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Wings Over Scotland

Quoted for horror

Posted on May 16, 2014 by

An alert reader directed us to this document this morning:

“The reasons for the high Scottish mortality between 1950 and 1980 are unclear, but poverty and deprivation linked to particular industrial employment patterns, poor housing and unhealthy cultural and behavioural patterns seem the more likely explanations.

From 1980 onwards the mortality pattern changed and this seems most likely to be attributable to the changed political context, produced by neoliberal political attack, and the consequent hopelessness and community disruption experienced in Scotland and Glasgow.”

It’s a 2011 study by the non-political Glasgow Centre for Population Health, which attempts to discern why Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, has such appalling life expectancies compared to the rest of the UK. And its findings are startling.


Because it turns out that Scotland hasn’t always been the sick man of Europe. Scottish health was once better than most, but took two notable downturns relative to the rest of the UK – one in 1950 and one in 1980.

The first in particular is remarkable, because it dates almost exactly from the formation of the NHS, though it also marks the rise to electoral prominence in Scotland (and especially Glasgow) of the Labour Party.

And while the arrival of Mrs Thatcher in 1979 (and her heirs) saw things get worse for the poor everywhere in the UK, Scotland suffered more than even comparably deprived parts of England. As the “Feeble Fifty” Scottish Labour MPs stood by uselessly while the Tories ripped the heart out of industrial communities, Scots despaired of their powerlessness against an alien political culture.

We recommend you read the entire report for yourself at the link above, because obviously we’re simplifying and paraphrasing it for effect. But the bottom line is that faced with decades of neoliberal governments they didn’t elect, and plagued by impotent Labour MPs and councils failing to defend them, Scots sought refuge from their depression in unhealthy lifestyle choices and drank or ate themselves to death.

Or to put it more poetically: for 60 years, Scotland has been dying of a broken heart.

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    1. 19 05 14 18:25

      Weekly retrospective 18-05-2014 | Emlyn Phillips

    2. 28 08 14 13:29

      Health – the Glasgow Effect | The Science of Independence

    111 to “Quoted for horror”

    1. X_Sticks says:

      Well spotted that reader.

      “for 60 years, Scotland has been dying of a broken heart.”

      Aye, but we’re about to get a double bypass and a new lease of life! 😀

    2. Drew says:

      Feeble fifty to get keeping their seats apparently.

    3. X_Sticks says:

      Oops, sorry Rev, un-necessary exclamation mark there. Grovelling accordingly.

    4. Capella says:

      This is exactly the point made by Sir Harry Burns in 2011 in his autumn lecture
      He was Chief Medical Officer for Scotland at the time.

    5. The Man in the Jar says:

      As a sixty year old male with a Glasgow postcode I will give the main article a miss thanks. Story of my life 🙁

    6. Maggie Craig says:

      Just one caveat here. I think it’s believed that health seemed to deteriorate after the establishment of the NHS because people, especially women, who’d been putting up with health problems for years were finally able to do something about them.

      Love the broken heart metaphor.

    7. mogatrons says:

      ‘Scotland has been dying of a broken heart.’

      ….. I will use this on the doorsteps. Thanks Stuart. 🙂

    8. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I think it’s believed that health seemed to deteriorate after the establishment of the NHS because people, especially women, who’d been putting up with health problems for years were finally able to do something about them.”

      Not sure I understand. I can see how that might lead to an increase in reported illnesses, but not how it would lead to people actually dying more.

    9. Bill Fraser says:

      Really good article here about Harry Burns who just resigned as the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland linked to this report. I can testify that he is one of the good guys.

    10. Bill Fraser says:

      Probably worth remembering that WW2 had just ended which may be a factor as poor diet, returning invalids, and the sick who never went to war would all affect the statistics (i.e. more deaths as a proportion of the population)

    11. titchyboy85 says:

      That last sentence is beautiful. Couldnae agree more.

    12. orri says:

      Nuclear contamination of the water supplies?

    13. Nana Smith says:

      Scotland dying of a broken heart

      Says it all really

    14. Finnz says:

      I have always maintained that Labour controlled constituencies and wards are generally poorer, unhealthier and have fewer prospects because they have Labour representation.
      Its Labour first followed by a lowering of living standards, not the other way round.

    15. galamcennalath says:

      Fascinating stuff. I’ve skip read it, and am now going to study it more slowly. However, one initial reaction. The ‘Thatcher Effect’ of the 80s/90s, we all understand. What about Scotland diverging from the rest of Europe from 1950 onwards? Labour had just created the NHS. ‘One nation’ Tories. ‘Never had it so good’. Massive rehousing. New council schemes. New factories opening up. Health records clearly show something was amiss in that changing Scotland.

      I suppose the point I’m making is something is hidden from obvious sight.

      One odd thing popped into my mind, the National Covenant of 1949. Two million Scots signed it wanting Home Rule. It was ignored. It also gets forgotten. Or, perhaps written out. We clearly weren’t happy with the Union then either.

    16. ronnie anderson says:

      @Z Stick as with any major operation ( double bypass ),

      that can only happen with a lot of new blood (transfusion)

      & by Goad hiv we no goat plenty of that,(pass the scalpal).

    17. Kenny says:

      Oooh! I’ve never been an “alert reader” before! 🙂

    18. ronnie anderson says:

      @X Sticks sos pal ein no worky. (z stick)

    19. Gordon E says:

      Good grief, your last line hit me like a punch in the head

    20. Tamson says:

      Another aspect of this: it strikes me that any Glasgow Labour council leader who ‘got ideas above his station’ has been conveniently hobbled. Purcell and Lally very much fit that pattern. I wonder if there are other examples further back?

    21. Helena Brown says:

      Can I put a wee bit of flesh on the deterioration of health after the creation of the Health Service. I was born in 1947, my birth Mother had been suffering for many years first with pleuresy which finally ended in her losing her life with TB shortly after my birth. TB as we now know has much to do with social deprivation and I shared the distinction of being unable to have the BCG with many of my class mates. So I would agree with Maggie Craig on the fact that many women, not all like my Mother, many got treatment and went on to live happy and full lives, but suddenly found they could get treatment which they had been unable to afford previously.
      I too love the Scotland suffering from a broken heart, but I love the triple bypass and recovery.

    22. Doug Daniel says:

      1950 also ties in with the development of the “overspill schemes” in Drumchapel, Castlemilk, Pollok and Easterhouse, where folk were taken from the Gorbals etc and shoved into housing estates with too few shops, no jobs, no entertainment facilities, and often miles away from family and friends. Needless to say, this resulted in people feeling isolated and bored, and many of the problems in these areas stem from that. Good article about it here:

    23. kendomacaroonbar says:


      Well done, and keep it up… we need Lerts more than ever 🙂

    24. liz says:

      I worry about contamination in the West as well.

      When the US navy pulled out of Dunoon, they apparently dumped ‘stuff’ in the Clyde estuary.

      The grovelling UK gov didn’t bother to check what it was or make them clear it up.

    25. Flooplepoop says:

      As galamcennalath says “the National Covenant of 1949. Two million Scots signed it wanting Home Rule. It was ignored. It also gets forgotten. Or, perhaps written out. We clearly weren’t happy with the Union then either.”
      This may be one reason for the indicators of poor health after 1950, if you believe that you are powerless,you could basically just give up and say ” what the heck.”
      That would lead onto a malaise and general apathy which isn’t condusive to a healthy lifestyle.

    26. Kenny says:

      Doug Daniel – I think that sounds like a very plausible argument. Social decay is one of the intangible factors that puts great stress on people. It’s quite possible that even with the enthusiasm people had for the slum clearances of the ’50s that the new schemes didn’t do much to build new communities, just new houses and that had some impact on people’s ability to cope.

    27. X marks the (sweet) spot says:

      I have a vague recollection that a study was done a few years after the devolved parliament came into being and found life expectancy rose slightly while reports of various unhealthy diseases and depression fell slightly.

      The conclusion was that having some control over their destiny improved the perception the Scots had of themselves. Can anyone else recall this or am I imagining it? Would be good to have a link…

      If true, then think what full blown independence could do almost immediately for Scotland’s health without any additional intervention… Although this could be offset by all the depressed unionists.

    28. M4rkyboy says:

      When did supermarkets arrive?

    29. Proud Cybernat says:

      “My heart was broken, my heart was broken, sorrow, sorrow…”

      But there’s always Sunshine on Leith.

    30. Grouse Beater says:

      A History of Scotland In Epitome

      For the men and women of the glen lived by the fish in the river, the fruit on the trees, and the birds eggs in the great cliffs that rose above them like a giant shield, the waterfall a sword of life. And the children played until it was their time to garner food and repair the houses.

      When the birds nested they learned to scale the great cliffs as swiftly as if they were born to it. And though they took the eggs for food they never took too many. Nor did they empty the river of that that swam. They respected all life around them, all that grew, and and all that flew.

      They planted corn by the angle of the year’s sun as it broke through the craggy gap in the cliff top, and when it alighted on the carvings they had made upon the face of the stone they knew when to harvest the corn.

      By those means they fed their families and lived untroubled in harmony with the seasons of the earth.

      They did not have a need for money. No one told anybody else what to do or when to do it. They met each morning to discuss the day’s tasks and apportion work.

      Then one day the skies altered and remained so. No rain came. The great loch above the mountain that nourished the earth around them ran dry. The waterfall fell silent.

      The glen became stoney and dry.

      Nothing grew, nothing blossomed. And in time the women’s wombs turned dry, and in every home there was a still birth. And the women wept.

      In despair the men spoke their goodbyes to their loved ones, and left the glen to seek work, not from their own hands, but by the instruction of owners and taskmasters.

      They left their glen to travel the vast blue globe of the world, and when they travelled they saw great cities that swallowed life and suffocated hopes, where no man was his own master.

      In every city there was a million rooms, and in every room a man wept. And it troubled them hard and deep. And so, in time, grieving for their homeland, the men returned to the glen in the hearts. The saw their houses laid low, the people gone. And they ran their hand over the carvings in the cliff face and drank from the stream.

      Those who did return sat with their back to the rocks they knew so well, for every breath of wind, every breeze that embraced those rocks, spoke a tale of their forefathers.

      Time had passed, the men elderly, but they had grown wise.

      They were determined Death the Unreasoner would not take them by surprise, because they were the hunter now.

      Grouse Beater
      (Inspired by the tragedy of St Kilda)

    31. Mat says:

      Are we passed the OT watershed yet?

      Hot of the press from the NOBS, two metric sh*tloads of positivity – link.

      Open, voices of the people, platform for debate, errr, comments off on YouTube.

    32. CameronB Brodie says:

      Mental Health Foundation
      Mental health and inequalities

      Mental health determines and is determined by a wide range of social and health outcomes at individual, community and societ al levels and has an impact on all
      aspects of our lives. Poor mental health contributes to socio-economic and health problems such as higher levels of physical morbidity and mortality, lower levels of
      educational attainment, poorer work performance/productivity, greater incidence of addictions, higher crime rates and poor community and societal cohesion (McCulloch & Goldie, 2010).

      Poverty and Mental Health
      The link between poverty and mental health is well known. Arguments regarding the causality of the relationship continue but it seems likely that it is bi-directional:

    33. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Does anyone know if the new Yes Scotland Largs shop is open today? Can’t find a contact number – have to deliver some SSP material for the official opening tomorrow and don’t want to traipse up there just to find it closed.

    34. Tam Jardine says:


      Re the national covenant – it doesn’t bode well for the health of the nation in the event of a no vote. I can see this being such a huge setback for Scotland that the effects on the nation’s health will be felt for decades. and I’m not just talking about turning to drink to escape from the reality. True hopelessness is in itself very bad for your health.

      Conversely, despite a collective bender that may drag on for weeks, long term the positivity of voting yes and taking control of the country will surely bring health benefits over and above the policies our new government will be able to implement.

      Vote Yes for the good of our nation’s health

    35. Liquidlenny says:

      Sorry to go o/t but still in hosp and offtopic goes funny when i try to access on iphone
      No voter is going on about eu making us put vat on food childrens clothes etc

      Sure i have seen these claims dissed anybody know?

    36. ronnie anderson says:

      The Labour party work on DEPENDANCY PRINCIPAL every second third term of a Gov irrespective whitch party Labour will
      do this that & the other, mouth movements with no action, MPs are not held to account at National Level,but play the game with their Labour Local Authorities to raise their
      profile at a local level.

    37. Col says:

      Interesting article and comments. What will Scotland look like in ten years post a NO vote? Will it be confident? Who will be to blame for the state of the country after billions of pounds worth of cuts have been passed on? Will we feel better together? Will the subsidy myth be made a reality? Will the BBC eventually become an impartial broadcaster? Will the BBC be privatized by then? Will we be watching as Labour and the Tories in Scotland sell off our NHS ? Will any of that money even stay in Scotland?

    38. heedtracker says:

      Page 67 has a good schematic layout, Towards a Synthesis, but it completely excludes local and national government and sectarian bigotry.

      The real horror behind all of this nightmare is Scotland’s heavy industry getting wiped out completely at almost exactly the same time Scots oil was discovered. Or, look at Norway today.

      If Glasgow is still loyal to Labour in Scotland after what they’ve suffered because of Labour in Scotland, we’re all fcuked.

    39. Dcanmore says:

      OT we’ve only got five years of oil, gas and coal left according to (never heard of them but apparently two people in the SE) think tank on global sustainability. Reported on BBC website without scrutiny or response.

      perhaps somebody should tell UK Oil and Gas in Aberdeen to stop investing £billions in what is obviously not there according to the story on the BBC website.

    40. “1950 also ties in with the development of the “overspill schemes” in Drumchapel, Castlemilk, Pollok and Easterhouse, where folk were taken from the Gorbals etc and shoved into housing estates…”

      I think it has been proved that if you take people away from their support systems of family, friends, close community they fail to prosper. Also, where people who have been ill or suffered problems, recovery is more likely and more positive if they are surrounded by family and friends. So decanting people from close-knit communities like the Gorbals, where people helped and looked out for one another, was tantamount to taking away their life-support system and condemning them to despair.

      The health of individuals does seem to be closely tied with the health of their communities.

    41. caz-m says:

      Doug Daniel

      The massive Pollok scheme in Glasgow didn’t have one pub in it. You had to walk a fair bit to the “Cart Bar” or the “Argosy”.

      The houses in these huge schemes were very badly and cheaply built.

      And you were miles away from the “Toon”, (City Centre).

      So this led to the carry-out getting bought and a lot of heavy drinking getting done in houses. Add in poor diet and smoking, you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to work out that this life style would lead to an early death.

      I forgot to add in sectarian fighting, poor education and low wages.

      While all this was going on in Glasgow, people in the English Home Counties would be out trimming their roses.

    42. frances says:

      galamcennalath says:
      16 May, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Fascinating stuff …. I suppose the point I’m making is something is hidden from obvious sight.

      I think it was the end of the Empire. As a nation our people had travelled far and wide and had played a very big part in creating the Empire.

      We were now facing the confines of the UK and the knowledge that we were not (and could never be) equal partners. The ignoring of the National Covenant in 1949 probably had an impact too. We lost all hope of being a proper Nation. Psychologically damaging which leads to the physical damage.

      Looking forward to that triple bypass though 🙂

    43. Ali says:

      Clearly that’s what Labour MPs mean when they tell us we have more in common with workers in Liverpool. DyingTogether. Vote No for the solidarity of the graveyard.

    44. Joe M says:

      Having an interest in how my diet affects my health, I have read, among others “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Scottish doctor Malcolm Kendrick who has worked for the European Society of Cardiology.

      In this book, Kendrick, with typical Scottish humour, outlines the historical social factors leading to rampant heart disease in the USA (1950’s), Finland (1960’s), Scotland (1970’s) and so on up to the present. He seems to prove that the major factors in heart disease are chronic long term stresses, in particular in Scotland’s case, poverty and social isolation brought on by the clearance of established communities in the cities into he new towns.

      If you accept this as true (and why not?) then it becomes clear that the current tendency to blame everything on the poor, disabled and sick, then to punish them accordingly, is going to have a severe impact on the future health of these islands. Peoples lives are being destroyed under WM control, leaving them with no one to turn to for fear of anger and retribution. Meanwhile, WM increases the future pension age to 70, in the full knowledge that the burgeoning stress on the most unfortunate 20% of this society will never achieve that age. That is WM social justice.

      I would have liked to post something light-hearted. But, I cannot find anything amusing about eugenics by cold, slow euthanasia.

    45. Grouse Beater says:

      @ Fairiefromthe earth
      The NHS and Big Farma killing people since its inception another conspiracey eh Rev.


    46. Davy says:

      Being in my fifties I remember the Thatcher years very very well, I remember the sheer frustation of not being able to achieve anything to benefit Scotland.

      The hopelessness of that time has never left me and I sometimes am so surprised that others my age appear to have forgot it. It was a time when the people of Scotland were treated with distain, disgust and a total lack of respect or dignity by Westminster.

      We were nothing more than herd animals to the tory governments of that time, to be used and abused as it suited them. So nothing in that report surprises me, because I remember.

      We must as a nation take the opportinuity being presented to us in September, I don’t want my son or any kids in this country to go through that same shite EVER.

      And no I have not forgotten our fellow citzens who are being treated the same way right now, thats why myself and fellow YES campaigners were canvassing in FifeKeith last night, and our thanks to all who were kind enough to come to the door and speak to us.

      So we will keep working right to the end for Scotland and a YES vote.

    47. JamesK says:

      Ian Brotherhood Where about’s is the yes shop in Largs? ,was there on Monday for a day out with the mrs did not clock any yes shop .
      Going back again on the wednesday will have a gander Oh a bit off topic if you wanna try Camel,Crocodile,Boar,Zebra sausages,steaks have a look at the butchers in Largs there.

    48. Bay Rok says:

      Good points here. I’d like to add that recent research shows that even small amounts of lead (from e.g. petrol fumes) can cause highly significant mental and physical health problems, and that densely populated urban areas between 1950 and 1980 received far more air pollution as a result of increased motoring.

    49. Grouse Beater says:

      I lived in Glasgow a long time before moving back to Edinburgh, but every time I visit that city I can’t help feeling sad at how the city fathers have absolutely no coherent vision for its architectural regeneration.

      For the last thirty years and longer its all been piecemeal decisions.

    50. rab_the_doubter says:

      Listening to R Scotland Brian Taylor debate. Absolutely disgusting behaviour by pro unionists.

    51. Donald says:

      O/T – delivering some Aye Right leaflets earlier on. Spoke to this lovely old dear – but a solid No voter. Salmond was going to be “King”, we’d be skint, passport controls at the Borders, and violence like Northern Ireland. everything I batted back she just smiled, waved her hand and said ‘oh son, no we’ll be..da-da-da-da’. Also said her son is Yes and always ‘going on at her’.

      Honestly, a sweeter old lady you couldn’t find but how in the name of the wee man do we lift the veil of deceit from so many of our senior citizens?

    52. Josef O Luain says:

      Your ‘broken heart’ metaphor well typifies my own plight when in 1996 I had to get out of Scotland.

      I also had an as yet unexplained illness in the period leading-up to my departure. Some might argue that I brought all of my problems about myself. Maybe so, but if a person can’t follow their instincts and become politically active …?

      I returned to Scotland two years because I could afford to be here once more and because I couldn’t bear to be away during this most important of periods in our history.

      When I read your stuff and the comments of others (the vast majority) I am glad I came back, very, very glad. Now I feel at home. Scotland is beginning to look like the country I always wanted to live in. Roll-on the eighteenth of September.


    53. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @rab_the_doubter –

      Listening now, but missed the start. Did you catch the line-up?

      Bit of a rammy by the sounds of it…

    54. Westie7 says:

      OT just listening to Brian Taylor loosing control of his debate whilst stuck in traffic, but managed to catch David Cockburn, whoever he is calling the SNP lady a fascist. Oh you could have heard a pin drop

    55. Grouse Beater says:

      managed to catch David Cockburn, whoever he is calling the SNP lady a fascist.

      Oh dear. A bitterly sore loser.

      Whit a panic’s in their breastie.

    56. Capella says:

      @ Dcanmore 11.59
      We’ve been told since 1975 that there isn’t much oil there and it will soon run out. Anyone who has seen the vast development of HQ office space around Aberdeen can see that this is complete nonsense.
      Harry Burns’ point is that it is hopelessness through lack of control over our lives which causes the stress, high cortisol levels and ill health. When the Eastern block countries were free from the USSR their life expectancy rose dramatically after 1991. He ends with a quote on alienation from Jimmy Reid’s speech to Glasgow Uni students on being elected rector.

    57. gerry parker says:

      @ Donald.
      “Salmond was going to be “King”.

      Aye, remember they said things like that to discredit Arthur Scargill, “he wants to rule the world”

      No – he was just telling the truth and the only thing to do was to discredit him.

    58. Arel says:

      Cockburn is one of the UKIP candidates standing in the Euro elections. That says it all.

    59. Grouse Beater says:

      Cockburn is one of the UKIP candidates

      For “candidate” substitute cockroach.

    60. Westie7 says:

      Grouse beater
      Whole debate on EU blows open the irony of the Westminster position. Just a pity that many DKs would struggle to be bothered to listen past the dross

    61. Ken Johnston says:

      On the 22 11 12 there was an item on Newsnicht about this. A Prof. Hanlon was being interviewed.
      Next day I emailed him saying that my theory was as follows,
      ‘My view is that deep down, a large proportion of Scots see themselves as a defeated nation after having been told continuously that we as a nation cannot make our own way in the world, in spite of our many achievements, and that has had a physical effect (from a mental) and that possibly as a result of the rise of nationalism, unemployment etc. it has become more pronounced.

      I see us as having the same outcomes as N. American native peoples, Australian Aboriginals and Inuit. Not as badly, but I don’t know their statistics.

      I can recall a brother-in-law of mine saying 30 odd years ago, back for a holiday from Canada, where he was working in N. Manitoba, that the only thing to do when not working, was to watch the “indians” fighting.

      Think what an native American must think, when he, she, sees the cowboys films in which his race is gunned down. Just for being there. And knowing their past history.

      I can recall, in fact I am waiting for it to be rebroadcast soon, an episode of a sit-com series from the 70’s in which a joke, of which the punchline was “the Scots all live in caves” was broadcast on the BBC. Cue laughter. I sent a letter to the BBC the next day, after phoning the Race Relations Board, only to be told the Scots were not a distinct ethnic group. As I said in my letter to the BBC, they would not have said that of Pakistanis.’

      Prof. Hanlon replied, saying he had discussed this sort of scenario with his colleagues.

      Gerry Parker and Donald. Couple of days ago, a guy, when I went to give him a paper, after a bit of talk, told me the Alexsammin was going to do a runner to Switzerland after a Yes win.Presumably with his pockets filled. You don’t like to say, you’r just an idiot, but these people are going to vote. Also told me the white paper was rubbish. Dinnae look like he could get thro the Daily Star.

    62. gerry parker says:

      @Grouse beater.
      You’re giving cockroaches a bad name there.


    63. rab_the_doubter says:

      Cockburn was totally out of order. I just hope anyone who has considered voting for him was listening. The man has no decency whatsoever.

    64. boglestone says:

      Should have been loved.

    65. gavin lessells says:

      Aye Right Leaflets

      Great to see so many comments from new followers of WOS.
      We think our leaflets may have helped a little to swell the numbers.

      They are still available at £65 per 10K and also 5K. They can be delivered anywhere on Scottish mainland for £10.

      Contact – gavinlessells AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

    66. Nick says:

      My parents left Glasgow in 1975 to go to South Africa, their life breaking up around them and the promise of a better life elsewhere. They gave up on their country and their heritage, and with the depressing things that were happening at the time the heartbreaking collapse of their whole environment few could blame them. My Grandfather (Shipyard worker) and Grandmother both dying of broken hearts laid off and despondent.

      Well I returned in 2008, with pride in my heart and I will be damned if another tory government are going to drag my people and my land further in to debt and despair!

      We have a real opportunity here, have strength, have self belief, and do not waver.

      We have what we have, don’t fuss about how we might not have Oil in 20 – 40 years. Do you all think for a second that the rest of the world will be in any different a position? Having lived elsewhere it struck me solidly everytime I met another Scot that we are GREAT people. We stand out in a crowd, we do better. Why?? . . . .

      I am not sure but I think that it is through hardship we have toughened up.

      Use this toughness, we are no Deid yet!

    67. Albamac says:

      Here’s something of mine from twelve years ago.
      Birds cannae fly where pigs fill the sky
      Jump to bottom of page and scroll up a wee bit.

    68. I always suspected this. The 1980’s are littered with family and friends of family who died as young alcoholics or drug abusers, or who suddenly took their lives because there was nothing in the world for them: no chance at further education, jobs, or improving themselves in any way. Plenty of the older generation here still have a hangover from the Thatcher years. Funnily enough, a lot of my family emigrated to Canada and plenty of them are university-educated, involved in community theatre, and just generally well-rounded and happy. The folk who stayed here were robbed of that by a hostile Tory government that they never voted for. Luckily for my generation (I’m 26) we have the Scottish government protecting us from some of the worst of Westminster’s excesses. With the referendum, looming, I see light at the end of the tunnel.

    69. desimond says:

      Pass this to the Drink Lobbyists and ask them how they are getting on fighting the Alcohol Unit Pricing Bill.

      Where theres pain theres brass!

    70. JGedd says:

      This from Professor Mike Lean over on Yes Scotland web site but originally in the Sunday Times.

      Also Lesley Riddoch in her excellent book “Blossom” goes into the history of deprivation in Scotland and its ramifications down to the present day.

    71. Garrion says:

      @liz, way up the column. I lived on Bute for 5 years, not far from Dunoon. There was an older guy, an American sailor, who retired to Bute. I asked him about the stuff they dumped in the estuary. He looked at me and said I really didnt want to know.

      If anyone ever wants to look at the real stats on weird cancer clusters around the Firth of Clyde, they might come up with some scary stuff.

      After independance, I think we are going to find a lot of dark stuff, and are going to have to come to terms with exactly how disregarded the health and wellbeing of the Scottish people really has been under Labour and Westminster.

    72. desimond says:


      One word : BRAVO!

      I have posted in onto a mate who works in Social Work for Glasgow TroughSwilling Council. Im sure it will soon be doing the Council tour!

    73. Triangular Ears says:

      But we’re getting a new plaza remember. Surely this will increase life expectancy through higher levels of happiness?

    74. Adrian B says:

      Direct link to Albamac’s poem Birds cannae fly where pigs fill the sky:

    75. Albamac says:

      @Triangular Ears
      But we’re getting a new plaza remember

      So Govanites can go to the pictures again. 🙂
      (Sorry, local joke)

    76. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @JamesK –

      re Largs Yes shop:

    77. fairiefromtheearth says:

      Nick its because we have been put down our whole lives that we strive to be the best and try to treat others with respect.

    78. Albamac says:

      @Adrian B

      Thanks for that. I’m getting a bit dozy in my old age.

      On a personal note, here’s one effect of male mortality rate that greatly affects me.

      All of my ‘old’ friends died in their fifties. Might as well have dropped a bomb on my past, given the loss of continuity and the complete absence of conversation with those who shared it.

    79. Red Road Flats?!?!?! says:

      Dcanmore (only 5 years oil left) – Yes I spotted that one on the BBC website too. One tiny problem with the BBC’s headline – it bare no relationship to the contents of the report.

      As stated by the BBC: “UK’s oil, coal and gas ‘gone in five years'”, which would lead you to believe that there is only five years of North Sea oil reserves left. The report states nothing of the kind, rather it states that if all domestic demand where to be met by reserves of that country alone then the UK would have only 5.2 years worth of oil reserves. So that’s approximately 62 years for iScotland. To state the bleedin’ obvious, no country satisfies all domestic demand by domestic supply alone – Saudi would be bust in a week – and, of course, an independent Scotland would be a net exporter to a significant degree.

      More shady disinformation from the BBC. You would have thought their pals in CBI could have recommended a beginner’s guide to economics to them. Or perhaps not.

      (Note to Rev Stu – you can delete the links if necessary. Perfectly trustworthy source though.)

    80. Albamac says:


      Cheers for the cheer! 🙂

    81. The Rough Bounds says:

      The attack on all things Scottish goes on unabated.

      In the Sunday Herald there was a large advertisement from a Scotch Whisky company called Auchentoshan. We are advised by this company that the way to pronounce Auchentoshan is ‘Ock-un-tosh-un’.

      Auch is apparently now to be pronounced as ‘Ock’. For those who don’t know, ‘Auch’ is a shortened version of the Gaelic word ‘Achadh’, it means ‘field’ and is pronounced like the CH in Loch.

      This is what we are being reduced to: a region of Britain where our strange language and odd manner of speaking is being altered by big business corporations to suit their own ends.

      They are going to be in Princes Square in Glasgow this weekend advertising their hooch. Can I suggest that if any of you are in the area you go up to their stall, shop, or whatever it is, and ask them how to pronounce Auchentoshan?

      And if they suggest it is ‘Ock-untosh-un’ that you correct the blighters on the spot and tell them that, ‘we aren’t English YET’.

    82. Taranaich says:

      Ian, I was at the Yes Largs shop yesterday as it happens: not sure if it’s open today or not, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. Their big launch is tomorrow, after all.

    83. rab_the_doubter says:

      About that ‘Plaza’ – Its an office block. Can’t imagine there’s going to be much in the way of recreational opportunities provided.

      From the developers website:

      St Vincent Plaza in Glasgow is the second in a new series of speculative office buildings to be developed and equity financed by Abstract.

      And we all know how well property speculation has worked out, folks.

    84. David Smith says:

      I can go with the ‘broken heart’ bit for sure. I recently re-read John Thomas’s ‘The Springburn Story’ and when I think what happened to that place, Govan, the Lanarkshire steel towns etc, it breaks my heart. I had to leave in 1992 to take up a job that was the only realistic prospect I had of earning enough to have my own roof over my head. I can honestly say, I’ve never truly felt at home south of the border, even though Scotland’s a mere eight miles away now! You always have that niggling feeling of not really belonging that only an exile can feel. Everybody in Scotland seems to know somebody lost to drink or ‘the gear’; strangely echoing the personal sense of loss generated by the ’14-’18 war. Perhaps one day in iScotland, the dark ‘Self-Killing Time’ of the 1980s and ’90s will have memorials dedicated in every town in the same manner.
      I hope to retire early this summer so I can sell up and move that last wee short distance and start to feel at home again. I’ll not be rich but I’ll be free. 🙂

    85. Soda says:

      O/T but something that always irks me, and many others for sure, is when i see an accurate area map of the British Isles it pisses me right off when i compare it to the bloody BBC weather map where Scotland is no larger in proportion than Wales! I would love to see a map with the same skewed angle only with Scotland given the prominent perspective. If any ‘puter wizards out there (*cough* Rev) want to give it a whirl i reckon the results would be quite startling.

    86. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Brian Ritchie –



    87. desimond says:


      ‘All of my ‘old’ friends died in their fifties.’

      Remind us never to piss you off


    88. Muscleguy says:

      I think the NHS introduction is a red herring. We know that during the war rationing people were healthier and thinner. Once rationing came off or was loosened then it was back to bad diets that only got worse with processed crap and fast food.

      If you graph childhood obesity in Scotland over time and on the same graph (different y-axis obviously) you graph the number of McDonalds the shape of the two curves mirror each other spookily, except the obesity curve lags the McDonalds by roughly 18months. A former lab head I worked with showed me this.

      Don’t discount the healthy school meals program pioneered by the Scottish Government before Saint Jamie got going down south. Kids who have known nothing but are now in the middle of secondary school. Their older siblings have been written off to be targeted as young adults. But in a few years those who have been fed halfway properly will enter university or the workforce.

      It just goes to show what control of our own affairs can achieve. We did that without a TV ‘sleb running a campaign. Holyrood invited academics and those in the know, my own boss among them as an expert on childhood obesity, to give evidence and suggest remedies. Evidence led policy making.

    89. Triangular Ears says:

      @Muscleguy, that’s an interesting comment. I didn’t realise that this had happened with school meals (in my defence, I have no real reason to know!).

      Evidence-based policy making is certainly much better than prejudice-based policy making like we get at Westminster.

    90. liz says:

      Re ‘he Great Cholesterol Con’ – I worked in NHS labs in the 1970’s and we used to get sent on courses about health matters.

      We went to the Royal Infirmary and there was a lady there researching the connection between fats (lipids) and heart disease.

      She could find no obvious connection between the two but they were going to do more studies.

      Also coal, gas oil running out in 5 years do- what a joke.

      Britain is sitting 250 years worth of high quality coal – I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes from someone connected to nuclear power industry.

      On top of all the other reasons for being independent, I want to live in a country where my own government is not spying on me.

    91. liz says:

      Re maps – on a visit to the Vatican museum, they have a map room and ta map was taken from the perspective of Sicily looking north – it took me a while to figure out where everything was.

      The Scottish map seen from a southern angle is just another subconscious reason why we feel small

    92. Muscleguy says:

      The missing link wrt fats in the ’70s was trans fats. Those scared off butter to margarines were actually doing themselves harm because the margarines had trans fats in them. So did much bread, biscuits etc for shelf life reasons (transfats don’t go rancid).

      Even now with supposedly low fat spreads you have to look carefully as some still have 1% trans fats which may seem like small but if you use it daily the trans fats will build up in you. When not explicitly state beware of anything with ‘vegetable fats’ in them as that term covers a multitude of potential sins. Also add up the fats and if the total leaves a % or some grams assume the difference is trans fats.

    93. Muscleguy says:

      Not to mention of course sugar, the amount of it in diets kept going up. Sugar makes you fat if you eat too much of it and/or you don’t exercise to make room for more stored as glycogen.

    94. joe kane says:

      It’s always refreshing to see something about health science which considers neoliberalism as a public health danger rather than a a cure for all societies ills.

      Mercifully the neoliberal victim-blaming concept of “worklessness” is only mentioned once and as an academic citation in the reference section.

      I’m assuming the neoliberal DWP did not fund or sanction this work, unlike so much other academic trash it sponsors, which pander to the Fester McVile and Ian Deathshead Smith agenda of blaming the problems created by neoliberal policies, deliberately designed to create permanent mass unemployment, on the unemployed victims.

    95. X_Sticks says:

      “excellent book “Blossom”


      @The Rough Bounds


      Bit of a Shibboleth there RB – best not make them aware of it cause it makes them stand out like a sore thumb 😉

      @Brian Ritchie

      Good one Brian, hadn’t seen that one 😀

      Good to see a lot of new people posing on Wings – welcome to you all.

    96. X_Sticks says:

      Sheesh posTing. lol – Freudian, I guess.

    97. Alex says:

      And still the glasgowegins will vote labour some of them for the love of a german queen no hope for the rest of us . population all in Glasgow ah city that is stuck in the past

    98. Paula Rose says:

      I was not born in Scotland (I think I was conceived here!) I moved here in 1984 and found myself at home. The comments here are so poignant – we will be a major force for good on the world stage soon, really loved Grouse Beater’s comment at 11:44 – our history has so many stories. The horror will pass and the light will illuminate.

    99. memaw says:

      My family moved from Townhead to Drumchapel when I was 7 years old. No shops, cinemas, pubs. No grandparents, they used to live upstairs. No family nearby, no near neighbours who came from the same area. I think now it broke my mother’s heart. Dad went to work before 9am back at 11pm. She was suddenly so isolated. I was completely unaware of course.

      My health improved and I loved the freedom of playing outside in a garden. Does anyone remember Billy Connolly’s sketch about moving from Whitinch to Drumchapel? He talks about going from the city-black and grey, to the Technicolor of the countryside. The grey grun and the green grun.

      My dad died aged exactly 50, when I was 14 and my mother died aged 54.

      I now read books, like The Claim of Scotland, and it explains so much. At present I am reading a book,”Glasgow Victoriana, Classic photographs by Thomas Annan”.

      If I knew how to post photos I would because this pictorial evidence has made me so angry. Thomas Annan was engaged to photograph the slums around the High Street in Glasgow in 1868 and again in the 1880s and 1890s. To think of the money being taken from Scotland at that time and the conditions people lived in reminds me of what we see of, supposedly, third world countries today. And the British Establishment is at it again, blaming the poor for being poor.Talking us down and expecting us to believe it. Well they have made a mistake this time. We are becoming too well informed.

      I come on this site and all the others to be educated but I also read every post by all the commenters because you are my community.The Rev’s poetic comment just about broke my heart, it brought back so many memories of my own family. We must vote Yes to get control of our own affairs.

    100. memaw says:

      call me dave

      Thank you so much. The High street is where my great- grandfather had a restaurant in the 1880-90s, called an eating house in those days. There is a story of my Uncle
      Willie, aged about 9, stealing a steaming clootie dumpling from the window display and his grandad chasing him down the street to the cheers of wee Willie’s pals!

    101. call me dave says:

      Ha Ha! You paint a good picture there.

      But seriously conditions were very bad and it took pictures like that to prick the conscience of those in power to do something. The ordinary folk then had a hard life especially the women I think. 🙁

    102. X_Sticks says:

      Hi memaw

      There’s a Thomas Annan website here with lots of his photos. Enjoyed seeing a bygone Glasgow (in some ways)

    103. Croompenstein says:

      @memaw – Great post, very emotional. Ties in with Stuart’s powerful sentence at the end of the article.

    104. Bryan says:

      I lost my mother at 17 when she was only 44 and 6 month later my dad died of a broken heart age 55,we lived in masonettes in the new kennishead area but 13 woman have all died in a masonette with a block of 20. I also remember a gang coming from the council removing asbestos from out-side our front door and sealed it all up to remove it way back in the 80’s,then 5 year later they were both gone as the last of 3 in my family i think Scotlands heart ws severly broken when you simply find the normal age for someone to die within glasgow is 55/56. I would love to know how this statistic of dying so low in age in such a vibrant city

    105. Jeanie Deans says:

      The war ended in 1945. I don’t find it surprising that many folk died around 1950. Men were coming home as walking wounded of varying severity. There would have been many post-war deaths from injuries. Working class women were working in factories with minimal H&S AND looking after their homes with NO gadgets. Those were the days when you boiled kettles for hot water, swept floors and carried carpets to the washing line where you beat dirt out of them. You scrubbed floors and tables; you washed the clothes by hand and took the big items to the steamie. All this AND factory work. Then they nursed wounded husbands alongside dealing with illnesses we’ve nearly eradicated. Women were dropping from exhaustion and lowered resistance. All of these factors would contribute to a surge just after the war.

      Remember, too, they didn’t use the NHS for minor stuff. They were still in the mindset “Don’t call the doc unless it’s serious” – I know, it’s how I was brought up in the ’50s.

    106. Jeanie Deans says:

      As a PS to my previous comment, has anyone looked into possible links betweem Glasgow/West of Scotland illness/death and areas that would be affected by radiation leaks from Faslane into Clyde/ClydeEstuary/CoastalAtlantic?

    107. Pat Carroll says:

      The Glasgow Effect was/is a result of various factors and not just a post-war phenomenon. Bad housing and a lack of investment in same, pollution, (both industrial and domestic) contaminants such as asbestos, chronic poverty, social alienation and isolation following slum clearances and dispersal, and last, but not least, deliberate social engineering by national and local government.

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