I was leafleting in Govan for Save the Docks campaign public consultation and a young guy from a few meters away asked what it was about. Before I gave him the leaflet, he said. “I fuckin hate Govan, I used to love it, but not any more. I fucking hate it.” There wasn’t really any malice in his voice, more like regret and a kind of loss of hope. I chatted to him for a bit but he might have been too far down in the groove that our conversation would have made any difference.
He seemed like the kind of guy with a bit of support would be useful to his community. I have known other activist, people, in Govan with exactly the same attitude. Folk who were once good leaders but worn out by so much disapproval, distrust and repeatedly climbing the same hill of petty slights, and personality politics. With too much negativity to endure, too little aspiration to bear and too little agenda to adopt. This is not just a Govan phenomenon, you can find it all over. Why? well maybe.
When we can watch our politicians brazen out almost any scandal, lie rob and cheat with impunity, why should we care about politics? Answer. Because it is not our politics. If our newspapers continue to serve the needs of elites and business. They are not our newspapers. If our street are covered in crap and are unwalkable for old folk. They are not our streets.
The young guy who hates Govan probably associates his hate to his surroundings as many others do and to the people who live in them, or are forced to live in them. What he possibly fails to see is that this ‘is’ our politics. Looking after our community and looking after each other is our politics. Sure we can blame the council or the government but that is not enough. It has always been the case that we need to force these institutions to do anything. And another way we could progress is forgetting about Westminster and Holyrood for a bit and start to concentrate on reenergising our local politics.
There was another guy at our eventual meeting, who couldn’t stop talking about what he was doing in his street. His excitement was palpable as if he had discovered the lost chord. But it was just about doing what he could, in his neighbourhood, on his street with the people around him. This is the stuff that makes communities grow and worries those who think that they know our needs better. We start to work on stuff we can actually do something about. And start again to fucking love the people and the place we live in. That is our politics!