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


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