With open eyes
Iain Duncan Smith may not have been markedly successful as Conservative leader.
But I believe he is sincere in his search for solutions to entrenched problems in the most deprived areas of Britain.
Today, the Centre for Social Justice, established by IDS, sets out its vision of contemporary Glasgow.
It depicts a city with a thriving core – surrounded by layers of angry decay.
Family breakdown, unemployment, drug abuse, systemic youth violence.
I well recall an earlier visit by IDS to Easterhouse when he was trying to establish his credentials as an advocate of social justice.
Surrounded by the customary posse of eager hangers-on, IDS strode through the streets of the Glasgow estate.
Leaning out from a first-floor balcony, two worthies observed him closely, pausing only to share a comradely sip as the posse swept forward. IDS waved in greeting then moved on too.
Pause. Then one worthy queried of his pal: “Izzat no’ that Tory …. ?” Long pause.
Then a brief nod of assent.
Informed of the exchange, IDS grinned and replied: “And they said folk here wouldn’t know who I was!”
I thought then and I think now that this Edinburgh-born Tory is genuinely concerned about the conditions he found in parts of Glasgow.
Concern, of course, is not enough.
Today’s report offers a series of suggestions – such as abstinence-based rehab for drugs problems.
The city council has pointed to alternative strategies it has advanced.
Other politicians have pitched in.
However, it might also be argued that change only truly arrives, only truly lasts when it is driven from within the community, when positive local action is magnified by external support.
To be fair, that is now widely acknowledged by the city council and others.
To be fair (twice), it is valid to highlight once more the extent of the deprivation experienced in parts of Scotland.