Brian Wilson: Sturgeon’s working class battle with Ross doesn’t matter. What matters is the reality of poverty

One of the most gruesome recent images evoked by Scottish politics shows Douglas Ross and Nicola Sturgeon descending on a ‘working class community’ to enter a popularity contest, with luxury cars parked safely around the corner. Street.

“Maybe Douglas Ross would like to come with me and I will introduce him to some working class communities across the country,” cried Mother Theresa of Dreghorn. “Name the time and place,” replied Moray’s linesman, who at least knows what it’s like to make tough decisions in front of an angry crowd.

“I will go with Nicola Sturgeon to one of the working-class communities devastated by the drug-related death crisis that has spiraled out of control under her watch.” It’s a good idea but it would be much better if one of them did it separately, without advertising, in order to learn about the realities of life rather than displaying their questionable operatic credentials.

I remember an embarrassing BBC series in Scotland decades ago titled Lilybank when a distinguished sociologist integrated incognito into a “working class community” in an early reality TV example – or, as the residents saw it when they found out what she was doing. to, a condescending piece of social anthropology.

Before the lines of engagement are set for the Sturgeon-Ross royal visit, the term “working class community” will need to be defined. I suspect what both fighters really mean is “where the poor live”, which is by no means synonymous with “working class community”. We can imagine the battle of the spin Doctors to identify a place.

Mrs Sturgeon will prefer a street with lots of Saltiers at the windows, occupied by people who believe that Janey Godley represents the height of the sophisticated spirit. A fair distribution of universal benefit claimants who have had their 20 pounds taken away will be essential. And definitely avoid anywhere near a library or community center, closed due to council underfunding.

For Mr. Ross’s team, they will have to make up their minds. Either they want a ghetto of drug poverty that Mrs Sturgeon would then be forced to tiptoe through. Or more aptly, they will prefer an ambitious location where most of the working class has long since decided that it would be a good idea to buy their council houses. Society has evolved since “communities” could be casually categorized and one result has been to further marginalize those who have been left behind by these movements.

In the interest of good taste, I can only hope that, like most things Ms. Sturgeon advertises, this event will never actually take place. Indeed, I have an alternative proposal. Both should stay in their natural habitats and not disturb the inhabitants of an unhappy corner of Scotland with a self-glorifying media circus.

Instead, they should accept an open debate in Holyrood on child poverty in Scotland. For once, Parliament would have to sit at one o’clock in the morning that the working classes would recognize to clock in rather than the usual two in the afternoon. And it should continue for as long as needed to agree on urgent action to deal with the shameful realities of Scotland’s poorest 20%.

The opening prayer of the debates should focus on the themes of penance and humility. The text of the day will be: “For as you do to the smallest of my children, you do so to me”. Then the session should move on to a review of the Rowntree Foundation Scotland’s latest report on child poverty, which couldn’t be more blunt.

“Without urgent action to break the grip of poverty, the Scottish government is on the verge of significantly missing its child poverty targets. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Scotland was ravaged by poverty with a quarter of a million children trapped in poverty.

He continues: “A goal is just a way to hold decision-makers to account, although it is important. The most important evidence of the human cost of missing these goals is shocking. The wake-up call must ring in the Scottish Government and Parliament because families across Scotland need them to do more and better. ”

Should it ring, or do they really care a lot? The Judy and Punch show with Sturgeon and Ross doesn’t suggest it. It’s about throwing the blame and, of course, the Conservatives’ ruthless determination to suppress the universal credit increase is an easy kid to whip.

His biggest advantage for Ms. Sturgeon is that he’s out of her control. However, the Rowntree report does not bow to the lie that it is all about universal credit. Rather, it is about political priorities for the two governments and pretending that in reality they are so different. Just ask the Scottish local government on which the poor depend much more than the rich.

The report quotes the most recent statistics from the National Records of Scotland: “People in the poorest communities are 18 times more likely to have a drug-related death; more than four times more likely to have an alcohol-related death; three times more likely to commit suicide and more than double the risk of death from Covid-19 ”.

So much could be done to change these terrible social chasms, but they require sustained commitment from the government. They carry the political risk of offending the better-off by setting priorities which deconcentration was supposed to bring. Instead, when I hear Mrs. Sturgeon bragging about how many people voted for her, I remember Mrs. Thatcher’s guiding mantra that as long as she kept 40% membership, she didn’t have to worry about the rest.

So stay at Holyrood, Mrs. Sturgeon and Mr. Ross. Don’t bother to park the cars. Just use the time saved to read this Rowntree report, then do exactly what it tells you.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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