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

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Another Scotland/ Europe/ World is Possible- the Villa Vegana table...

Or why I joined the SNP...

So... I joined the SNP last Friday. Something I thought I would never do. I had to. After the Brexit vote, I felt it was my only option.

The Scottish micro-left, so buoyant after Indyref1, committed hari-kiri last year and the microphone grabbers so reliant on their small group of followers, but so dismissive of their views, are making a dash for the stage again.

Indyref 2 is on its way- and I have to help- even more than I did last time. I won't be a local "Yes" leader by way of my political party this time- but I'll be free to deliver whatever leaflets etc I feel will persuade those around me.

I admire those who have decided to go back home to Labour to help the Corbanista fight. But I believe it is a fight that will ultimately drain energy and not help the place of Scotland in the EU or the world. Corbyn and his circle are British Unionists. I feel the Labour Party in Scotland, even with the extra bodies from the left joining it, will not be the power it once was and be able to influence the wider party into letting it set Scottish policy (ie Independence), and as a matter of fact, the power in the party north of the border will still be difficult to wrestle from the cold, dead hands of the twitching body of Blairism.

I am very much to the left of the main body of the SNP, but I feel there are enough of us to ensure we move the civic and national conversation to independence, the citizens/basic income, against nuclear weapons and power and extending children's rights. I believe at present, as a socialist, I must try to calmly influence those who feel change comes slow to recognise that revolutions such as that the Brexit can bring to the UK and Europe can happen not just in the lives of the elite power struggles, but setting aside the weak and factional "revolutionary" left, we can overturn years of inequity, lies, scapegoating and factional Tory power squabbles.

(360 degree view)

I write this in a £2 million mansion on the hills outside Palma- rented for relative peanuts by a German couple who in their small way are changing the world by subletting to people seeking a different world. They host dinner parties every night with people from across Europe, eating freedom foods- vegan, sustainable and affordable- their ultimate goal to find someone to fund an Eco -vegan not for profit village. Speaking to small groups of people as they pass through the doors of Villa Vegana.

The £2 million pound villa would be sitting empty, the owner unable to sell because of the financial crash in property- but wanting to hold on to ensure ultimately his investment pays off. Which could take years as Capitalism has crashed and could well burn in the coming years.

These wonderful people, Miriam and Jens, are patiently along with friends who lend a hand in cooking, cleaning, conversing and being the change they want to see in the world, creating a new world.

Around the table this week we have agreed and disagreed with Germans, Italians, Swiss, Americans, Austrians... Yet all of them want a better world. A kinder world- a more equal world. And all of them-us- have the starting point of animal welfare. From that our conversations went to the Citizens income, a better Europe, the chastising of children, education and the Antithesis of poetic, media word warping elites of Berlusconi, Murdoch, the London/Westminster/Banker elites etc... And we found other points to agree on. All here in a millionaires mansion- none of us millionaires (nurses, teachers, tattooists, cameramen, shop assistants, doctors, artists, factory workers...) but all with our starting points of different experiences; none negating the other, all loving the food and the agreeable company and the wish for a better world. And all totally gobsmacked at the idiocy of the Brexiteers who voted to isolate us from the world of discussion, agreement to disagree and synthesis.

We met Podemos people in a polling station. They were full of hope. They were, unlike those in control of my old party (the SSP) and my new party- confident that the Citizens income at a "good" level, could free people. They were confident that overturning the PP (Tories) will happen soon. They were confident another world -another Europe- is possible. And my experience of Podemos as a REAL alliance was not of the false demarcations of power in Rise/SSP, but as the alliance for change the SNP is- faulty and imperfect as it is. And certainly not a party like the struggle between the dying "New Labour" Neo-liberal project and the less shrill, power to the people's front of Corbyn/McDonnell.

Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Harvie and others can change some of the conditions on which we can build- with our help. But we must create our calm, equal, accepting, ecological, loving new world by what we do.

The politics of old should not be allowed to return. We didn't create a new world by ignoring the fact that power still remained with the rich. We ignored who controlled the media for too long and we allowed the conditions that ensure those born with more privileges can prosper while those born into struggle, remain struggling- boxed in to a world of violence, insecurity, health inequality and poverty of both body and soul. Poverty of needs and experiences and beauty.

Bread and Roses is what we struggled for in the early days of our movement. Our movement then decided to struggle amongst itself for the last word.

Scotland needs the SNP, the Greens, Corbyn's Labour, the SSP and it needs a place we can set down our swords outside and honestly debate, discuss and agree to disagree.  Do I urge you to join the SNP? No. But I urge people to join the conversation outside the false parameters of the press and media. The skeletal rotting corpse of lies, deceit and false flags should be stabbed with a stake fashioned from logic, love and a bright future.

Do I think the SNP will change Scotland? Yes. Do I think it will do it alone? No. Do I agree with everything the SNP have in their manifesto? Certainly not- but I am going to discuss and argue and listen. The synthesis may not be my full programme-- but ultimately we will have the mansion and ultimately at the table will be sitting voices who agree, disagree, persuade and enjoy equity with all who want the best for their children and the world.

The beauty, love and damned hard work of Miriam and Jens here in Villa Vegana is inspirational. No one sitting around the table, prepared with care and thought for everything it has touched- from the producer, to the body and bodies of people eating, laughing, debating and not always agreeing- no one- will walk away unchanged. A world as beautiful, accepting and as fair as this is possible.

The ecological, organic, equitable seeds can be sown in Scotland as they are here in a very divided Spain (and Mallorca).

Brexit, though awful for all, can be the beginning of the end of inequality in the UK. Scotland can work with the others around the table and welcome England and others back when they have rid themselves of the divisive, elitist, racist, destructive power of capital.

Will my new party, the SNP do that alone? No.

The table is extendable and has enough for everyone to enjoy and prosper.

Now, I am going to share the pool with the rest of my European sisters and brothers...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

What are you voting for when you vote Leave?

(Open letter to those going to spoil their vote, not vote or vote Leave in the EU referendum)

Friends, Family and Comrades

I think you are massively mistaken in spoiling your vote, just as those who are voting Leave are mistaken.

Yes, there are faults on both sides of the current awful campaign- and there are faults in the EU that seem difficult to fix.

What we can agree on, I hope, is that we cannot predict the future- or  a future Government's will to reform the EU or properly negotiate with our immediate neighbours regarding trade, security etc.

What we can do is recognise the elements that wish us to leave and what the effects the leading campaigners of both sides WANT to create.

My fear is that on voting leave (or not using your vote to block leave) we are giving succour to Boris, Gove, Farage, the EDL, Britain First and all of the ultra right, pro- austerity, ultra -Thatcherite, racist and proto fascist elements of British nationalism. A nationalism that would pit us against neighbouring countries and would entirely block those seeking refuge from our future much more right wing Government's bombs.

Yes- that is a definite. If the country votes Leave, we are voting for a more right wing ultra austerity regime.

In the coming years, we have to recognise that wars will be fought over ever decreasing resources, water being the most elemental of these. Already countries in North Africa and sub- tropical countries are contravening treaties that ensure water flows through lands desperate for the resource. And many scientists are predicting the next refugees will be from countries lacking basic resources or who are at war over water.

A Farage, Gove, Boris, Daily Mail and Britain First built barbed wired White Cliffs of Dover and Fife coast will ensure our bombing for oil only heightens the fears crawling from the proto-fascists and seeping through our media and forked tongue politicians and into a misinformed electorate. Europe, with at present, it's strong left block and social charter can ensure, at the very least, we shelter those in need. That we can work together to at the very least, fish out the desperate children, women and men fleeing bombs and desperate poverty we are meting out on them.

Remain, at the very least, keeps these proto fascists at bay- and if we really believe the EU needs to be reformed, we should not leave it to a referendum on the terms of capitalists and ultra right wingers.

We should be campaigning to change the EU on our terms.

After tomorrow if we have given the narrative over to Farage, Boris, Gove and the EDL by either voting leave or not voting at all- there will be no renegotiation and there will certainly be no revolution- just misery and Austerity in the extreme for the people of the U.K. and those whom our ultra capitalist class will rob and kill and make homeless, landless, stateless to feed their profits and build higher fences around their Necker Islands will continue to wash up on holiday beaches or be blown to pieces.

Neil Scott

Monday, 20 June 2016

Where are the Scottish Left in the EU debate?

Where are the SSP in the EU debate? Where are those who promoted themselves as leaders of RIC and Rise?

The dreadful emphasis on Rise in the last year has taken its toll on the left in Scotland, not least the SSP- and the huge mistakes of the past year have cost communities an organised left voice in the EU debate.

After the Scottish Independence vote, the Scottish Socialist Party had won good faith both on the ground in communities where during the campaigning, activists had played a significant role. They had organised Yes Scotland meetings, training sessions, canvassing, leafletting and other cross party activity, and online through the second to none social media campaign carried out by a team I built. The parties membership rose from a low in 2012 when only 50 people turned up to its AGM, to around 200 people attending last May -our online activity and rebooted access to policy etc brought in many many new members and as I say, a respect throughout the huge Yes campaign.

If you know this history, skip to the parts about the EU.

Then, almost against the will of the party- a motion created to fool members, allowing a group of people who showed no real understanding of the new growth, or the post indyref political landscape, was passed "reluctantly" (the word of the day at that agm!).

The AGM over a week ago was attended by 56-60 people (figures via headcounts), or as the party boasted, 80 (almost as bad as the "leader" of the party boasting he has been the longest serving Scottish political leader...).

Membership is now back in the doldrums, and the people the party managed to pare off during the almost incredibly bad "Rise" venture and campaign are being sent out emails practically begging them to come back.

Some I have spoke to have said they are unlikely to go back given the make up of the EC- it is full of those who firstly led the party to disaster and secondly were part of the angry, nasty Rise campaign that targeted many members (who were attacked online perhaps more than any Tory policy or new Labour nonsense). They have also said to me they cannot allow themselves to fund a party that yet again went for the tactic of promoting a personality rather than politics and policy- what happened in Glasgow seemed to be a Sheridan campaign done badly.

All of this is well known now on the left in Scotland. The SSP really made a fool of itself last year as its National Secretary praised those attacking and threatening people online, viewed by thousands, and the party took the line "taking the fight to the SNP," a line so Ill thought out, yet again members -some long in the tooth- cut ties.

What is telling during the current referendum is how weak the arguments for Remain are from the left. Remain are relying get on Kezia Dugdale to say left stuff on the telly. Instead, Nicola Sturgeon is persuading more people on the left to remain the EU. Where are the SSP?

The SSP formulated a superb pro-EU (with conditions) policy back circa 2007/8. The left within the much larger party at the time, came to the conclusion that the EU could be reformed through making ties with left groups involved in the EU Parliament and fighting for workers rights and for funding that helped create equality throughout the EU Region. The party also recognised that the Parliament needed reformed in order to ensure the corporations who have access to power, were stemmed and ordinary people had much more access to the power of the social and economic bloc.

Now- do we hear anyone give those arguments (and filling in the gaps with figures and data)? No. Why? Because the SSP chose to dissolve itself in a union with people who were as Colin Fox put it to me, "party enemies."

I disagree with him. They were not party enemies. Some are selfless campaigners. But they were dissatisfied with the post- Sheridan leadership's inability to move on from being just anti-Sheridan and not pro-campaigning.

Unfortunately the Rise alliance would not take a stance in the EU referendum, because they didn't want to be seen to have disagreements in the alliance. Some prominent members of the ISG were against remaining in the EU- but this made up a tiny percentage of the alliance. This was a huge part of the problem. They wanted to paint the "socialist" group as United - yet the online arguments and discussions and threats to members, name calling, defamation and silencing showed Scotland and beyond that in actual fact the party and the alliance were very disunited to say the least.

And the party leaders thought that rather than creating online "safe" forums in which members could argue, fight and scrap away from public eyes, forums were "the Internet" and part of the big "social media problem."

Rather than deal with threats, trolling etc, the leadership allowed it to continue in order for them- internet avoiders- to see, hear or smell no evil. The problem, they thought and said out loud- was SOCIAL MEDIA!

Yet the problems prevail. The many views in the ever decreasing party have no outlet, and because of that are censored on a group run by its new woman spokesperson who just last year shut down conversations she didn't like on forums I had set up to keep bams from attacking folk on Facebook...

How could we as a left bloc had a bigger voice in the current EU debate?

The SSP were- by far- the biggest operating left party in Scotland. We had activists working across Scotland- well established branches working in communities with other political activists. And we HAD respect. Our working class message was copied by RIC (a group which, on the ground, was peopled by OUR activists) and in meetings across Scotland in the 2 1/2 year lead up to September 2014, we changed the focus of the debate from solely economic as the snp/ business for Scotland etc wanted, to one focussing on the social -issues of poverty, or as Rosie Kane put it in a meeting in a wee scout hall in a village outside Glasgow- "how and who to spend Scotland's riches on."

If the current SSP leadership had not have dissolved the party into the dreadful alliance, the SSP would STILL have those voices in community organisations they were part of and the left argument for remaining in the EU would be in Remain stalls, just as our argument for independence wAs on Yes Scotland stalks across the country.

The EU debate in Scotland totally lacks the perspective of a party that is wholly for working class and victims of Tory austerity. TUSC, Galloway, the Labour Party and others on the left  have totally embarrassed themselves by getting involved in the right wing driven "controls on immigration" shite.

The SSP has a superb stance on immigration- one that welcomes new Scots open armed and offers succour to those running from their homes in fear. Those voices are not being heard.

What do we do in future? The SSP at present has placed its future on hold. It has silenced dissent by giving those who advocated censoring voices, power. It has kept the old guard in place- an old guard that led the party into the Scottish Screaming Syriza. And it refuses to recognise its failure and analyse where it went wrong YET AGAIN as the leadership say over and over -"we are were we are," a way of saying, "forget last year- we have another cunning plan you will "reluctantly" allow us to sink you with.

Scotland is at a political disadvantage without a good working class analysis of the EU debate. And while the SSP continues to exist in its bubble created by those who created Sheridan and the mess last year, Scotland will be relying on the SNP, the Greens, Labour and the Lib Dems to challenge the Tories. All of them have a record of giving in to austerity measures.

The road back for the Scottish left will be a long one, but an SSP made up in the way it is at present, will become an ever decreasingly important element of that, I'm now convinced. I feel the left will reform- but through grassroots and community organisation FIRST- not through motions from a distant EC or a Circle, rotating around Scotlands new "socialism personified" face.

I feel local organising- making links across parties for local campaigns is imperative- especially if we want to have left perspectives as part of the approaching indyref 2 or the next stage of the EU debate.

The SSP leadership let us down in the last year-let many hundreds of activists down. I feel if the SSP are to evolve- the party must ditch the "leadership" and branches take control.

Politics in Scotland will be degrees of Neo-liberalist austerity if we don't get our act together.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

War-what is it good for? Profits. A warning from the present...

My friend,   Ronald Mackay, who is 93 later this year, has been warning about the breakdown of international relations and the drive towards a war between the huge economic and nuclear powers.

So often when I hear him talk of this dreadful premonition, in public or amongst friends, I see some glaze over and recognise the internal dismissal of "the ramblings of an old man." I don't. I hold on to every word and I recognise in his words the warnings from the past when previous generations ignored wise people with experience. I recognise the warnings of socialists before World War 1 and the warnings of thousands of people across Europe, many gassed, shot or worked to death in camps of proud right wing nationalists and flag wavers.

And I recognise the conditions in which Germany stood alone, a proud people persuaded of their superiority by millionaires and their spokespeople, over all others- ending with the beyond imagination discovery of how "the other," "the hordes," "the swarm" were dealt with in Belsen, Sobibor, Auswitzch, and the millions of deaths in firestorms and on beaches and in Nuclear terror, leading to gulags, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam and yes, the current Middle Eastern disaster.

Lies built on lies; diplomatic language designed to hide truth like racism, profits, poverty, homophobia, personal ambition, imperialism.

Ron witnessed all of this in his lifetime. And he is witnessing all his generation built to combat it being pulled down, institution by institution; the NHS, the welfare system, industries run to serve the country rather than a profiteer, protections of indigenous people, protections of refugees, and yes, the protection of the EU.

Will the horrendous murder of Jo Cox, a young MP whose life was dedicated to the type of world Ron has dedicated his entire adult life to, change the dynamic of political and media discourse? I don't actually believe it will. So often there are events that are highlighted as moments when we pull back from the brink. My belief is that yes, the proto-nazification of the U.K.will slow down. Those people creating posters reminiscent of the dehumanisation of the Jews and other groups, will learn from this. Their language may change- and how they target the poor, the hopeless and the struggling will change. But the message will remain the same- all that is being taken from you is because of an invidious threat from greedy, dehumanised hordes. And this message will continue to be supported by a press owned by right wing profiteers, protecting their own and their billionaire pals economic interests- blame the poor, the needy, the voiceless, the vulnerable on the shambles we made of the economy. Make them, and the poor, pay for our greed. Tell them it is the brown guy, the black woman, the child struggling for breath in the Mediterranean Sea's fault that you have to wait a few hours longer for your free care in the NHS. Tell them the NHS is failing- tell them it will be better run by me and my pals who crashed the world economy- because I need another income stream...

Add to the mix the eroding of the institutions set up to protect us from war- the United Nations in danger of dissolving in uselessness like the League of Nations, the EU falling apart because Farage and others want to pay less to the poor - a socially cohesive and protective system that the EU attempts is an anathema to  their belief we should all struggle for scraps from the fat Victorian Billionaires table. The Little Matchgirl, to them, was a failed business- a girl who didn't know how to market her wares, or how to diversify. The slums of Glasgow, within living memory, to them are an aim. Places where the poor and needy can be jailed and can fight over hand outs like education for their children, medical care (if they are lucky), jobs if they are prepared to queue up, from the rich.

Do I exaggerate?

Ask Ron, as the US navy encroaches on the huge economic power Russia is again becoming. Ask Ron as politicians and newspaper columnists call for the shooting of refugees. Ask Ron as political groups arm and kill socialists and foreigners and homosexuals.

Listen to the warnings of the past, before they become history. Before all that is left is distrust, death, destruction, poverty and hatred.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Don't threaten Louise Mensch or Julia Hartley-Brewer. Kill all da mehnz.

"Kill da mehnz," they said. And we laughed. Oh how we laughed. Because we "da mehnz." The pale, stale males; all of us "the patriarch," and upholding that regressive system because we don't recognise our privilege.

Then they said, "these baldy white men" are disagreeing with us on Facebook and Twitter. So we assured them, yes, we disagree with you- but we disagree with the mehnz who are saying the same thing. But they continued to attack, saying that we hated women because we disagreed with them. And they told women, "you must be men- or else just traitors. All upholding and defending the patriarchy."

They called us misogynist for trying to silence them, yet we weren't. None of us were hacking their wifi nor were we objectifying them or saying they should stop saying what they were saying because of their womanhood. None of us were threatening them. That's not to say no one threatened them. I don't follow them on Twitter, and after the curious incident with one of them and a meme, I stayed out of groups on Facebook they shouted angrily on. Their view was valid- but different from ours. Our view on anything, if different from theirs, according to them- was upholding the patriarchy. Did they represent all women? They thought so. Not all women agreed.

Hartley Brewer- don't disagree?

We looked within ourselves and didn't recognise the criticism, because we hate patriarchy. We just didn't like their way of organising yet another socialist "hero" campaign- like all of the ones that had failed before. We just wanted to keep building where we had been for the past few years- in our communities; building trust and not vilifying socialists who had joined other political parties. Yet they "took the fight to the SNP," attacked socialists through their association with the Greens- and we- on the supposed same side, could not disagree because we were "da mehnz." Da pale mehnz; stale because we were horrified at their angry attacks across social media- dragging all of us into the angry box with them, by party association. Wrecking all of the building we, women and men, had done throughout the 2 1/2 years of the indyref- the campaign quite a few of them came to late- or had not engaged with at all.

But. Women were threatened by men. Men were threatened by men. Women were attacked by men. Men were attacked by men. The question is, did men attack women because they were women? Did women attack men because they were men?

Louise Mensch - don't disagree?

In our internecine fight in the small Scottish left bubble, I Disagreed with a political analysis of the left, the Scottish referendum and the way forward. And I was called a scab. I was threatened. I was called a troll. My job was mentioned as a weapon against me- I perceived a threat-  (I called the police when that happened) and then women were accused of being me. All the time, my only crime was disagreeing with how an organisation was run- and how a campaign was being destroyed from within. I was painted as a pariah, a creep, a troll- preying on young women, yet my biggest disagreement was with the male leaders of the group (as can be witnessed in my posts in this blog). And of course, there could be no way women would disagree with these people, because they were the only people sexist and misogynist things could happen to. Men must be behind all of these people disagreeing with them. Moreover- one man- a man with "a grudge." The ridiculous became sinister. The personal targeting and bullying took such a dreadful turn I had to take union advice (which was to go to the police!).

I profoundly disagree with what columnists Julia Hartley-Brewer and Louise Mensch have been saying this week and today. Hartley- Brewer disagreed that the gun attack in Orlando was an attack on the gay community. Mensch has been tweeting that the murder of brilliant young Labour activist MP Jo Cox, by a right wingnut was not political.

Both have a right to say what they did. But I found it so disagreeable, I said so on social media. Was I asserting my male privilege doing so? I would say if I was asserting any privilege it was digital. I didn't name call. I didn't stick them in a box for others to kick. I did point out what I thought were their errors in judgement. They had a right to be wrong. But defend a very wrong view, like the view of media right wingers that the murder of Lee Rigby was political (while under playing the black killers mental health issues), yet Jo Cox's White Britain First killer was  mentally ill and a loner and yes, I'll disagree.

Defend a view that the killer of people dancing in a nightclub was everything else but homophobic and I'll disagree- regardless of your gender.

Hopkins - Don't disagree?

I absolutely disagree with those two women, politically, in almost every statement they make. I won't diss them or attack them because of the fact they are opinionated women (though arguably, Opinionated for money). Should I learn the lesson I was taught by some of those involved in the internecine Scottish Socialist disagreement, who call themselves "angry," and not engage with the battle of ideas if the protagonist is a woman?  Should I be silent? Should the threat of being called sexist, misogynist or worse, silence me? If so, is it sexist/misogynist to call out right wing women? Should I step back because I am pale, male and bald? Because I am Middle Aged? Newly middle class? Can I not be angry now as a man? Will I leave the argument to self proclaimed angry women? Should what women left or right say, not concern me?

Of course I won't be quiet. The unmensch-ion-able and Hartley-Brewer, should be called out, much in the way Owen Jones has been this week. They are well out of order and should be called out, every bit as much as I have spent years calling out (and I'm being kind) proto-Nazi Nigel Farage and the past year calling out that pale, male and bald (?) nasty piece of political media work, Trump. Freedom of speech does not equate to staying silent when someone vomits hate speech. When someone organises trolling. When someone objectifies and throws those they disagree with into a box labelled "kick me, shoot me, kill me."

Shouldn't I have called out an activist in my ex-political party when she tried to shut down discussions within its online forum on OBFA, Tommy Sheridan's misogyny and lies, the "Scottish Left Project" and our controversial drugs policy-because she is a woman? Should I have not called the police when a woman randomly and out of the blue,  attacked me and lied about me "trolling" her?

Jayda - don't disagree?

Shouldn't we call out Hillary Clinton on her warmongering, Wall Street profit taking, anti women policies? Should I allow the woman Home Secretary Theresa May, to attack the poor with increasingly Americanised profit making jailing policies? Should I never mention Thatcher or Currie and their 70's-90's political nastiness?

Should I step back and criticise only other pale, middle aged, baldy men (even Farage doesn't fit into that box)? Should we stay within our own boxes- neither helping nor hindering people floating in their own bubbles of genderised, ethnicitised, oppressed, oppressive labels? Surely that is the shattering of society Mensch, Hartley Brewer, Thatcher, Gove, Cameron, Trump, Farage, etc want? Surely we should, as socialists ENGAGE in discussion, debate and argument? Is that not what shapes and hones ideas and policy and belief?

Or should I engage publicly on SOCIAL media when I feel the group I am part of- be it humanity, the workers, the anti-war bloc, the pro-independence for Scotland bloc, the socialists, the Irish, the Catholics, the prods, the "white trash," the brown, black and Asian people, the Native American, the Eastern Europeans, the aboriginal folk, the mentally ill, the physically and mentally disabled... Etc- if those I am disagreeing with are women OR men? Just men? Just people with my characteristics?

And what about my trans friends? Should I sit back while they are segregated, beaten and trolled as less than human or less than any "gender" if those attacking are women?

Perhaps it is how we engage. Perhaps it is how we hurt each other with words. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me," I was taught to say. Something as a teacher I would never teach a child nowadays. We teach resilience and we teach children to call out hate speech and to take it to the authorities. And we teach tolerance and also confidence. But we also teach that it is ok to be wrong.

Thatcher - don't disagree?

I hate oppression. I always stand back and aside for women or disadvantaged groups or individuals when power is handed to me- over "them" - every time. I learned about my unwarranted privilege in my 27 years living in Northern Ireland-and challenged it. In my work life, in my personal life and in my political life I do what I can to buck the status quo (sometimes not enough- but I try!) - to turn privilege on its head (sometimes not enough... But I do my best...).  I feel women should be encouraged to speak and represent us in positions of power- even if that position is something minor- something far down the scale of political power. Women ARE an oppressed group -making up 51% of the world. That's just what I do. It's my politics- my personal belief- that equity must prevail- and one step to that is positive discrimination like the SSP fought within its ranks back in the early 2000's to have as part of its structures. Structures that were under attack last year. Structures I tried to defend. 50/50 is an but just a first step  and all men standing aside and supporting women candidates in a political party would, I believe, be an even bigger challenge to society. But my voice was silenced.

But I still have opinions. And I will defend my argument if I feel I need to- every bit as much as I will listen when I feel I am not in a position to comment (on women's experiences, trans men and women's experience, black peoples experience and other's...). If I feel someone- man or woman- does not represent my views as a human being, a white northern hemisphere man; a Scotch Irishman; a UK citizen; a socialist- surely I have the right to say so?

But perhaps we all need to temper HOW we disagree. How we use words to express our disapproval. How we as men and women engage online. I certainly do not want anyone to feel as threatened as I did by "comrades" last year. And I truly try to ensure it is the politics I am attacking and never the person (though as a flawed human being, I haven't always lived up to my own standards!). I have never physically threatened anyone online- I've warned someone who threatened me twice to stay away from me in no uncertain terms- but physical violence is not my way. Words are. Especially written.

So, should I not call out a woman when she casually says "kill all da mehnz?" Of course I believe I should. But when I witnessed that last year online I had been silenced by those who had labelled all opposition as attacking a gender. And that "kill all da mehnz" goes unchallenged within the party I left because I felt unsafe.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Raise attainment, raise all boats - feed our children!

During the attacks on the fledgling USSR in 1919, when it seemed the Bolsheviks were losing against the combined forces of the British, Americans and the Tsarist forces, and the country was on the verge of starvation, EVERY child was given a daily hot meal via their school.

Now, I know people will criticise the fact I used the Russian Revolution and civil war as an example- and yes, of course what the Bolsheviks became was not good- but there are places in the world today who give precedence to their children, like Columbia and Sweden. But in my example, the ideals of the revolution, before the Stalinist betrayal, are plain to be seen. And although Cuba (another country that ensures all of its children are fed) and other communist countries are no surprise, Sweden is hardly ruled by a hardline Trotskyist centrist cadre!

Closer to home, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem Councillors who have by increasing the cost of breakfast clubs over the past few years, effectively and enthusiastically passed the debt to the poor working class, the increasingly pressured middle class and families, from the bankers to the  greedy millionaires and billionaires -who were bailed out by our taxes. Just this week, the children in West Dunbartonshire have become the latesvt victims of ever increasing bail out payments (as, of course have children throughout Scotlsnd and the "UK"). They are suffering to keep the billionaires in comfort on their luxury liner like yachts and ensconced on their tropical islands. The billionaires can continue to play with us like pieces on a draughts board, jumping us, rewarding us with scraps and jailing us in poverty and amongst crime, grime and shamed into grovelling for what they throw down from their dizzying heights of power.

They will say- "no one in the uk starves." "No one is in abject poverty."

I don't believe that to be true-  and all around our plentiful world, tens of thousands of children die of poverty weekly- all paying the price we were forced to pay to keep the lords and gods of wealth in their palaces.

In the UK, here in Scotland, in my experience, children come to school hungry - or having been fed quickly with something inappropriate or inexpensive but extremely unhealthy.

I see it every day.
The Scottish Government has announced new targeted money for raising attainment.  I feel the money needs to target health inequality first - by raising all ships and not just, as is happening in our "austerity economy," the luxury liners of the Roman Abramovich's and Emir's of Abu Dhabi of this skewed world.

How much food is thrown out of the Emir's ship?

Food education is imperative - world wide.

If a so called Labour Councillor gives in to this starvation by passing on this debt and increasing the expense to feed our most vulnerable citizens, in a so called rich country- think of the same lack of spine in the two thirds world and what that condemns children and mothers and fathers to.

And that cowardice in the face of big money is killing children across the globe. But it is also condemning Glaswegians, Edinburghers, Stirling-ites, Stranraereans, Wickians etc to low life expectancy because of lack of food education and the lack of options poverty allows.
The Lords and Gods of wealth are condemning us to a world of increasing poverty and child murder. As the rich and middle classes of the world throw out food they are condemning others to death.  In Britain alone, 300,000 children are living precarious, hungry lives.  And world wide, today, 15,000 - 20,000 children died of preventable causes including starvation.

They are condemning us to make Sophie's Choice on a world wide scale- and they are ensuring our heads are not able to look up from the digest of scapegoating poorer and more desperate people across the world, and low paid, insecure work.

The choices the rich make see tons of food wasted every day.
Shame on Labour, the so called party of the working class. At least the Tories and Lib Dems have form and are protecting their greedy profit before people system.

To OK the ending of free meals, cheap or free breakfasts for our children, it makes food education and the promises of tackling health inequalities nothing more than a political football to be kicked into the long grass when the reality of power is sat on their lap.
Shame on anyone who does not fight for the children of the world and gives in to those who steal their future.

All children across the world could have one meal a day provided through the wealth each of us generates. Every child in the world could feel safe, nourished and have a great education if greed, robbery and protecting the billionaires - increasing profits - was NOT the raison d'etre of our economic system.

Some people say, "but my child does not need a free meal." The beauty of a system in which everyone, universally benefits means just that. If you can afford for your child to buy a meal in school- in a universal system, that money you are not paying can go to something else. It will go into the economy in another way. And can benefit your child in another way.

Some can afford to jump medical queues- but the fact is, with our universal health system (that is under massive attack from the Tories) we can all have treatment free when needed. Food, exercise and health education MUST be part of that.
Universality raises all ships. And universal free meals across the world for all children at school is totally affordable -even as we pay off the billionaires debts through our graft and sweat, time poverty, loss of needed benefits and loss of power, safety, and right to be us.

Children concentrate better in school, are more active and are less likely to eat rubbish if they are given a free, wholesome meal. Food education is needed in our increasingly obese and unhealthy, sugar and hydrogenated fat leaden cheap ready meal diet. A good meal full of well sourced ingredients should be an obligatory part of the curriculum. The study of religion, art, cursive writing, lining up and sitting, fidget-less are necessary. In my opinion, the study of the effect of food on our bodies, the effect of good food and bad, should be funded. And part one of that should be free meals for all school children- raising attainment and fighting the effects of poverty- but also helping educate children across the world in food production and biology of their own bodies.

There are certain things in life children have rights to. Safety, shelter and education- all huge struggles in poverty and robbed and war torn parts of the world. And all extremely much more difficult to assure when children are surrounded by poverty anywhere in the world. But food sustainability in a world in which there is enough to feed everyone, yet massive food inequality (eg 842 million people in the world go hungry, 1.5 billion are obese- some of that obesity down to bad nutrition that poverty brings in the western so called rich countries!) is imperative. Food sustainability is only possible when all of us understand it and participate.

Let's start the process of food equality with our children. 

Think about what changes a well fed, healthy generation of children - the children WE have charge of today - could make to the world.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Goodbye SSP.

IT has been really sad to witness the death of the Ssp this year.

The shortsightedness of those who led the party down the cesspit drain this year has been incredible. And today's conference has sealed its fate.

The Sheridan show a few years ago set the party back 10 years. It had begun a recovery during the indyref which saw last years conference well attended- but badly mis-managed and deceived. The attendance of 56 people today at its biggest conference of the year is gutting for those of us who worked daily to promote the party during 2 1/2 years of the lead up to indyref.

Last year and the new interest in the party was the pay off- huge interest in the party both in the media and with the political electorate as we packed the hall and made %-age gains in council by-elections.

The Rise fiasco was an atomic bomb set amongst the newly invigorated party that had been reaching out across the country using Twitter, Facebook, live streaming etc to connect with people (filling virtual Concert Halls!).

Those who were the authors of the ssp implosion are now fully in charge. A group of people whose "cunning plans" crush the very things the Ssp should have incouraging- inventiveness, openness, debate, democracy and pluralism.

I really cannot be part of this small wee group of people who feel being more Machiavellian than the next person = socialism. A group of people more interested in their own position rather than those they should be listening to and trying to represent.

The SSP was a brilliant experiment -but began to mis-function circa 2008. I stayed with it, encouraging my branch- organising events etc and then organised a lot of our reboot online during the indyref.

The nastiness and lack of protections for members who were derided, threatened etc shocked me and many othersthis year- as did the immersion into the unknown and badly drawn ISG/SLP/Rise experiment.

The SSP as is, nor Rise as is, are the future of the left in Scotland, thank the stars. The political future of the left lies with the left who joined the Greens, the SNP and the unaligned non-party people. I believe Rise/SSP has set back the formation or success of a left political party by at least another decade.

I admire my comrades who will stick by the ideal of the ssp and remain in the party. But that ideal died today in a series of inward looking motions that give power to those who killed the party and give credibility to the Rise disaster.

I can't ever be in any organisation in which some of these people have power, as experience has shown, it will be an experience of ever decreasing circles.

I've learned a lot this year about naked ambition, lies, deceit and the demonisation of "party enemies." I feel some in the Ssp think they are on one side or the other of a Cold War. And some are playing to a decreasing bunch of wee left sects in the uk.

What has happened has been really sad. But eye opening.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Thanks for the funds...

Report back to the Central Committee of the Socialists of Scotland: "After a full English amongst the putrid smell of the night befores Magaluf election celebrations, I witnessed two very merry bright red and political English teenagers emerge from the bar obviously celebrating the gains made by the working class Spanish anti austerity party. I sipped on my morning happy hour tequila and wiped the egg from my cheeks and drank in the view of staggering Brits, reeling at the news that Spain is fighting back against the wAnkers, I mean bankers. My mate Bronco arrives back from the bar with a tray of celebratory drinks- he curses the 11am cut off for the morning happy hour "Wit cnt is oot av his bed at 10 a clock fer cheap pints?"

Neither of us remember the result from last night- the election celebrations had begun at 8am yesterday morning on our way to our first polling station. On the way, a bar that celebrates British working class culture every day, was showing highlights of the 1966 World Cup, and serving local beer for a Euro a pint. We decided to conduct interviews of the local British population about their thoughts on the EU referendum result and on the Spanish elections. This morning, Bronco woke up inside the polling station's toilets in a puddle of sick. I had celebrated the 1966 World Cup with the local English population all night and lost all my notes. Funds sent by wire would be appreciated... It's all for the cause..."

We're raising funds for a visit to Corfu to report back on how the working class Brits view the political situation from the Queen's Head.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A message to the SSP AGM delegates: support Skoda, not Ratners.

(edited 19:10, 8th June '16)

The SSP, the "Skoda" of the left brands in Scotland, must reject the Ratners of the left, Rise.

Skoda was a brand that became the joke of the car world. Back in the eighties, the running joke was, "what do you call a convertible Skoda? A skip." Not any more as it now produces good quality cars and its brand is seen as reliable and worth every penny.

Ratners, a high street giant of a jewellers, died almost over night when its owner Getald Ratner, called his own products "crap."

Supporting certain people as "leaders" in the SSP; supporting the odd EC motion which is reminiscent of last years motion that all but destroyed the party and supporting a new "typical of any other political party" constitution will turn the SSP into the Ratners of the Scottish left. It lowers our aim from "being the change we want to see in the world" by having a democracy that allows vibrant, new ideas and campaigning to come from the root and branch, to following leaders. It will be letting those who caused mayhem last year off the hook -and indeed rewarding them with power (and paid posts).

I had interesting interactions this week with police, my Union and others I had to discuss online harassment I have had all year. Literally none of the 11 or so people I spoke to about this knew who Rise was, nor did they know of the leading Rise candidate I had recieved harassment from. All of them knew who the SSP was. Rise was something known only by a small left bubble- and those of us who want a socialism that is forward looking and backwards glancing, were trapped inside its stultifying, suffocating membrane.


Let's not make that a future description "The SSP was..." No- let's start thinking about how the ssp will help shape Scotland. What the SSP "is."

And let's get out of the extraordinary wee left bubble some have trapped us in by their "ambition within the Scottish left," and lack of ambition with the massively populated and 3D Scottish political left spectrum.

Rise was a badly thought out attempt at many things- one being a way to take on the hidden leadership of the SSP (in fact the dreadful first uses of the term "pale, male, stale," in relation to the ssp was aimed at this hidden leadership- but subsequently used to demonise those who had not joined the Greek/Spain "Scottish Syriza/Podemos" jolly.

This aspect, of course, will never be publicly admitted as part of its major raison d'etre. Unfortunately, that is because of how the self imposed secret leadership works- who it talks to/who it feels is valuable (ie who it can readily manipulate for its own ends). No one told the bulk of the SSP and those who were working desperately to change the culture within the party, who were then attacked by "comrades" who thought they knew all and thought they did not need to consult the membership in any meaningful way.

Unfortunately, they are the same people who have handed the party back, on a silver platter to Colin Fox and others who use it as a platform for their, at times, odd view of what a left alternative is- ie fighting with the SNP. With so much of the left now within and supporting the snp; rather than attack- we should be supporting those pulling that party into our territory. Our politics should always be what is best for our class- party comes second- and the hidden leadership of the ssp needs to be relegated into at least sixth place after branches, nc, regional councils, agm and the now scattered left diaspora in a constitution and in a movement of butterflies in the coming months.

Last year the growing, reborn SSP was asked to lower its gaze towards a group of 20 people called the ISG. The hidden leadership - those who rather than understanding the re-education of the past 10 years of the death of the small left groups and the realignment of the left into parties like The Greens, The SNP and the ssp, decided the wee, almost defunct groups were more important than the huge rebuild that was well under way. This was the very same mistake made by the party in insisting the SWP joined it in 2002.

Colin Fox, Frances Curran, Bill Bonnar and Richie Venton (amongst others) fought to keep their position within the small bubble of left politics rather than helping push the SSP to the next stage of becoming the left alternative to the snp. This was something a huge swathe of us seen as the next stage in the rebuild- not the dreadful immersion into something that relegated us (the ssp!) into second place in an alliance so undemocratic, even once unquestioning supporters are now asking about the action groups were bypassed by microphone grabbers and gurus (eg the Rise manifesto fiasco) and there are questions about how the Glasgow campaign went so wrong (and was given such a proportion of funds). Will these things be addressed by an SSP leadership that urged us to join? An SSP leadership that sat quietly while power was misappropriated within the alliance- all the time pretending the SSP was in charge?

Unfortunately all of these people (the hidden leadership of the SSP) plus their acolytes, bag carriers and thugs who bullied (and some who seem now to be supporting the bullying and harassment unquestioningly) will be voted into place to ensure the party bobs along below the surface, worrying about what small sectarian groups think of it. The NEW constitution will then support their unquestioned power.

Small left sectarian groups last year were worried about their existence following the the ssp rebuild. The SSP, in January last year, was looking like it was again shaping up to be a left party that could, if focused, be a real left voice in councils across Scotland.
The unopposed new/old leadership come Saturday will not apologise for the dreadful smashing of a newly confident and active party.

If they do it will have provisos and will be done in order to have conference again, "reluctantly," supporting a massively unambitious and in fact people's party crushing ec motion.

Also, the dreadful analysis, recently published, of the 2009 constitution should be rejected. The 2009 constitution, if followed, would have ensured Colin Fox was perhaps at the most a great branch organiser and someone who helped us regain our confidence.

The alternative will give Colin, and the National Secretary, more power than at present the ec have given him. And let's be frank here- Colin constantly refers to himself as the longest serving Scottish Political "leader." I've never heard the people's choice, Sandra Webster, EVER refer to herself as s leader. 

The SSP seems determined in putting no alternatives forward to the old guard and the destroyers (eg Colin, Katie and Frances etc), who will keep the party small. These people were given free rein last year to cause mayhem, sew seeds of distrust and demean and in fact demonise members of the party who had since  January 2015, rang alarm bells about the upcoming destruction of the misjudged SLP/Rise ISG vehicle.

Members: If Colin and Katie etc are to represent you- you need to ensure they have the strong arm of the NC staying their rapier arms and odd "cunning plans." Colin seems to want to keep the ssp small. Katie wants to lecture you like children as to what you should be talking about. Katie, last year, didn't want internal conversation on our forums about slp, obfa, drugs policy and Sheridan. Colin will write/ talk in the media not about what branches want him to, but what his wee hidden leadership want him to (as his recent statements show in Michael Gray's article. If you think our spokesperson should be making such statements without consulting NC, then you deserve the party you will get- and have bypassed reading the ssp 2009 constitution and the recommendations our internal enquiry came up with following the Sheridan Show).

So, I suppose the only way the ssp can take back the ssp, is to oppose the new constitution, and oppose the ec motion on Rise and then confident, uncompromising COMRADES should then work to shunt out the type of idiocy that will, in a matter of a few years, dissolve the SSP.

I hope comrades who came up with the analysis that RIC was ready to become a political party and that certain personalities who have done little only make speeches and promote themselves, they no again. Some of these people could come onboard the SSP, work hard in branches, on NC etc and would be easily, next year, be adopted by activists as spokespeople and given elected positions.  

The SSP needs to build. It was doing that. Not only could the SSP have brought on board many new socialists- but it could have also, if Colin's incredible self analysis that spokesperson means policy maker was stamped on, squished, scraped up and deposited in the nearest dog poo bin, had many regional votes from socialists who supported the SNP and Labour for Independence.

The 20 or so ISG folk are not our priority. Whatever they launch will go the way of their previous incarnations- down the tubes in a blaze of recriminations and splits and accusations of mismanagement, cliques and middle class analysis.

Rejecting Rise will not be a sectarian act. It will be yet another SSP act of detoxification. The campaign that saw Rise activists rant and rave at socialists, republicans and feminists across social media was poisonous- the venom injected straight into the alliance artery and infecting all within it.

There are some within the ISG who should really take a look around them and recognise truth and move away from some individuals who will continue to damage their credibility, and when the SSP has, in the next couple of years, resolved its own internal stresses and strains, perhaps brand SSP will be like Skoda.  At present it has fell back to 1989 Skoda with lots of potential-in two years time, it must bypass the personalities and build 2016 Volkswagon Skoda (without the dreadful, poisonous emissions). 

Ratners died and is somewhere in a wee corner of the Internet, quietly selling its crap.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Ali's greatest fight

What strange juxtapositions. This image, from The Champ, a movie I watched with my family in a cinema in Blackpool in the seventies, (a movie that traumatised me!) is being used to signify the mourning of Muhammad Ali. DC comics have also published a superman comic front page from back in the day, Superman vs Muhammad Ali.

There is something about using a picture of a blue eyed blonde boy mourning his father, a blue eyed blonde all American fighter who fought his way to the American Dream (albeit dying in the end). And there is something superior about the white alien Superman DC cover that doesn't sit right.

My thoughts on Ali are simple really. He was an icon in the same mould as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella, Malala, Rosa Parks on her Montgomery bus seat, Orgreave, Cuba, the Spanish civil war heroes, the liberators of Belsen and the Schindlers etc of the Nazi era, the paper cranes of Hiroshima, and the Palestinian flag- symbols of freedom against tyranny, injustice and the dreadful price the poor and exploited of the world pay in the corporate wars for resources and profits.

Although I "get" the reason the blonde blue eyed boy is used to signify the passing of the Champ, and the iconic cover of the white alien superhero Superman, I don't think either really represent what Ali stood for.

Watch his Parkinson interviews- he was a rich man. He fought not for more money-he fought to highlight injustices in Alabama, black communities in New York, Vietnam, Brixton and did not fight against the poor in foreign countries who were fighting their own battles against their exploitation, prostitution and CIA ignored and in fact promoted, drug induced disunity and death.

Ali in London, 1966

I recently found a comic in Forbidden Planet- "Strange Fruit," about an alien who falls from the skies into the Deep South of the United States in the 50s/60s when the civil rights activists were beginning their struggles.

This "Superman" is a seven foot black man- who is incredulous at the barbarity of the white supremacist people, lynching and segregation. He fights on the side of the oppressed and is protected by that community. Even for me, a lefty, the inclusion of a black superhero in the pantheon, not fighting green goblins or other white corporate world taker overers, but instead highlighting and fighting against the racial violence so prevalent STILL in America (and indeed here) is uncomfortable reading. REAL injustices highlighted and fought against- but ultimately it is fantasy.

Ali and Prince...

No black, Muslim, South African, Pakistani, Palestinian, Irish, Jewish, Syrian, superhero ever falls from the sky, swooping down to save the drowning children in the Mediterranean.


People like Mohammad Ali highlight these issues. People like Heather Ripley give their time to fight the injustices and exploitation and racism and bloody corporate murder. The real heroes are the people fighting for their lives and the people pulling them from the boats, feeding them, and helping them regain their lives.

Ali helped in more than one struggle by using his celebrity- and challenged the culture of white supremacy, American and Western wars and sectarianism.

A more fitting image in my opinion, are the tears of children trapped, stateless, homeless, parent less waiting for us to act in the way Ali, Rosa Parks, Mandela, Malala and others use their celebrity to spur the world on- to notice- to question and to pressurise those who have pushed themselves into positions of power.

If Ali is a symbol, it must be a symbol of the exploited and oppressed punching through the establishment to create space for others to gain confidence to fight injustice.

He and others of his generation created something dangerous to the establishment- a confidence amongst the oppressed that they could overcome. He isn't a symbol of the American dream- he is a symbol of those left behind by a white man corporate nightmare.

And the poor and oppressed shall overcome. The fight Ali took on, to help unite the exploited peoples of the world goes on- and we should be heroising those fighting to pull victims from the oceans and swamplands of the profit takers and the powerful.