FIVE years on from the acclaimed Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey delivers another call to action for the working class with a new book.

His latest work, The Social Distance Between Us, couldn’t be more timely with the cost of living crisis hitting the UK.

In his debut, released in 2018, he presented hard-hitting accounts of poverty that were both accessible and thoughtful. The Pollok native looked at “understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass” and did so with keen insight gained from his own life, including his battles with poverty and addiction. He did so in a way that working-class readers could relate to, while trying his best to make the middle class understand.

In Poverty Safari, McGarvey pleaded for that working-class anger to be concentrated and organised.

Four years on, with the weight of that anger continually knocking against him, the writer and rapper looks to honour that rage, while providing important recommendations to overhaul systems in the UK that foster and encourage inequality.

Speaking to The National, the author reflected on the book that catapulted him into the spotlight.

Asked what’s changed since he penned Poverty Safari, McGarvey said: “I’m not living in a bubble anymore. When I wrote the first book, I had done a successful crowd fund.

“I stopped working my regular job as a community artist and a youth worker and just basically retreated into a lovely wee flat in Battlefield with my pregnant partner, and we went into a kind of twilight zone.

“And really what happened was when I came out of that bubble and started travelling the country with a box of books under my arms, because I hadn’t really made that much money in the beginning. I was really out working every day to just provide, then I started to get more exposure of the conditions that people are living in and some of my TV work took me right to the front line.”

It was at this time McGarvey said that the real impact of Britain’s social crisis came knocking at his own door.

“I started to lose friends to suicide,” he explained. “Family members were descending into chaos of one form or another, and I felt like a lot of the demons of my past were coming back to haunt me. I just felt like every other day someone was in crisis.

“And then the pandemic hit. That’s when the real lid came off of this pretence that Britain is in any way a normal or just or functional country. The big call to action in the last book was you can’t just be running around raging all the time, you need to focus your anger. Being angry isn’t its own justification.

“But I found the big challenge with this book is that I was more f***ing furious than I had ever been and really felt that I had to honour that anger in the book. But not just my anger, the anger of every person I have come into contact with.

“Every person that’s been f***ed over by the DWP. Every person that’s been f***ed over by the police. Every person that’s been f***ed over by this system. So really, it was about recognising yes, the book has to be delivered in a thoughtful way – it can’t just be a big furious rant – but also about being mindful of that anger and honouring that anger and making that a key part of the whole package.”

It can be hard to convince someone to vote who doesn’t think either candidate has their interests at heart, much less overhaul an economic or governmental system. But in the new book, McGarvey says there is another choice – however hard it may be.

“The call to action in this book is for people to resist. For people to resist the notion that this society is as good as it gets, or the idea that, because Britain is in the top 10 economies in the world, that means we are fairer, or this means we are better than less well-off countries that may be more economically and culturally balanced.

“There are three big recommendations at the end of the book that relate to the education system, the labour market and our democratic institutions in London.

“The three I am arguing for would remove the unfair advantages which have been historically protected for a very small minority of people and create greater proximity between the government and the governed.”

Proximity, the theme of the book, is more about class though, and represents an overarching belief, one that informs McGarvey’s view not just on solutions to poverty but on the constitutional question too.

“One of the reasons I support independence – for all of the strong arguments that you hear against it – is that simple proximity argument,” he explained.

“I know my politicians in Scotland can hear me. When you’re closer to your Government, then they can detect what you have to say, and this informs how they behave. And I just think that the promise of independence, for all the challenges it would present, is just that proximity.

“It’s very, very difficult to penetrate a culture that you have in Westminster where you’re literally locked out. I know there are a lot of people out there who disagree with that on both sides of the independence debate, but for me it’s never been about flags.

“It’s never been about being Scottish, it’s never been anti-English. It’s just a simple thing – the closer you are the action, the more equipped you are to take decisions that affect the people who are living in that.”

The Social Distance Between Us hits the shelves on Thursday and is available for pre-order.