Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey: local campaigners have edge on careerists

Scottish politics has its own set of struggles and dynamics. The official political parties are still gripped by a long-standing debate about the nation's constitution. But beneath that, there is a flowering of land politics (a more direct blog on which later), and also of grass-roots "independent" movements (not the same as "independence"). 

The heterodox Scots rapper Loki - or Darren McGarvey - has written a fascinating article for the Scotsman about the rise of independent-of-party politicians in Glasgow's Castlemilk area. 

This excerpt is about Castlemilk Against Austerity's organiser Cathy Milligan:

The fact that Cathy is not a ­politician is currently her biggest asset. Political figures are not highly regarded in communities like this, for good reason, whereas Cathy is viewed locally as a woman of the people.

She is not only visible in the area she hopes to represent but also fluent in the local language and customs; often regarded as too coarse, vulgar, offensive or abusive by politicos and activists who ­parachute in looking for scraps of political capital.

Cathy is intuitive, not only to the day-to-day concerns of locals, but also how people express those concerns and how the disparate challenges the community faces can coalesce in apathy, anger and, increasingly, racism and xenophobia...

What makes her so endearing – and compelling – is that her intelligence is not marshalled in service of reappropriating local anger for her own ends, but rather she represents a nurturing, caring force that encourages people to rediscover their self-belief and take responsibility for the upkeep of their own community.

She says: “We’re not saying we have all the answers. But we’re smart enough to figure it out. We believe in each other and we believe in the community.’’

In the coming month, ­Castlemilk Against Austerity is running a variety of campaigns and events that take a holistic view of community needs and aspirations.

Whether it be the solidarity ­programmes aimed at reducing the social stigma associated with food poverty, leaflets designed to push back against ­racism and xenophobia in the ­community, or seminars about the impact of bullying, they are charging on with a healthy lack of ­concern for the cynical agendas of political parties or activists ­jockeying for banner positions at anti-Trump rallies.