Monday, 7 March 2011

Glasgow revisited

By our Scottish correspondent

Some up-market newspapers have opportunities for revisiting and reflecting on the issues at stake.  When I left Glasgow it was merely rioting students and Billy Bragg, though last week a real punch up took place on and off the pitch with many arrested, many sent off and – you guessed it – ‘why o why’ handwringing ...  

This post appeared yesterday on the Guardian website and though I had posted a comment on it, it got taken off along with the others.  The original is available for a fat fee, and I have cleaned it up somewhat.  It is extremely mild compared with the vitriol that poured out and was allowed by the moderators.  On this occasion I am imposing some censorship - indicated by italics. 

First, some contextualisation and some de-contextualisation for those not familiar with BBC Radio 4 programmes. 

BBC Radio 4 has a programme called Any Questions which goes out on Fridays.  It’s usually very middle-class and tends to include politicians, thinkers, journalists and other parts of the establishment.  The programme seldom travels very far north and only occasionally does it travel to Scotland.  The people selected to ask questions seldom have authentic Scottish accents and the bulk of the questions focus on non-Scottish issues.  When they do focus on Scotland, they’re usually about Scotland’s problems or the Loch Ness Monster or both. 

Start of comment

“I don’t know if anyone listened to Any Questions on Radio 4, which came from Balfron which isn’t too far from Bearsden and Milngavie.  The panel were all Scottish, although 2 (Charles Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton and Lyn Faulds Wood) would be  regarded as Uncle Donald and Aunt Lizzie who have moved to England and have been acculturated and acclimatised.   The other 2 were Nicola Sturgeon* (whose Scottish parliament constituency includes Ibrox, the Glasgow Rangers’ stadium) and Annabel Goldie** (Scottish Conservative). The Chairman Jonathon Dimbleby was totally out of it (more than usual!) when he raised the issue of Glasgow football and sectarianism.  There was a lot of handwringing, ‘why o why’, how it was bad for tourism – it was so bad, that one of my RSS feeds came up with the headline ‘sectarian violence breaks out ...’ (it was in Bahrain not Glasgow, but it could have been). 

There was a recent programme on Radio 4 concerning Glasgow’s mortality statistics.***  That was surely the real shame of Glasgow, where the chances of being knifed and dying of liver failure are way ahead of Liverpool and Manchester. 

Perhaps we only hear about a stupid football match played by very rich players, refereed by numpties and managed by characters from another era.  So much for the Enlightenment.  It’s just ‘cant Kant’ and unintelligible commentary."  
end of comment

* Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, is the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing.

** Annabel Goldie, MSP, is the Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party in the Scottish Parliament.

*** A summary of this programme can be found on the BBC Radio 4 website.


  1. Thanks for the reference to the BBC program. Shame it's not on iPlayer anymore.

  2. There must be something to do with Glasgow and Presbyterian your most ficile element. This old piece from the Chronicle proves it. Glasgow is divisive ...