16 Dec 2009

Happy Christmas


7 Dec 2009

Scottish Labour's Local Government Concordat

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

Salmond on Cybernats

Alex Salmond, to delegates, SNP National Council in Perth, Saturday, 5th December, 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

News of Moridura - and now others!

Amid the controversy that has lead to the demise of the Wardog and Universality of Cheese blogs in recent days, many will have also noticed that the highly respected Ancient Order of Moridura blog has also disappeared - gone "invite only" if you go looking.

Understandably, there was some speculation that yet another nationalist minded blogger had been pressurised into a low profile/out of existence by our media friends. I can happily ( but also sadly) report that this is not the case. Rather Moridura ( Peter ) has just decided to stop and focus his energies into more conventional writing, and also - you will be pleased to learn - though concentrating on his video clips service, which is now best accessed through his continuing YouTube channel.

Nevertheless, the passing of the Moridura blog is to be regretted. It was, in my view, one of the very best. Indeed, at times "blog" did not do its posts justice - often we were treated to mini-essays, immaculately researched , cross-referenced and often illustrated by the aforementioned video clips. Peter's blog was the antithesis of the "cybernat" stereotype - always polite and ecumenical in its outlook. But nat and cyber for sure.

Hopefully, Moidura is just taking a break and will return in some form or another in due course. One disappointment is that the blog is now closed for viewing rather than left online and open to all with a "gone fishing" note. Because, even as an archive and source of info, many of the posts are still very useful. But more than this - if any new (or old!) bloggers want to see how it should be done - and done well - they could go look at it. Or for that matter any journos who want to see how "cybernats" can hold them to account through rigorous and well researched argument rather than self-defeating abuse.

Stop Press
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

Independence White Paper

I think I will read it before commenting

In the meantime, happy St Andrew's Day and a wee word from the doyen of Tory bloggers Iain Dale!

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

Jim Murphy's Calman White Paper - how nationalists should respond

Simply - "put to to a referendum vote."

Because Calman is radical - in terms of tax powers, a big change from what Scots were made to vote for in a specific question on tax in the referendum of 1997. So if you want to change these powers, have a specific vote.

In this regard the SNP is in danger of clouding the issue over its demands that aspects of the Calman Report over which there is "consensus" - those that relate to firearms legislation and speed limits - be implemented now. I see where they are coming from, but it's a confusing message.

"Give us all a vote Jim" is what we should be demanding loud and clear. This is about the sovereignty of the Scottish people, not a cosy "consensus" cobbled together by a self appointed committee and a bunch of politicians.

And of course they fear a referendum - on near anything.


22 Nov 2009

Labour's Next PEB?


19 Nov 2009

The SNP and a Second Term - What I am trying to say

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

The Second Term?

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.

So the second term remains on course.

But with the Tories in power at Westminster, Labour in opposition both sides of the border, and big block grant cuts inevitable, should the SNP want a second term?


13 Nov 2009

A Bad Bad Night for the SNP

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.

First of all let me say Willie Bain was a good candidate - local and plausible, and as far as I can make out a cut above the average Scottish MP, all parties. Why the SNP chose to make him an issue is beyond me. In almost every respect he topped the SNP candidate: Certainly on quite a few big issues - the Royal Mail for one - Willie was prepared to ( allowed to!) take issue with his party's line, unlike David Kerr.

But this was not a by-election won or lost by individual candidates, nor was the depressingly low turnout of 33% any surprise. ( no lower than should have been expected). The surprise - the thing that needs focused upon - is why the SNP did so badly: 20% of the vote in a "two horse race". Or indeed, not even 7% of those eligible to vote.

As for attacks on the "unthinking masses" who did vote labour - at least they voted. And I'm sure they mostly did think first. They just found what the SNP was saying to them, and how it was saying it, unattractive.

I was not there, nor do I have any pearls of wisdom to offer the SNP - other than this: Dismiss the implications of this result at Scotland's peril. Learn from it instead.


10 Nov 2009

A Final Appeal to the Voters of Glasgow North


4 Nov 2009

"Hash in the Attic" - or mince on the BEEB?

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

For Bill....and seriously good


22 Oct 2009

The Flower of Scotland

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

Right To Buy?

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".

For me, the distorting factor in the whole right to buy debate has been the level of discount available to sitting tenants - one that in many instances makes it stupid for them not to buy and pocket a windfall capital gain plus often mortgage more or less (and sometimes less) than their rent. And we all know of cases of purchase by proxy, where a sitting tenant effectively buys on behalf of a relative or even private landlord: No real right to buy at all, just the right to pocket some dosh at the expense of the public in general and those on waiting lists in particular.
So it is the discount, plus the temptations and distortions this brings about that has been and remains the key issue. And it is long term sitting tenants that get the biggest discounts, new tenants taking years to accrue much. So yes, this announcement I think does miss the point in terms of the current housing crisis. Indeed, it will probably encourage more sitting tenants to buy, fearing pretty soon they will be next

I personally think all tenants, should retain the right to buy, an absolute right, but within the context of a much reduced discount regime. I think the maximum discount even for a long term tenant might be reduced to around 15% of a property's current market value, with next to nothing for those who are more recent tenants. To me this would be fair to the tenants - some recognition that their years of rent paying had made some contribution to the property's capital cost. But crucially, all the capital receipts from sales need to accrue in full to the relevant local council or housing association , with a legal obligation on them to use these receipts on new build. And with the discount level low to non existent, this should lead to a more or less like for like replacement in terms of new build for rent. Good for construction industry jobs too.

Keeping a reformed right to buy would also help promote a degree of mixed tenure, surely a good thing and some sort of guarantor against 60's style sink estates re-emerging? And also a guarantee against bad social landlords - if your service is sub-standard as at least some tenants can exercise their right to buy. Run a good service, why would they want to in great numbers?

And finally, I can't help but think this is all a bit of a smokescreen by the ever politically astute Nicola. Because her government, her department, is presiding over a £260 million cut in the social housing budget next year ( 2010-11), as proposed in the current draft budget. That's a 27% cut in this year's budget, the single biggest cut in any Scottish Government department, by quite some way. So much for shielding the poor from the worst of the recession, folks who it appears are now to lose the right to buy to help compensate for and cover up these cuts. And "record number of houses being built this year?" A record budget maybe, but where is all the money going? Let's see the detailed figures....still not published in any detail, and massaged in ways that would make Alastair Campbell blush.

And all politically stupid I think. Labour in Scotland will have the SNP's balls on plate on this issue, starting in Glasgow North.


17 Oct 2009

Mahatma Macaskill

............Has Eck lost the plot? Or Was Mahatma also worked from the back by the British foreign office?


9 Oct 2009

Scotland Wins Nobel Peace Prize!


2 Oct 2009

Bill Spiers


7 Jul 2009


3 Jul 2009

The View of would be Tory MPs

.........Not bad for starters! Full Survey results


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


29 May 2009

Go Everton! - The People's Club

................................"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

Barca! Barca! Barca!

................Why Barcelona are More Than a Club, and this is more than a song. Find out here


24 May 2009

The World's Best Dieting Aid


20 May 2009

Something Better Lyrics

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

Chorus x2

(c) Words and music by Alan Smart, May 2009

Guitar Chords:
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 Ever !

"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.


My Message to Tom Harris

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.

Despite your blog, your attempts to reach out, engage, you still don't get it. Your constituents -and I know Glasgow South well - will just see a way over-promoted career politician who has milked the system for years ( even before he became Speaker), getting found out. Found out by the truth, events, and his inability to deal with them. Not one thing "honourable" about it.


In Defence of The Working Class - John Wheatley

Today is the 160th birthday of Red Clydesider and affordable housing pioneer John Wheatley. For those unfamiliar with his fantastic life story here it is in summary:

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.


JOHN WHEATLEY - Alive and Kicking


18 May 2009

Vote Labour!

............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?"


A Song and A Sleezbusting Plan

...................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

Or Even This!


15 May 2009

This is What the SNP should have done in tonight's PPB

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.


For Foulkes Sake - step forward The Red Baron

With speculation gowing on Speaker Michael Martin's future, pundits have started to ponder the prospects of an early by-election in his Glasgow North East ( Springburn) constituency

Maybe Baron Foulkes could be Labour's candidate. He could stand on his chum Michael's unimpeacable record. And The Baron needs that third - or is it tenth? - salary.

He could get the law chaged to allow him to sit simultaneously in the Lords. Genius should know no boundaries.

One problem? - would the Martin familly let him stand? I think some auntie has been promised first refusal.

But "The Red Baron of Springburn" - unstoppable. A worthy heir to John MacLean! .
......Unless Carrie Gracie presented the hustings programme


Margaret Beckett

Margaret Beckett takes the biscuit. I remember her as Margaret Jackson in the 70s and 80s, a self styled "Bennite". Yes a Bennite, though she used the term selectively - she dropped it when it got in the way of her career. Today she is a Brownite , previously a Blarite and a Kinnockite. I do wonder what she would have been were she brought up in Germany in the inter-war years? Not in jail, that's for sure.

But today, she is English Housing Minister, presiding over the worst housing crisis in living memory. I'll give you the figures for Scotland, but in England they are as bad, in some places worse: Over 30,000 Scots classified as "priority homeless" and over half a million Scots on housing association or council waiting lists, figures more than double what Nulab inherited in 1997 - yes , twice as bad as the Tories!

Nulab will of course claim times are tough, they are doing all they can, but as ever the poor need to wait as the rich are bailed out. But adding insult to injury is surely having a Housing Minister charged with solving the crisis having three homes! Two of these have been wholly paid for by the taxpayer - a taxpayer who apparently can't afford help the homeless. As Foreign Secretary she had a grace and favour free flat in London, but she also managed in this same period, to claim £72,000 for a "second" ( third!) home in London as well. Illegal wars, illegal expenses?

This is graft, pure and simple. Unnaceptable. Margaret Beckett should resign now and retire from politics today. And the police should investigate.

And leaving aside any potential crime, just think how people on housing waiting lists - over 5 million across the UK - feel about having a Housing Minster who, in addition to her own home ( paid out of her £110k Government Minister salary) and her free Government provided town house , also claims another £72,000 of public money for a third home in London over a four year period? That's almost eight times the rent they would willingly pay out their own pockets - if Margaret Beckett could provide them with just one home to rent.

Beckett - an MP since 1974 and grade one career politician, has totally lost it. Unfit for purpose . Go, and forever. And take your corrupt colleagues with you.

Don't believe me? Watch her pathetic arrogant performance on BBC Question Time last night. The years have not been kind.


14 May 2009

Support Democratic forces in Burma in their hour of need

....................Click here to help


12 May 2009

The Day John Smith Died

Fifteen years ago today I was working as a TV producer at Scottish Tory Party Conference in Inverness when the news came through. I was on the conference hall balcony about to interview Ken Clarke, and had to tell him we had a problem - his long term sparring partner and now Leader of the Labour Party had died.

I knew John Smith quite well, but his daughters better, and for a few moments I just lost it. But when I came around I saw Ken Clarke was even more distressed than me. And when the announcement was made to the in session and in government Scots Tories, you could hear a gasp of shock, could feel their genuine sadness as they solemnly filed out the hall - the measure of the man.

I had been with Scottish TV's ( now BBC Radio Scotland's) Colin MacKay three years previously for the first interview John Smith had given after his earlier heart attack. I knew from this - plus direct knowledge of how much it had taken my own dad to get back on his feet after his heart attack - how hard it had been, would be.

But by 12th May,1994 John Smith was on the verge of greatness. He had the Tories on the run, politically, intellectually and I'd say morally - though he was never a man to preach, despite his religious beliefs.

But all this was not to be for John, the torch instead passed over to Tony Blair. And history

Exactly five years later - ten years ago today - as the Scottish Parliament's Head of Broadcasting I was again present at history, as I filmed the first ever sitting of a democratically elected Scottish Parliament. This was a day John Smith, Devolution Minister in the 1970's Labour Government, the Labour leader who had bravely led his party into the all-party Scottish Constitutional Convention, had lived for - died for even. His spirit was ever present in the Church of Scotland's converted Assembly Hall , but nowhere more so than in his university friend and long term political ally, Donald Dewar, who saw John's promise home.

This film below I hope captures that moment - our moment, Scotland's moment, John's moment.


6 May 2009

God is a Catalan - with a Norwegian Granny!


4 May 2009

VIDEO: SNP Win - Exactly Two Years Ago This Evening !

................Watch all my 2007 Election campaign VLOGS here


1 May 2009

For May Day - and for Scotland


For May Day - and the World


30 Apr 2009

Ab Fab

Ghurkas 267

NuLab 241

"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,"

Johanna Lumley


Swine Flu - A Damien McBride Conspiracy?

This thought has entered my head.

On a day that the Government was humiliated over the Gurkha vote, is about to lose ( has already lost) the MPs expenses vote, and Brown has had a car crash of a performance at PMQs, what do all the networks lead and bleed on? " About thirty people have flu", or "Mexican girl dies in Texas of swine flu" - as opposed to the hundreds of Mexican that die in Texas ever year of general neglect and discrimination.

I know Swine flu is potentially serious, but is this media hype in anyway helping - other than spreading unnecessary panic? And what is the practical advice on offer other than "don't go to Mexico"

I could say all this was one big NuLab conspiracy, especially as Damien McBride has this week astonishingly been spotted in the Commons chatting to journalists - apparently still with his Downing Street issued parliamentary pass! But I wont. Instead I'll say this feels like one big pharmaceutical industry conspiracy.

Meanwhile, GB goes from bad to worse, with that "Resign" e-petition now topping his own website's petitions page, and pulling away rapidly from its rivals. I now don't even know if Brown can hang on until his planned execution day - the day after Euro Election results.

Here though is an alternative exit strategy: He could feign illness and resign on health grounds - swine flu - caught off a Gurkha in Iraq. How appropriate?


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