Monday, 18 October 2010

Save Otago Lane 16 October 2010

A few weeks ago I went to a reading of Norman MacCaig's marvellous poetry. One of the readers made a point about the political effect of poetry, about poetry making things happen - she said that Norman's poetry influenced Scottish decision makers and helped create the situation through which tenant communities had been allowed to take over the land they rented from big landlords (as in Assynt) and this was a major political advance. I wondered if such an advance had actually taken place - my feeling was that Norman MacCaig would have cast his sharp and unblinking eye over contemporary Scotland and perhaps concluded that it doesn't really matter how many craft shops and crofters were living in harmony, the Big Boys were still calling the shots.
Indeed, I sometimes wonder if the Big Boys aren't getting away with rather more than they would in the 1960s.
On 16 October 2010, the Save Otago Lane group held a march to demonstrate against a planned housing development which would destroy the wee lane community. For details of the campaign see
and for some pics of the inaugural public meeting see
Will the campaign work? Many of us fervently hope so - city lanes such as Otago Lane and Ruthven Lane (also under threat) may not be big arteries but they are veins nonetheless - essential to the health of any city.

Money will probably dictate what's going to happen. The day after the march, with intriguing synchronicity, Scotland on Sunday reported that Donald Trump now claims to have got an assurance from the Scottish government at Holyrood - 'You'll win' - he claims to have been told, after his golf course plan was rejected by a planning committee -
Said Trump: 'I have a lot of respect for Alex Salmond. He's a strong man who loves Scotland above all else. I know he wanted the project to happen because it was good for Scotland'.
Scottish Government officials have 'strongly denied' Trump's claims, say the papers, but somehow one suspects that Trump will not be challenged too much on his claim. This is the way big business is increasingly done in Scotland. As I said above, it seems it may even be easier in modern Scotland for the big capitalist guns to get their way than it was in the 1960s. No need to own the land when you cna control its use - and quietly pocket the revenue.
The Save the Otago Lane campaign is a fine example of the people striking back - whether or not our masters listen is another matter of course, but we can at least show them what we think.
The lane entrance from Otago St

Voltaire and Rousseau on the left, one of Britain's most famous second-hand bookshops

Sandra White SNP MSP at front. Ms White does not approve of the amount of cricket on Scottish television - see

Keeping a watchful eye: at the inaugural meeting (go to link above) there was a bossy cat takling a whack at nice dogs like this collie

Seven local politicians rightly lead the parade: note that they make up a perfect Hogarthian Line of Beauty - not often you can say that about politicians.
On the left is Labour MSP Pauline McNeill.
Left of Pauline: not sure; then Ann McKechin Labour MP, Patrick Harvie Green MSP, Sandra White SNP MSP, Katy Gordon, LibDem candidate for Glasgow North last election (great candidate I voted for her) and at the back a burly LibDem councillor

Pauline waving at someone: the Clintons often do phony waves as it makes for good pics, but Pauline was actually waving at someone - honest
Piper about ready. . .

. . .and we're off

Turning right from Otago St into Gibson St
Up University Avenue

Idiot with placard. If bored, I chant 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians'. No one ever notices
Turning into Byres Rd

Turning into Ruthven Lane, which is also under threat (see link above for some nice pics of the lane)

Now crossed Byres Rd heading for Ashton lane

In Ashton Lane

Heading back into Byres Rd
Note MG behind polis

Nice chap - he took a leaflet

Turning into Gt Western Rd
A lovely old Macbrayne's bus
Turning right into Otago St

One of Otago St's antiques shops

Patrick Harvie summing up the afternoon

End of the event - it was an excellent afternoon


  1. I second that emotion. Great bunch of photos Edwin-- with Voltaire and Rousseau there surely they can see reason... Nigel

  2. One hopes so Nigel - the level of cross-party political support is unusual in Scotland and oddly comforting, but then the Trump saga shows how the system works in practice. Holyrood may be SNP and Glasgow Council Labour but they both have their eyes focused on the Big Daddies and their clinking purses.