Notes From the Northern Colony

maryhill

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 #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

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

In this post, I said it was disappointing that no SNP leaders attended the Vigil for the Valley in protest of Glasgow City Council's selling off a former social housing site to private bidders.

Today, Patrick Grady, MP for Glasgow North, responded:

Dear Greum

Many thanks for sharing with me your article regarding the recent 'Vigil in the Valley' organised by the Wyndford Tenant's Union regarding the potential development of the land at Collina Street.

It may be helpful to explain that unfortunately I didn’t receive any advance notice of this event from either the Living Rent campaign or the Wyndford Tenant's Union. Your email on Friday came in after business hours, by which time I already had alternative commitments and couldn't attend at such short notice. I was able to attend the nearby 'Reclaim Maryhill' at roughly the same time – a community campaign to promote active travel, accessible civic spaces and climate action in the Maryhill area.

I understand that an invitation was sent to Bob Doris MSP and you may be interested in his response conveying his apologies for being unable to attend:

“Thank you for the kind invite to the outdoor vigil that is being organised by WTU. I also appreciate you drawing the Living Rent manifesto to my attention , It makes for interesting reading. The SNP will of course consider its approach to affordable housing as we develop our manifesto going forward.

“Regarding the vigil, I am actually taking part in another local community event tomorrow and I am unlikely to be able to attend as I have family commitments after the other event. My apologies.

“It is helpful that you have drawn some of your concerns to my attention. With regards the proposed development at Collina Street, this is part of the next phase of the Maryhill Transformational Regeneration Area plans. I will take time to look at these plans. It is fair to say that there has been significant investment in social housing in the area locally and great strides have been made to improve much of the housing stock. The strategy has been to ensure that the area is developed as mixed tenure, something I support.

“You are quite right that a key part of redeveloping the area should be social housing and I know the Council are committed to this. A good example is Kelvindale Place which was transformed in 2018 with 52 social rented properties. There is also Whitelaw Street (the Botany), an area I am particularly proud to have seen developed. This was something I raised in Parliament when first elected given the years of delay and broken promises to tenants. 35 new social rented homes were built there in 2010.

“As you know there has been a major and welcome development at Maryhill Locks with the completion of another 106 social rented homes and 19 shared equity properties in 2015 also.

“More social rented units are also planned and of course there has been various other builds including 6 self-build properties, private, shared equity and mid-market rent. Sorry I don’t have more details to hand but I wanted to ensure I contacted you before tomorrow.

“I would be happy to discuss with Glasgow City Council the Collina Street proposals which I understand is 125 units for low cost home ownership. I’d be keen to learn more about this.”

I trust this is helpful. I will continue to liaise with Bob and the local Councillors as this situation develops.

Best wishes

Patrick — Patrick Grady Member of Parliament for Glasgow North Chief Whip, SNP Westminster Group www.patrickgrady.scot

#patrickgradymp #bobdorismsp #SNP #wyndfordtenantsunion #collinastreet #maryhill #glasgow #stillgame #landlordism #buytolet #socialhousing #livingrent #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 #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

Being dead makes people like you better.

In this article, Gerry Hassan eulogises Donald Dewar, Scotland's first First Minister, who died 20 years ago. Mr Hassan's admiration for Dewar seems to be based on how bourgeois he was:

“Donald Dewar was a profoundly decent person, imbued with an older sense of public mission and morality, who often seemed out of kilter with the times – drawing from a deep reservoir of how the middle and professional classes used to behave. His death robbed the Scottish Parliament of leadership and aided a period of institutional instability, but even more began a series of steps that led to Scottish Labour’s long descent into near-irrelevance.”

Mr Hassan is right about one thing: “Dewar as First Minister was no natural leader, but his death removed a politician who could speak to the Scotland beyond Labour.” He appealed to the right wing as much as to the left, because he was an establishment shill who, either through ignorance or dishonesty, played down the hardships so many people living in Glasgow endured.

In 1990, Dewar appeared on the STV show Scottish Books to discuss Alan Spence's novel The Magic Flute. Dewar complained about Mr Spence's description of Glasgwegians in the 1960s living in slum flats without bathrooms, or even hot water on tap. He declared that no one in Glasgow was living in such conditions by then.

If Dewar, a doctor's son and a lawyer who became a millionaire, had bothered to visit Maryhill in the 1970s, he would have known that not only was Mr Spence's description correct, it was still that way a decade later. In Raeberry Street and Mount Street, to name only two, people washed at the kitchen sink, with water boiled in a pot, and, if you were lucky, you had a toilet (just a toilet) in your flat, instead of a cludgie outside that you shared with neighbours, and that is how it was until 1978, when the buildings, which were also infested with rats, were demolished.

It is hard to believe Donald Dewar was unaware of this. Perhaps he was too busy counting his millions to notice.

#donalddewar #gerryhassan #scottishlabourparty #scottishpolitics #glasgowslums #maryhill #poverty #bellacaledonia #alanspence #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

I have seen and admired the work of street artist Oh Pandah all around central Glasgow the last few months, so today I was happy to discover they had made a visit to my bit.

#maryhill #glasgow #graffiti #streetart #ohpandah #bigheids #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

The day after the “incident.” A week after the “incident.”

#wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #scotland #crime #violence #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

This advertisement from a predatory lender is being posted through letterboxes in the Wyndford housing scheme in Glasgow.

#glasgow #scotland #loansharks #predatoryloans #aablepersonalcredit #wyndford #maryhill #poverty #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

Manifesto found near the River Kelvin, Maryhill.

#maryhill #glasgow #scotland #scottishindependence #scottishnotbritish #endlondonrule #graffiti #greummaolstevenson

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