“Dispatches from the front-line by a cultural citizen's militia,” was how one reviewer described the anthology Workers City when it came out in 1988. It was a good description, apt for the book but also prophetic. For it might just as easily have been a commentary on the aims and activities of the Workers City Group during 1990, where the battle is being fought for the soul of this great city. Here, in The Reckoning, we continue with the ‘dispatches’.
The Workers City Group is not a political party. We do not have the financial resources available to our opponents. We do not, in Hugh Savage's words, try to force our ideas down anyone’s throat. We argue. And when we have argued things out we try to place our point before the public. Naturally among ourselves we disagree in regard to many things. But one thing upon which we are all agreed is this: the city belongs to its people and not to the political gangsters and the big-money men whose only interest in Glasgow is what they can milk it for.
Although in 1990 our attack has been, in the main, on the cultural front, the political repercussions have come as no surprise: for of course, as I have said elsewhere, the great Year of Culture had more to do with power politics than culture: more to do with millionaire developers than art.
We may lack many things but I do not think anyone could question our courage. We are afraid of no one - however hard the powers that be may try to intimidate and silence us. The Workers City Group points towards the future. It is of groups like ours the future shall be made. We have nothing to apologise for.
But people ask: What have you achieved?
Well, for one thing we opened up and sustained a debate on 1990 which the Labour Council, the Festivals Unit, the property speculators and entrepreneurs could well have done without. By any honest and objective standard, they lost the argument, especially when you take into account the financial as well as cultural disaster of Glasgow’s Glasgow and Lally’s forced climb down on the sale of Fleshers’ Haugh.
And secondly - along with friendly members of the press to whom we are pleased here to acknowledge our gratitude - we made certain that the unjust treatment of Elspeth King and Michael Donnelly got onto the front page, and the despicable manoeuverings of Lally, Spalding, etc., got full public exposure.
This is no mean feat when you consider that we have a council and bureaucracy - District and Regional - which like to work in secret without the hindrance of public debate and consultation, and have been uninterrupted in this Stalinist mode for near on forty years.
We have still a very a long way to go and much more to do. But they are the dinosaurs, cultural and political. Our time is yet to come.