Sometimes an item on the tv news can surprise you. Sometimes there will be a story which will disgust you. Sometimes the reaction may be shock or horror. Combine them all for this one. A World Health Organisation study has concluded that Calton , in the east end of Glasgow, has a male life expectancy of 54. Lenzie, a suburb to the north of the city, and a very pleasant one at that, boasts a life expectancy of 82. Lenzie is less than 15 minutes drive from Calton
Four times as many adults of working age in Calton are unable to work due to illness compared with the national average; nearly three times as many people are admitted to hospital; and 61 per cent of adults have no qualifications, compared with 33 per cent in Scotland overall. Calton has the lowest household income of any area in the UK. What little disposable income there is is often spent on booze, fags and junk food.
Last night on BBC news an Indian man was interviewed. He earns the equivalent of £200 per month. He spoke very well and explained that whilst he was poor he had enough to feed and clothe his family and give them a good diet. His life expectancy is eight years more than it would have been had he lived in Calton.
So while the European Parliament spends millions dreaming up new human rights to shower on us like so much confetti (and probably sending overseas aid to India), the UK government updates Trident and assists America in invading foreign countries, what about areas like Calton?
John Mason, the newly elected SNP MP for the area, said: “These statistics are shocking, but sadly familiar. Poor health has characterised the East End of Glasgow for far too long. It is absolutely inexcusable that life expectancy in Glasgow is lower than that of India, where 80 per cent of the population live in poverty.
“Clearly, the area’s challenges are complex and will not be resolved overnight, but action must be taken on the blights that have held us back for too long. For example: measures to tackle excessive alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise as well as addressing maternal health, drug and alcohol misuse and early-years provision.”
Meanwhile in other news, the seventh Duke of Sutherland has offered the nation two of his paintings for the bargain price of £100 million. The fist Duke had a rather less cilvilised way of making money. He cleared thousands of families from his estate and burned their houses to make way for sheep in the Highland clearances. He was the richest man in Britain.
The great and the good are wringing hands to explain how important it is for Scotland to retain these paintings. Meanwhile life expectancy in Calton is 54.
Pass the sick bag.