30 Jun 2009

10 Years Ago


27 Jun 2009

Elvis's Final Concert - This one's for Jacko


26 Jun 2009

The Essential Michael Jackson?

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


Greengairs Incinerator

North Lanarkshire approves 300,000 tonnes per annum toxic fag end and the Scottish Government doesn't think that this is of national importance - read this and make up your own mind.

Environmental Campaigner Fiona Sinclair writes.

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

This film is good - in many ways

................read why


Calman Reflections

It would be churlish to call the recommendations of the Calman Commission irrelevant tinkering. Potentially granting the Scottish Parliament £10 billion pounds worth of tax raising powers, plus extending its remit in a number of other important areas is, in Unionist terms, significant.

But first of all, let's be clear: Unionist proposals maybe, but produced in the context of the SNP's historic win in May 2007 and the SNP's subsequent successes. So, even without participating, these concessions are nationalist victories, whatever the spin. Because as Jim Murphy, Brown and co all hail the Commission's recommendation, remember Jimbo's immediate predecessor as Secretary of State for Scotland, Des Browne said he saw no need whatsoever for a review of The Scotland Act, a view endorsed by both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

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?

Remember it was Nulab in 1997 that insisted on a separate referendum question on the new -parliament's tax raising powers when the power on offer was no more that what has turned out to be a theoretical right to vary the basic rate of income tax by 3p. But now Holyrood is to have, not just theoretical power, but the annual obligation to set all rates of income tax, plus the ability to vary these by as much as 10p.

But no referendum to endorse these significant new powers.

How very old politics. How so not 1997. How so not 2009 .....for it all to be down to of a small cabal of polticians to decide. No need for a referendum - incredulously confirmed on Newsnight Scotland last night by Tavish Scott, who leads a party screaming for one on electoral reform. And this morning Labour is making a virtue of having most of the Calman's proposals legislated on before the next UK General election. That's right, disgraced and corrupt MPs like Margaret Moran and Andrew McKay get a say, but the people of Scotland don't.

And whatever happened to the sovereignty of the Scottish People, the claimed DNA of the Scottish Constitutional Convention?

So, well done Calmun Commission, you've done you job within the remit you were given. But now surely it is the job of the people of Scotland. not a cabal of Unionist politicians (half appointed directly from London), and a whipped fag end Westminster parliament containing people that may end up in jail to decide the next steps?

Unionist politicians seem strangely afraid of the people - even on their own proposals!
Got a view - post it here by all means, but why not instead make it on Scots Voices an new broad based blog set up to discuss Calman and related matters? Worth a visit.


14 Jun 2009

In Search of Labour's Soul

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:

"....The party does nothing to encourage or recruit energetic, colourful or independent-minded individuals. The default choice is for the candidate who will be a safe pair of hands. Which usually means docile and biddable. The decline of personality in the Labour ranks is a legacy of the infamous selection process of 1999. The great and good of the party were supposed to choose the brightest and the best for the Scottish parliament. They singularly failed to do so.

"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. ........."
Full article


12 Jun 2009

The intellectual alternative to Baron Foulkes

....................Thanks to BCN and Monty


10 Jun 2009

Scottish Labour - And they wonder why they are losing

I've just noticed from Scottish Nulab's web site and associated news releases that the comrades are making a big deal out of Alex Salmond being in Westminster today to vote for his party's Parliament dissolution motion. Why? Because according to Scot NuLab, in doing so he is "snubbing the victims of rape crime", as at Holyrood this afternoon there is a vote on the Sexual Offences Bill.

I'll come back to that in a moment, but can you imagine the furore Scot Nulab would be making if Alex Salmond MP was not at Westminster today? Total Hypocrites.

But on the Sexual Offences Bill, soon to be a Act, why did such an Act never appear on the statute books during the 8 years Scot Nulab had total control of the Holyrood chamber? What about that very real 8 year snub to the victims of rape crime? No, not a snub, a vicious reality - Labour in power left vulnerable women under-protected.

But today the Sexual Offences Bill will sail through - no small part down to the enthusiastic support of the SNP, a party Alex Salmond leads - I mention just in case Nulab - north and south - had forgotten what a leader was.

And I am glad Alex Salmond will lead in London today, one which , if he's successful, will be his last day as an MP . Because if he suceeds, he will grant the people - the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland - the opportunity to elect MPs, a government and ultimately a Prime Minister of their own choosing. One that represents them, rather than one that uses every trick, manipulates every cabal going to deny them their voice.

And what is Nulab so afraid of? Why will it whip its MPs to a man and woman, Blarite and Brownie, left, right and centre, honest and corrupt, into the lobbies to deny the people a say?
We know why.

But London is calling .....and your liberator is on that Shuttle!


9 Jun 2009

Quote of the Day

"Even I didn't think a Brown administration would be as inept as this one. The Brownites are attempting to terrorise Labour MPs into inaction. If they succeed then we deserve our fate."
Frank Field MP


8 Jun 2009

The Bunker

...............thanks to Man Widdicombe Blog


That wee bit closer this morning....


7 Jun 2009

I Must Write

I'm kind of trying to keep out of this. Let events run their course, let others thousand times more influential have their say, make it happen.

But I kind of feel the need to say something, commit something to paper if only for my own benefit - a sort of spritual outlet!

Because, thanks to a good blog Ive just read by a Lib Dem Councillor in Grimbsy , I've come across an interview Tessa Jowell gave on BBC Radio 4 today. Here, she said Gordon Brown would quit if he believed it to be in the best interest of the Labour Party.

Now I write as someone who was in the Labour Party with Gordon Brown, active in it from the late 70s to the mid 90s, and can tell you with near certainty the only thing Gordon Brown has ever had the best interests of in mind is - Gordon Brown. Then and now.

And just who , except those on his carefully constructed payroll or the simply deluded, could possibly think it is in the best interests of the Labour Party for him to remain its leader? And who, apart from an egotistical buffoon like Alan Sugar - a man who can judge real bright 25 year olds as not up to running a shoes sales promotion, but think Gordon Brown up to running a country - believe Brown "the best man for the job"? Of leading our country out of a mire of sleaze, recession, immorality and illegality - a mire Brown more than anyone alive has helped create?

A man booed by vets at D-Day....elderly folks who had travelled hundreds of miles to pay their respects to fallen comrades, but who had no respect for the Prime Minister of their country

This man best to lead us? The genuine judgement of Tessa Jowell apparently, and of Mandleson, the Alexanders, Murphy, Balls and his Mrs....and Alan Johnston.........

Who appointed these goons?

Who appointed McBride, Wheelan before him, John Rafferty before him? Thought Tommy Graham ( ex MP for West Renfrewshire and expenses milker par excellence) worth protecting? Who brought back Mandleson? Who feted the bankers?. Who schemed for years against Blair, but now has the hypocrisy to attack schemers, demand "loyalty".

Who - and do look - got Michael Martin elected as Speaker in the first place, and then let him , encouraged him, to develop an expenses system based on chums, patronage and graft? Who kept all these guilty as sin ministers in his cabinet until they walked out or were found out to such a degree even they knew it was time to leave?

Who is so interested in the views of Labour Party members that two years ago he got his goons to strong arm potential supporters of John McDonald out of nominating him? - to stop an election even Brown would have won!

And who is this "man of the people" who, every time the people have been asked - in elections he can't avoid - give their verdict on him as "not wanted". Not remotely wanted.

But still he think he knows best, he alone can lead us out his wilderness. Close to sectionable.

Who is Gordon Brown?

Who ever voted for him? Who ever said he was "brilliant" except his well constructed spin machine that lazy journalists, for a time, bought into?

Why is he running the country? How did he get there? How do we get rid of him?


EXCLUSIVE: New Euro Poll !

As we wait for the results, let's have one...on the Party Election Broadcasts the parties in Scotland inflicted on us in the run up to them.

For the first time the BBC has helpfully put them all online. You can view them all here.

So if you are bored rigid - or to be serious - are interested in effective political communication - have you say. Vote on the one you think most effective.

I don't mean the one you personally agree with most. I mean the one, from an objective point of view was most effective at getting its point across, was most memorable, had most impact. One that had you saying, " I wish my party had done one as good as that", or maybe even genuinely had you thinking "bang on" , that said what I'm thinking and it said it well.

The four big parties all had three PEB's , so to even it up, I'm only including their most recent one in the poll. So you have ten choices in total. (I'm reluctant to include the BNP, but the BBC has, so I'll go along for just this once)
Get viewing ,
Result: SNP 46%; SSP. 20% ; LibDems 13 % ; others, nowhere
(turnout suitably low for a euro poll)


Obama on Palestine

"Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding.

"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

Cry Freedom

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.”
Read more


Never Forget

They will never forget,
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!

Stanley Bruce
written 6th June 2004


5 Jun 2009

At the Top of Their Games


4 Jun 2009

Enough Said

"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 Nixon Regime - the verdict of The Guardian

"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."

Here! here!


1 Jun 2009

Vote for "Something Better", Thursday, 4th June

.....................Song Lyrics


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