Nostalgia,  Scotland,  The Left

End of Ane Auld Sang

John McTernan writes an obituary of Clydeside workers’ leader Jimmy Reid in the Telegraph today. He reminisces about a different world to the one we inhabit today:

The world of mass working- class employment in mines, factories and shipyards went. These had been rough and ready places with, certainly in mining, real risks as well. But they had also spawned a set of social institutions, from working mens’ clubs to trade unions, which gave form and meaning to lives. Adolescents learnt a job or a craft and saw how to be a man. Formal and informal mentoring created social discipline. Talents were spotted and nurtured. One might make a shop steward, another would benefit from a spell at Ruskin College, another would make an elected official. In such a way, quietly and proudly, the British working class made and remade itself. Valuing hard work, thrift, education and getting on. Fashioning institutions that reinforced those virtues. All gone now. A world swept away, and in its place, what? Council estates that are ghettos of worklessness. Feral youths. Gun crime. Parents unable to bring up their own children, and helpless when those very kids have their own babies.

Too pessimistic a portrait of the British working class? Maybe. But there’s enough truth in the words to make some of us more than a little uneasy.