‘Sunshine on Maryhill’ : How I Learned to Stop Detesting Poor People and Refocus My Rancour Where it Truly Belongs

Wings over Scotland


‘Benefit fraud apparently cost the Government £1.9 billion last year but they dished out £955 billion to support the banks

Almost 500 times as much. 

Refocuses the rancour, doesn’t it?’ 

Sunshine on Maryhill Posted on October 17, 2013 by Julie McDowall



The sun rarely shines on the council estates of Maryhill. But on the rare occasions when it does, they emerge, dragging their Argos Value deckchairs behind them.

The high-rise flats do their best to block the light, but they find a spot in the concrete playground where the sun peeks through. They plant their chairs, flap open their Daily Records, crack open their cans and bask in the thin angle of the sunlight. 

Throughout the day, their merry camp is uprooted as they’re forced to follow the sun as it drifts behind the 26-storey skyscrapers of the 1960s. They leave the littered playground and move round to the bin area where it’s good for an hour or so, before being forced up again and round to the car park.

By the time I get home from work they’re clustered on the steps of the close and I’ll need to step over them. By now they’re sunburnt and drunk and it’s hard to know what to say in order to get past. If I say ‘Excuse me’ I’ll sound posh. If I say nothing and just tramp through I’m asking for trouble. If I smile and gently step around them I’m a coward. How do I get home?

I loathe these people.

I’m educated and working two jobs but will be dining on something called ‘curry pockets’ from Farmfoods tonight, whilst these people loll in the sun all day, the damp wrappers of their fish suppers gathered at their ankles. I haven’t been on holiday for eight years, but they’re talking about how ‘mental’ Ayia Napa was.

I got that terrible letter in bold red type as I missed my council tax payment, but these people have it all paid for them. And their rent, too, leaving loads of spare cash for Ayia Napa and chips. Leaving time to drowse and drink in the Maryhill sun.

Scroungers. Scum. I say it again: I loathe these people.

I hated them even as I was down there amongst them, living a poor, thin, nasty life. Being poor and utterly stripped of hope, it seems, evokes two chief responses. You can give up and join the bedraggled deckchair camp or you turn hard and bitter. I went for the latter.

I hated that I could only get a call-centre job despite having a good degree from a posh university. I despised myself for not being able to earn more. I was embarrassed that I lived in a high rise flat. I was ashamed that I missed my council tax payment and there was now talk of taking me to court. So I lashed out at the people in the deckchairs, as there at least was someone I could feel superior to. I have no career and no hope but at least I’m better than them.

And isn’t this what the Government delights in?

Turning us against one another via the discourse of the benefit scrounger? 

According to the DWP's own figures for 2011/2012 released in November 2012 the true figure for claimant fraud is actually 0.8%
According to the DWP’s own figures for 2011/2012 released in November 2012 the true figure for claimant fraud is actually 0.8%

My hatred of that ‘type’ of person made me keep quiet about my troubles as I didn’t want to be tainted by association. To be known as a poor person from a council flat. No-one knew I was in debt. No-one knew about the red-inked letter. No-one knew that a Sheriff Officer had been to my door and asked if he could come in to discuss ‘options’. No-one knew I dined nightly on curry pockets.

I desperately wanted to distance myself from the fate of the poor person, so I hated them. Rip away their benefits. I don’t care if they starve. I work so why can’t they? All my own insecurity was whipped up and spat out at them.

Bloody scroungers. Bring back the workhouse.

At my lowest point, thank God there was still someone to feel superior to. 

Years have passed and my circumstances have changed. No-one is taking me to court. I am warm and well-fed. But that’s not all that’s changed.

Government By the BankersMy venom towards ‘scroungers’ has gone. Of course, there are scroungers and benefit cheats, though only in relatively tiny numbers. 

Look at it this way. Benefit fraud apparently cost the Government £1.9 billion last year but they dished out £955 billion to support the banks.

Almost 500 times as much.

Refocuses the rancour, doesn’t it?

Popular anger and tabloid rhetoric is totally mis-directed as we’re too busy fighting one another. We miss the bigger picture, but who can blame us when we are consumed with getting money together for last month’s council tax, not to mention this month’s. Then there’s next month. You pace the kitchen floor and resist the urge to phone your gran and cry and all the while the drunken chatter from the suntanned ‘scum’ drifts up to your 14th floor kitchen window.

So you hate them. And you miss the bigger picture.

Benefit Fraud v Tax Gap ChartTruly, IDS must smirk when the Daily Mail reports on the latest over-sized brood to be given a council house. If you dare to read the readers’ comments below such stories they are full of bile and fury.

It’s only now, years later, when I’m out of poverty and no longer threatened, that I have become political.

I’ve had calm and distance to think clearly, unmuddled by fear. That’s why I’m writing for this website.

If I’d submitted an article a few years ago I’d have been turned away as a right-wing nutjob, having fallen for the establishment trick and hated the poor as they were draining our scarce resources.

I believe it’s called divide and conquer.

We need to start seeing clearly.

We need to know our enemy, and it’s not a bunch of sad drunks on a council estate – it’s our own apathy. An apathy which allows brutal, right-wing governments to be returned again and again even though we haven’t voted for them for more than two generations.

Yes ScotlandIn less than a year’s time, we can make a choice to do something about that once and for all. Or we can vote to stay in our cheap nylon deckchairs, scavenging in the debris like rats, fighting each other for a fleeting glimpse of the sun.


Wings Over Scotland

CONDEMED: Britain’s Disabled People are facing a Holocaust of Cuts ~ We are set to lose £28.3bn of support under this cruel, heartless and unconscionable regime Posted on October 17, 2013

The Yes camp can turn the debate around by focusing on the dismantling of the welfare state south of the border Posted on October 17, 2013

The campaign against the welfare state is now in full-flow in Scotland: Your guide to unmasking and destroying it ~ Jimmy Reid Foundation Posted on October 10, 2012

New Labour Shadow DWP Rachel Reeves is clear: Labour would set the struggling against the poorest Posted on October 15, 2013


7 thoughts on “‘Sunshine on Maryhill’ : How I Learned to Stop Detesting Poor People and Refocus My Rancour Where it Truly Belongs

  1. Steven Goodman says:

    Its nice to hear a voice of sanity from someone who has money…usaully a cash-injection causes some bizarre psychotic side effects, that redefines and over-inflates the self-image to bolemic proportions. Usaully some unwarrented sense of being a suprior-being in relation to the poor’s unofficial designation of brain-dead cash cows……

    I cannot understand how someone so lucky in life, being born into money, growing up protected by wealth…having the best nepetistic education money can buy can end up so embittered by his life that he feels anyone not as lucky as he has been is a legitimate target for his negative persona and hostile views.

    For Mental health a positive frame of mind that celebrates the easy ride you have had from birth to political leadership of the nation entire. When you were never voted there the Lib-dems had a better remit, but as a sleeping partner in the co-illtion (So deeply asleep he might as well be dead!) – A party fit for future leadership, Nick my boy are you trying to convince yourself that your Neville Chamberlian approach to Cameron’s enacted “Economic Fascism” is some kind of result and party endorsement? Sorry Nick all I see is history repeating itself ther same party mistakes make during victorian and then Edwardian eras indicate if it is a total mirror of prior events, then you’ll not be back to a centre-stage presence until around 2083 at the earliest….Food for thought Nick! You have a little time to convert yourself from a Paper-tiger to a real leader of worth…LOL

  2. David Moynagh says:

    The saddest thought of all is that the labour party who at one time depended upon support from and for the poorer sections of society are digging themselves a grave by their actions in supporting thr heavy handed tactics of the parasitic tory/libdem coalition. It is imperative that Scotland becomes independent if we are to avoid the catastrophy of the divide and conquer strategy.

  3. Humanity2012 says:

    The Poor have been Oppressed for Too Long under the Evil
    Capitalist Regime of Profit before People

    We Need a Socialist State where the Quality of Life for Ordinary
    People Matter’s More than the Profits of Big Business and the
    Greed of the Filthy Rich

  4. Humanity2012 says:

    I cannot Stand Pratts who get Taken In by Media Pahlava about
    the Poor being ” Scroungers ” .

    It is the Knucklehead Politicians who are the Scroungers

  5. AL says:

    Thank goodness someone has figured how governments work. Divide and rule. It was single mothers a little while back. And who cared if they were single, divorced, abandoned or widowed? Nothing wrong in being single but the label was negative. Now it’s lazy scroungers pretending to be sick. Who like’s trying to prove you’re really sick? When we were kids if you were sick enough to have a day off school, something had to be coming out of you. Some snot, some vomit, a good cough, you get the picture? There had to be something to see. Not just a headache, or a tummyache. Now it’s the same. The assessors want to see sick. And how sick do you have to be not to be a scrounger? If you are sick in the head, does that count? Probably not, unless you’re a menace to society, scaring the good folks. We do need to unite. We pay NI to provide a safety net.. Those Sick and disabled people did pay, and it was supposed to cover being incapacitated until you recovered. It is now being taken away. If you are not affected you turn your head and repeat the manta Lazy Scroungers. When you get sick you will get a surprise. If Govts don’t invest in curing the sick that is not the fault of the sick.

    In my town an employer posted 120 new jobs and 1300 people applied. Were 1180 people not good enough? Didn’t try hard enough? Those who are without work need support until they can get work. Both financial, practical and emotional help. They don’t need grinding down, else they will never have the confidence to keep trying for work. Sick and disabled people need even more help. Sadly there is no help just ATOS, the DWP and the Job centre staff telling you to get a job. Oh and the rest of society sneering, at lazy scroungers wanting something for nothing. Working people are starting to lose their benefits now too, now benefits are so low. Watch out, the minimum wage will be next. And while some will say Oh dear not that too. The rest will say, Ha that doesn’t affect me.

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