Notes From the Northern Colony

keiranoneill

by Greum Maol Stevenson

There can be no denying the notability of Maria Fyfe, who died last month. Born in the Gorbals in 1938, the child of a tram driver and a shop assistant, she became, as Nicola Sturgeon said, “a feminist icon.” Rising to prominence in the days when the Scottish Labour Party was still left wing, she became the first female MP for Maryhill, Glasgow. And now there is a petition to rename Maryhill Library after her.

Maryhill Library needs no change of name. It is a library, in Maryhill, and it belongs to the people of Maryhill, as it has for 116 years. It is a place where anyone can go for information and be treated with kindness and respect by the staff who serve the community. It is not the territory of any politician or political party. When Maria Fyfe had her office there, it was a constituency office, not a personal space.

It is significant that the proposal to rename the library after her comes from Keiran O’Neill, the Scottish Labour and Co-op candidate for Maryhill and Springburn. The Scottish Labour party is now a grim ruin of the party Maria Fyfe was a member of. Under the inept and dishonest leadership of Richard Leonard, it is right wing and sexist. It resisted equal pay for women at Glasgow City Council, and then when the council agreed to equal pay after 8000 workers went on strike three years ago, Mr Leonard audaciously praised the decision. Naming the library after Maria Fyfe would be a chance for the current Scottish Labour Party to emphasise its (merely historical) link to her.

This is not a criticism of Mr O'Neill; I appreciate his support for the Wyndford Tenants' Union, of which I am a member, and if he were in the SNP (of which I am also a member) I might vote for him. But the difference between the person and the party brings up a broader reason why public libraries, and other services, should not be named after individuals.

We are living in an unprecedented culture, and cult, of personality. It is how America got Donald Trump, and how England got Boris Johnson. Policy takes second place to personality, if it takes any place at all. History shows this is the soil in which fascism grows, and it is vital that we venerate the institutions that are essential to our culture — libraries, and the NHS, being two of them — rather than individuals who took part in them.

And this is not to deny the historical importance of monuments. Maria Fyfe campaigned for a statue of Mary Barbour to be erected, and it might be equally fitting to erect a statue of Maria Fyfe. But no individual, however admirable they may have been, should have their name or likeness on the services that belong to us all.

#mariafyfe #marybarbour #keiranoneill #richardleonard #scottishlabourparty #maryhill #glasgow #maryhilllibrary #scottishpolitics #cultofpersonality #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

This afternoon, members and allies of Wyndford Tenants' Union picked up broken glass and other litter in the housing scheme, a duty that is supposed to be performed by Cube Housing, and which tenants pay for in their rent.

Then we delivered the litter to Cube's office.

The turnout for the litter-pick was much better than expected, so much so that there was not enough cleaing equipment for everyone, so a member went and fetched some extra brushes from their home. Among those who joined us were Bob Doris MSP, Keiran O'Neill, Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate for Maryhill and Springburn, and Councillor John Letford.

We spent an hour cleaning. Once the litter was bagged up, we held a quick meeting at which it was unanimously agreed that, as the litter is Cube's responsibility, we would walk to its office on the corner of Gairbraid Avenue and Maryhill Road and leave it there.

Anyone who considers this to be fly tipping is mistaken. No one was dumping their own garbage on someone else's property. After working for free to clean up an area of Cube's property — the Wyndford housing scheme — we moved it to another area of Cube's property — the doorway to its office.

Wyndford Tenants Union will continue this activity every two weeks until Cube decides to resume doing its job.

#wyndfordtenantsunion #livingrent #wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #communityaction #cubehousingassociation #wheatleygroup #bobdorismsp #keiranoneill #johnletford #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

Photo: Babs Nicgriogair

Despite unfriendly weather, there was a good turnout for today's Vigil for the Valley in protest of the sell-off of land previously used for social housing.

Disappointingly, no SNP leaders attended, but Keiran O'Neill, Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate for Maryhill and Springburn, did. He said, “The strength of feeling in the wider residents of the local community is very clear. There was over 30 people attending the safe, socially distant demonstration that Living Rent and Wyndford's Tenant Union organised.”

Read Glasgow Live's report here.

Photo: Nick Durie

#wyndfordtenantsunion #glasgow #collinastreet #maryhill #stillgame #landlordism #buytolet #socialhousing #keiranoneill #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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