Thursday, July 24, 2008

A.A. Gill is an Asshole

I'm a little late on this but a couple weeks ago A.A. Gill - the insufferable Sunday Times columnist - wrote an article about the crucial election taking place today in Glasgow East (back story here, as to why this election is so important for Prime Minister Gordon Brown).

In his article, Welcome to Glasgow East: the hardest, poorest place in Britain, Gill writes:

Glasgow East is the hardest, poorest place in Britain. Others may pick a fight about that – but they’d lose. Shettleston, at the heart of the constituency, makes the rough margins of Liverpool look like the Chelsea Flower Show.

The constituency is large and incoherent. It looks like the national museum of pebble dashing – everything that could have the bottom of a fish tank stuck to it has.

The people do not look good here. Often it is difficult to tell men from women, old men from older men. The mean parades of shops are dotted with tanning parlours. Yet the locals have the blotchy pallor of cave-dwelling consumptives; only their first two fingers are stained brown.

In the pubs there are shellsuited angry men with faces like melted funeral candles.

A colourful description indeed!

Now, I've not ventured into the East of Glasgow much - apart from going to a Celtic game or the Barras - but I have to give credit to Gill for walking his poncey ass through it! Them is some brass balls!

Interestingly, however, that Gill acknowledges that this area of Glasgow is rife with poverty and alcohol/ drug abuse, but fails to associate that such demeaning descriptions of East Glaswegians is perhaps due to these elements. No, instead he goes for the cheap shot and really, I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with the elections.

Further on, he writes:

This is an overwhelmingly Catholic seat – Celtic’s ground is just down the road – and Catholics always, always vote Labour. They won’t vote for a man called Mason: the freemasons are aligned with the Orange Order, which is Rangers and unionist – and they are having their marching season right now.

All this may seem ridiculously 1960s Belfast and unsophisticated; but if you leave people to stew in squalor, what’s the surprise if they behave tribally?

Holy shit!!! Did he honestly just write that?! Like, for real? In a NATIONAL newspaper?!

Now, I may be an immigrant but even I know that while Glasgow East has a healthy catholic population, catholics do not "always, always" vote labour. While it's true that Scotland is more or less a socialist country (read: slightly left-wing), the Catholic Church is more or less conservative (read: slightly right-wing).

In the end, however, he sort of redeems himself:

At best only 30% of east Glaswegians will turn out for the ballot. They are deracinated, as uncoupled from the political system as they are from the economic one. No one wants to talk to the candidates; they have no questions to ask, no use for a leaflet.

It would be easy to see these people as being the agents of their own misfortune, what with the smoking, the diet, the drugs, the drink, the strokes and the heart attacks, the rotten teeth, the pregnancies and the crime. But why should they get enthused about a system that has for generations taken them for granted?

The citizens of east Glasgow have bigger problems to be getting on with – like how to stay alive.

He's still a twat though.


Anonymous said...

Despite the Catholic church being a fairly right wing establishment, most Scottish Catholics do vote labour or are politically left wing.

It may be a paradox but its just the way we are.


Jennifer said...

No need to apologise - but I still don't believe that Catholics "always" vote Labour; some do vote for Lib dems, SNP, socialist etc. But you're right, it is a paradox and i love you for it!

Anonymous said...

He most certainly is an asshole. Just about every poor part of Britain has been subjected to his racist, class-hatred and snobbery at one time or other. Basically, he just hates and despises poor people and enjoys making cheap shots at them. As you say, a twat.

Anonymous said...

I live in the 'east' end of Glasgow, as many do - who are nothing like the people in his description. I mentioned to Alex Salmond about Gills' sweeping statement and Alex with his throw away comment said that if Gills knowledge of food was anything like his knowledge of the East end of Glasgow, he wouldn't be eating in any of his recommended restaurants.

Jack said...

Anonymous LordH wrote: "Basically, he just hates and despises poor people and enjoys making cheap shots at them. As you say, a twat."

AA Gill shot a baboon for kicks in 2009, and said he did it to see what killing a human might be like. Why is anyone still paying him to write?