Sectarianism and politics in Glasgow East

Defeat in Glasgow East is apparently another line in the sand for Gordon Brown’s leadership of the Labour Party. There are many questions about the Roman Catholic vote in the constituency and even complaints of anti-Catholicism in the Labour Party. Meanwhile the Conservatives leader David Cameron will be holding an event in a Roman Catholic church as part of their campaign. It is also an area that Iain Duncan Smith has done much work in through his social justice initiative. Fraser Nelson offers his perspective on sectarianism, politics and the by-election, concluding:

“Sectarianism may still be bad in Glasgow East, but the poverty is far, far worse.”

UPDATE: In Glasgow David Cameron has called for less sensitivity and more judgementalism.

  • kensei

    I’d disagree with the sentiment on political betting that Catholic support for Labour has nothing to do with policy. A lot of Catholic social teaching fits better with the Left than the Right. Abortion would be the big one where it wouldn’t..

    But there is not a cat’s chance in hell of the Tories winning this seat. That’d be an Earthquake unknown in British politics. If Labour lose it, it’ll be to the SNP, which would have only slightly smaller of an impact, given that the Union rests on the votes of so many Labour Catholics.

  • The Catholic/Irish vote in the East End have been Labour’s bedrock since the days of John Wheatley.

    Perhaps that loyalty is starting to unwravell-perhaps.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Given their very good situation in England the tories dont have to worry about Scotland. I presume there is a visceral reaction to someone who sound like Cameron does – because as soon as he opens his mouth it immediately suggests to his audience they are in for another round of highland clearances with a healthy does of polltaxery thrown in.

    Presumably that is why the referendum on independence is being put off by the SNP as every time a Tory says anything about Scotland it will bag another tranche of voters for independence.

    The Scottish Catholics simultaneous allegiance to both England and Ireland is an ideological complexity that (speaking as I often do on behalf of all the plain people of Ireland) we can never hope to understand.

  • Dewi

    News from the ground on the Herald blog
    Earthquake in Glasgow

    Posted by: Gaavster, Ayr on 4:05pm today
    “I am a first time ‘activist’ and I was out and about in Glasgow over the weekend, doing my bit for my country and my people, and I have to say it was really encouraging…. There was definitely trepidation on my part. to begin with, in to how the SNP would be received in a staunch Labour heartland, but those nerves soon dissipated and I have to say that the signs are looking really good…. The responses we got from the ordinary folk (circa 70%) in the street was that they were willing to put their faith in someone and something different come election day and that they had had enough of the cow-towing to Westminster and the complete indifference with which they have been subjected to for many a long year… They want a party that will deal fairly and openly with Local and Scottish Issues and the number of people who said to me ‘ Aye, and over a hundred years of oil left in the North Sea….’ Roll on the 24th and the tipping point…. SAOR ALBA
    I am a first time ‘activist’ and I was out and about in Glasgow over the weekend, doing my bit for my country and my people, and I have to say it was really encouraging….

    There was definitely trepidation on my part. to begin with, in to how the SNP would be received in a staunch Labour heartland, but those nerves soon dissipated and I have to say that the signs are looking really good….

    The responses we got from the ordinary folk (circa 70%) in the street was that they were willing to put their faith in someone and something different come election day and that they had had enough of the cow-towing to Westminster and the complete indifference with which they have been subjected to for many a long year…

    They want a party that will deal fairly and openly with Local and Scottish Issues and the number of people who said to me ‘ Aye, and over a hundred years of oil left in the North Sea….’

    Roll on the 24th and the tipping point….

    SAOR ALBA”

    SAOR ALBA indeed.

  • Dewi

    Messed that cut and paste up a bit sorry but you get the drift.

  • The person from Ayr need not have been worried about the East End.
    the mould for the SNP was broken there in 1987.

    I know.
    I was there.

  • Dewi

    SNP had 300 people out on Saturday Phil – keep that up for 17 days and it’s surely ours.

  • picador

    Are Plaid Cymru standing as well, Dewi?

  • Dewi

    Lol Picador – same movement…

  • When is polling day?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Glas is a fairly rare example of Gaelic and Welsh words being the same – black (Di/Dubh) is another.

  • Dewi

    Phil – July 24
    Sammy – Glasgow actually a Welsh (Brythonic) name from when we ruled Strathclyde (Ystrad Clud) Glas (green) Cae (Field) – soft mutation + some centuries of glaswegian prounounciation = Glasgow. In (hmm) etymological terms Glas is an extremely weird Welsh word in that it meant Green for thousands of years (as reflected in place names such as Maes Glas) but now means Blue. Did some medieval Welsh monk just decide on that or what there some genetic Celtic colour blindness?…off to Google…..

  • Dewi

    Learn something new every day So strange – blue looks so different to Green to me – like the difference between the sky and the grass. RG Cuan – where are you when you are needed?

  • ersehole

    Yeah, we go that glas colour-blindness going on too. Glas = green….or grey!

  • There’s every possibility that Labour could lose a mid-term by-election at a time of great unpopularity even in the East End of Glasgow. But trying to paint the Glasgow Labour Party as anti-Catholic because some of them support abortion would be like trying to paint Sinn Féin as anti-Catholic because they support civil partnerships for gay people.

    The Catholic Church in Scotland is playing a very dangerous game; not only do less people go to church now I don’t think that many people are too keen on being lectured on how to vote from the pulpit. It seems a particularly venal game as the SNP are every bit as socially liberal as Labour.

  • Dewi

    Aside from the sectarian influence (declining but still a factor) surely it would be the end of Brown,Sammy, if Labour lost here?

  • Have to agree Sammy.
    the Labour has deep spores into the Catholic community in a similiar way to Fianna fail in rural Ireland.

    Your analogy with Sinn Fein & civil partnershipsis an accurate one imo

  • Dewi it is a mid term bye-election.
    Heaven wont fall :0)
    However should SNP win on the 27th and then hold it at the GE-then,then something will have changed in the ghetto where I was born.

    And yes lads it is a fekin ghetto

  • Dewi

    24th mun Phil…..

  • Voting on a Monday dewi?

    What happened to thursday?

  • Dewi

    Phil – am I going mad? – It’s Monday today, Thursday on 10th, + a fortnight that’s 10 +14 = 24. (I think…)

  • No hassle Dewi-Brit elections are usually on a thursday.

  • Dewi

    As is this one Phil !!!! – A fortnight Thursday, July 24th….

  • Cheers dewi-I’m due over the week after but I might change my schedule-I would love to be at the count ;0)

  • Dewi

    nice post from the Guardian blog: There’s something afoot>

    I was born and brought up in the East End of Glasgow before moving away to London and then to sunnier climes. My family have lived in the East End of Glasgow for generations, and many of them still live in the Glasgow East constituency. They are working class, ‘Catholic’ and until recently were Labour to the core. But not anymore.

    My mother is almost 70, and has lived in the East End of Glasgow all her life. She remarked the other day how for the first time she can ever remember people are excited by the prospect of an election where their vote really can make a difference. I have 9 family members who are entitled to vote at this by-election. All of them used to vote Labour, and all but one are voting SNP this time. They are not entirely convinced that the SNP will prove to be any better, but they are revolted by what the Labour party has become. Although lingering suspicions about the SNP remain, most say they’d vote ‘yes’ to independence when there is a referendum. My mother, much to my pleasant surprise, has become an enthusiastic advocate of Scottish independence.

    My father is the one who won’t be voting SNP, but it’s his attitude which perhaps ought to worry the Labour party most. He’s now retired but was a manual worker and a union organiser. It’s his proud boast that his grandfather was a founder member of the Scottish Labour party and knew John Wheatley and James Maxton. But he’s not proud of what the Labour party has become. He can’t bring himself to vote for any other party, but he can’t bring himself to vote Labour either. He’s going to abstain. He even said that perhaps it might be better for Scotland to become independent as that’s the only way there will ever be any chance of Scottish Labour finding its soul again.

    When Labour cannot even count on the votes of people like my dad, then as we say in Glasgow – the gemme’s a bogey

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    That is an extrordinary post. After a Non Iron election my next favorite is a ROI one and then a Scottish one and then a Wales one. Plaid just cant seem to get a rumble on (bit like the Welsh pack). Dont know how can I dare say that after they won the grand slam – but old attitudes die hard (even when they are clearly wrong) and I fear that will also be the undoing of SNP.

  • Basil Brush

    Interesting one this by-election it should be a safe Labour win what with a 13000 majority however with the state of the economy,the Labour leader in Scotland resigning,Brown being very unpopular and hopeless as well as the debacle over the amount of time it has taken Labour to pick a candidate you yave to say that the SNP will never have a better chance of winning this seat.Also if Labour do lose this by-election and Brown is forced out would anyone really want to be Labour leader as the polls look like the Tories will get in at the next election.

  • Re Update
    Lets hope the Tories lose their deposit.

  • K McLaughlin

    Labour’s organiser for this by election is Frank Roy MP. This is the man who caused the cancellation of the visit of Bertie Ahern to the Carfin Grotto in February 2001 by informing him that local Protestant extremists were planning to harm the taoiseach if he had the temerity to show himself in Lanarkshire. The whole thing was largely Roy’s own invention and caused considerable embarrassment in Scotland.
    If Roy is capable of a stunt like that and given his past connections (AOH-certainly/local republican flute band – allegedly), I would be absolutely amazed if he does not advise a desperate Labour party to drag this by election down by appealing to ‘green’ tribal loyalties rather than campaigning on Labour’s record in government. It would certainly be an easier option than trying to defend the 10p tax band fiasco, Iraq, the greed of Labour MPS in the matter of expenses etc..etc…
    It would be a shameful tactic, but it just might work. If it does not, then Labour in the west of Scotland are finished, because it is about the last shot they have left.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    K McLaughlin

    Shouldn’t really say so – but this election just gets better all the time.

    Could there ever be a scenario where one side enlist an Irish politican? SF might have appeal but would be a simple target for other side for supporting ‘terrorism’.

  • it is hard to over state how bed rock this place is fcor labour.
    if this place goes to the SNP………..

  • Wilde Rover

    Perhaps the unionist vote in Scotland needs to get its act together. An inspirational guide to preserving the union might come in handy.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Sammy

    >>The Scottish Catholics simultaneous allegiance to both England and Ireland is an ideological complexity that (speaking as I often do on behalf of all the plain people of Ireland) we can never hope to understand.< < I've explained this a few times at length. Short answer, a look across the sea saw what the Prods of Ulster were doing to the Catholics. Despite being to some degree treated as second class citizens in Scotland, Catholics always believed that the English would act as a bulwark against any excesses of Scottish Protestantism. Dewi >>Glas (green) Cae (Field)< < We still pronounce it as Glesca or Glesga, it's proper pronunciation as a matter of fact. Labour have finally got around to selecting a candidate. I rate her, she is tough, a fighter. However she has not got off to a good start. Soundbites and spin; http://tinyurl.com/5mudbh

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Oh and I don’t know for sure despite the sectarian spin put on us, but she just might be a jungle Jim.

  • PE Margaret Curran?
    Born in Baillieston in 58 (like oul Philbhoy here).
    memory is feeble, but I might have went to school with her.
    Might have.
    If that is true then picking a Baillieston tim is a good move on the part of labour.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    P. Eoghan

    Dont buy the ‘bulwark’ malarkey – you have the same anti-nationalism amongst the ‘Irish’ in Kaydiff – which I’m sure Dewi will confirm. Anytime I hear some fecker sounding off against the WelSh language a quick check of their lineage oft reveals an Oirish link. As my good old-sluggeronian friend Willowfield loves to say – shame on them and the jockstraps.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Dont buy the ‘bulwark’ malarkey – you have the same anti-nationalism amongst the ‘Irish’ in Kaydiff < < Well I'm sure there is a hint of the colonial mindset there(think we have been here before) in that it was the done thing to sneer at anyone/thing that wasn't Anglicised, even one's own culture as backward. Since you mention the Welsh, they were pretty good at putting themselves down as well. Anyhow I stand by my original answer. >>and the jockstraps.< < Dearie me, patter like waater. Was that supposed to be cutting humour? This comes from watching too many shows with canned laughter I guess. >>If that is true then picking a Baillieston tim is a good move on the part of labour.<< Aye Phil she is popular in our auld areas, seemed to be doing well up at the shopping centre the day.