16 Dec 2009
7 Dec 2009
Commenting on "Marqueegate", an East Lothian Council spokesman said:
"It appears this application was just put through every year by habit."
I suspect how Labour has largely run Scotland for the past 50 years.
PS And its all the SNP's fault for bringing this matter to public attention.....says a nulab spokeperson. Honest, that is what they said!
5 Dec 2009
"The Internet Is a wonderful tool. It gives us a means to engage with the public, to motivate activists and to affirm our positive case for Scottish independence.
We must use the Internet for positive campaigns, to build our case and not get engaged in the negative agenda.
The SNP can only win and will only win on a positive agenda"
"Cybernats"- do you get the message?
Pious unionists - is that clear enough for you?
Sunday Update: By popular request, a link to Joan McAlpines excllent article on The "Cybernats" in today's Sunday Times, Scotland.
1 Dec 2009
You can now access the blog archive without invite online
Stop Stop Press
I the near immediate wake of this sad news, I also hear prominant "nat" bloggers Subrosa and Advanced Media Watch have also decided to call it a day: For their own and differing reasons, but I cant help think there is some sort of inter-relationship in all of this.
Needless to say these two blogs will also be badly missed, up their with Moridura in terms of the quality of their posts and overall eccumenical, non-abusive approach. Good luck to them all.
30 Nov 2009
I think I will read it before commenting
Scottish Parties Are Blind to the Obvious
Iain Dale, 30 Nov, 2009
Blinkered. That's the only way to describe the idiotic decision by the three main parties to oppose a referendum on Scottish independence, which the SNP promised in their manifesto and are delivering on today, when they issue a white paper. If there's one way to whip up separationist tendencies Tavish Scott, Iain Gray and Annabelle Goldie appear to have found it.
The SNP have a mandate for the referendum. Perhaps I am missing something, and no doubt you will tell me if I am, but the SNP would lose a referendum of it were taken within the next year, so what have the three main parties got to lose by allowing the SNP to press ahead? If the vote is lost it would kill the SNP's electoral fortunes for a decade or more.
The simplest path when it comes to a vote in the Scottish Parliament is for the other parties to abstain. But it looks as if they will continue to act like ostriches and use the referendum as a stick to beat the SNP with. Alex Salmond may have had a bad year, but he is not to be underestimated. As a political tactician he is in a different league to his opponents, and they would do well to remember that."
26 Nov 2009
22 Nov 2009
19 Nov 2009
I think in 2007 the SNP was right to take power, show there is an alternative to Labour and it that could run things competently. But it has done this and circumstances are now changing. So it might be time to consider tactical changes.
Getting a referendum , with the SNP as a party and a movement well placed to fight it, is I think where the focus must be. And whilst this is never going to be easy, having the Tories in Westminster with a small lead ( maybe a minority), Labour desperately looking for a way back to some sort of influence in Scotland , plus the lib dems keen on any slice of the action, might just see the SNP well placed to get a referendum - but neither as an incumbant government nor an irrelevance. But, unusually, and as a party on the front foot, Scotland's largest, one prepared to forgo office in order to win its principal objective. And this would not per se be independence, but rather a direct say in their future for the people of Scotland.
I would not condemn the SNP for what it did in 2007, but increasingly it looks like what it may have done - unwittingly but objectively - is traded power for forgoing a referendum: By this I don't mean a referendum was on offer (cause it was not), but rather that the Unionist parties have only let the SNP run a minority administration because they can block any referendum.
All I am suggesting is maybe - and only maybe - in 2011/12 there might be the opportunity to reverse the deal.
But power is seductive - for both the SNP who have it at Holyrood, and others who want it in London and Edinburgh. A potential trap, but a potential opportunity also.
17 Nov 2009
As SNP activists digest the implications of the defeat in Glasgow North East and revise downwards that 20 plus Westminster seats target, they can still be comforted by the substantial lead the party enjoys in polls on Holyrood voting intentions.
13 Nov 2009
Glasgow North East was a dreadful result for the SNP and a pretty good one for Labour.
Cast your minds back to last May when Michael Martin announced his resignation and ask yourself if there would have been a single person in Scotland predicting Labour would out poll the SNP by 3 to 1 in this by-election? Cast your minds back further to July 2008 when the SNP won in the neighbouring, and near identical seat of Glasgow East.
Some SNP bloggers this morning seem though to be turning their focus, not on a bad bad result for their party and the cause of Scotland's freedom, but on turnout, "unthinking" labour voters, the constituency itself, and on successful Labour candidate Willie Bain.
10 Nov 2009
4 Nov 2009
Last night I had the misfortune to watch BBC Scotland's much hyped "Hash in the Attic" documentary on home grown cannabis production. Or should I say the Scottish Police Service's documentary?
Because rarely have I watched such a blatant piece of establishment placed drivel of my TV set. "Propagandist" would be too mild a word to describe un-sourced assertion after assertion made in this programme - "a £100 million pound industry", ( apparently more than the total value of all Scottish vegetable production!) , and one with, of course, direct links to organised crime, illegal people trafficking and prostitution. Links which, in the view of the closing and unchallenged remarks of Scotland's top drugs busting plod, "should make people think long and had before they roll their next joint"
Aside from facts to back up any of this - but loads of police supplied video - the most obvious thing totally absent this "investigative report" was any alternative perspective, any questioning of why busting into people homes to seize hash plants was a police priority? ( I had to laugh as a council scheme in Leven was described by the BBC reporter as "suburbia"!)
And whilst we were told, totally unchallenged, the police view on all the valuable work they were doing to combat this evil "£100million pound industry", we got no information at all about the cost of the policing operation, its conviction rates, and the overall point of it - especially in light of epidemic in terms of hard drug dealing, to say nothing of alcohol abuse. particularly by under 18s.
But it was as a piece of investigative journalism, rather than the issues it purported to report upon, that most concerned me about this film. Is this police driven establishment propaganda the best BBC Scotland can come up with? And where was the "due impartiality? In the light of the litany of police driven urban myths to justify many of their high profile operations - "the 25,000 sex slaves" one most recently busted wide open by some real investigative reporting in The Guardian, is BBC Scotland operating in some sort of bubble of naivety, sold hook line and sinker this police placed mince ? In the same week as the UK Government's main drugs advisor was sacked for speaking some sense on the "war against drugs" it is genuinely depressing to find BBC Scotland, not just so craven, but so far off the pace.
30 Oct 2009
22 Oct 2009
Islam Feruz, a refugee from Somali, making his debut for Scotland Under 17's at Dumfermine's East End Park earlier this week. Scotland lost 2-1, but Islam set up the Scotland goal - and he is still only 14 ! And watched from the stands by his proud parents. Read more about this inspiring story in, of all papers, The Daily Mail. If only it and other media outlets would report more stories like this......
And Feruz is already signed up - by The Celtic!
19 Oct 2009
The ending of the right to buy for all new tenants was a good headline grabber by Nicola Sturgeon on the closing day of SNP conference yesterday. But on this one I do kind of agree with Labour's Cathy Jamieson when she said it "misses the point".
17 Oct 2009
............Has Eck lost the plot? Or Was Mahatma also worked from the back by the British foreign office?
9 Oct 2009
2 Oct 2009
7 Jul 2009
3 Jul 2009
30 Jun 2009
27 Jun 2009
26 Jun 2009
By Nick Currie, this is the best I've read today - and it was written in 2005! Thanks to Pat Kane for the recommendation.
........Consider all the extraordinary ways in which Michael Jackson is Yet-Also. He's black yet also white. He's adult yet also a child. He's male yet also female. He's gay yet also straight. He has children, yet he's also never fucked their mothers. He's wearing a mask, yet he's also showing his real self. He's walking yet also sliding. He's guilty yet also innocent. He's American yet also global. He's sexual yet also sexless. He's immensely rich yet also bankrupt. He's Judy Garland yet also Andy Warhol. He's real yet also synthetic. He's crazy yet also sane, human yet also robot, from the present yet also from the future. He declares his songs heavensent, and yet he also constructs them himself. He's the luckiest man in the world yet the unluckiest. His work is play. He's bad, yet also good. He's blessed yet also cursed. He's alive, but only in theory..........
Read the full article, written in 2005, here
As someone who fought a campaign against one of Scotland's 2 merchant incinerators and who lived as a teenager within a 5 mile radius of the other, and having gleaned a wealth of informationabout the effects of environmental toxins down the years, I may be one of the best placed people to comment on the planning approval for a 300,000 tpa incinerator at Greengairs in North Lanarkshire.
Given that my own campaign was successful in stopping the incinerator, inspite of retrospective planning permission having been granted centrally by the Scottish Office, there is still hope that the Greengairs incinerator can be stopped in its tracks.
I am sure that there are rather a lot of people who are breathing a sigh of relief that such an incinerator is not going to be in their back yard. The illogicality of that position, given the known pollution fallout from incinerators, has to be challenged, as indeed should the decision by the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment not to call in this permission, on the basis that it is not of national importance. (A golf resort in Aberdeenshire is of national importance, but not a major additional source of environmental toxins.)
The Greengairs campaigners say that the whole `development`, including the incinerator, is contrary to the Structure and draft Local Plans, but because of changes to planning legislation since April, is not being called in. The draft Local Plan was not part of the councillors' consideration, even though the campaigners had spent a great deal of time and effort in their contribution to this. Councillors used the previous plan of 1991 instead. Of course, this fails to take CO2 emissions, let alone anything else, into account. Local campaigners also point out that, if all the council's proposals are implented, Greengairs will be dealing with 1 million tpa of waste per annum. As such, the proposals are clearly of national significance and importance. From experience elsewhere, incineration acts as a disincentive to recycling, re-use or, indeed, to clean production. Therefore, unless the Lanarkshire councils plan to abandon the targets they are set for recycling, they are going to have to import waste from outwith Lanarkshire on a far bigger scale than they are doing at present. Given the economic downturn, it is more likely that such importation will include waste from outwith Scotland. How much of a PR disaster will that be to a naionalist government?.
The Women's Environmental Network, FOE Scotland, Greenpeace, WWF Scotland and the Scottish Green Party should all be asked to add their voices to a call for this planning application to be called in, on the basis that, at 300,000tpa (tonnes per annum), it is clearly both a major additional source of environmental toxins and carbon dioxide and incompatible with a purported`zero waste policy` which seeks to minimise waste and maximise recycling and re-use of resources. Quite how a reduction of 42% in CO2 is to be achieved by 2020 without including transport or incineration in this strategy, beats me. I can only assume that this represents a further entrenchment within the permanent North British government, even to the extent of denying that incinerators emit CO2, pretty much along the same lines of the expressed attitude of waste disposal companies that incineration is a liability-free method of waste disposal.
When I was campaigning on this issue during the late 80s and early 90s, there was no internet, and therefore no cheap or easy way to access information or to lobby. Even more importantly, there was little research on the health effects of incineration and of the environmental toxins that this processcreates. Indeed, Greenpeace specifically warned community campaigners against campaigning on health grounds because of this. Nearly 20 years later, there is plenty of research and scientific consensus on the health effects ofincineration, in spite of what SEPA officials may claim. The early research pointed to cancer as a suspected health effect - concerns are now more focussed on the longer term effects on children and more recent research isproviding evidence of neurological effects. There has been an explosion in the incidence of neurological disorders, and there are established links between these and environmental toxins..
The fact that much research cannot prove causality for specific toxins as regards human health is neither here nor there - we don't live under laboratory conditions. When there has been a 30 year assault on independently funded scientific research within the UK, it's no wonder that it has taken so long to establish a body of research providing clear links between ill health and environmental toxins. Indeed, most of the research is international, not domestic. It is government's job to apply the Precautionary Principle, not to play pass the parcel between suspect pollutants and polluters when it comes to accountability.
No-one can say that this is not a national issue, for the aforestated reasons, and because there are more incinerators planned in Scotland and elsewhere inthe UK. The Scottish Government should dispose of the toxic chalice of incineration and implement a geniune zero waste policy.
Fiona Sinclair undertook all the Scottish research for `Waste Not, Want Not`, by Robert Allen, published in 1992 by Earthscan. This book collated theaccounts of community campaigns throughout the UK against proposals for toxicwaste incinerators and dumps. See Comments section for some useful links
16 Jun 2009
So whatever happened to that "settled will of the Scottish People"? And who are these Unionist appointed Calman commissioners, and now a committee of Unionist party leaders chaired by Jim Murphy to unsettle it?
14 Jun 2009
Today's Sunday Herald carries and excellent feature by doyen of diarists, now returned reporter Tom Shields. I recommend a full read , but below for me are the most striking paragraphs, especially as we mark ten years of devolution: The infamous 1998-99 selection process, when a Blairite London appointed committee, chaired by Rosemary MacKenna, supervised by Jack McConnell, and fully endorsed by Donald Dewar and Gordon Brown, ripped the intellectual and independent soul out of the Labour Party in Scotland before the new parly even met. Where it all started to go wrong for Scottish Labour, what in big measure explains where it is today. Tom Shields takes up the story:
"Applicants with a spark were excluded in favour of people who had made no mark and would make no mark. People in their 30s and 40s who had left no fingerprints of achievement were put into our national legislature. We were landed with legislators and tribunes who were ineffectual and unaccomplished, with no track record as strategic thinkers or ability to communicate. They were never going to bloom. It is a legacy which affects Labour and Scotland. ........."
12 Jun 2009
10 Jun 2009
9 Jun 2009
8 Jun 2009
...............thanks to Man Widdicombe Blog
7 Jun 2009
"This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.
"That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.
"Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."
That was part of President Barack Obama's message in Cairo to the Palestinians
6 Jun 2009
“We would go in to Liverpool and we were treated like normal people. There was no segregation and we could go where we wanted and do what we wanted. We went dancing in the Grafton Ballroom and shopping on Whitechapel like everyone else.
“My time in England was the first time I had really felt free in my life. And I wondered why another country was treating us better than our own country, better than the country we were fighting for.”
the events of 'D-Day',
they will never forget,
their friends who passed away.
They will never forget,
the sound of bagpipes playing,
they will never forget,
the thousands of men praying.
They will never forget,
the blood red sea,
they will never forget,
the courage and the bravery.
We must never forget,
why they had to fight,
and we must never forget,
always to do what's right.
The Piper was Glaswegian Bill Millan of the 1st Commando Brigade.
He played until his bagpipes took a bullet,
the Germans all thought he was mad,
he miraculously never got killed,
our lucky Scottish lad.
But when a German sniper,
put his bagpipes out of action,
he picked up his gun,
a natural reaction.
For if they thought he was mad before,
they just had no idea,
for to deny a Piper his bagpipes,
leaves a man with no fear!
written 6th June 2004
5 Jun 2009
4 Jun 2009
"Gordon Brown is a man at the top of his game"
Sean Woodward, Secretary of State for Nothern Ireland, Newsnight, 3rd June, 2009
3 Jun 2009
"The prime minister demands loyalty, but that has become too much to ask of a party, and a country, that was never given the chance to vote for him. Had there been a contest for the leadership in 2007 - and had Mr Brown called a general election - he would probably have won. He decided not to do these things. And he has largely failed since.
"All must agree that the die is cast and a hard judgment made. Otherwise progressive politics will be dragged down at a general election in May 2010 that could lead to a much bigger defeat than Labour suffered in 1979. ...
"Labour has a year left before an election; its current leader would waste it. It is time to cut him loose."
1 Jun 2009
29 May 2009
................................"Chelsea won the match, but the extremes of joy and sadness, hope and despair, were all wearing an Everton shirt – losers yet unvanquishable."
The Daily Telegraph, 30 May 2009
27 May 2009
................Why Barcelona are More Than a Club, and this is more than a song. Find out here
24 May 2009
20 May 2009
Gordon Brown, ain't got a clue
Washed up, dull and never true
So right wing he’s turning blue
There’s something better
Murphy’s Law's to make us scared
Major Joyce who paid his fares?
Wendy, Dougie whit a pair!
There’s something better
Something better, its hard to find
But Something better’s, still on my mind
When we make our stand, and reclaim our land
And build a brand new country of our own
I’m no saying it would all be fine
Building nations, it takes some time
But we’ve brave hearts and we’ve sharp minds
For something better
Glasgow, Reekie, Aberdeen
Lerwick, Lewis, Ayr, Coldstream
And a’ the places in between
Build something better
Scots-Italians, Irish too
Folks from England, Chad, Peru
Muslims, Christians, Bhuddists, you!
Build something better
Mods or Rockers, we dinna care
Raving queens and down right squares
Neds, and even millionaires
Build something better
(c) Words and music by Alan Smart, May 2009
Verse: C, F, C , G, Am , F, G, F, C
Chorus: F, C, Am, G, F, G, C, Am, F, G, C
19 May 2009
"The first Speaker to be ousted since 1695".
But in 1695 Scotland was an independent country, had its own Parliament. Even in disgrace, the self-styled mother of parliaments canny get its history right.
The doyen of nulab bloggers, Tom Harris MP, has been at sixes and seven over the past month or so as the reality of the regime he serves has been laid bare. Tom, as MPs go is pretty honest and, from his perspective, his blog is honest, insightful. Do read his most recent post on Michael Martin's resignation speech for a well written ringside seat account. Below though is my response to it, no doubt lost amongst the dozens of comments Tom's blog deservedly gets.
Tom, this is a nice post, insightful and human. But in it you highlight the problem. You have "huge affection" for Michael Martin and were disappointed you could not all make "tributes". But why on earth should you? I am sure quite a few folks in RBS had "huge affection" for Sir Fred Goodwin.
Like Sir Fred, Michael Martin is the CEO of once proud but now almost bankrupt institution, and will get a nice big taxpayer funded pension. But - as opposed to Sir Fred, who your lot are trying to "de-knight" - Michael Martin will become a Lord, and with this gain all the associated status and perks.
Why should this measurable failure of a Speaker - the first to be ousted for over 300 years, indeed the first ever UK Parliament Speaker to be booted, be feted, ennobled, paid, etc?
Because you all - indeed,you Tom - live in a bubble, and as MPs act in ways the real world does not, could not, would not be allowed to.
Born into absolute poverty in rural Ireland in 1869, his family moved to Scotland a few years after his birth, regarding scraping a living in the Lanarkshire coalfields and being treated as third class immigrants, as a step up. John Wheatley received only an elementary eduction and by the age of 12 he was working down the mines. Aged 23, and still living with his family of 13 in a two roomed house, he moved to Glasgow to become a publican and eventually a campaigning journalist and publisher, educating himself along the way. He joined the infant Independent Labour Party in 1907 and in it developed his own unique brand of Catholic socialism which saw him take on not just the establishment of his day but also a local catholic hierarchy inclined to advise Irish immigrants to keep a low profile and wait for the afterlife.
Elected to Glasgow City Council, Wheatley was a tireless campaigner against injustice , the appalling housing conditions in his adopted city in particular. An opponent of World War 1 , Wheatley was the leading light in the 1915 Glasgow rent strike, started by the impoverished and doubly exploited wives of on duty servicemen, - a strike so solid and successful it forced Lloyd George to come to Glasgow and cut a deal in which rents were controlled and wages guaranteed.
Wheatley was not done. Elected MP for Glasgow Shettleston in 1922, he became UK Housing Minister in the first ever Labour Government two years later. A minority administration, it did not last long. But long enough for Wheatley to near single handedly pioneer the 1924 Housing Act through Westminster. And the Act was so good it was the basis upon which almost 500,000 council houses were built across the UK over the next 15 years. And good quality homes for rent, "workers cottages", with gardens and front and back doors, with local shops and facilities that built communities: Knightswood, Carantyne, Bellahouston, Lochfield, Gallowhill - places where my own parents were born and brought up. Good places.
And every city and town across the UK has its Wheatley homes - so fine that sadly they were amongst the first to go under Tory right to buy policy in the 1980s....... Land that is lost now.
But Wheatley delivered - and he never sold out. Spurned by Labour leader Ramsey MacDonald because of his opposition to Labour's move to the centre, Wheatley never regained office and died suddenly in 1930. His funeral was one of the largest Glasgow had ever seen. In a deeply divided city, Catholics, Protestants, Rangers and Celtic supporters, even Tories turned out in their tens of thousand to pay respects to a man who had not only offered hope but had delivered homes.
John Wheatley, for his people, in his time - Martin Luther King. And his promised land was for everyone, not just the chosen few. So let's all celebrate his birthday today.
18 May 2009
............How did the once oh so media savy Labour Party allow the day of its Scottish European election campaign launch - where it is rightly fighting for its life - be dominated by this pair? I have no political sympathy for them at all, but having done it countless times in the distant past, I do have a certain personal sympathy for Labour canvasers knocking doors tonight. paticularly in areas of need, "Labour areas". You are though now reaping what Gordon Brown has sown. And do please keep this pair, indeed this trio, praise them, protect them - long may they reign! Alternatively, you might ask - "what am I doing here?"
...................I've just read Conservative Home on a "Five Point Action" plan for David Cameron to follow. Pretty good advice I'd say - for Tories! On reading it I thought about the fair degree of commonality of ideas with "The Declaration of Scotstoun", now defunct YouScotland launched just over two years ago in the run up to the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections. The organisation might now be no more, but in light of what we all now know about the real state of our political systems the Declaration's ideas are more relevant than ever. And unlike the Tories, there is a guid wee song and video to go with it: The 10 point declaration is right at the end, but the song and film set the scene nicely.
16 May 2009
15 May 2009
I am no Tory, never voted Tory, never will. I've voted SNP consistently for a decade. But on watching the tacky and tired SNP PPB tonight - which did not once mention the expenses scandal - I then watched this one online, seen only on TV in England, due to different scheduling arrangements. I then asked myself, " who, tonight, is more in touch with the mood of the people?" Not a hanging offence SNP, Eck, but waken up, sharpen up.
14 May 2009
12 May 2009
6 May 2009
4 May 2009
................Watch all my 2007 Election campaign VLOGS here
1 May 2009
30 Apr 2009
"When it came through, we saw it on the screen and I can't tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride – pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our Parliament,"