IN CONVERSATION : GORDON IN GIRVAN FARMER’S MARKET

 

 

Girvan_portrait

(L-R) Gordon, Pearl, Vicky, Teresa, and Gary in Girvan’s new Farmer’s Market.

 

 

AUDIO Coming soon

Gordon and I discuss some of the challenges of achieving change in Scotland and beyond.


TRANSCRIPT

JO: So, I’m sitting with Gordon …

G: Gordon, yes

JO : Originally from …

G: Originally born in Aberdeenshire, and brought up in Glasgow.

JO: And we’re now sitting in … do you know I don’t think I actually know where …

G: well, this is Girvan.

JO: G-I-V-A-N (sic)

G: Aye. This is Girvan. This is historically quite a famous place because Robert the Bruce, ex- King of Scotland, who won the Battle of Bannockburn, was the Earl of Carrick and this is all Carrick District round about here. And I’ve been round about this area for over twenty years now.

JO: And we’re sitting in a relatively new … Gary was telling me … it’s a relatively new market, this one …

G: yes. It’s a new market. It only started this year. And it’s to help people obviously buying and selling stuff and help people to develop business ideas and all the rest of it …you know.

JO: you’re … I don’t know whether you live here … are you living in Girvan or …

G: I don’t stay in Girvan. I stay in Colmonell which is about 16 miles from here.

JO: So, also in Carrick.

G: Yes, it’s also in the area : South Ayrshire.

JO: South Ayrshire. ok. And we were … we got talking just because we happened upon each other but I quickly established talking to you that you’ve got some interests and perspectives that are not a million miles from mine I think …

G: yes

JO: I’d just like to ask you a couple of things about that. I’m trying to say to people in my view we’re in an emergency situation because of the nukes and climate change. It looks to me as though we’ve only got 3 to 5 years to sort that all out before the Earth System gets beyond our … beyond the point at which we can do anything about it … I would not be happy however for the levels of injustice and inequality to continue ad infinitum if the powers that be found a way of sorting out the other stuff. So, I feel that if we are going to sort the existential threats out, we have to sort out all the other crap, and there’s plenty of it, isn’t there? We were just talking about the state of the country and there being food banks all over the place. Do you want to say a little bit about that? What’s Scotland like?

G: I think when you look at it, there’s a big difference between Scotland and England … you know … the aspect … people coming in to your country from other countries. We don’t have the same pressure on land as they do in England … you know … so there’s a different perspective. In Scotland really, there’s a difference of perspective in just about everything in Scotland from England .. you know. The only places you get similar perspective is like .. Glasgow especially .. is [ ] Newcastle, Liverpool … because of the heavy shipbuilding, coal and all the rest of it. But all these jobs are gone now. But there was never any alternative made for them. And that’s just talking a pure economic basis. But when you start looking at it … when you look at global problems and you look at … the other day in Mexico City, there was an earthquake. Now obviously, man cannot stop earthquakes but you look at Mexico City … when the Spanish went there for the start there was a city of 60,000 people in Mexico City … 500 years ago … and it was built on a lake obviously for water supply and all the rest of it. But what happened was it was expanded and they took back the lake and all the rest of it, which meant the land was unstable so if there was going to be anything like that, it would cause major problems but there’s no planning to these things. And I think if we are going to put our cards down and use governments to sort these things .. excuse the expression .. but we’re pissing in the wind because they’re not going to solve it. The UN has turned out the same as the League of Nations turned out before them. They’ve turned out exactly the same : a toothless wonder. They can take no positive action for anything and the cost of them doing things is phenomenal, for anything … you know. As we see all over the world, there’s crisis after crisis after crisis, and they’ll get to a point, if the Americans pull the plug, and the Canadians pull the plug .. if we and other countries pull the plug on some of these things … there’s people going to be starving all over the world, and mass starvation. We’re seeing it in biblical terms.

JO: well, I mean … I see it in pretty … I mean, I think just the facts as reported by the likes of the World Health Organisation – and that’s pretty conservative, I think, small ‘c’ …

G: they cannot tell the truth. If they told the truth, it would worry people even more.

JO: but I think … they don’t broadcast it as such … but even if you look at their data, it seems to suggest that about half of people worldwide are dying before they’re 70 … now. That’s still true now.

G: well, this is a fact and it’s substantiated by research …where I was brought up in the East End of Glasgow is the lowest .. what’s it called …

JO: life expectancy … I was going to ask you

G: life expectancy … of anywhere else in Britain …

JO: it’s horrendous, isn’t it?

G: 54

JO: 54

G: 54 is the life expectancy

JO: that’s still the case

G: that’s now … that’s now .. and I’m 62 so I’m like 8 years on my sell-by date …

JO: yes, you’ve done well …

G: but you know …

JO: that’s horrendous, isn’t it? It’s just unacceptable.

G: that’s because … you know .. that’s a heavy drinking culture … all the bad things that you’re not supposed to do, these people do, to an extent … but also it’s a lot to do with unemployment and all that …

JO: you said you used to run … for about 10 years, you used to run …

G: I ran an unemployed worker’s centre … [ ] …

JO: [ ] .. that wasn’t in the East End …

G: that wasn’t in Glasgow, that was in Cumbernauld .. that was a new town .. so, you know

JO: so, we’ve moved now from talking about that exact part of the world ..

G: aye

JO: but, we’re still talking about a country, Scotland, where, like some of the other areas we’ve mentioned, there’s been a deindustrialisation process, and not much to …

G: there’s been nothing to fall back on .. . there’s been nothing …

JO: what did you see? How did you get into that? What did you see there?

G: I was always interested and involved in politics … at quite an early age and that .. it was just a natural progression … I ended up getting into a bit of trouble with the government with the Tartan Army … Tartan Army trials and all that …

JO: I don’t know anything about that …

G: no … it was ..

JO: feel free, if you want to … but not if you don’t …

G: well, it was .. what the Tartan Army were saying, years ago, was … people spent a lot of time in jail for that

JO: really

G: but what the Tartan Army were saying is what the SNP are saying and now the SNP is in government … so …

JO: you were a pioneer

G: well, aye … we could see the writing on the wall … a lot of us could see it … but you know, that’s history .. you know … independence … you know, don’t get us wrong … I would like a Scottish government, I would like independence in Scotland but I don’t think governments are the be all and end all.

JO: ok

G: I think the basics is you’ve got to change people’s attitudes …

JO: yes

G: and that is difficult and it takes a long time …

JO: yes

G: and as you said earlier on [ ] time to do it … As far as global warming goes, I don’t think there’s enough proof in it, because basically, I don’t believe a lot of these scientists and I don’t believe a lot of the people that are using global warming for their own ends and different things and political agendas … so … I mean .. I’m a bit … I wouldn’t say I was as far as Trump goes and just denies it all together … you know, but .. it’s still got to be proved to me … you know … still got to be proved.

JO: ok. So, you’re willing to listen, but as things stand it’s not your main ..

G: the jury’s still out on it …

JO: what’s bothering you most? Is it just the way people are being treated? The way people are living?

G: It’s just the attitude of the authorities in this country … you know … I’ll give you an example … we had an MP in here the other day and like an MP walks in with a reception and all that and doesn’t talk to anybody .. you know, is there for a quick photograph … there’s a few things stuck up … different people to make it look more important than it is …

and she goes away with [ ]…

JO: .. and that’s that

G: and that’s that .. and remember, we’ve got hundreds of MPs in this country …

JO: 650, yes?

G: aye … if they’re all doing that, and they’re doing nothing really positive … I’ll give you an example, right … the wife … Rosemary … I’ll show you this … this is good …. you can include this in here

JO: sure …

G: this old woman, Rosemary Stevenson …

JO: The Ayrshire Post …

G: yes … this is the local paper … one of the local papers .. now, they’ve raised a million pounds to build a custom built old folks home and units of housing for the local community … because [ ] old people have to go into a home .. they’re taken 20, 30 miles away and dumped in a home … nobody visits them .., all the rest … you know you get … the local problem … so this could be … I’m not saying this is a massive thing but this could be a pro forma for the future … in rural areas …

JO: so this is like a community initiative …

G: aye .. a community initiative and Rosemary’s been doing this and they run a nearly new shop … they run carers for the community … they run all these things … now basically … the wife’s in charge of fundraising for them … they’re needing a million pound to build this unit .. they’ve got a million pound but they need another million pound … now, I think they’ll get the million pound but when you [ ] … the first they did is they went to the lottery … right … the lottery … you know the lottery … good causes and all that …I knew … and I could have told them right at the start that the lottery was a waste of time because less people are doing the lottery and there’s less money for doing causes and that’s been happening for a good, few years … so there’s less and less money going into the kitty … so less and less people are going to get the money … I was a Chairman of a kiddies’ play group and we were assured that the council would get lottery funding and we never got it and that was 15 years ago … and it’s got worse since then ….

JO: yes, that was when it was …

G: and that was then they were giving out money … right … but anyway .. you know, and this could be a pro forma for the future in rural areas … but [ ] the papers are interested … we’ve contacted all the local politicians … [ ] have anything to do with it … there’s money available but you’ve got to jump through hurdles to get this money

JO: yes …. sure … sure

G: and it’s done basically … my wife does it on an amateur basis … Rosemary does it on an amateur basis … there’s volunteers in there working all the time … they have lunch clubs … you know … they do stacks of things for the local community …

JO: yes

G: but you know .. it empowers people .. you know … and it gives people … you know .. coming up for retirement or retired .. it gives them a wee focus for their life .. like this … doing this market …

JO: yes

G: some days … I lost a tenner last week … it cost me a tenner to do this market last week but it’s good ’cause it’s social contact … and some weeks I make some money, and some weeks I don’t … the social contact … and … you know … it’s good

JO: it’s not all about the money …

G: no .. it’s not about money … that’s what … you know … what governments do is … right … they take tax off people … and either spend it on what they want to spend it on or spend it on their friends or family … a lot of it … you know … a lot of it is done like that and it’s as basic as that …

JO: I wouldn’t disagree about that as a general picture but I am nervous about the idea of saying we can make the changes that are necessary without using those big institutions

G: the government … the government … aye … these are ..[ ]

JO: so I feel the job is to get the wrong people .. it’s two or three jobs … get the wrong people out of the way … there are plenty of those around … we can talk about some of those in a minute … change the structure so it’s … so it’s not so high and mighty … you know .. so that

it’s harder to muscle things onto the wider public that the wider public doesn’t necessarily want … so change the structure as well as change the bums on seats …

G: yes

JO: and then the other thing is what you are talking about … is public awareness, care, concern and attitudes, culture … so I agree with you that they are formidable tasks but I’m really nervous about the idea that you can achieve the sorts of … like if this …. if people like us were in those seats, this would …

G: but would we be any different? [ ]

JO: yes … but …

G: that’s debatable …

JO: I know there’s an argument … [ ]

G: [ ] … but there’s a lot of temptation ..

JO: that’s true … and there’s also .. you know .. the reason you and I are not in that position … there is a reason

G: the reason is we’ve chose a different path … that’s what it is [ ]

JO: but my point is … I suppose the view I am coming towards generally … and it’s being confirmed as I’m walking around … not all politicians are the same … like yesterday there was a Scottish MP in Belfast at a women’s rally who’s apparently been fighting quite fiercely

in Westminster against a new initiative by the government … you know, the same old thing … cut child tax credits after your second child

G: yes

JO: all that kind of stuff … there’s a horrible rape clause where women have to [ ]

G: aye … I know [ ]

JO: it’s disgusting …

G: I know .. It is.

JO: so, she was actually saying “I need you behind me … to” .. I’m not sure I ever understood exactly what Roosevelt meant when he said … you know the old quote about “I think that’s a …” someone came in lobbying for a policy … sort of a social policy or a progressive economic policy, so to speak. He said “I think that’s an absolutely wonderful idea … now, make me do it”. Now, I’m … there’s something about that I don’t like …

G: yes

JO: but I also think it acknowledges that you can’t just …. you certainly can’t sit and wait … as you said … it hasn’t happened … so I think it’s people like Rosemary

G: yes

JO: and people like us .. that basically … and the people I saw on the streets yesterday in Belfast .. who have to become intelligent about what we are doing and enable the good politicians to get the thing done … but also force the bad ones basically into a corner where they can’t do anything but the right thing

G: I’ll tell you … this is quite negative but I’ll tell you .. right … you look at this country now in terms of … in government’s terms .. in government terms … right … right .. we have … this is … forget about breakfast right … breakfast … [ ]

JO: I’m not forgetting about breakfast …

G: well, we don’t forget about breakfast [ ] but we have the European government making laws, telling us what to do … we have the Westminster government telling us what to do …. we have the Scottish government telling us what to do … we have councils telling us what to do … we have community councils telling us what to do … 5 tiers of government and they’ve all got to be paid for … and then you’ve got the bureaucrats that work for the government … when you look at it basically … what do we need 5 tiers of government for? Everything is coming from the top downwards … now in a democracy, that’s not the way it should work. It should come from the bottom upwards

JO: yes …

G: and we should be telling them what to do .. but most people are apathetic … and you talk to … I mean I dealt with it for years … you know … trying to get people politically motivated … you know … it’s virtually impossible ….and you can understand why …

JO: because they feel so disempowered …

G: they can’t change anything … they cannot change anything … you know .. 5 tiers of government … 5 methods of control on us … all at different levels …

JO: yes …

G: you know … stopping us from either thinking or talking … I mean, I don’t agree with a lot of things people say but I’ll defend their right to say it, no matter what it is …

JO: yes

G: you know … somebody from IS could come in here and he’s allowed his opinion the same as anybody else

JO: somebody from …

G: IS … you know … you know … these terrorists in the Middle East …

JO: yes

G: you know … everybody’s got a view … if we don’t listen to their view, you’re not going to find out what the problem is ..

JO: it needs conversation …

G: yes … and it’s only talk … the minute they take action, that’s different … [ ] the minute they start [ ] stuff, that’s different

JO: … but look at those .. look at those … look at those different levels, right … so just to push back on your negativity .. ’cause I understand it’s well founded … [ ]

G: aye [ ]

JO: but one, like the local level … I started this trip in … I went down to Frome to meet … I think it’s 18 or 20 …. I’ll have to check .. 18 or 20 locals who thought the council wasn’t doing a very good job and said “sod this! We’re going to stand” … and the first time out in 2010, they won a majority of the seats …

G: yes

JO: and the second time out .. the last general election … they cleaned up … they run the local

level now

G: the council

JO: yes … so that’s like an indication that … I’m not saying it’s easy … and I’m not saying it’s the same everywhere but that’s like an indication that that system might be more changeable than it sometimes might seem … at the national level .. so at the … it’s probably a bad word to use … at the United Kingdom level … there are 650 MPs in Westminster …

G: yes

JO: and I appreciate the state is not the same thing as parliament but let’s talk about parliament … 650 MPs … I think it’s actually quite a conservative and constraining idea that’s put out there by the likes of the Daily Mail that all politicians are the same … I don’t think it’s true …

G: [ ]

JO: I agree that there aren’t that many, seemingly, that you and I would warm to … but there are some … and, for sure, they’re making the others look pretty ropey, aren’t they?

G: yes

JO: so I would say .. can you just think of names that come to mind of people that you think of decent people? … like one that’s pretty easy for me is Caroline Lucas .. which is probably quite uncontroversial … I think most people recognise that she’s …

G: [ ] people … you know …I mean … I was in the Labour Party for ten years and I worked for the trade union movement and I met people … and they came in … you know, when they started .. they come in … good ideas … and as soon as the money was mentioned either being a council, or Scottish MP or British MP, the wee dollar signs lit up in their eyes and it was … 90% of them .. it was total change … in other words .. they would .. they would toe the party line no matter what it was … and you know … that’s life …

JO: so you feel like it’s a minority of people that won’t .. that won’t succumb to those sorts of pressures …

G: there’s a minority, as you say … I don’t know many [ ] … I heard .. I’ve been in the House of Commons and I’ve been in the [ ] bar and all that .. but I heard there was 13 bars in the Houses of Commons …

JO: 13

G: bars …

JO: bars … yes

G: places for drink …

JO: yes

G: so .. and they get a wee [ ] … I know for a fact .. they get a wee [ ] when they go and vote .. if they can walk that far … so really when you start looking at reality and you look at the local councillors we’re on about here … this is local councillors … I was involved … when Scotland changed … we had two different district councils … in Cumbernauld and most of Scotland had it … before the Scottish Parliament … so in Strathclyde region .. which had 2/3 of the population of Scotland, and we had a district council to run local services … and what they did was .. instead of the councillors running it on an amateur basis … in other words, getting … if they were working they’d get paid their wages and get expenses .. they turned it [ ] … at that time …. this is 25 years ago .. you get about 20 grand plus expenses for being a councillor

JO: blimey

G: and that was more …

JO: that was quite a lot of money …

G: aye .. that is a lot of money .. that was more than most people could earn in their job … so if

you [ ] for the Labour Party or the Tory Party or the SNP or whatever party, you could get a job earning that amount of money … and you weren’t out in all weathers .. in the pissing rain

doing anything … you were sitting on your arse telling people what to do … you know … it’s as basic as that …

JO: it looks … it looks a bit too much [] actually

G: aye .. and how can you solve world problems when there’s problems all round about us locally? You’ve got to take the small problems .. and if you get the way of solving them, you’ll solve the bigger problems

JO: yes, I agree … I think it’s all part of the same thing ..

G: yes … you’ve got to be able to solve small problems … ’cause they’re easier … and then once you’ve got the way of solving small problems, you can move on to the bigger ones ..

you know … it’s like [ ] … there’s a lot of people who say we shouldn’t give foreign aid …

now, I know … I’m not stupid … I know a lot of this foreign aid is tied to arms contracts …

you know, coming out of this country … you know, you know … the big aerospace and the big arms companies are taking these people and they’re saying “well … you buy this … these helicopters, then we’ll stick [ ] a package of aid for your poor people” … and that, you know, is bribery …. all bribery … and that’s what governments do … they turn round and say .. you know … we done it as well … we occupied … in the East End of Glasgow, we occupied a nursery to try and get it opened .. [ ] … we occupied it and we were in it for three months and then actually the Glasgow Corporation as it was called at the time, the local council … was they built a wee community place beside it, to stop us … you know what I mean … because we were meeting with the local community .. [ ] and I stayed in the local community so I knew these people … so they built a wee hall … which was a partial victory .. but they still pulled down the nursery, so the nursery facilities were gone … . but you know, you can embarrass these people into doing something ..[ ]

JO: you can’t ?

G: you can … you can … aye … there’s ways of doing it … like this … this project will eventually get money … [ ]

JO: this is what I mean about forcing the … so [ ]

G: yes you force the hand on them …

JO: yes …. get as many of the good ones in as you can … but accept you are probably going to have to force some toe rags into doing the right thing …

G: yes … I mean … what you are going to have to say to these people is …. I mean, we’ve contacted local MPs and if there’ s nothing happened … we’ve been broadcasting and they’ve done fuck all about it .. until next time there’s an election … and it doesn’t matter what party, we’ll embarrass them .. we’ll embarrass them and we’ll get a lot of people not to vote for them and they might not get elected because all these things are on a knife edge, you know … the problem is, you know … I’ve seen it very closely at every way through the Labour Party, which is my party, and I reckon if there’s that much corruption in the Labour Party, at that level, what are the fucking Tories like where there’s more money involved? You know what I mean?

JO: it’s not … it’s probably not considered corruption .. in the Tory party … it’s just how the world is …

G: favours, favours

JO: “it’s how the world is, dear boy”

G: aye … I accept that … I accept the way the world is … if I have contacts, it’s easier for me to sell stuff if I’ve got more contacts … and if I’ve got contacts with rich people … you know … it’s easier to buy and sell stuff with rich people because they’re not bothered so much about the money, are they? Because the rich are already …. they don’t need to worry about … it’s just a wee game to them … whereas me, it could be my living, you know …

JO: yes

G: that’s the way life goes …

JO: so, just to … you’ve been really generous with your time … so thank you …

G: aye … nae bother …

JO: are you … are you encouraged by Scottish … the Scottish situation?

G: Scottish … the basic thing in politics, basically … I think small is beautiful … see the days … you look back to British Leyland and all that … that was a mess … everything … you know, you look back at governments … you know … you can slag business … I was basically a socialist and all that for years … and you can slag business all you want but business makes the world go round … governments don’t … the more governments get involved in business, the higher production costs become and the less competitive you become and the more jobs you lose … which we have seen happening in this country since the war … it’s been as basic as that … you know, the more we brought in legislation … and some of it has not been good and some of it has been alright … but the more we have brought in legislation … people have went to countries that are unregulated … and get cheap labour in these countries …. and that’s what happens … it is a double edged sword … so, in other words, if you try and protect your workforce from dangers … you get to a stage that what you’re producing becomes uncompetitive … business won’t mess about with that … they’ll just shift the company somewhere else … to another country where cheaper labour

is [] ..

JO: sure … ok

G: you know …. and that …

JO: I know some of …

G: that is a major problem …

JO: I agree and I think that’s obviously a big discussion to have … I think what I’ve seen … the writer that seems to be making the running at the moment, talking about this kind of thing and what the relationship between the state or governments and industry and business might be like

G: yes

JO: … is a Professor called Mariana Mazzucato … have you seen her name? She’s one of the advisors that McDonnell lined up … you know he’s got about 10 … I don’t know how many

… 8 economic advisors or something

G: [ ] can’t count .. seriously … you know … what really annoys me is the propaganda you get on the tele … now, I’m not a great fan of Rupert Murdoch …

JO: you surprise me ..

G: … but I’m thinking of getting Sky television again ’cause the BBC is that bad at the news …

JO: people don’t know … people don’t realise, do they? It’s like .. it’s like primary school

G: it is …

JO: it’s like it’s for primary school kids …

G: and they say it about 4 times … you know … and you go like “we heard it the first time” ..

you end up talking to the tele …. you’re arguing with the tele … you’re saying ..[ ]

JO: I turned it off years ago because I couldn’t watch it any more …

G: that’s the stage you get because you know it’s propaganda and you know, Goebbels would be proud .. you know what I mean …

JO: .. but coming back … [ ]

G: hang on … hold on .. you’ll get a laugh … look at this guy … the guy .. what do you call him again? The tory … the tory right-winger … with the specs

JO: which one?

G: he looks like Mengler … Dr Mengler … wee skinny guy …

JO: Redwood?

G: no .. younger than him … you’ll know him … he wears … wee round specs

JO: is he in cabinet at the moment?

G: no he’s a backbencher ….

JO: Rees-Mogg

G: aye … I mean … you’ve got the two favourites for the Tory party … Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg, for …

JO: I know .. it’s like some horrible pantomime

G: it is

JO: which unfortunately we live in …

G: it’s like, you know … Theresa May … you know … she never done anything right at the Home Office … the figures were soaring and she probably helped cause the Brexit vote …

right? What did they do? They made her Prime Minister. She’s never done a successful thing as a politician in her life and now she’s flying .. [ ] Why can you not fucking live in London and save us money? You know, they’re all … you know … spend … [ ] flying

a plane with their comrades .. “we’ll have a nice wee holiday, we’ll book a big hotel, have a nice party …” [ ]

JO: I doubt she calls them comrades … yes … so … well ..

G: you look at Angela Merkel … [ ] you look at Angela Merkel … right … father was a Lutheran minister in East Germany … well … that [ ] everything, right away … well, the Stasi had 1 … something like 1 in 7 informers … were informers the Russians, you know …

he was a Lutheran minister … so that is something … you know .. she’s obviously had a very stiff upbringing …

JO: I mean, that’s quite funny you should mention it because Theresa May’s the daughter of ..

G: aye, she’s a Minister … [ ] daughter … so was Gordon Brown ..

JO: she’s the daughter of a Church of England vicar … I think …

G: aye .. but that’s a different story ..

JO: that kind of tells you all you need to know …

G: aye .. it [ ] tells you … [ ]

JO: thanks very much Gordon …

G: nae bother ..


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