Love Music Hate Racism is celebrating years of inspiring people to love their neighbour with an exhibition of poster showing some of the great Rock Against Racism gigs where their message was sung out to the world.
The vintage posters will be on view till 30 April in the Platform library in Easterhouse. There, Glasgow leaders in the fight against fascism, launched the exhibition in proper style – with music from the Honest Mistakes. Among the songs sung by the trio of Brian Gibson, Chris Reilly and Steve Dollan, was the famous Italian anti-fascist song :Bella Ciao.’ Their rendition was followed by a photographer spontaneously singing it in Chinese!
‘That could only happen in group like this,’ said doyen Margaret Wood who has been at the forefront of the fight against race hatred for many years.
She told the gathering: ‘Sadly this fight has to go on. So it is really good that school children today will be coming to see this exhibition and to have workshops about what it all means. The rich people who run our society are our enemy, not our neighbours.’
Making his first public speech as chairman of United Against Fascism Scotland, John McFadden of the Fire Brigade Union said: ‘There was never a better time to have this exhibition. We are in the middle of a severe economic crisis and the same issues are being raised. It is disgraceful for the Prime Minister to be saying things like: -’ we must guard against people from afar because they are stealing our welfare.’ Let us not fall into the trap of making migrants and other incomers, scapegoats. We have to support and celebrate our multi-cultural society and promote peace, love and tolerance. Those are the qualities that will stop the hatred and poison that comes from the right wing fascists. And we need to be aware that such a hate filled movement is growing in Europe and here.’
Dave Sherry of UNITE union’s Housing Association branch – one of the sponsors of the exhibition- remembered the excitement of a Rock Against Racism event in London in 1978. ‘Elvis Costello could only get to the stage by helicopter because of the huge mass of people. It was really electrifying and terrifying too, but it got the message out. And we must keep doing that,’ he said.
Amal Azzudin and Emma Clifford, who were two of the seven Glasgow school girls who challenged the authorities when one of their classmates was whipped away in a dawn raid on the asylum seeking family in 2005, also attended the exhibition launch. Said Emma, who now works for the BBC and Sunny Govan Radio: ‘I’m glad the exhibition involves schoolkids in workshops. And that it is travelling around the country.’ Added Amal, who is working for the Mental Health Foundation: ‘Music is such a great medium to use to raise awareness. The Big Names involved in Rock Against Racism get the message to a wider audience.’
Noreen Real and Jean Donnachie who were honoured by the Evening Times for their fight to protect asylum seekers from dawn raids in their tower block, were at the Easterhouse launch too. Both poudly wearing the silver lapel pin from the Evening Times 25th Women of the Year anniversary, they enjoyed the evening and Jean even joined the musicians in a song. ‘I want everyone to go and see the stage version of the Glasgow Girls when it comes back to Glasgow,’ she said. Then launched into the song that the character in the musical – portraying her – sings. ‘ These are my weans now.’ These two remarkable pensioners and the seven schoolgirls are all current examples of people fighting racism.
‘That’s why we need to keep supporting Love Music Hate Racism, Rock Against Racism and find all the best ways to combat fascism,’ said Margaret Wood. ‘It is still out there and a threat to us all.’
Heart of Scotstoun community group are building their own community centre while others in the city are closing.
More than 600 people attended a family fun day at the Balmoral Street site to witness the cutting of the first sod – the ceremonial digging into the ground by a JCB to start the building works.
It has taken the Heart of Scotstoun group 12 years to get to this stage.
Among the many VIPs attending were local champions Jean Donnachie and Noreen Real who were made Scotswomen of the Year for their campaign to stop dawn raids after they saw asylum seeking neighbours carried away.
Said Jean: ‘The Heart of Scotstoun has been pushing for a community place for so long now that the start of building is a real cause for celebration. I hope it inspires even more local people to come on board and get active in managing the centre.’
John Robertson MP, Pauline McNeill MSP, Councillors Jean McFadden and Graeme Hendry all played a part and offered their congratulations to the people who comprise the Heart of Scotstoun.
While that exciting event was taking place, other established community centres around the city were being closed because of funding cuts experienced by the City Council.
At Lorne Street centre in Kinning Park, community activists were locked out when they went to collect Community Council computers and other items.
Said Nicola Burton Secretary of Kinning Park Community Council: ‘I was very surprised and shocked to find the place locked up. We are in negotiation with the Council to get funding to run it.’
Across Glasgow, 41 community facilities were reviewed by the Council. Some were underused and others needed £6m worth of repairs. The Council decided to close 11 places. But local communities and groups were given the opportunity to submit fully-costed business plans to run them. Letters with a temporary licence to occupy, were issued to Overnewton, Ledgowan and Cadder community facilities on the basis that they have an organisation in place to take over the halls and all associated costs or have progressed significantly with their business plan.