Friday, 6 December 2013

Shettleston by-election

Well, the votes have been counted in the Shettleston by-election and the results declared. 

It doesn't feel like a month ago that I was unexpectedly asked to represent the Socialist Party as our candidate to fill the vacancy at George Square: it has been all systems go since then, with almost daily campaign activity. 

We were under no illusions at the start of the campaign: I had no chance of winning the seat in what was billed as a straight fight between the National Party and the incumbent Labour Party. The fight got even harder with the decision of a smaller Left party to enter the race, splitting the progressive vote, as well as an embittered former Labour councillor who shamelessly hijacked the anti-Bedroom Tax movement spearheaded by the Socialist Party to try and get back into the City Chambers, further splitting the vote. 

With next to no chance of victory, we had a twin aim in this election: continue our work in re-establishing our presence in the East End of Glasgow whilst building our membership; and to ensure that our vote held up. 

Both aims were achieved - we scored an identical share of the vote as last time, despite this election being essentially a first-past-the-post race. We held several street stalls each week of the campaign, being the most active street campaigning party by some distance, held a successful public meeting, established links with local community campaign groups and even found time not only to humiliate the deputy leader of the Labour Party in Scotland by calling a demonstration outside his office in protest at his decision to keep the Bedroom Tax, but also to participate in the hugely-successful Radical Independence Conference. 

The Socialist Party obviously doesn't have the resources of the main parties - we don't get donations from big business like the National Party and the Labour Party do, or benefit from the proceeds of fraud like the Liberal Democrats - but despite that, we still managed to put different leaflets out during the campaign, with our small but committed group of activists managing to leaflet thousands of homes and speak with thousands of voters. 

Ukip, despite their wall-to-wall media coverage and weekly invitations to Question Time not afforded us, yet again failed to make any sort of impact in a Scottish election and lost their deposit (they've never retained one in Scotland). The exposure of their candidate as an active and committed Nazi did not help in that regard - they continue to never have had a single elected representative in Scotland. 

Despite all of the obstacles in our path, we came within eighteen votes of defeating the Liberal Democrats - the party of government in the Westminster parliament. 

So our vote is holding up, we have recruited new members, and we have made huge inroads into rebuilding our profile in the local community. 

It's been a successful election for the Scottish Socialist Party. We are back. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Glasgow versus Sarwar: Bedroom Tax Protests Rock Labour

Despite the refusal of the BBC and STV to cover it, there has been a huge online reaction to the Scottish Socialist Party's protest against the Timid Ten, the group of Scottish Labour MPs who made the decision not to vote against the vile Bedroom Tax on Tuesday night. 

The protest, called on Thursday evening and subsequently publicised on social media, was quickly picked up by websites such as Newsnet Scotland and Wings Over Scotland, and despite less than 24 hours notice for a demonstration on a weekday afternoon, attracted more than forty people. 

It led to huge attention as the people of Glasgow rose up in fury at the utter betrayal of Labour MPs. 

On Friday afternoon, Anas Sarwar was the target. There are another nine Scottish Labour MPs who chose to retain the Bedroom Tax. As the movement against the Bedroom Tax grows organically, it's not for me to say who may be next for protest. It might be Pamela Nash, who claimed she was unable to vote to abolish the Bedroom Tax as she was at a conference in Vienna. It has subsequently emerged that the conference ended a full thirty-one hours before the vital division. 

This afternoon, with that development in mind, and in receipt of certain information, I asked Ms Nash:

Sadly, Ms Nash did not believe the question important enough to spend her time answering: just as she believed her all-expenses-paid soirĂ©e in beautiful Vienna wasn't important enough to leave to vote to abolish the Bedroom Tax. 

So, it might be Pamela we target next. I hope it doesn't ruin her busy social life, enjoyed at public expense whilst her constituents in Airdrie and Shotts struggle to find the money to pay for the Bedroom Tax she chose to keep in place. 

It might not be Pamela Nash. We might go back to visit Anas Sarwar. He left his office staff to sit in a locked office while he hid from his constituents. 

Maybe we'll target Jim Murphy. It might be any of the Timid Ten. We won't be giving them any warning: but let me make this clear: they are Bedroom Tax enablers. They are Bedroom Taxers. They will be hounded until they answer our questions: 

1) What event did you believe to be more important than abolishing the Bedroom Tax?
2) Which Coalition MP did you "pair" with?

As part of my election campaign in Shettleston, I am committed to utter transparency. I was asked this evening to submit articles to two news outlets. I publish them in full below, and apologise in advance for any repetition in the articles.
The protest at Anas Sarwar's office was called with less than 24 hours notice, and during the day on a weekday when people would be working or picking kids up from school.

Despite that, more than forty people came to Tradeston to demonstrate outside his office, including several constituents, who were furious to find that he had hidden from his scheduled, advertised surgery.

There was a deep sense of anger at his actions in abstaining on the vote to abolish the Bedroom Tax, particularly as he has been one of the more vocal MPs on the issue. It's difficult to come to any conclusion other than that he sees it as in his best interests for the 2015 election to have the Bedroom Tax still in place, so he can "oppose" it.

While the protest was called by the SSP, it was attended by a wide range of people, from the SSP, SNP, ex-Labour members, and people of no party affiliation. It was particularly good to see dozens of drivers passing by slowing down to toot their horns in support of our demonstration, and people walking past the demonstration wishing us well.

While Sarwar hid, he left his office staff to respond to the demonstration from inside their locked office, keeping constituents out. Phone calls went unanswered as he continued to leave his constituents in the dark about the motivations for abstention.

The Bedroom Tax, in some ways, is more brutal than even the Poll Tax, attacking the poorest and most vulnerable. It speaks volumes that this privately-educated, hereditary MP doesn't see it as important enough to turn up to a workplace for which we pay him over £100k a year in salary and "expenses" to attend.

It seems that Mr Sarwar is content to use the Bedroom Tax and its victims as a political football, but when it comes to the crunch, he doesn't see it as important enough to disrupt his social life to vote against it.

People are being evicted in Glasgow. He's nowhere to be seen.

The SSP is campaigning for a no evictions policy. Anas won't even support that.

His constituents deserve answers. Instead, Sarwar is in hiding.

As long as these answers are not forthcoming, we'll be there each week to demand them. He can't hide forever.

Glasgow needs MPs to stand up for us. Anas, and the rest of the Timid Ten, failed. The Bedroom Tax would have been gone if they and their Labour colleagues had turned up to vote.

They betrayed us. We'll remember that

On Tuesday night, I sat in shock watching the Labour motion to abolish the Bedroom Tax fall by 26 votes while 47 Labour MPs, including fully a quarter of all Scottish Labour MPs - the Timid Ten - failed to show up.
One of those MPs was my MP, the privately-educated hereditary MP for Glasgow Central, Anas Sarwar. Only weeks ago, he brandished on live TV a "Bill" to abolish the effects of the Bedroom Tax.
I tried to phone Mr Sarwar to ask what was more important than voting to abolish the Bedroom Tax, a cruel and iniquitous attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in society, with the disabled disproportionately affected. There was no answer from his office. I then tweeted him and was again ignored.
So, yesterday, furious at his betrayal, I called a protest outside his office in Tradeston. In the middle of the afternoon of a working day, with only a day notice, over 40 people - SSP, SNP, ex Labour and people of no affiliation - showed up to lambast Sarwar. 
I was delighted to see drivers passing tooting their horns in support, and pedestrians giving us their best wishes. People are utterly raging about this attack on the poor.
Despite this being a scheduled, advertised surgery, Sarwar refused to show. He hid away, leaving his office staff to face both the protest and constituents. The locked doors kept constituents out, and phone calls went unanswered.
It is difficult to escape the view that Sarwar sees the Bedroom Tax not as a crime, but as an opportunity for the next election. Would it suit Sarwar more to have it abolished this week, or to use its victims as a political football in two years?
This is Labour's week of shame. More than anyone else, Labour's deputy leader, silent as to his motives for abstaining, silent as to where he was, silent as to who he was paired with, holds the responsibility for Glaswegians still having the Bedroom Tax today.
Sarwar hid this week. He can't hide forever. We'll be back. He, and the rest of the Timid Ten, will bitterly regret their treachery.

The Coalition brought in the Bedroom Tax. Labour support the Bedroom Tax. The only way to get rid of it is to rise up, united, as one people. 

And the only credible alternative to the Bedroom Tax is a vote to restore independence in September, and a vote for a Scottish Socialist Party government in the subsequent election. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

East End Carers Abandoned by Labour Council

I spent this morning in the company of carers and service users in a cafe in the Parkhead district of the East End of Glasgow. 

It was an enjoyable morning speaking to strong, campaigning women who clearly cared deeply about their families, and were seething with rage at the lack of support they have received in recent years from Glasgow City Council. 

Obviously I, like most other people in Glasgow, had looked on in horror as the Labour Party callously ordered the demolition of the Accord Centre, a much-loved day centre on the Springfield Road for people with learning disabilities in the East End in order to build a car park. 

Labour promised that the demolished centre would be replaced by a brand new centre locally, but as part of what I learned today was a continued attack on disabled people's services in the city, they reneged on that promise, leaving these often vulnerable people without any day care centre. 

This is in pursuit of personalisation, where the Council want to care for vulnerable people within the community at large. This is an absolutely laudable aim, but it can't be a stand-alone service: it must be backed up with day centres to avoid social exclusion, and by respite care to allow dedicated carers some breathing space. Service users are now being restricted to six hours per week and/or care to the value of £8.000 per annum. This simply isn't good enough.

They have now introduced the most punitive penalties on people with learning difficulties of almost any local authority in the European Union. For instance, I learned today that for providing any service for people with learning disabilities, the Council charges a minimum of £26, which has to be found from their benefits. 

This isn't like charging a 30-year-old man with a broken leg for a nurse to come round and change his cast: this is taking a substantial percentage of benefit every week from people with learning difficulties from the day they leave school until they reach retirement age, to provide a service which is going to be needed every week of every year of their life. 

People with learning disabilities are being used as a cash cow by Glasgow City Council. 

One of the service users with whom I spoke today said that all she wanted was a new centre, as promised. She had gone to the Accord Centre regularly, but now that it is closed, she badly misses the many friends she had made at the Accord, now seeing them only once a week. 

Imagine if you were told you could only interact with your friends once a week? You'd be horrified. So why, then, is it right for the Council to impose that isolation and exclusion on people simply because they have learning disabilities and need a little bit of support? 

Shettleston is a ward which is having war waged on its people by a council run by a party machine and a political class which operates at a complete disconnect from local people. 

It is a ward ill-served by the Labour Party diverting over half a million pounds of money intended for the regeneration of the local area into the pocket of one of their chums, Ronnie Saez, in a deal approved by three Glasgow Labour Party councillors.

And it is a ward which is to host the Commonwealth Games next year, an event which will allow the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to bask in the reflected glory of athletic achievement, and which will benefit the people of Shettleston not one iota. 

One of the complaints about the contempt with which the Council is treating the residents of the local area which I received today was that the warm pool used by children at Tollcross Swimming Baths has been shut to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. 

I contacted Tollcross Swimming Baths today to confirm when it would reopen, and was told that it wouldn't be until at least 6. January, and that it may not reopen until after the 14-day Commonwealth Games. 

A year-long exclusion for local children and pensioners from their local pool in order to host a two week long sporting extravaganza, from which there will come no significant number of jobs for local people, nor even a free ticket to any event for local people. 

If a mother wants to take her two children swimming, therefore, she will have to do so in Easterhouse or the Gorbals, needing two buses. That's an extra £4 on the bus, plus £1,50 each for the two kids. An extra £7 for a swim before you even get your toes wet (and to get your toes wet, you'll be paying another exorbitant admission fee). 

Why shouldn't local people get free use of the facilities built for the Commonwealth Games? With £600.000.000 of our money spent on the event, surely local people should be rewarded, and not punished, for their hospitality. 

Instead, all that's been done is a bit of tarmac and paving on the London Road Zil lane (with potholes aplenty still engulfing cars and ankles alike on the Shettleston Road, to which few, if any of the visiting dignitaries and athletes will be invited to visit) while local residents get services slashed and withdrawn; victims of an event sponsored by ATOS, the very company which is telling people with terminal cancer that they are perfectly fit for full-time work. 

It seems that everyone is abandoning the East End. Shops are closing in the Forge because they can't pay the going rate for rent, leaving ugly gaps in the local area, which are being filled by pawnshops, pound shops and gambling dens. It's inconceivable that the Council would allow this to happen to St Enoch or Buchanan Galleries, so why should it happen to Shettleston or Govan? 

Labour have had half a century of running this city, and there's still dog shit dotting the streets like landmines. Their "Landscape Design Manager" let slip yesterday that she is charging ratepayers £10.000 per year to have a guy with a big stick knocking a cone off a statue's head. Perhaps that money could be better diverted to an area which has been so abandoned by Glasgow City Council and the world in general over the years that it now doesn't have a single bank, but has just had to open a foodbank.

The people I met today are inspiration people, battling for their families. 

They deserve so much better than what they're getting.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Why I Wear a White Poppy

It's that time of year again. This month sees the 95th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the Great War, the most efficient and industrialised slaughter of human beings for imperial ambition ever seen up until that point. 

In France, the fashion is to wear a bright blue cornflower to convey respects to the dead. 

In Scotland, for many years, the fashion was to wear an Earl Haig red poppy, named for the incompetent butcher who sent hundreds of thousands of working-class conscripts to their deaths on the Western Front. 

Recently, many have become uncomfortable with the militarisation of the red poppy symbol, and the pressure placed on people to wear it. It has been transmogrified into a symbol of support for the current wars; unlike the war against fascism, the only purpose of which are to act as a subservient implementer of American foreign policy in countries to which they have never been invited, and which have inevitably seen both atrocities committed against the civilian populations and Scottish soldiers killed at the side of dusty desert roads.

The slogan of the Poppy Appeal this year isn't one of commemorating the dead of past wars, or the bravery of those who fought fascism. It is Shoulder to Shoulder with all Who Serve". That isn't commemorating the men and women who saved the world from HItlerism in the 1940s: it's about supporting the military - and, by extension, its current wars - of here and now.

So with the red poppy hijacked, what of us who wish to commemorate the slaughter of war, not celebrate it; who mourn all of the victims of all wars, not just "ours"; who seek an end to war, not just to "support our troops" regardless of their behaviour?

The Peace Pledge Union's white poppy is my lapel badge of choice in the second week in November. 

The white poppy was first proposed in 1926 in an attempt, even back then at the height of Empire, to decouple the commemoration of the Armistice from a veneration of militarism. The first such poppies finally appeared in 1933 in an attempt to challenge the rush to war, and to challenge the glorification of the bloody slaughter of the trenches less than two decades earlier. 

A white poppy is a pledge to challenge the culture of militarism so prevalent in the United Kingdom today. To recognise that these working-class kids are often economic conscripts, forced into the armed forces against their better judgement because the governing class have destroyed jobs and industries in their towns: children - actual children, too young to vote, too young to marry - from Paisley, Portsmouth, Prestatyn, and Portadown have British Army recruiting officers coming into their schoolhouses and extolling the virtues of the "adventure". 

These kids, with no other glimmer of hope in a destroyed economy, are forced in all but name to "join up". They aren't told of the dangers that await them. They aren't told that there is a pretty decent chance they'll be coming back in a metal box in the hold of a cargo plane, covered by a Union Jack, their mother weeping as the box is carried off the plane, her son or daughter's life ended in the service of the United States of America. 

They aren't told of the horrors that infest the mind of those who've been sent to fight and kill for a governing class. They aren't told that it's so difficult to return to society after living and breathing violence and death for so long that two thousand of their comrades are living rough in Scotland alone. 

So for the economic conscripts, forced to fight for a cause they don't understand for a country that isn't theirs and in a country they can't find on a map, I wear the white poppy. 

Instead of the black centre of the red poppy which read HAIG FUND, the centre of the white poppy cries out the simple plea "peace", and previously "no more war". Margaret Thatcher had "deep distaste" for the symbol, recognising that an acknowledgement of the horrors of war would affect the success of the military-industrial complex of which she was such a devoted fan. 

More importantly, the white poppy, as well as emphasising pacifism and opposition to war, represents things that the military equivalent cannot. It represents commemoration of those conscript boys who, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, were murdered at dawn in a French battlefield by their "own" side. 

It commemorates the hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered in the bloodbath of Iraq and Afghanistan in a way that donating money to the participants of only one side never can. 

We should be saddened at every death in combat, whether it's a family in Kabul murdered by occupation forces, or a wee boy from Govan or Tollcross or Maryhill who never got the chance to live because he was seduced by the false promises of the officer class into an illegal war (as in Iraq) or a morally repugnant adventure (as in Afghanistan). But that sadness shouldn't be used to continually justify and glorify war, and in a society which is constantly being urged to see soldiers as "heroes", that is what's happening. 

I wear a white poppy instead of a red poppy because I want to commemorate the victims of war. I don't want to celebrate it. I want to demand peace, not celebrate the deeds of, to pick one at random, the Parachute Regiment. I take inspiration in this from John Maclean, the great Glasgow socialist who opposed equally the slaughter of German workers at the behest of their ruling class and the slaughter of Scottish workers at the behest of ours. And all for a war which had the single aim of deciding who would be allowed to exploit human beings across the world in their Empire. 

And isn't it a bloody disgrace that the British government is happy to send these working-class kids to be mutilated in the service of the American Republican Party, and when they come back from war, it has to be a charity that supports them?

As Maclean said, it is our business to throw off the patriotism and nationalism and to develop instead a "class patriotism", uniting Scottish workers, Irish worker, German workers, French workers, refusing to murder each other in the cause of global capitalism. 

I'm sure that if Maclean was alive today, he would be sickened by the spectacle, almost a century after the start of the Great War, the War to End all Wars, of working-class British kids are out killing working-class Afghan kids at the behest of the American Republican Party and the millionaire war-criminal Tony Blair. 

That's why I'm proud to wear a white poppy.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Grangemouth Crisis Shows Need for Independence and Nationalisation

The closure of the petrochemical plant at Grangemouth has led directly to the loss of eight hundred jobs and put at risk not only a further 570 jobs in the refinery, but two thousand contractor jobs and further jobs independent from, but dependent on, the facility such as burger vans, newsagents and cafes. 

This has come as a direct consequence of a facility of vital strategic national importance being owned by a Hampshire venture capitalist and operated by a Swiss shell company.

Not since the beginning of devolution in 1999 has there been a more salient demonstration of the need for Scottish industry and Scottish jobs to be controlled by the people of Scotland. 

Rarely before has there been such a clear need for the full powers of sovereign Government to rest with the Scottish people. 

Rarely before has then been such an example of the contempt in which Westminster holds Scotland than when a Prime Ministers Questions at which Grangemouth was not mentioned ended, an Emergency Question on Grangemouth was raised, and the Prime Minister, bored, walked out of the chamber.

The Westminster government - a gang of scoundrels - was content to nationalise the banks to protect the shareholders and the big businesses who donate to the BetterTogether parties. They're making no move at all to nationalise the Grangemouth plant, which is one of the most important facilities in Scotland, supplying fuel to petrol stations across the country as well as to the north of England. We draw our own conclusions. Bankers are important to Westminster. Workers aren't.

What should be done here is multi-faceted:

If Ineos believe their plant is worthless, then the Scottish Government in the face of Westminster's refusal to act should nationalise it for £1. As the plant is "worthless", this represents a huge profit for Ineos. 

All of Ineos' assets in the United Kingdom should be frozen pending an investigation into tax fraud.

Ineos should be banned from operating any facilities of national importance in the future. This act of economic terrorism surely renders them unfit to be in control of any strategically important facility. 

This is a black swan moment in the independence debate. 

The anti-Scotland campaign has invested a great deal of time and energy in telling us that jobs will not be secure in an independent Scotland - soundly ignoring the fact that under Thatcherism, industry in Scotland was deliberately destroyed in an act of spite and malice. 

The repulsive, woman-abusing, Orange Order-linked Ian Davidson has been touring my own ward, Govan, handing out leaflets claiming "Separation [sic] Shuts Shipyard", a terror tactic lower than a snake's balls, and deceitful by omission to boot, given that under the protection of the United Kingdom, Govan's shipbuilding industry has been utterly destroyed and reduced to a pathetic rump of its former glory. 

This is a moment for the Scottish Government to demonstrate than only with independence can we protect workers' jobs from capitalist predation. The British are not interested in Scottish jobs. They are not interested in Scottish workers. 

Let's bring our industries and jobs back under the control of the Scottish people, seizing them from uncaring capitalists who seek constantly to drive down our pay and conditions and expecting us to be grateful.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Govan By-election Humiliation for SNP Necessitates Serious Re-think

The Govan by-election, brought about by the sad death of Allison Hunter, reached its inevitable conclusion early this morning, un-noticed by everyone who is not a political anorak, and un-noticed by the vast majority of voters in Govan.

The SNP lost the seat, and with it, their entire representation in Govan, a massive working-class ward which really ought to be fertile ground for them as communities fight back against BetterTogether's Bedroom Tax.

Polling day was a nice, bright day with no hint of rain, and still only 20% of the electorate turned out to register the following poll (first preference percentages):

Labour 43,3%
SNP 30,1%
John Flanagan 9,4%
Conservative 4,5%
UKIP 2,4%
Green 2,4%
Independent 2,2%
Liberal Democrat 1,5%
Scottish Christians 1,3%
Fans Against Criminalisation 1,1%
Communist 0,7%
Solidarity 0,6%
BNP 0,4%
Democratic Alliance 0,0%

Of course, the headline news will be the destruction of the SNP: down from 2.259 first preferences last year to 1.424 this time out (on a lower turnout) for the loss of the seat. If each voter who had backed the Nationalists last year with their first preference had continued to do so, they would have won the seat comfortably.

So where did their voters go?

Well, they certainly didn't go to the Liberal Democrats. The junior party of government were the first choice of a frankly pathetic seventy-three souls, leaving them trailing in eighth place, behind the main parties, a campaigner against BetterTogether's Bedroom Tax, UKIP, the Green Party and a local lunatic.

If I was a Liberal Democrat - and because I'm liberal and democratic, I'm not - I would be extremely worried at these figures. They may have believed that the 2.011 General Election was their nadir, returning not a single mainland constituency MSP and only 5 MSPs overall. It was not. The Scottish people will continue to punish the Liberal Democrats for their treachery and lies, and well they deserve it.

They didn't go to Labour (176 fewer people came out to vote for Labour as opposed to last year). In fact, they don't seem to have gone anywhere.

That's what should worry Glasgow SNP the most: that SNP voters have been so underinspired by them that they've just sat at home. There was no football on the television last night, no major events taking place. The weather was fine (a crisp autumnal day) and there was no rain. They were not short of activists, so why couldn't they get their vote out.

Part of it lies in the almost laughably stupid decision by the Government to criminalise political expression from the Irish republican community in Govan, which makes up a huge portion of the ward. They have been told "we disagree with your political opinions. We agree they are neither sectarian nor offensive. But we dislike them, therefore we are inventing an entirely new category of law which will criminalise you and you alone".

They noted that. And they sat on their hands yesterday. I myself allocated the SNP my first preference last year and did not do so this year for this very reason: the first time I have voted in an election in Scotland and not voted SNP as my first or only preference.

Indeed, the SNP only received a (second) preference at all because of the attempt by the anti-Scotland BetterTogether campaign, which took a break from trying to ban the flying of the Scottish flag over Stirling to try to gerrymander the result of this election by sending out expensive mailshots to voters urging them to vote anyone except the SNP. The financial returns of the BetterTogether parties (BNP, Labour, Ukip, Liberal and Tory) will be scrutinised closely for this expenditure.

(I also, incidentally, had initially decided not to give the SNP a preference because of the extreme youth and inexperience of the candidate, which I did and do believe is an insult to the people of Govan. We deserved a candidate who knows what it's like to live as an adult, to struggle with bills, work, life. If you want to run a child as a candidate, you really ought only to do so as part of a ticket.)

This was the first election that Fans Against Criminalisation ran in, and despite the decision to run being taken at extremely short notice (Thomas Rannachan was only nominated as a candidate on the last day of nominations), they still took more than 1% of the vote in an extremely crowded field in which his cause was not allowed to appear on the ballot paper (he was forced to run under an Independent label) and in which a local lunatic attempted to fool voters into thinking he was the anti-Criminalisation candidate.

The SNP should worry about this. Because the campaign against cultural cleansing is not going away. They will get more professional with each election (Shettleston, a stronghold of Timmery, will have a by-election soon following the tragic death of George Ryan) and there will come a time where they will begin to cost the SNP seats. They should repeal the law now: it's not a U-turn when almost everyone in the party was against if from Day 1 anyway. It would make the Government look collegiate by recognising that every other party in Parliament and all of civil society opposes the legislation.

Other figures are hidden amongst the headline ones.

It is probably fair to say that the Democratic Alliance is not going to be a powerful force in Scottish politics in the short-term, receiving a solitary vote. I am not aware of any party ever receiving such a desultory vote in an election in Scotland.

Solidarity, with their ever-charming candidate Joyce Drummond, received a frankly hilarious 28 votes, only nine more than I Can't Believe It's Not The BNP which now appears totally devastated as a political movement in Scotland. Its members and supporters have decamped en masse (mainly to UKIP, I should venture). Whilst they didn't stand in 2012, the Unionist Party, which appeals to the same shaven-headed, tattooed, hard-right-wing anti-everything constituency received 143 votes. The BNP this time, under the name Britannica (surely the first time this gang of slabbering neds have even been remotely associated with the word Encylopaedia) got only nineteen. You can take your fascism, lads, and you can get the fuck out of our city.

The Tory vote held up, increased slightly. Their activists will probably have a small smile playing on their faces at which the butler will realise they have avoided total destruction. But frankly, for the Conservative Party to receive only 215 votes in a ward which includes some of the more affluent areas of Glasgow, is astonishingly poor, and shows their continual failure to penetrate Scotland in general and Glasgow in particular.

If I was Ruth Davidson or Willie Rennie, I'd be giving serious consideration to doing exactly what Murdo Fraser floated, and becoming completely independent from their mother parties. The names of both parties are utterly toxic in Glasgow. They need to develop their own identity (CDU/CSU) and more importantly their own politics, as distinct from that of the parties in London.

As for the Greens, they'll be disappointed. I really can't help thinking that they might do better in a ward which contains Ibrox Park if they changed their name back to the Ecology Party....

Thursday, 5 September 2013

"BetterTogether" Silence on Violence to Blame for Attack on Pensioner

On Tuesday, a BetterTogether-supporting extremist attacked an octogenarian pro-Independence campaigner with such violence and ferocity that an ambulance was called to take him to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he received medical treatment for cuts, bruises and broken bones sustained in the assault. 

I'll say that again, just in case you didn't get it: in 2013, in Scotland's second-largest city, in broad daylight, an old age pensioner was beaten up by a Unionist because he dared to campaign for Scotland to become an independent state again. 

This assault is sickening and utterly unsurprising. 

Since even before George Osborne's campaign officially launched, the Unionists have whipped up what can only be described as a hate campaign against anyone who campaigns  for - or is even believed secretly to be a supporter of - independence. The main "beneficiary" of this hate campaign is Alex Salmond, the SNP convenor and First Minister. 

Both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regularly receive death threats. Having myself been the recipient of death threats and threats of violence, veiled and open, from Unionist extremists, I can testify that it is not the most pleasant of experiences. 

The No campaign has stood by whilst their supporters spread their messages of hate, sent their threats of violence and did nothing. As Australian army chief, General David Morrison, said: "the standard we walk past is the standard we accept".

But the No campaign isn't merely walking past these extremists. It actively uses them. One of its favourite sons, trotted out with depressing and monotonous regularity to fight the No corner, is a man convicted of a violent assault - but still sits in Parliament - the racist, sectarian thug, George Foulkes.

The extremist Unionist group, the Orange Order, which could be reasonably described as the paramilitary wing of the "Scottish" Labour Party, bans Roman Catholics from joining - and even expels its own members who attend, for instance, the funeral or wedding Mass of a Catholic neighbour or workmate. It is on record as saying that when Scotland achieves independence, it will become a paramilitary organisation fighting to "Keep Scotland British".

The fascist Orange Order is an integral part of the No campaign, and will actively campaign alongside its Labour Party colleagues for Scotland to remain a nation subsumed by the Union Flag, and with a constitution which bans Roman Catholics from attaining certain State offices. 

And the official No campaign ran an advertisement last year which admitted that it would pay the travel expenses of Orange Order and BNP members to come to Scotland and campaign in the referendum campaign. 

Even outside the institutional violence of the No campaign, it walked past on the other side of the road when one of its activists, someone called Louise Morton, boasted of her son - a Unionist councillor on the local authority - and other drunken louts, threatening violence against pro-independence supporters at the Maggie Fair in Garmouth, Moray and intimidating them into leaving. Blair McDougall walked past. 

This seems to be a regular tactic from the No campaign: in a campaign suffering from a demographic crisis (it is believed that have fewer than 100 volunteer activists nationwide) which requires Payroll Unionists to staff it, it is unable to participate in most local fairs. Its tactic, therefore, is to demand to the organisers that as there is no No presence, the Yes campaign - which is a genuine grassroots, community-led movement - should be banned. 

When this happens, and No gets the debate shut down, they are content. When the organisers resist, the sinister threats of violence such as in Moray, come out from the louts and thugs who support the campaign, funded by Arkan's sponsor Ian Taylor. 

After pressure was put on the organisers of the Dunfermline South Gala by local Unionists, they canceled a Yes Scotland stall there. Undeterred, the intrepid volunteers set up a table soon after outside the Bruce Festival in Dunfermline, and again the Unionists tried to have them removed. Blair McDougall walked past.

In Cowal, Argyll, the local Yes shop was attacked by Unionist extremists. Blair McDougall walked past. When the Courier reported on the attack, the Orange Order arm of the No campaign called for nail bomb attacks against the newspaper in reprisal. Blair McDougall walked past. 

Blair McDougall has walked past threats of violence and actual intimidation. That's the standard the No campaign accepts. 

And now, to reverse what the Cranberries said, his silence has caused violence. 

Blair McDougall must come out - unreservedly - and condemn this violent assault by one of his supporters on an elderly Yes campaigner.

He must tell the violent thugs who support his campaign - the BNP, the Orange Order and the SDL - that they are not welcome.

And he must make it clear that closing down debate and intimidating Yes campaigners is not an acceptable tactic. 

Blair McDougall shouldn't accept this standard any more. He should act, and act now.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Gordon Brown's Speech is an Embarrassment to Tory-led Campaign

I often find it difficult to distinguish between Howard Hughes and the sociopath Gordon Brown. 

One is a wealthy man, noted for his bizarre behaviour and reclusiveness, whilst the other is a Texan. 

Mr Brown, who is the part-time MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (although his salary certainly isn't a part-time one), is a notorious thuggish bully. 

His thuggery and inappropriate behaviour as prime minister led to several people in his office contacting anti-bullying charities for help, while the long-serving head of the British civil service, Gus O'Donnell, was so concerned by the Labour MP's behaviour that he confronted Brown over his treatment of staff. One member of his staff was bullied so remorselessly by the then prime minister that he was forced to take time off work. 

Brown is consistently polled as among the worst prime ministers ever, his three year term lurching from disaster to disaster, the worst of which was the financial collapse of the London banking system, which happened on his watch as a direct result of looser regulation introduced by Brown as finance minister.

He's not, in short, the sort of person one wants to front a campaign. 

But, in the time-honoured tradition of Labour getting it spectacularly wrong (they continue, for instance, to send violent criminal George Foulkes on television to sell their message that Scotland is far too small, and the Scots far too poor and far too stupid to govern ourselves), the opposition party saw fit to make Brown the leader of their breakaway movement from the main, Tory-led, war-criminal-associated, anti-Scotland camapaign. 

Today, Brown emerged, blinking, into the sunlight, and made a rare unpaid trip to address a meeting of "United With Labour", a Better Together front organisation which seems to consist of a shell of a website, and the hysterical cackling of Mad Margaret Curran in the background. 

He came to this very ward to address a secret "rally" of the above organisation. And very welcome he is too. He can see now, with his own eyes, the shipyards which have rotted and closed under the more than three hundred years of the Union. 

He can see with his own eyes the poverty of this district, caused directly by the Union, and exacerbated by his abolition of the £0,10 tax rate in order to give tax cuts to the millionaires whose arses jostled for position with Brown's on the Labour front bench, and which millionaires were able to buy not just seats in Parliament, but actual ministerial positions *waves to Lord Sainsbury*.

But this didn't seem to affect him, and on he went, with his speech, at the Pearce Institute on Govan Road. 

Shamelessly, Mr Brown, alongside the usual "positive case for the Union" about how we're too wee, too poor, too stupid, yadda yadda yadda, had the breathtaking hypocrisy to use the line "We allocate resources not on the basis of nationality but on the basis of need" as some sort of argument against independence.

This is an argument which is trotted out by Labour types quite often: that Scotland must not have independence because it would abandon working people in Newcastle, and Manchester, and Leeds, and Southampton to the Conservative Party.

It is a nonsense argument. If the people of England do not wish to have a Conservative government, they have a simple option: don't vote for them.

It is a nonsensical argument for another reason: at no time, ever, has Scottish votes ever changed an English Conservative (or Conservative-Liberal) majority or plurality into a British Labour government.

It is an argument based on deliberate and malicious deceit.

But it is also an argument based on another type of deceit. Mr Brown argues that we don't allocate resources on the basis of nationality. Well, frankly, I have as much in common with a worker from Cairo or Bucharest as one from Coventry or Bradford. I have more in common with a worker from Johannesburg or Sofia than a millionaire from York or Salisbury.

But Mr Brown, in 2007, decided that it was necessary to allocate resources on the basis of nationality rather than need.

That is why he decided, against the pattern of other EU states, that he would effectively ban working people from Romania and Bulgaria - EU citizens all - from sharing in our wealth.
This was exacerbated by his notorious "White Britain" policy, where in a despicable speech to Labour - LABOUR! - supporters, he told "the foreigners" that they ought to "go home", declaring that the United Kingdom should be a land of "British Jobs for British Workers".

That's the true nationalism of Gordon Brown.

It's fine to be a British nationalist, campaigning to keep the foreigners out, spreading a hate and fear of "other", and demanding that not a penny of the wealth generated in the City doesn't go to help alleviate the suffering and discrimination of the Roma people. If you believe that, campaign for it.

But don't try and suggest that your motivation is some sort of noble international socialism when it's nothing more than a combination of narrow British nationalism, spiced up by a bit of dog-whistle racism.

And incidentally, Mr Gordon Brown, who claims to want to allocate resources on the basis of need, claimed more than the average annual salary - on top of his lavish wages - in "expenses" for turning up to work three times in the first six months of the year. He didn't turn up to vote against the Bedroom Tax. He didn't turn up to vote against Britain attacking Syria.

As a prime minister, he was a disaster, but as an MP he is a disgrace. The people of Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath deserve better. Even if they are Fifers.

Monday, 19 August 2013

George Foulkes: the violent bigot who epitomises Labour

This evening on Newsnicht, the Labour Party in Scotland - unable to utilise its barely-recognised and cowardly leader Johann Lamont during her Summer of Silence - put George Foulkes up to tell us all once again why the people of Scotland are uniquely incapable of governing themselves. 

Tonight, the scare story was that Scotland would be banned from the Commonwealth of Nations, an organisation so notoriously choosy that it embraces the likes of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

It was fitting that the Labour Party chose Foulkes to represent them this evening, for he is a man who utterly epitomises the violence, racism and hate that so taints the Labour Party, which has for the last generation carefully fostered sectarian and racial hatred in Scotland to divide the working class and prevent us from rising as a political force which may put at risk the established systems of Government which pays Scottish Labour parliamentarians more than £5 per year. 

Foulkes was notoriously convicted of a violent drunken assault on a policeman, which forced him to resign from John Smith's front bench.

In 2011, after a series of anti-Catholic terrorist attacks perpetrated by BetterTogether supporters, he declared that the problem of anti-Catholic pogroms would be solved if only Celtic would "go back to Ireland", echoing the language of the National Front in the 1970s, and foreshadowing the BetterTogether campaign aimed at demonising "foreigners".

I'm sure I don't need to search too far for his views on the right of Catholics to educate children in their faith. (And isn't it noteworthy that it is always "Catholic schools" that are the problem, despite their being substantially more racially diverse than nominally non-denominational establishments?)

This violent, drunken, racist buffoon was at the forefront of efforts to prevent the Catholic people of Scotland receiving our Pope Benedict XVI during his extraordinarily successful State visit in 2010. 

At no time before or since has Foulkes ever acted to try to prevent a visit by the head of any other Church or State.

Foulkes' son, Alexander, is even poorer at hiding his hate and bigotry than his drunken old sot of a father, and was convicted of sectarian anti-Catholic attacks after what police said was the longest and most sustained outburst of sectarian hate they had ever witnessed. Clearly, Foulkes the Younger isn't entirely to blame: when a child is dragged up in an atmosphere of hate and bigotry, taught to hate Catholics, taught to hate "foreigners", then it isn't entirely his fault when he grows up skewed and imbalanced. Hate is inculcated into children; bigotry a learned, not ingrained trait. One can only imagine the boy's upbringing with a violent, drunken, father filled with hate.

What was Labour's response to this rampage of racism, anti-Catholic hate and drunken violence?

They made him a Lord, on a "wage" of £300 per day. He is currently recruiting for a member of staff, to be paid the princely sum of, er, zero, meaning only the rich can conceivably apply. 

A man who hates Scotland. 
A man who hates Catholics.
A man who hates the working class.

An appropriate poster-boy for Scottish Labour currently frolicking in the gutter of politics, using hard-right language which would make Thatcher blush; and campaigning on the same side as the BNP, Ukip, the SDL and the fascist Orange Order.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The BBC No Longer Tries to Hide Its Bias

Question Time is the BBC's flagship political debate programme, having been on our screens since 1979. 

This evening, in a rare foray to Scotland, it is broadcasting a special independence edition to an audience comprised almost exclusively of 16 and 17 year olds. 

Today the BBC announced its panel for this show:

Ruth Davidson (BetterTogether - Tory)
Nigel Farage (BetterTogether - Ukip)
George Galloway (BetterTogether - Respect)
Lesley Riddoch (Journalist and Broadcaster)
Angus Robertson (Yes Scotland - SNP)
Anas Sarwar (BetterTogether - Labour)

You will have noticed that BetterTogether panelists outnumber the Yes Scotland panelist by 4:1. This is typical of the British State broadcaster which almost always has No campaigners "ganging up" on Yes advocates. 

The BBC, amazingly, get around this by claiming that "as we are not in an official referendum period, there is no requirement to be balanced"! This is simply not good enough. The State broadcaster should not need to be legally obliged to be balanced in order to provide balance. It should be an automatic part of its programme research.

However, whilst not legally required to be balanced in terms of the referendum, the BBC seems to have failed to have noticed that there is a by-election now less than a week away. As the by-election in Donside is not happening in England, the BBC has refused to mention it in any UK-wide news programme. 

The by-election is being contested by the SNP, Labour, The Coalition, Green (whose candidate, Rhonda Reekie, is my preferred candidate), Ukip, Democratic Alliance, Christian and Fascist candidates. Of these, only the SNP, Labour, Coalition, Green and Ukip have any elected representation in the United Kingdom. 

Only the SNP, Labour, Coalition and Green parties have elected representation in Scotland.

The Greens, naturally, are absolutely furious at what seems to be a nakedly partisan attempt by the BBC to influence the by-election at their expense. The impartial Electoral Reform Society has also made an official complaint about the bias.

The last time Donside was contested, the Green Party won more than three times as many votes as Ukip. Respect didn't contest the election, although its front, Solidarity, did - gaining the votes of seventeen of the good folk of Aberdeen.

The very high point of Ukip's electoral support in Scotland was almost gaining 1% of the vote. The highest point of Respect's support in Scotland was gaining 3,3% of the regional vote in Glasgow in 2011, seeing George Galloway failing to be elected and refusing to even turn up to the SECC for the count.

The BBC have to explain exactly what the decision-making process was which saw two anti-independence campaigners whose parties have precisely zero elected representation in Scotland (in the case of Respect, there is zero presence at all in the country) chosen to sit on the panel tonight in favour of someone from either the Green Party or the Scottish Socialist Party, both of which have elected representation in Scotland, and both of which have had representatives sent to Holyrood. 

It is simply not good enough to promise that at some unspecified time the SGP will be invited onto a show one of the next times it comes north of the border. Particularly given that Nigel Farage has now been on Question Time on fourteen separate occasions. 

There are three reasons why this selection was made. Firstly, there is an bias towards English politics (and therefore the BBC shies away from selecting Scottish-based panelists); secondly that the BBC is biased towards the anti-Independence campaign and select a panel to reflect that; and thirdly that the BBC has abandoned Question Time as a serious programme and instead is chasing ratings by controversy.

This by-election will decide whether Scotland has a majority government or not. The referendum will decide whether Scotland is sovereign or not. The BBC should not mess around with it. 

The BBC should not chase ratings by force-feeding Scots a racist and a rape-apologist, neither of whom belong to political parties which have any political presence in Scotland whatsoever. 

We deserve better than this. We deserve to have the breadth of the debate in Scotland being heard on our screens.  

Exclusive: BetterTogether lied about HQ "sabotage"

On the 15th of April, the Tory-led BetterTogether campaign produced a blog post of such manifestly paranoid hysteria that it led to the campaign becoming a laughing stock. 

Utilising the tactics of smear that the Dependentist campaign has become renowned for, it read suspiciously like a list of things that the No side wished would happen to them - so they could complain about it - rather than things which actually occurred. 

In what was a paroxysmic crie de coeur which seemed as though it had been written by a twelve year old child with a petted lip, "the Nationalists" (sic) were variously accused of:

  • Co-ordinating a "dirty tricks campaign"
  • Making allegations against Ian Taylor. 
  • Boycotting BetterTogether supporters
  • Sending hate mail to BetterTogether supporters
  • Attacking BetterTogether supporters
  • Attacking the Scotsman newspaper building
  • Intimidating businesses
  • Disrupting BetterTogether events 
  • Attempting to sabotage BetterTogether HQ "almost daily.

I didn't find it particularly strange that the anti-Scotland campaign, in line with every announcement that they make, refused to provide a single shred of evidence for any of these "dirty tricks". However, I did find it interesting that they automatically assumed that the vandals who sprayed "traitors" on the Scotsman building were supporters of independence... (my own take on this is that it is likely to have been the same motivation as the BetterTogether-supporting English Defence League people who sprayed the word "Islam" on a war memorial in order to spark a backlash against Muslims in the wake of the incident in Woolwich)

Notwithstanding the above, I considered it rather unusual that I would not have heard of any of these "almost daily" vandal attacks on BetterTogether's "headquarters" in Blythswood Square, Glasgow. Surely these despicable attacks would have been bread and butter for a media which falls over itself to report the mildest criticism of Unionist campaigners as Cybernat "hate and bigotry", and often goes to the extent of "reporting" such abuse even when there is no evidence of it ever occurring. 

My bullshit radar pinging like a broken elastic band, I decided to find out more. I sent the following Freedom of Information request to Police Scotland

Has there been any complaint received by the Police from the "Better Together" campaign regarding sabotage, attacks or vandalism at its address in 5 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, G2 4AD since June 1st, 2012?

and this afternoon received my reply. 

I was saddened to discover that the allegation of sabotage was a complete fabrication by BetterTogether

Police Scotland informed me that not only had there been no complaint of any criminal damage made relating to either BetterTogether itself or the building in which it is based, but neither had there even been any informal observations made to the Police about attempted vandalism or sabotage, or even suspicious behaviour. 

Alex Salmond was not hanging around the BetterTogether offices with a half brick in his hand waiting for David Cameron to pop down to the Variety Bar for a lunchtime pint so that he could smash the toilet window. 

BetterTogether have been caught out in an outright falsehood, the only conceivable purpose of which could be to smear the pro-Scotland campaign and its supporters and members. 

This is a co-ordinated dirty-tricks campaign by the Unionists. They should stop it.