Sunday, 13 July 2008

Places worse than Easterhouse

For those of you who don't know it (most of the population of the planet), Easterhouse is a council estate in Glasgow, Scotland. Usually, it is ignored by everyone who doesn't have the misfortune to live there, because it isn't a nice place to live, rife with drugs, violence, unemployment, poverty and everything else that you can think of that you might call a negative social indicator.

It has been in the news of late, because there is gointg to be a by-election there. Though Glasgow East has been traditional Labour territory for millenia, there is a real chance now that the Scottish National Party might defeat the Labour candidate, such is the epic upopularity of PM Gordon Brown.

The Independent listed (1) some of the grisly statistics of life in Glasgow's East End, to give their (largely middle class and English) readership a frission of horror at the lot of the lumpen proletariat, inbetween gulps of cappuchino, Volvo driving and flirting with the idea of voting for the Conservatives:
  • 30 per cent of the working-age population is on unemployment or incapacity benefit,
  • Almost 40 per cent of children grow up in homes where there is no adult in paid employment,
  • 60 per cent of people have no access to a car,
  • Nearly 40 per cent of adults smoke,
  • there are 25 drug-related deaths a year on average,
  • In part of the constituency, male life expectancy is just 54, lower than Gaza, or North Korea. (2)

The last statistic is, of course, the shocker (my own little frission of middle class horror). Women get to live an extra ten years, probably because they are less likely to stab each other to death or dabble in hard drugs (though the Independent, with clumsy irony, attributes this to their tendency to "keep themselves busy and optimistic by juggling household budgets and battling to keep their children off drugs").

Here are a list (3) of countries where the average male life expectancy is LESS than 54:

Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Camaroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivorie, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanada, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

There are, apparently, 195 countries in the world, and only 40 rate worse than the East End of Glasgow. For the record, the average male life expectancy for Britain as a whole is given as 75.94 years (4).

The other noteable trend is that almost all these countries are ex-colonial and in Africa. The former European colonial powers ravaged these countries for decades and when they finally surrendered their hold on them, surrendered the long-sufferring people Africa the the misrule of a cabal of incompetents, tryrants and thugs. The glories of Europe - and the reasonably high standard of living and life expectancy of Europeans lucky enough not to live in Glasgow's east end - were based on colonial pillaging, racism, slavery and genocide. The reparations owed by Europe are incaluculable, but must be paid, anyhow.

1 - 'Struggle for survival in Labour heartland' by Andy McSmith in The Independent, 12th of July, 2008. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/struggle-for-survival-in-labour-heartland-865816.html)
2 - ibid.
3- Statistics courtesy of Yahoo! Education. Obviously, the comparison is not accurate, as it is comparing the nadir of Scottish life expectancy to average figures of nations containing massive gulfs between top and bottom life expectancy - it is probably much worse being poor in a many more countries than it is in Scotland, but this is disguised by the average. Data retreived 12th of July, 2008. (http://education.yahoo.com/reference/factbook/countrycompare/le/1a.html)
4 - ibid.

1 comment:

Lachlan Mac Neil said...

Have you lived in Easterhouse?