Socialist Worker

Army sees poor areas as fertile ground

by Keith Baldassara Scottish Socialist Party councillor for Pollok spoke to Socialist Worker
Issue No. 1916

‘POLLOK IS still considered to be one of Glasgow’s most deprived areas. There is very high unemployment and very little opportunity for young people.

The best example of this is that at a local secondary school 33 percent of pupils left without a job, or without going into further or higher education.

Some young people without opportunities turn to drink.

Gordon Gentle rejected that. He played a part in his community.

But he wanted to move on. No one offered him any job opportunities.

Then the army descended on the area. They canvassed Pollok for recruits, putting material through people’s doors and speaking to young people.

It was just like in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 film, where US army officers target shopping malls to get poor black youth to join the army.

The army then made themselves available in the local job centre. They see Pollok as a fertile ground.

It wasn’t until Gordon’s death that we realised half a dozen young men who lived within streets of each other are also in Iraq.

They joined, just like Gordon, during the army recruitment drive.

We held an annual gala day a few weeks ago in Pollok, where 3,000 people attended. We had a one minute’s silence in commemoration of Gordon Gentle.

Before we started we explained that as far as we, including his mother, were concerned Gordon was an economic conscript. There was an overwhelming response.

The community showed its affection and its solidarity with the Gentles.

Rose Gentle wants the return of all the troops from Iraq.

She is confident that other mothers feel the same as she does, and always has since the war started.

Many of the families who have lost relatives in the war have spoken out.

When Marc Ferns from Glenrothes in Fife died recently his whole family said we shouldn’t be in Iraq.

Pollok is an area where a number of people are committed to making the place better. Proper resources need to be ploughed into the area.

You won’t find the army in the wealthy West End area of Glasgow. You’ll find them in Pollok, Govan and Drumchapel. People turn to the army as the last resort.

There was the final of a football tournament that was organised in Pollok in Gordon’s name last week.

One year ago he helped me move house. This young, healthy man helped me move my TV, and he was killed in Iraq. I can’t believe it.

People are still numb and coming to terms with it.

I have known Rose Gentle for 18 years. She was an unassuming woman bringing up her kids.

The courage she has shown is indicative of a working class woman who is committed to winning justice for her son.

She is not going to go away. The Gentles are committed to their community. Their resolve is incredible.’


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Article information

News
Sat 28 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1916
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