On a late autumn evening in Glasgow seven years ago, I first realised that England's north-west had a serious problem.So sayeth Kevin McKenna in 'CiF'...
The couple we had just encountered in the pub were in their mid-30s and were enjoying the first evening of a long weekend hotel break in Glasgow. They were from Blackburn and their demeanour spoke of aspirational, working-class, comprehensive England...They were pleasant and affable in that plain-speaking manner that has always attracted me to those who dwell in the Midlands and the north of England.Gosh, doesn't sound too bad, Kev.
I mean, maybe they didn't know the finer points of Wittgenstein, or how hard it was to be the executive editor of the Daily Mail in Scotland, but I assume they didn't eat with their fingers or ask for ginger ale with their malt whisky, did they?
It was only when we said that we would be visiting Blackburn the following week for a football pilgrimage that we first noticed a drop in the temperature. "Is it a decent town centre with nice pubs and restaurants?" I asked.Oh, dear. Suddenly that plain-speaking that was so admired was a little too plain for poor Kev...
"The town centre is a no-go area now, it's been taken over by Asians. We all moved out years ago."
We blundered on. We asked them why that was necessarily a problem. After all, weren't we in Glasgow proud of the way in which the Asians, the Chinese, the eastern Europeans, the Italians and the Irish had all contributed to our city becoming one of the most interesting and diverse cities in Europe?In other words 'God, you're just bigoted people, aren't you? How dare you have opinions which differ from mine..I mean, ours?'
Kev, you see, speaks for all of Glasgow. Yes, ALL of it! How dare you question that?
But the couple were having none of it. "It's not our city any more and we have been abandoned by the Labour party."Indeed it did. You see, this young couple weren't the only ones that felt this way. And Labour did as you did as a result - excoriated them for their feelings and ignored them...
It was the BNP's manifesto in one short sentence and helped to explain why they would soon make their first UK electoral gains on the councils of north-west England.
Kev, however, wishes he could replace them:
In many of our most deprived areas, there has emerged a class who have become indolent unto the third generation. Few of them can name a family member who has ever taken in a monthly wage with tax and national insurance. Scotland's white and idle poor no longer have the stomach for those jobs that are being taken by enthusiastic Africans, Poles and Romanians. There are reasons why poor, white Scots no longer possess a work instinct and it has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with crime, poverty and education.Oh, yes, I'm with you there, Kev! The electorate isn't doing what we want it to. Let's elect a new one, eh?
Labour will be returned overwhelmingly in Scotland, just as they were in 2005. They remain the only party still emotionally and spiritually committed to the idea of addressing deprivation and its causes and bringing about a more just society.Oh, really? So why - according to you - are there three generations of indolent and ignorant white Glaswegians, then, Kev? I mean, if they keep electing Labour and Labour do sod all about that 'crime, poverty and education', it seems to me that...
Well, I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions. You don't need this Londoner to point it out to you. Do you?
Gordon Brown's instincts in Rochdale last week did not betray him. In Scotland, they echoed many of ours – a love of diversity and a preferential option for those fleeing persecution.Ah. Right.
All those Scottish politicians down here telling us how to live are fleeing persecution, are they..?
Well, this article taught me one thing. Scotland apparently has it's own Islington. Who'd a thunk it?