a creation of Thatcherism not some left wing folly.

When I sit in the bus as it shudders through Shettleston I am struck by the appearance of people.

There seems to be two very common types.

There are skeletal men who present as being in their frail seventies when in actual fact their birth certificate says they were born after I left school.

Then there are women who are horrifically obese.

The east end I grew up in was full of bustling grannies and wiry wee men with a swift left hook who had taken on Rommel.

What I see now is the physicality of defeat.

Health Researchers discuss “the Glasgow effect” at conferences.

A slow suicide by alcohol seems to be a major factor.

Perhaps these eminent academics should try and construct a medical explanation for historically imposed hopelessness.

I have also noticed worryingly overweight kids waddling through the streets of the east end.

In my boyhood we were all skinny little running machines.

As if it were national policy each school seemed to have been allocated one fat boy.

At my school he was nicknamed “tubby” and he played in goal.

If his boyhood BMI was compared to some of the denizens of his home place today I would wager that he would look borderline malnourished.

Of course, the clinically obese ten year old is a phenomenon across the Anglophone world.

However, when it comes to reversing the hard won increases in life expectancy Glasgow seems to be numero uno.

I will be 55 on my next birthday and that, in some areas of my home place, is reaching the end of the average allotted life span for a bloke.

The main problem facing the east end, according to Sir Tom Hunter, is an addiction to welfare benefits.

No doubt he was drawing on his own extensive experience of living on a limited income for decades without escape when he said:

“The welfare state has enabled us to become pampered, dependent people who expect what others strive and graft hard for.”

People can, as life drags on, become defeated by their situation.

The area of Glasgow that this knight of the realm slams was my professional beat in the early 1990s.

As a social worker covering a large swathe of the east end, working mainly in mental health and criminal justice, I saw a society that was slowly disintegrating.

My day job was dealing with the collateral damage of hopelessness.

When I had travelled from Baillieston to Glasgow as a kid with my grandmother I remember being afraid of the height and blackness of Beardmore’s forge.

It seemed to me to be the scariest place in the world.

Now on that site there is a shopping centre  and a psychiatric hospital.

The old smoke stack industries won’t come back to the city, nor should they.

However the economic system that made Sir Tom Hunter a billionaire also cast hundreds of thousands on the scrapheap.

What he finds distasteful and annoying is the manifestation of a social Darwinism that condemns people from the cradle to an early grave.

It wasn’t like that in my east end and it doesn’t have to be so now, but it is.

The only orange juice now available to the kids there is a product of globalisation.

Sold out of retail outlets which are owned by multinationals, made from concentrates it is mainly sugar, full of additives and colouring.

It is the sort of dangerous crap you could get addicted to.

71 thoughts on “Pampered by poverty

  1. wonkyradar

    All human ideas are forms of mythos subject to reification: hypostatized constructions we then project onto reality as a simulacrum, we then confuse the reality with the representation. Its the old map & land metaphor. Its a metaphysical trap we continually fall into- but reality, the true contours of the “land”, are more complex than any of our maps can ever represent. Darwinism, Marxism, rationalism, materialism, capitalism or any other “ism” are all “maps”. Right leaning cynics & woolly minded idealist leftists are part of that map. People entrench themselves in these stereotypes. But the essential question is: what experiences & values define us as human? Most people would say Compassion, Truth, Love, Justice & freedom. Does Capitalism as a map guide us to these perennial values better than other maps or systems- are there alternatives?

    In the monetary system everything is secondary to profit; even Art, Literature, Science, human relations, all those activities we hold highest as civilization is being lost to this overtly materialistic culture. There are very many stupid, vulgar & grossly ignorant people are successful within the monetary system but useless at everything else- they then attain a status once reserved for luminaries like Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens- they then start advising Governments on policy & spouting crass personal opinions like they are the Oracle at Delphi. In casino capitalism we only have the illusion of control over the markets & when someone gets lucky in the Babylonian Lottery they are proclaimed as talented wizards. We roll out red carpets for failed CEO’s, foreign tyrants, criminal overlords & Oil rich Sheiks because the bottom line is money- if you are one of these parasitic “wealth creators” then you will be feted no matter how you gain it.
    The stripping of physical assets from nationalised industrial companies, sold off by the Tory’s, during the Thatcher-Regan era was a profitable enterprise for a chosen few. Now we are left with legacy of massive unemployment and a massively shrunken production base. Other than the private weapons industry ( that incidentally expanded under Thatcherism) we make virtually nothing. We are a country living in a bubble blown up by the hot air of the over inflated financial sector- an industry we are dangerously dependent upon. When it finally collapses we will have hopelessness spreading much wider than the underclass & proletariat. The middle classes are already feeling the pinch. If the whole system ( with all the Thatcherite eggs in one basket) falls & breaks up then it will be more like a guillotine coming down on all us wage-slaves. We have allowed a generation of very elite ruling classes to indulge in an orgy of greed, corruption & self-interested protectionism. What do we do? Bail out the banks with tax payers cash & allow private bodies anonymous access to public money- without that access they would vanish. Our money is their lifeline. There seems to be a “rural” conservatism that runs through the overly referential British psyche that makes us reluctant to question the state of things. We just grin & bear it with a stiff upper lip. There really is no such thing as Pure Capitalism in this country. We have to go back to Victorian times of Malthusian Theory & Herbert Spencer with his social Darwinism. Russia is more like it. Where Crime is the booming trade. Crime is the future.
    If people like Hunter were so talented & clever why do they so quickly insinuate themselves into power cliques/influential people. Like he did with HBOS/Sir Moonbeams? They get lucky- unlike tens of thousands of others who start off businesses- forming “networks”, alliances, inviting each other to exclusive soiree’s & ingroup clubs- realising that nepotism is essential for the protection of the booty one has acquired & for that all important insider information you need to stay ahead of a rival- the very reason that few of the self-proclaimed “Masters of the Universe” ever compete on a level playing field & why they nearly always possess diluted fascistic views. Corporatism & Fascism are never far apart. These people rapidly forget any humble roots, difficulties & breaks they may have had & lose all sense of sympathy for those “below them”. Privilege seems to erodes empathy, like a corrosive. Yet self attribution to their “success” seems to inflate in direct proportionate to the contraction of modesty/empathy.
    I, for one, find myself more in agreement with Kropotkin’s “Mutual Cooperation” rather than Social Darwinism. Darwins theory has been used since its exception as a rationale for widening inequality & as an intellectual basis for exploitation of others. Kropotkin did not deny “Survival of the Fittest” but insisted that mutual aid was a greater regulatory force in evolution, particularly amongst the higher complexity of social mammals. Ordinary “normal” people ant rich fulfilling relationships with friends & family. Money is a secondary consideration- you cannot expect them to become cut throat boardroom moguls or hard headed ruthless entrepreneurs. But the monetary system is unforgiving: everything is secondary to profit, including human & animal life & the natural environment- which of course will ultimately lead to the destruction of civilization, the whole panoply of globalization, and even humanity itself.
    But nonetheless Poverty has its necessitating advantages- as Charles Foster Kane says in Orson Welles ‘Citizen Kane’: “I could have been a great man, if I had been born poor.”

    Still we modern’s who have locked themselves in a prison of pessimism we have built with the bricks of our own doubts & fears, have to find the faith & courage to distill & create better alternatives than the stultifying monetary system/ inflexible capitalist dictatorship we have at present if we want to survive the karmic boomerang of our own returning sins.

  2. Jim

    Some might have thought that recent UK governments are responsible for mass murder in Iraq/Afghanistan. They have created the economic crisis.

  3. Jay

    Unfortunately, your as good as you make yourself and too many people not just in Britain but around the world have succumbed to laziness and the status quo! It’s sad and not always their fault in SOME cases, but for many it’s a way of life and more and more, the governments of ALL stripes are having trouble dealing with it! It’s quickly not becoming a right vs. left wing problem, but a problem only the mindsets of the communities themselves can change! Might be time to start looking in the mirror instead of at the governments every time! ONLY the person can make something of him/herself!

  4. Jim

    Re: Stevie-P. A club in Govan would be perfect for such right-wing reactionaries as yourself. Sentiments like ‘shoot the poor’ says a lot about your mentality.
    Blair, Brown and Cameron have brought the country to bankruptcy through illegal and unjust wars. But you choose to slander ‘broo wallahs’ and fallible left wing politicians.
    It’s always been easy for the British establishment to divide the working classes. On reading Stevie-Ps piece, it brings it into perspective.
    There was a time when people in the east-end had jobs within industry. It was dismantled by successive Tory governments. Don’t blame the proletariat for that

  5. jimCB

    HI PHIL, great article. ive been living in France for fourteen years, a country where a relatively poor man can have a great life. I know what Im talking about as my own earnings are nothing to write home about haha and those of my best friends. Also France has swung to the left hooray- why? because in a system where the banks get everybody into debt people are angry enough to take revenge politically on the blingdom that was Sarko and Carla.Is there a solution in Scotland? At the risk of being hung drawn and quartered à la the Wallace Im convinced Scotland should be independant and I voted that for years. John McClean was convinced that the break up of the British Empire would follow if Scotland was independant. I worked in the civil service in London during the troubles in Ireland and had to keep my mouth well shut. My best friends phone wasbugged by the special branch ( he was a kerryman who started a union on a building site )One thing I learned was that I would never be thought of as an equal by the privelaged English and to the Thatcher voting under class I was a ‘sweaty sock/ jock’I dont hate the English lifes too short but I think you should know and understand the enemy. I am idealist or naive enough despite Salmond’s comments about Simply the Bust to think that the Scots would be better off alone.As a matter of fact Hollande France’s new president reminds me of Alex a lot. Weve lost generations dumbed down by tabloids and shit tv and the americanisation of our diet is bringing obesity to every family. Ive the ipression its got better recently but its always about education and educating yourself first. Rant over hail hail keep on keepin on

  6. Stewie Griffin

    Don’t be too hard on Stevie P Phil. I also lives in the east end and when you are up early morning, working hard full time and seeing the so called underclass who seem to faff their lives away while getting endless benefits, it can be a bit hard to swallow. The unemployed of the east end keep Network Private Hire solvent.

    But it all comes down to expectations. If you expect nothing, that’s what you get.

  7. seanybhoy

    To Stewart

    here’s a solution,why don’t you take all the billions and billions that big companies in this country get away with in tax dodging, that would be a start,then we could add on the 5% tax deduction given to the wealthiest in the land at a time of hardship for all whilst also noting that the poorest are hardest hit again,for the first time ever benefirs are not going to rise in accordance with inflation.I do have issues with benefit culture as someone with a family to bring up I like a lot of people have worked two/three low paid crap jobs to make ends meet, but tell me this Stewart is it really the fault of the poorest in society that we find ourselves in double dip recession or is it not the fault of the chancers in the City who played fast and loose with everyone’s money in order to maximise their already obscene bonuses which they have admitted they count in terms of how many times greater it is than our Prime Ministers salary, no of course not it’s those cunning b*****ds with their giro’s that screwed us all.You should watch The wizard of Oz pal I think their is a heart and a brain going and you could use both.!

  8. stevie-p

    Hi Phil, long time lurker, first time poster. Keep up the great work!
    I’m from the east end of Glasgow (st.mungo’s, gallowgate etc).
    I agree with Phil about the appearance of people from the east end of glasgow- eating crap, smoking, drink and drugs don’t do you any favours. Celtic games are even more of an eye opener – people paying more than £20 when they can barely clothe themselves. Education about diet needs to be introduced in school to try arrest this- the parents have obviously given up/dont know any better.
    For me, Thatcher/Reagan destroyed the left wing in the UK. Glasgow, once a hotbed of political radicalism, is now full of idiot new labour voters, who instinctively know labour are actually total scumbags and the enemy of the working class, (in fact make that 99% of the population) yet still vote for them. Celtic fans who castigate the SNP for interfering on behalf of Rangers should catch a grip- go vote for a unionist party instead if you’re too stupid to surmise the reasons for the SNP’s posturing.
    For me, the biggest political heartbreak was that total d*** Tommy Sheridan destroying the only viable socialist alternative in Scotland, the SSP.
    On a social level, the culture in the east end of Glasgow is a disgrace. No jobs? Try telling that to all the Polish, Indian, Pakistanis etc working away for £7 per hour happily, trying to improve themselves and their family. The underclass population are basically a bunch of lazy b******s, wideoes who think fraud, sponging, laziness is the correct way of life. How they fail themselves and their children. (BTW, tax evasion by the rich accounts for multiple more expense for the ordinary tax payer than benefit fraud etc. – they deserve nothing less than being shot).
    In summary -a percentage of the east end of Glasgow are a bunch of lazy spongers, who for their own good should be forced to work/educated/trained for benefits. Without the positive benefits of hard work and earning your money, the culture of non ambition will remain. Maybe Celtic could do more to educate the population (along with Rangers) about diet/ambition/health than they are now.

    1. stevie-p

      Hi Phil, maybe you could afford me the right to reply by explaining what it is I’ve said that appears to be ‘daily mail?’ Not sure the great socialists of the past would disagree with my sentiments. Something needs to be done to snap the east end out of it’s quagmire – what would be your solution?

    2. Rod

      In reply to Stevie-P, for anyone interested in the SNP look up Monklands By Election to see what colour their sash is.

  9. Allan Kirkwood

    It is hard to know where to begin when I read some of the comments above. My father was a labour voter all his life. he drummed into us from an early age that the tories have 1 policy. High unemployment which creates a readily available labour market enabling wages to be driven down keeping the poor, poor. Some of your contributors seem to be selective in their study of the facts. The age old question at your first job interview “and what school did you go to?” Catholics not downtrodden what rubbish.

    My father died 30 years ago this year, could not get an X ray due to Health service cuts, sound familiar? Who were in power, yep the Tories. Disgaree they are toxic in Scotland, until we have no Tory MP’s, MSP’s MEP’s, councillors and Tory party in Scotland they remain a threat to us.I live to see they day when people will be ashamed to say they are or have ever been a Tory.

    And as far as living off benefits are concerned, what stupidity some of these people display. Cos we all know there are millions of jobs out there just waiting on people applying for them. Check out the jobcentres, the vacancy pages in the newspapers, the jobsearch websites and see the truth.

    Incidentally I remember the milk but hated it cos it was always warm. I retain a huge dislike of drinking milk on it’s own to this day. I think they had already stolen my OJ before I got to it, being born as I was in 1956

  10. John Burns

    Phil, Baillieston – Did you ever go to the Ballieston Cafe Club? – remember playing there in the sixties – or were you too young?

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      Too young John.
      I heard of it though.
      It was a far off country of which I knew little :0)

  11. jo soap

    great read as usual phil

    i would like to add a quote from nelson mandella

    “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.

  12. jo soap

    these people have laptops and mobile phones……how shocking when they should be living in hovels and begging on the streets.
    so easy to blame the poor and infirm for the all the worlds ills

  13. Stewart

    So – A fantastic piece of Social Observation, Recovered Memories…. Critical Analysis Lacking….

    So to all the Red’s who this piece chimes with – What is YOUR solution?

  14. Fexca

    Great article Phil,
    I lived and was brought up not too far away from you in the ‘slap up’ Coatbridge and being a few years older than you remember well the OJ, the free milk, castor oil, bread and milk or soap and sugar poltices. My father and mother struggled through the 50/60’s rearing us up with all the discrimination in the workplace. I, and many like me, had a good education at St Mary’s RC, Whifflet and went on to employment in a bigotted engineering environment never allowing them to put me down always confronting them, not always easy at times. I hope and pray that out children and grand children will prosper in this new Scotland which Iam sure is around the corner, hail, hail.

  15. Margaret McGill

    very commendable piece. Stunning actually. Reflects my own life a great deal. I was born in Motherwell but then moved to Glasgow as an infant and I lived in a tenement where Buchanan Street Bus station now stands. The Xenith of the British empires’s working class influence now since lost I think we once shared with many others

  16. Mick

    When I was a kid wagon wheels were much bigger. Is the democratically elected movement Hizbollah still terrorist in yor eyes Phil? The world doesn’t revolve around Irish and anti-Irish.

  17. T M


    Really well written piece. But there is no Left or Right if we are on a continuous path, the Industrial Age is well & truly over. In the eyes of our “financial & genetic betters” we are but useless eaters, They have more need for us. Eugenics wasn’t born and certainly didn’t die with Adolf. Expect the rhetoric on over-population to be ramped up in the next few years, and the only mechanism of controlling this is sterilisation. Sounds rather far fetched, but the biggest story out is the declining sperm counts in young males. God bless

  18. larrieb

    I remember my Dads Elation in May 67, and his death in front of his family in September 4 months later.
    I remember being dumped in Forest Hall Hospital with my Mum and 2 brothers and 2 sisters after the gales in 68.
    I remember getting a great education in a Catholic school.
    I remember the OJ, cant remember the name.
    I remember the free milk.
    I remember the free dinner ticket.
    I remember the DSS place in St Enochs square where we were given clothing handouts.
    I have a degree.I am a Health Professional
    I have a family of 3 and 2 grandchildren, another due in August.
    I thank God For my Mother and for giving her the strength and faith to raise us.
    My kids can’t believe that was in the 60’s.
    My dad was from Barra my mums mother was also from there, My Mums dad was from Clare, Kilrush .
    I’m proud of my Celtic mix.

    I can’t wait for the Rangers 1872 to die.

  19. jayeff

    nice work phil..i was born in buchanan street .actually the tenement overlooking the clinic and went to st bridgets mother was a mayo woman and my younger brothers went to st ambrose school ..via the buses leaving the baux.. small world eh…hail hail.

  20. fisiani

    I live in New Zealand and a visiting American Pulitzer prize winner pronounced to the general agreement of a a large audience that every political party in NZ could easily fit in the US Democratic Party.
    We do not have the range of political extremism that exists in the UK or USA.
    I could have stayed in Scotland and fought for change. I left instead for NZ 25 years ago and have brought up a family. Our unemployment is low and our economy has been positive in 10/11 last quarters.
    This post is a great read about the past. I prefer looking to the future and watching Celtic games live at the Wellington Celtic Supporters Club.
    People with get up and go do well here.
    Send us your best footballers.
    PS Which was the only undefeated country at the World Cup in 2010?
    That’s a cracker pub quiz question for all time.

  21. Pishogue


    Interesting article. However, McMillan and Sir Tom Hunter both grew up in the East Ayrshire Mining towns where I was schooled and did not have privileged backgrounds at all.

    I agree with your comments on the hopelessness to be found around Shettleston, Bridgeton, Dalmarnock etc.

    McMillan and Sir Tom have used their talents and taken their opportunities to build better lives for themselves. Both guys would have had decades of very very unlavish life growing up in Cumnock & New Cumnock respectively.

    Just as with Shettleston et al, so you could add mining towns and industrial towns of Ayrshire like Cumnock, Auchinleck and now in the modern era Ayr and Kilmarnock where heavy industry has left and hopelessness, alcohol and substance abuse and binge eating prevail.

    I am not a massive McMillan fan, but Sir Tom has put a decent amount back into helping young entrepeneurs and although he is seen to do more charity in places like Malawi with Bill Clinton than the East End of Glasgow, he gets my respect
    a) For aiming to redistribute much of his wealth before he dies
    b) For refraining to put his personal wealth into the team he supports, Glasgow Rangers FC (and long may that continue)

  22. James Brown

    Hi Phil as an protestant glaswiegan celtic supporter I have read site for a long time (much sheltered from the bigots out there not being a tim )I must agree i love reading your posts about The rankers , your latest post brought me literally to tears I lived in the east all my life and worked most of my life all over the city of glasgow , I still live in the east end and could not agree more with your observations Jim

  23. Dhougal

    Well as a ”proddy fae Brigton” Celtic fan ,my life expectancy has increased more than most since leaving th east end.I had a brain tumour 7yrs ago ,in that time i’ve received £56000 in ALL benefîits . Theres approx 27m adult workers in GB . That means i owe you goôd people 0.003p each (if any of you would like this back ?,then please forward on to me the £5.50 tax i pay each day on my ciggies ) SPIN IS A WEAPON !! ……..PHIL ,PAUL,ALEX and now mr CLARSON ,god bless you for bringing in HONESTY AND FACT against the spin doctors of the government ..I for 1 have learnt more on here in 6mnths than in my ”paranoid'(so i’ve been told by the MSM) years reading and listenin to MSM . Keep up the good work BRILL PHIL !!! YNWA GBTBurns

  24. Fritz Agrandoldteam

    I totally agree with you Phil. The Tories are despicable, and now, thankfully, toxic in Scotland.

    If only we had many years of Labour government & cooncils to repair…………oh wait!……….we had!

  25. waco

    another thought provoking article phil, well done ,
    I’m 51 worked for over 30 odd years in foundries all over the west of scotland, until that is i was diagnosed with a chronic illness and informed i could no longer work in that industry,
    all my life Ive been able to fall back on my skills i learned in some truly Victorian foundries but those days are gone, i could walk out of one place make a phone call and be in work within a few days, sadly those days are gone forever ,once i got my health back i started looking for full time work and thats when i realised how bad things are today,simply put there are NO jobs to be had in Glasgow unless you are 100% healthy, any signs of an illness no matter how it is kept under control, it makes no difference ,in the past 2 years Ive had 10 interviews for vacancies some people don’t even get that far ,it always comes back to the catch 22 question why did you leave your last job after being there for 10 years ,there are so many people out of work these days that employers can pick and choose who they want its getting that bad most don’t even acknowledge emails or letters when you enquire for advertised vacancies,Scotland no longer has major employers unless you count asda tesco and morrisons there is no industry to create jobs simple as that, its a mess that needs fixing but is there anyone out there with the intelligence and will to want to fix it, not in my life time, as for signing on it is the most soul destroying act a grown adult has to endure only those who have never ever worked are happy to sit on the dole ,any one who has worked all their life will find it soul destroying i live in hope that i will see a light at the end of the tunnel but many many more wont I’m afraid

  26. bankiebhoy

    Phil, great read, although slightly depressing, but unfortunately true. As someone who works throughout the Glasgow area the problems you have highlighted are not unique to the east end, we have schemes like this all over the greater Glasgow area. The conditions that some people live in are truly shameful and a have generation after generation

  27. Liam Fowler

    Really good piece Phil , I’m from mining stock myself , no matter what I achieve I will always be working class and proud of it . But the rise of the underclass cannot be denied, although we don’t need homilies on poverty from knights of the realm!
    In the yawning close season gap feel free to give us more thought provoking non football pieces

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      Indeed Liam.
      I there is a large swathe of hopeless people who are increasingly disconnected from society.

    2. hokeypokey

      “rise” of the underclass. What lofty heights are they rising to? Generations of people offered no hope, written off by a capitalist elite who have everything to lose in a full employment economy.

  28. john

    Harry Lime surely after all that has transpired you still cannot deny the complicity of the SFA and their cohorts in trying to and still trying to shaft Celtic,the hatred of catholicism/Eire and anything remotely connected is interwoven in Scottish society and will most certainly not vanish in my lifetime if at all.

  29. Mouldy67

    Hello Phil , I recall reading through some of my wife’s work approx 1.5 years ago when she was doing an MSC

    One areas that she looked at related to the potential legacy of the 2014 Commenwealth games, despite what many of the politicians where saying, it would be reasonable to argue (comparing against east manchester ) that the Commenwealth games will most likely not improve the key issues, poverty, deprivation, unemployment, real health issues such as having one of the lowest life expectancy in europe / further in the east end of glasgow

    EERR / Clydeway and all the new shiny buildings may brighten up the area, but serious questions over the real issues being tackled

  30. Tallybhoy

    All my family, as far back as I can go, come from Italy. I was born in Greenock, moved to Ayrshire in 1962 when I was 8, and as soon as I was old enough left. Edinburgh first, then London, then abroad then back to London. I used to have very itchy feet in those days! My grandfather on my mother’s side was a wonderful man: fought in WW1, when Italy were on the side of the alies, and came home in 1918 as a 19 year old decorated for bravery. Came back to a brave new world fit for heroes, but what did he find? A world carved up by financiers, arms dealers and their political lackeys! It’s not changed much since then has it?!

  31. tecumseh

    Grandfather down the pit and blacklisted…ditto…Grandfather booth boxer talking on all comers…ditto….

    I worked in the pits and the steel works…and am writing this on stone age computer from the oil rigs…so dont have time to say more than…

    I try to keep my grandfathers faith….and so should you Phil.

    Good piece. Didn’t agree with all of it, but out of time right now.

  32. greenallover

    Phil,as an avid reader of your blogs i agree with you on almost everything you write.I am fifty two years of age and fortunate enough to have a job and wonderful son of eighteen.While Tom Hunters statement was crass and insulting to a lot of people,facts have to be faced here.Thatcher did indeed decimate huge swathes of this country leaving jobs at a premium,but there is also a huge amount of people who now think it is acceptable to live on dole money.This underclass(i use that word carefully) is now stretching out toward it’s third generation,and with little to look forward to but the payment they receive.I know of people who have not worked for twenty five years and have not been made to work for what they receive,but they choose this life!Rent,council tax and enough for cigarettes and a wee drink all paid for by the state,no one can defend this.Girls having baby after baby knowing it’s the equivalent of a raise in benefits,with absent fathers allowed to walk away from any responsibilities,financial or moral.We all know it happens yet blindly look away or blame something else.Go to these house and you will find mobile phones,sky packages,laptops and in a lot of cases cars parked outside.The ridiculous scheme where mobility money is used for a car that a son or daughter use! Is it time to make people work for benefits? yes,give them the feeling of being useful in a society,of earning that first pint on a friday.This will im sure lead to more actually looking for work.In my bouts of unemployment i worked at anything i could get,because i was raised from proud Irish stock,who instilled in me proper ethics and respect.Sadly these things seem to be no more,with mums and dads advising kids what to do to gain maximum benefits.This wont go down well in sure,but ask yourself this? do you know somebody like i have described?

    1. tecumseh

      Greenalover…check out….The Secret of Oz…

      you tube video, two hour documentary by American journalist Bill Still on fractional reserve banking….this is the reason for the state we are in….

      It is time to look beyond the Laboutr / Tory side show…left / right….all a distraction…the real social evil is who controls the money…GOOGLE….

      The Secret of Oz….you watch it several times, great stuff.

    2. hokeypokey

      Jesus, give us a break from the Daily Mail manifesto. The so called underclass you refer to are the symptoms of Thatcherite/Blairite policies. Unfettered capitalism will always seek to maintain a bank of unemployed individuals to create competition for scarce jobs. Thus, forcing down wages and increasing profits. The current lot know there are no jobs so deliberately target those on benefits. Convenient scapegoats that low paid workers can turn on. A race to the bottom, deflecting attention away from the structural reasons for financial poverty and third world health stats in one of the wealthiest countries. The areas of high unemployment in UK major cities are the result of criminal neglect by successive administrations. Let’s be honest here, no one gives a toss about these schemes until some of the inhabitants dare to escape from these “townships” and impose themselves on the rest of us. Quite happy to ignore them, or worse, become mocking voyeurs from the safe side of the camera.

    3. SamBrowneBelt

      You’re right, Greenallover. There’s no doubt that the Tories, or even New Labour, care not a jot about the huddled masses of the council schemes, but that doesn’t mean that those same huddled masses shouldn’t try to make the most of their opportunities. I’m a product of one of those schemes, but I was raised properly, to respect others and myself, and to work for what we got. We were entitled to free school meals etc but didn’t take them, because our parents were proud enough to struggle for what we got, rather than take hand-outs.
      The culture now has totally changed. People expect to be given things without having to earn them. I see them every day. I live beside them. I know them. Their standard of living is no different to mine, yet my taxes go towards sustaining theirs.
      This doesn’t negate anything Phil has said, but we should remember that there are many people quite happy to hold out the begging bowl.

  33. John Collins

    Phil, I always enjoy your posts\blogs which are informative, thought provoking and well written. This latest piece really hit me with a mixture of nostalgia, hopelessness and anger. I too will be 55 on my next birthday, 7th Sept. I was born in the Garngad and grew up in Easterhouse. Other than mum, all my family are Irish: from Armagh, Monaghan and Cavan.
    Growing up in Easterhouse, I knew we were poor but never felt poor. I knew we were working class but never knew anyone who was middle class. My dad died aged 64: a life cut short by poor diet, alcohol, smoking and a lifetime working outdoors in all weathers as a labourer.
    The plight of the East End today makes me sad and angry. Too many people who do not have any quality of life at all. Too many people who live a life without hope. Too many lives cut tragically short.
    Keep up the great work.

  34. Frankie

    Excellent piece Phil.
    Now let us continue to fight.
    “It is better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees.”
    (Dolores Ibarruri and others.)

  35. hokeypokey

    Great piece, Phil. Maybe the noble knight should stop and think about how he made his millions on the back of paying minimum waged workers to sell sweat shop products to the undeserving poor. Makes me want to throw up.

  36. Tom Doherty

    Phil I went to St Marks primary school in Shettleston. I am 49 and my parents still live a half a mile away. I left Glasgow in 1988 and would not go back. Every time I go back to visit my parents I feel like I have arrived on another planet. It truly is a sad looking place and I share your observations about the poor people who have to live there.

  37. ballybough

    I normally agree with most things you write and cetainly agree with most of which you say this time,but Imust disagree with what you say about the smokestack industriesand not wanting their return.these industries the iron and steel, the heavy engineering and such like provided thousands of families with the means of employment and therefore the the abilities of the men to feed and clothe their children when only manual labour was open to them.Even in this day and age we cant all be journalists,lawers, doctors,etc. there is nothing wrong with hsrd work in these industries provided the rewards are fair.SO I’m sure there are alot of people who would gladly welcome back the heavy smokestack industries that thatcher devastated and sold scotland down the river along with the coalmines and the ship building.

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      I don’t see any future for those industries on the Clyde for lots of macro economic reasons.
      I did not imply anything perjorative about them or the men who worked in those places.

  38. Casual Observer

    An interesting take on this subject. I’m not best placed to comment maybe, but to blame obesity on past political regimes is a new take on a serious problem. Are people so condemned to the scrap heap that they no longer can make the effort to do their best for their kids, and ensure that they aren’t fed on a diet that results in this or encouraged to get off their backsides and exercise more? Judging by the fact that obesity crosses all class divides, I’d suggest not. Aside from the genuine medical reasons, most of it is down to sheer laziness, whether physical or mental.

    On another point, addiction can touch people in many ways, for example those addicted to the hatred of opposing football clubs to the point that it becomes all-consuming…’s a shame that pieces such as this don’t result on as many comments I suppose though, and spark some real debate.

  39. Sean S

    Stunning piece of work Phil. The truthfulness of your words fill me with rage and indignation. When will we finally rise against the ruling classes?


  40. offshorebhoy

    In all my time reading and commenting on your articles this has got to be your finest hour. Spectacular piece.

  41. Bill Kerr

    Well said Phil. I was very annoyed by what Sir Tom (tug on my forelock) had to say and tried to reply to JamesMcmillan3 who seemed to agree with the Knight of the Realm, however you have just put the case far more eloquently than I ever could. You expect this from the landed gentry down south but I thought that Tom Hunter was better than this. Can you copy to James McMillan please.

  42. Scott McAuley

    I find it very refreshing to hear someone else, particularly someone from a social work background, articulate these problems without getting sidetracked by political distractions.
    This is the truth and the people responsible are the same as those who have waged wars in foreign lands near and far.

    It strikes me how close to current day life the works of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley are. But then, they where members of the futures think tank that ever Labour prime minister have been members of: The Fabien Society.

    Thanks to the internet the big secret of how the world is run and who runs it, has been revealed to me.

    Bilderberg Group
    Council on Foreign Relations
    Club of Rome
    The Trilateral commission
    The International Monetary Fund
    The World Bank
    The Federal Reserve Bank

    These are all stones in the higher end of the freemasonic pyramid. All trustees in the ownership of our souls.
    Most people will think I’m a “conspiracy theorist” for saying this.
    I think the truth is getting out.

  43. Ian Mac

    It’s sad to hear people like Tom Hunter and Alan Sugar talk in these terms. The fact is they are out of touch. This is not the fifties or sixties. Thatcher’s policies were a game-changer. Most social problems start with umemployment and the tories – then as now – have shown themselves only too happy to consign large sections of the population to long-term unemployment. You’re spot on Phil, many just eventually give up on trying to defeat their circumstances. The stigmatising of people on benefits is one of the most shameful things the tories – in collusion with large sections of the press – have indulged in.

  44. Joe

    Great article Phil, and given the current situation, it’s so refreshing to read a non-football related story with such alarming but factual points.



  45. JimBhoy

    Some really good points. “People can, as life drags on, become defeated by their situation” describes a lot of the community I hail from, just around the corner from your old pal and Lisbon Lion (goalie). I found myself in Baillieston on Sunday morning at an old run down school with a new 3G football park. We were on football duty actually. It was a good day in a number of ways. You should turn to politics mate, then again maybe you are a bit too honest and in touch for that career move. Keep up the great blog.

  46. Harry Lime

    Phil -I am not a Celtic Fan nor a Rangers Fan I hasten to add ,I disagree with your Romantic description of the History of Ireland which is selective and biased,I also disagree with your take that Catholics in the West of Scotland are downtrodden ,Im in a mixed marriage my Wife living in a new Town and going to a brand new Catholic School had a far better Education than a Proddy Schemie growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s with a corrupt and incompetant Labour Party at its helm,I do not accept that there is a cunning plan in Scottish Football to screw Celtic ,the idiots who run it are incapable of any plan in my opinion -however your analysis of the problems of Glasgows East End and your even handed description of our Politicians both Tory and Labour of past generations does you credit -will said,The irony is that the people Mr Hunter describes were his core customer base at his Sports Shops.

  47. Allyjambo

    Phil, I well remember the orange juice, and the third of a pint of milk each day in school, ah, happy days. It would be nice to think that they were removed because the health of the nation had reached an acceptable level, but, alas, they were removed to aleviate the suffering of the few who had had to fight hard, not in the air above Britain, but in creating the propoganda, that Goebals would have been proud of, to bring the Iron(Cross)Lady to power.


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