Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Quick Links to my Northern Ireland stuff, and my fiction...




My favourite number...


Every class I've ever taught knows my favourite number. I use it all the time for number problem games and for giving them clues to answers of sums. It's an odd number to be a favourite, but it links three things, friendships, my grandparents on my mums side, a series of films that were, as a child and beyond, some of my favourites.

My pre-teen friendships, from probably the age of five or six, centred around Mickey Neeson. I had a good few friends as a child, but Mickey was perhaps one of the most influential people on my life, because he was wild, funny, and really pushed all of us to new things. When I think of him, I think of Tucker Jenkins from Grange Hill, Luke Duke, from the Dukes of Hazard, and The Fonz from Happy Days. He was that kind of person. And Mickey was the only Catholic in our wee group - and I can honestly say that through him, and my Grandfather, Billy Mulligan, I learned to question all around me in my mid-Ulster Troubles cradled childhood. This isn't about Mickey, or the troubles… Let's leave those to another time this is about my favourite number. The link Mickey has to my favourite number is through “New Town.” A place he, Mark Anderson, Paul Jackson, David (Doice) Anderson and I created.

Mickey’s mum and dad owned shops. Shops that sold large “white goods,” - Washing machines, cookers and tv’s. I don't remember who had the idea, but I remember having huge fun with the huge boxes left over from sales in Mickey's parents shops.

We used a massive one as a sleigh down a steep grassy hill, one hot summer. About ten of us lying flat, holding on to an edge and whooshing and screaming down the grass.

But that wasn't the idea. That wasn't the link to my favourite number. “Newtown” was. Newtown was created by flattening out lots of large boxes on the floor of an old outhouse at the back of Mickey’s House we had been given the use of as a gang hut by his mum and dad. During a fall out between me Mickey, Mark and Doice, they had painted it and graffitied it with their names. When I refriended them, we turned it into a club house, a nightclub and then Newtown.

Newtown was sketched out on the flattened boxes - roads, lanes, car parks and waste ground. And we played with our Matchbox, Corgi and Dinky cars. We begged in shoeships for boxes to make buildings (I remember one shoe shop owner saying we were “Very enterprising,” which we had no idea what it meant, but it sounded great, and we repeated it a lot in her posh, middle class, mid Ulster tongue). And characters were born, territorialism created and cars swapped, crashed and destroyed. Mickey had two town characters I remember. Both called Bill. Bill the Mechanic…

(he was no mug, Mickey. Our painstakingly written out and cut Newtown currency seemed to go entirely into Bill’s green Clark's shoe box garage. It was my first experience of economic theory, and money soon became almost worthless as we injected massive amounts of quantitative easing into the small town. We needed petrol for our cars, servicing and other car stuff. Our plastic soldier characters never seemed to need food from my cafe)

… and Bill Civince. Bill Civince was a spelling mistake. Mickey wasn't the best speller. He meant to write “Bill Chinese” on the bottom of his Japanese soldier character. Geography wasn't really his thing either… But Bill Civince stuck, and became the top fighting and Dukes of Hazard style driver in his Matchbox 2CV, crashing through cardboard garage roofs etc Dukes of Hazard style, while Mickey screamed, "Yeeeehah!" And setting fire to shoebox buildings we found our miniature working firetruck couldn't cope with and having to kick the burning town into the street while we coughed and spluttered for air.

I can't remember any of my characters, just my cars. In particular one I had customised, which is the link to my number. I'll come to that later.

Another friend of mine was Clark Davison. He was in my class in school until we were separated by the 11plus. Which to me at the time seemed more cruel than Mickey going to a different school from the start. Clark shared my interest in war comics, and in particular, Warlord. Both of us were Warlord secret Agents. And then Fireball Agents. But mostly Warlord Agents and weekly followers of the posh spy, Lord Peter Flint. Mickey, Mark or Doice had no interest in Warlord, or secret agents, or jumping off Clark’s garage roof etc. The weird thing was Clark and Mickey didn't seem to get on, or at least, Clark wouldn't play with Mickey, so the twain rarely met. Looking back, I wonder if it was because Clark’s da’ was in the RUC - this was the height of the Troubles... The height of suspicion..? Or maybe both just liked to be boss. I don't know.

Anyway, my favourite number linked these people, and my favourite series of films. And Clark in turn was in a weird way linked to my grandparents through a different number.

My grandparents had a phone, well before our family ever did. And their phone number was seared into my memory, 23941. Clark had a phone as well. Clark had a lot of things I liked. He had a Pink Panther car, a real fur rug in his living room, a guitar, and a colour TV that we sat in front of on a Saturday afternoon and ate snacks his mum brought to us. His mum looked like Farrah Fawcett Majors (well, had her hairstyle), wife of the best TV character in history, well up until that point in the seventies. “Steve Austin… Man barely alive, we can rebuild him, we have the technology, we have the capability to build the world's first bionic man…” Clark’s phone number was 23940. And that one number away from my grandparents was a coincidence, a link to Clark I've always remembered, a link to a man whose joie de’vivre infected me and all who knew him, and a “Nanny” so kind she would have given you the food from her plate.

So there are all of the people linked by this number, the number of Clark’s house, and the number on the bonnet of my Newtown customised matchbox car, customised with white model paint and a number carefully painted in black. And the number of my next birthday. And the number on the bonnet of the star of my favourite series of childhood movies…
Showing my age... And Herbie. 



Monday, 27 August 2018

Downfall Redux...

This article was originally written for, and published by Ungagged! HERE

I’ve always found hero worship odd. I’ve never had rock n roll/pop heroes, religious heroes or political heroes. 

Back in1979, friends of mine flocked to Knock, Dublin and other places to see John Paul 2. Although I was 13,and not from the community the Pope came to speak to, I saw a spotlight on our place, shone by the entourage of journalists and commentators he brought with him. As I write this, a smaller crowd are greeting the present Pope, who is busy apologising for child abuse meted out by his church, but not apologising for the incredible male-ness of his permanent entourage and decision makers. 

As heroes topple, most of them men, its the behaviour of those around them that fascinate me. 

Many friends of mine were absolute hero worshippers of Morrissey and the Smiths. As the working class pseud sang about the plight of the “his community,” and their culture in the eighties, millions dressed like him, had their hair cut like him and quoted his lyrics almost as I imagine fans of 18th and 19thcentury romantic poets did. He was of that lineage. 

Cut to the late nineties and two thousands, and Morrissey’s increasingly anglocentric, British nationalism and seemingly uninformed sexism was brushed aside almost as “mistakes, flaws,” by their still heroised bard. His more recent behaviour, praising alt-right tropes etc, hasn’t pushed his back catalogue to the back of the record collection, yet. The Smiths and early Morrissey are still untouchable in a way Gary Glitter’s back catalogue will never be. He still has a stage in front of thousands, no, millions of people to whom he can spout his message of “Viva Hate!” Unfair? I don’t think so. Like all monsters, the monster in Morrissey must be denounced. And someone with the huge power of a public voice should be humbled. The price if not, is that more politically vulnerable fans are not given clear messages of what is acceptable politics and unacceptable fascism. How the fans/ex fans react is hugely important. 

In the seventies and early eighties, Fascist imagery, lyrics and speeches from the stage were made unacceptable by the superb “Rock Against Racism.” Eric Clapton, has spent years apologising for his drunken racist outbursts, and many fans, radio DJ’s etc, to this day body swerve his music. If you find some of his outbursts on YouTube, fans can be heard booing him. Bowie and others from the avant garde school of pop/rock were forced to abandon fascist imagery and nowadays, no right wing music or bands get beyond backstreet pub gigs. 

The fans spoke. They condemned and they refused to buy tickets. Rock Against Racism changed the rock and pop industry every bit as much as Thatcher, Stock Aiken and Waterman, Island or Simon Cowell. An unhealthy and imbalanced relationship between ego-ist, and at best, niave pop stars and unacceptable symbols and politics of hate, was averted by major bands, fans and record labels signing up to Rock Against Racism principles. 

Back in early 2005, branches of the then thriving Scottish Socialist Party, of which I was a member, were called to extraordinary meetings in which we were told that our then heroised by many, “Convenor,” Tommy Sheridan, had badly erred. Tommy, at meetings some of us attended, apologised. In those days, Me Too, the movement of support for those who have been victims of abuse, did not exist. Powerful men were the norm. Heroes out to save us from the enemy. There were no subtleties in public discourse. To many of those in the SSP, Sheridan was a hero, and although he had more subtle options, he was going to “fight The News of the World,” which had published details of a visit to a swingers club in Manchester he, some friends and a reporter had made. Sheridan’s behaviour, and those who then sought to gain politically within the Socialist movement were crucial to what then happened in Scottish (and subsequently, UK wide) socialist politics. 

Sheridan pursued a tactic of outright denial-which on its own could well have seen this issue blow over. To add to the denial, Sheridan decided to sue the Murdoch empire. Most of the rest of the SSP disagreed with this tactic–to throw our at that time sizeable forces at this would ensure we were caught up in something for years that was far from why activists from across the left had come together, volunteering time, money and energy to the SSP. Activists would burn out totally, if the raison d’etre of the party became the sanctity of “The Great Hero Leader,” who, in fact, was a very naughty boy. But it was those who saw political capital for them and their small factions who turned a small body blow into the destruction of, until then, Europe’s most successful socialist alliance. I won’t go in to detail about what followed, Alan Mccombes book, Downfall does a pretty good job of telling what happened, as does this Thousand Flowers article.
The thing is, during all of this, naively, I thought politics could continue as normal. We could continue to fight the Blairist Government, and fight for amazing socialist reforms. I remember, clearly, going to a small SSP Regional Council meeting in The Piper Bar, in Glasgow City Centre. The main protagonists were there, including Sheridan, and his until this point in time, best friend Keith Baldassara. I was there to ask Sheridan our MSP, advice on a proposal our branch had discussed regarding education, but the entire meeting became an argument between Baldassara and Sheridan about Sheridan’s stance on suing the News of the World. After a long time of intractable argument, I asked could we turn to other business, to which Baldassara told me, “you don’t know what you are talking about here, Neil. This is more important.” And clearly it was, to them. To me, as someone who had joined the SSP in spite of not liking Sheridan’s insincere rhetorical style and obvious ego, the most important thing was politics, not the preservation of the great leader, from whatever side you took.

Subsequently, Sheridan pulled together groups of people whose egos he stroked and factions that hitherto had tried their best to take over control of the alliance. Such was sectarian socialist politics. And those groups and fans who felt Sheridan was a hero or a ticket, wrecked a movement. Sheridan dragged people through the courts, and using his influence in the press, dragged the reputations of women who had been comrades in arms, and innocent bystanders through the mud. Many of us built a group within the party to try to save it, and to support those comrades Sheridan had decided to try to destroy. It had limited success. After 2007, the SSP and the Scottish Socialist movement  went into a decline it still has difficulty pulling up from. And that tarnish went on to infect the Independence movement as Sheridan flapped about trying to find income streams and ego stroking crowds. 

I watch the current left heroes across the UK, two in particular, through the lense of  experience of the SSP and that of Rock Against Racism, and know that if the worst aspects and mistakes of what has become known as “Corbynism” are not called out and addressed, the Labour Party will flounder in its attempts to pull the party left yet again.  And here in Scotland as people line up in solidarity with an alleged abuser and victims in the SNP, I can only hope the lessons of the past become the voice of the majority.

One “hero” is not a movement. The refusal of men to admit their fallibilities will wreck all that is good about what has been built. Defending one man should not be our raison d’etre. Change should be. Let’s hope these current heroes and their fans understand that. 

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Da Yessss Mehnz...

Man o man.

A pattern seems to have emerged amongst  activist men in Scotland since circa Sept 2014.

Man becomes politically aware.

Man believes he is the most politically aware man.

Man says a few politically affirming things that others agree with.

Man builds fan base and loud groups of social media shouters around him.

Man is invited to Yes groups to affirm their beliefs.

Man is appropriated by Sheridan /hanger oan groups around Sheridan.

Man is wanked off by them.

Man falls out with Sheridans lot.

Man takes some fans with him and vows he'll take Sheridan etc doon.

Man gets burned out and crashes in an explosion of ego, hidden money, accusations and capitalised sentences about the Yes movement being destroyed...

Man oh man oh man...

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The SSP


Many people on the outside of the Scottish Socialist Party are watching the current internal row and scratching their heads, bemused at people fighting over the bones of something many thought was long dead. Some of us, though, had for a while, thought that the party was revitalised post indy ref, with a flood of new members, and a lot of new money.

(to see SOME of what this is about, see  HERE, HERE, and HERE and this public Facebook post...


This hope turned to dust as the stranglehold of a small group of people and their personal dislike of each other, played out under the guise of creating the Ill fated Rise, crumbling with it, the reputations and trust worthiness of the “new cadrĂ©” hoping to replace that of the warring factions of Colin Fox and Frances Curran.


For many, the SSP was under stress well BEFORE Tommy Sheridan dragged members through court in his ill fated pursuit of The News of the World. Those of us who stayed may well have left the party a long time ago even if Tommy Sheridan not have been revealed to have been the charleton many now know him to be. The stresses and strains of the factions like the various Trotskyite groupings and the Scottish national question could well have destroyed the party a few years after 2005, if the Sheridan Show had not taken place, but out of loyalty to some of those attacked and degraded by Sheridan, some of us stayed, and didn't rock the boat, hoping against hope that something of the original project could be salvaged.

The superb independence campaign conducted by the SSP both in community halls and online looked like it had turned the party’s fortunes around, and injections of new blood and much needed funds saw a new enthusiasm blossom within the party,albeit temporarily.





The core leadership, under Colin Fox, suspicious of any activity in the party that was not initiated by them, began to hack at strangely perceived threats. This, combined with an ego that had Colin believing he could regain a seat in the Scottish Parliament under a badly formulated “alliance”with a small group of ex - Socialist Workers Party activists, and ex-SSP activists under the leadership of Jonathan Shafi and Cat Boyd and the Machiavellian whispering and insinuations of Frances Curran, crashed a revitalised party that was beginning to pull in new members, platforms and interest within the large Yes movement. My own experience of this period was awful. I personally was threatened, and had insinuations made against me that had me having to go to the police. There are many within the SSP and many who helped form Rise from without the party, that I will never trust in positions of power. As I've said HERE, I have never revealed all of what was thrown at me, but it I still have all the evidence of threats, whisper campaigns etc ready for such time it is needed.  I was just one of quite a few people who, when disagreeing with the core leadership of the party, were thrown under a bus... the current, young, National Secretary (joining the ranks of "enemy of the party," etc, like me, Allan Grogan, and many others ) and National Chair being the latest two.

All of this and the current problems (which are rooted in pre-Sheridan Show siege mentalities and personality battles) have exposed a party not fit for the purpose it was created for. Socialists in Scotland, unfortunately, do not look to the Scottish Socialist Party as a party to join (nor do they look to the SPS, SWP or any of the smaller socialists groups either).

Socialists I've spoken to do not look at the SSP and say, “hopefully they will sort out these problems.” Few really seem to care, beyond watching how the very personal spat between ex-MSPs plays out. And that, to me shows perfectly what Fox, Curran et al have done in the past few years.

And the pity is, that presently with the most right wing Tory party in living history in power, the working class in Scotland are in dire need for real, socialist representation.









Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Utopia, or Filter Bubbles? (edited 7/8/18)


Being Wrong 2 - The Irrational in Politics… Who Makes the Tea?

Things were so much more simple back when I wanted them to be. Solutions were easier. Socialism was the answer and what THAT was was plain to see – to me. Until I met the left organisations that call each other “comrade,” but hate each other’s guts.


  • Sorry granddad, I should have listened to your story about your day of being a member of the post war Communist Party. How you treat your activists really does show the change you want to be in the world.

This piece will mention various wee groups (because they are wee – but some have inordinate power because of how they insert themselves in unions, campaigning and professional bodies). I apologise to you for that. If you want to continue reading this and don’t want to be confused by their names, think Monty Python. Think “SPLITTER!” And think “Enemy of the Party...” If you don’t know what they are, they will have a label for you. You are either a neo-lib, a Blairite, a Tory or a traitor or worse. Or a potential member with money and newspaper selling capacity. When you begin selling those newspapers, expect praise, and condemnation in equal measure. And whatever you do, don’t ever believe giving the papers away is a good way to get your message out. Taking that pound from that wee woman on her way to get her fivers worth of groceries is part of the bigger picture that will save that wee woman from the hell of not being able to afford Friday’s tea.

Politics at present are odd, and I'm not sure of where we go. Trump draining a swamp, to replace it with a huge hole filled with shit; Brexit; a Scottish government with no credible opposition, plus a UK party in power that is dead but floating like a sparkling turd in the mire and actual seig-heiling Nazis on our streets, smashing up bookshops AND with power...

Don't read this for answers. It's about questions. And if you are happy in your cadre, this isn't for you either. To be honest, if you are happy with your corner in the current polity, stop here. And if David Icke, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon etc hold some truths for you, please go join one of the groups I mention below and have your head at least sorted to move to my level of cynicism. It took me 13 years in one. You never know, if you join, you might find some level of comfort. You might find answers in local campaignsg (as I did) and you might find a parent who will make the tea while you sell papers.

For years I wouldn't join a political party (I dipped in to a couple and promptly got my coat). I never joined a left faction either. I joined the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 2002 because it seemed to be bringing factions and left individuals together. That was smashed of course, by the Sheridan show, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the "Bambury – ites" (those who worked with Chris Bambury within the Socialist Workers Party and then split from that party to form a small Scottish Trotskyist faction), 2005-07. I stayed with that party and probably should have left in 2011, but a combination of a great active local branch and the promise of the up coming independence referendum kept me there and by 2015, had me crushed between machinations of two groups of splinters from the old Militant Tendency and the SWP. I left, sanity almost intact. Almost.
  • After the war which he spent in a factory in Lisburn County Down, building amphibious aircraft wings and being radicalised, my granddad decided to join the Communist Party and help at the 1945 election. The party at that time had a decent membership of over 1000 people. He and his comrade were given the task of monitoring a polling station and were told by a party official, importantly for poor working class people, that they would be supplied with lunch.

Labour in Scotland and the dreadful way the UK Labour Party have dealt with the anti-semitism row has ensured I stay clear of that mire. And personality politics, and the meeting of right and left in one party has kept me away from SNP and Greens (though both have got a lot of positive things going for them, and Im sure given their current message/ makeup etc, I’ll vote for them at the next election).

The left as defined by the original SSP of the early 2000’s I joined no longer exists, and can't exist under the conditions created by vociferous mini-groups on the left with inordinate power in the press and within movements (and fronts) here, and the strength of the SNP. It cant exist now as one of the original factions that shared power controls it completely. The passion of some individuals within it is there, still, but they are voices that whisper distrust even when they herald comradeship. And all of them either accept the current long term parentage, or are enthusiastic for it.

At present, I don't feel the parameters of the existent, proactive left in the Scottish “Yes” movement work for me, or for that matter a positive vision of a better Scotland. I also feel the activities policed by a wider Yes movement dependant on money from rich SNP members, and organisations "ok'd" by the new unknown Central Committee (ie who decide who can officially take part in the next independence referendum), and a movement almost incapable of self criticism levelled at the pursuit of being better than what we are supposedly fighting against, ensure strife amongst those of us really not interested in replicating a Scottish version of late 20th century UK.

You may not be familiar with a lot of what I say regarding Yes, or left movements. Some of you will be. If you have any questions, ask them below. Or on twitter. Or Facebook. Dont expect definitive answers on everything. But I’ll definitely get back to you. Though I’m not your mum, dad, leader, or person with all the answers. Subjectivity is understood by the right wing. The left tries to erase it from all they do, so objectively, conditions are better or worse for all when measured using their particular metre sticks. My 30 cm ruler is mine, and has measured a lot of rooms of people sagely nodding that one faction or another’s meter stick is a metre and not just clever guesses at distance.

This whinge isn't, of course, just about the left Yes movement. It is about much more. It is, I suppose about how people interact with each other. And how some seize narratives and sew truths that pull people down rabbit holes that are new or established. It’s about how “the bigger picture” becomes “means to an end,” and “casualties of war,” and “collateral damage.”

I think there are good people with good intentions across left groups in Scotland, and the UK, but I feel the present our "Yes" movement and the left in general, is going to be walled in by self-righteous, mostly well meaning, middle aged men. The butterflies have all been painted grey and pinned to a baize covered ply board. This also goes for the left in England, Wales and Ireland. Subtleties are lost. People are lost. People become collateral damage. Enemies of the party; their faces ground into the mud are a means to an end. An unavoidable stepping stone to a better Scotland and a better world.

I'll still vote Yes in an independence referendum here, but I don't know what that, as a progressive, means now. Yes, no more shitty Westminster Tories, but it can't JUST mean what the Bambury - ites say in their columns in The National, The Herald, etc; it doesn't JUST mean what the SNP say, Labour say, the SSP say, or the SWP, CWI or Solidarity/Sheridan/Hope Over Fear. And it doesn't mean what my analysis is either.

  • My Grandfather voted Communist in 1945. I wonder how unusual that was for someone perceived to be of the Unionist community at the time? Was the Unionist community different in those days? He wanted a better world for his young wife and his two wee daughters. He wanted a world much better than the poverty and death of his father. Were the CPNI a unionist party, promoting the British Union as the way to socialism/communism? They obviously offered hope to workers like my Granddad. And I don't doubt there were many who thought the same as him. It cant have been a bad organisation. And the “good” press the Red Army got when it entered Berlin MUST have had an effect on working people. He and his comrade sat and counted voters in and out of the polling station, their heads buzzing with the new society the Communists would bring. Modernity, and scientific production that meant no-one would go without. A management of the means of production by those concerned with meeting demand rather than creating it… Simple.


    A new Scotland and world is possible, but as others have been saying lately, reliving and repeating by rote, lessons learned from failures of the old left/national/other movements, and almost universal agreement on what we did right (when results of movements are, in reality, dependent on something more than binary results of activity) does not move us into our new world. We celebrate anniversaries. We celebrate glorious defeats. We stand in solidarity when there is injustice. We rail against dystopia.
    We don't design utopia.
    And at present the left seem to be debating just how high the floodwall on this safe space for the middle classes should be. They are debating just how devoted some of those w”on our side” rally are. No one is really talking about raising all boats. No-one is really analysing if the alternative to perpetual Tories is the best alternative.

    Listening to Labour, listening to the "Yes Scotland" left within and without the SNP, and seeing a hard left churn out the same things they have for decades and expecting different results, I am confused by what our demands are. I'm confused at what our movement is. I'm confused at what organisations that fear off message questions, the internet and leaked minutes can offer today's world of multiple personalities, identities, and vast networks.

    I have little to say to those on the left who tacitly approve continuity Assadist fascism, or those who feel the Rothschilds /Zionists /Jews control the world/the Tories /New Labour. They aren't on my side, nor the peoples, but for some reason have found themselves through odd deformed analysis, supporting antisemitism, racism, torture and police states. They believe that there are baddies whose analysis is death. They don't see the grey – the inability to analyse the huge deluge of information an interlinked, fast moving and densely populated world brings. Syria and the subtleties of anti-Semitism are two examples in a world where some on the left are making odd alliances. A Tower built on analysis that cant possibly be wrong, can it? Yet all of these people want a better Scotland and a better world, don’t they? They seem to be preaching revolution for us, but not those trapped in Assad’s totalitarian state.

    I have little to say to those waving Marx around like preachers did with filtered excerpts from the bible on street corners in Northern Ireland all through my life there, and selling their pamphlets and papers that reveal the opening of the seals. Nor do I have much to say, any longer, to those who urge people to sign petitions in order to get them to part with a few coins.

    Standing on a cracked paving stone, shouting "LAVA!" at those walking, crawling, shovelling, bleeding by, really doesn't cut it.

    In a political world contracting behind corporate leaders, walls, fractious self absorbed /self aggrandising left leaders etc, what unites us? Is it just what we are against? What is the progress we aim for that is new? What is this new world? The new world of 19th and 20th century philosophers or of left groups who are scared of discussion, argument and agreement outside their ossifying, smoke stained walls (via the Internet they say they distrust so much) ? Or does a world of self imposed, self condoning, filter bubble, echo chambered confirmation bias suit them?

    I read monthly, the new fronts created by those "with an analysis," sagely repeating each others step by step breakdowns of what has happened that week, and how this signifies further proof that capitalism is dying (as it has for more years than anyone reading this can possibly remember). And I read "what the class can do," and sigh. And I read, incredulously, the wobbling towers of analysis built on shaky foundations that support people shouting from on high. The organised left created confirmation bias well before Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica.

    I, like a huge amount of those on the left, will not be joining organisations as they exist at present. All left organisations at present replicate capitalist society anyway. "Be the [democratic] change you want to see in the world," has totally passed them by. And listening to "analysis" from these people is like having your head drilled by politically correct, bible flapping street preachers. And none of them care much for the activists who can’t keep up with the super activists or “CC’s/ EC’s”, important meetings and large volumes of paper sales by comrade X who will within two years, fall from activity, broken, exhausted, jaded and damaged.

    Their filter bubble world, created before Eli Pariser wrote about Internet algorithms, is
    "A world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there’s nothing to learn ... (since there is) invisible autopropaganda, indoctrinating us with our own ideas." Wobbling Towers.

    So, beyond "smashing the state," and various slogans, selling newspapers and grabbing pound coins as people sign petitions to no-one, what can we do? What is our vision? Where does this fit in to a virtually/e-connected, yet disparate, impoverished, walled off world?

  • The lunch never appeared. The new world of Uncle Joe’s Communism, in which everyone was looked after, crumbled in front of my Grandfather’s eyes that day. He and his friend left for home, disappointed and disillusioned. My grandfather told me, “I was a member of the Communist Party for one day. I thought, “if they cant even organise a lunch for us, how can they organise society?” He voted Labour, and what that became, for the rest of his life.
    And he was right. Sorry Granddad. I heard your story, but I was not listening at that time. I thought YOU didn’t understand. I was wrong. It was me who didn’t. I had found easy answers, and analysis that confirmed my bias. It had seemed so simple. Good people doing good things is all it took. But I had forgotten about the Irrational in politics. I forgot we are all looking for a parent. An authority. Someone who knows. And I had forgot that some will do anything to be thought of as that leader. That parent. And lies, mistruths and briberies are all part of the means to an end, which is usually the means to keep them in their position of parentage within a family group chosen by them. And I forgot that some, in order to be that parent on a pedestal, will never apologise and in fact, can never be wrong. The next analysis, built on the previous, will explain what some thought were errors. Or the previous analysis will disappear from the history. Nothing online mentions the communist party of Northern Ireland’s inability to get tea to their activists at polling stations in 1945. But it was something, a material thing, that was probably a factor in their immediate decline. How they treated people. How they preached bread for all, but couldn’t organise tea for the activists.


    What is this better Scotland/world that is possible if disagreement and "online" can't be part of it (as proved in my walled world in Scotland by ssh! SSP 2007/ssh! Rise 2015/ssh! SWP 2005)? The SWP proclaimed twenty years ago, that the internet would destroy them. Why? Because information was easily found. Information was easily shared. So the comrades baptised by Thatcher advised / advise activists NOT to share information. Misplaced Managerialism at best.

    Is a better Scotland/world just being anti-Tory? If so, isn't that just self defeating and ensuring we give Tories time to rethink their next image and message of "making Britain Great again?" Is it just supporting Corbyn/ the SNP, the great parent? Is it being uncritical until “it” fails, unapologetically?

    If Labour win an election, and don't make material, measurable, obvious change to lives, are we not just awaiting the next idealogical ultra capitalists to tear down more of the post war settlement and sell it off to the cartoon fat cats and imaginary, rabbit hole dwelling Anti-semetic cartoon bosses?

    If we win the next Scottish independence referendum, and our lives stay the same, what have we won? The right to replace a flag?

    And really, lefty Scotland, what is our vision for Scotland outside the UK? What is our vision for the EU? How do we practically get the tea on the table after next year? What is our vision for the world and our part in it? The lexit of the columnists has proven to be a sham that is further impoverishing communities they really have never lived in and the columnists and front leaders have never been elected. Or do we just sit and shout, “wrong!” ?
    I’m not berating anyone in particular in this piece. Its self flagellation, so sorry to the reader, if none of this is part of your world. Sorry, if you are satisfied with the current polity, or your particular part in that. You see, I want change. I wanted change from the moment I realised we are still living in feudalist societies, with Kings, racism, sexism and poverty. Its borne on disappointment and the realisation that people are still starving, people are still imposing their bigotries across the world and all we seem to do is change flags and parents.

    I no longer want declarations and seven points of agreement etc. I want to know how my children's children will survive, thrive and live in peace and abundance in an eco system that supports them and in a fair, free world. I no longer want to "foother" at the legacy of pensioners, middle aged men's and middle class columnists analysis of 1968, 9/11, Stop the War or Yes Scotland. I don't want to flag wave or pat myself on the back for marching. I really don’t want to listen to ego’s making demands, or shouting into microphones, or telling me I could have sold more pamphlets. I want to work for something.

    If we've learned anything from the twentieth century it should be that utopia was lost when we set its parameters and fell for those who loved applause.
    And trying to reimpose those parameters, in a world where everyone has a high tech machine that punches holes in those parameters, really does not work. And creating imposed filter bubbles ossify and dessicate. And jumping from one surrogate parent and false prophet to another really doesn't cut it.

    So how high is the sky we are trying to reach? Or are we merely pointing at a branch as the current shit swamp pulls us under?
    Or are we all going to be left sitting waiting until someone delivers tea they had no intention of delivering?