Friday, 6 February 2009

Chateau Lait

Over on Spectator's Coffeehouse, some journo was getting all uppity cos the Scottish Parliament had taken offence that he'd referred to Castlemilk and Easterhouse as 'scummy', and then over on Labour MP Tom Harris's blog it got a bit of coverage too
I would love Fraser to visit Castlemilk (in my constituency, as it happens) and see for himself its transformation from an estate with huge problems in the ’70s and ’80s, to one of the most vibrant communities in the city. Yes, there is still a high level of benefit claimants there, just as the Conservatives planned back in the ’80s. But it really is a bit rich for Fraser to criticise Labour for not having been able (yet) to repair all the damage done by his party.

Me, I've worked in Castlemilk, production engineer at Linn Products, and sticking my nose in at the aluminium machining factory next door. Ah, those were the days. When I still had a job. Must have been 2002 to 2007.

The area always seemed a bit barren, and well, scummy, all boring housing and discarded children's toys, soulless even. Maybe they have poured millions into building arts centres and community projects, but isn't that like just to keep people entertained and distracted, Commodus and his gladiatorial games.

What folk need is jobs and people are quite capable of making them and making their own, given encouragement, and grants and stuff. Its just if you make it difficult or complicated or tedious to start a business or run a business, then people won't bother.

And if you happen to be the authority and the power that's been elected to make the area a better place, there shouldn't be anything stopping you other than your own will.

Can I open my cafe now?

More on this from the Coffeehouse
We’ve had 12 years of Labour. As one of the commentators on his blog put it: how many decades does he want? Britain won a world war in six years.

Of course, money can’t change it – only welfare reform can. If a child grows up seeing worklessness (55% of children in Castlemilk grow up in a workless household, 48% in Easterhouse), then the chances of them breaking out of this poverty cycle are slim. In America, the problem of the black ghetto is well known. Ditto the French banlieues. But British welfare ghettos are mysteriously invisible to the political class, airbrushed out of the official data. Then people like Gordon Brown claim they have ceased to exist. I have long considered Harris one of the better Scottish Labour MPs in that he’s aware of the problem, and will admit that these massive construction projects in Glasgow didn’t do much for local unemployment because they had to bus people in. He actually knows how many in his constituency are on out- of-work benefits – 12,000. If they all vote, that’s 20% of his electorate. After ten years of Labour’s “social justice” I wonder why he thinks his figure is so scandalously high? Where did all that anger go, that so animated him in the 1980s? Perhaps he really does still blame Thatcher

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