Saturday, 7 April 2018

Productivity, Capital, Labour and Profits

Productivity is a major concern for the UK economy and we lag behind many of our European and global competitors.

One of the main reasons for this problem is that when profits are generated by many UK businesses they are squirrelled away in tax havens and re-invested in speculative financial markets in order to avoid or evade a proper contribution to UK taxation. This in turn means that the investment in our capital infrastructure and our capital equipment is severely restricted.

There seems to be a belief in some UK business that instead of investing in new and modern capital equipment we can plug the productivity gap by applying ever-increasing amounts of increasingly cheap labour to our industrial base, ignoring the fundamental economic law of diminishing returns. And when this fails to work we get into the situation we have now where increasing productivity places all of its eggs in one basket, that of reducing wages even further and/or trying to maintain the same output with fewer people.

There is a direct connection between the criminal or morally reprehensible behaviour of corporate tax cheats and the falling productivity rate in the UK and it is a problem which governments must deal with, and very soon, because it will only get worse the longer it is left unaddressed.

The New UK Passport

It is a matter of extreme regret that British jobs will be lost following the decision to have the new post-Brexit UK passport printed abroad.

What is more difficult to understand is the hand-wringing of the Tories over both the colour and the printing of the UK passport abroad when a large section of their party are desperate to begin to engage in unfettered free trade with the whole of the world market and remove the very sort of job protection that might have saved those jobs.

As we exit the European Union we should prepare ourselves for British business to have to compete globally and losing contracts abroad to lower priced competitors is an intrinsic part of that process. It is inevitable that this will drive down British wages as the UK  tries to compete on cost in an unregulated market.

It makes for a very uncertain future for UK workers who will lose the protections the EU has imposed on employers and which the Tories condemn as 'red tape'.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Planning, Housing and the Green Belt.

When we think of the ‘green belt’ we have a tendency to imagine that it consists of a narrow strip of countryside encircling a major conurbation under constant threat from unscrupulous developers who want to desecrate it for profit. This way of imagining it derives largely from the vocal ‘nimbyism’ of the middle classes struggling to preserve a suburban lifestyle to which they have fled to avoid the urban centres in which they now have very little interest. They have coined the phrase ‘urban sprawl’ to increase the emotive pressure on planning authorities to restrict applications overlooking the fact that what they call urban sprawl is for the rest of us an increase in housing stock and a decent place to live.
They are quite happy for those living in urban high density housing to see that density increase provided that they themselves can reach the countryside with the minimum of inconvenience and there is no increase in suburban housing supply to diminish the value and exclusivity of their own properties.
But anyone who has travelled in Scotland can see that the way we imagine the green belt is a fallacy. There is no ‘belt’ of green space around towns and cities. What we have is miles of countryside and the briefest of rail journeys will confirm that. The countryside is not being concreted over, to the contrary, every new road or road bridge is hailed as a triumph. There is a desperate need to expand and improve our transport infrastructure and housing stock.
In short, we are not short of green but we are dreadfully short of houses and roads.
I believe that the course we should be taking is to have a good long think about green belt and planning policy and relax regulations for housing development and road building. The green belt provisions were designed largely for south of the border where needs and demands may be different but I do not believe they meet the needs of Scotland. We do not have the same geography nor the same problems.
Proposals to build on brownfield sites, while superficially tempting, will come nowhere near to meeting the housing needs of the country in its present state and would only increase the housing density for those already living in areas of overcrowding and attempts to increase the housing stock by building upwards have proven disastrous. Far better brownfield sites should be turned into urban parkland properly managed and maintained so that those living in already crowded urban conditions should have access to the chance of recreational use of pleasant green space, and if that means that the journey into the countryside for the suburban middle classes takes an extra ten or fifteen minutes then so be it.
This is not an argument for a removal of all restrictions on any kind of development but I think we must look again at how we treat the ownership and functional flexibility of land and how relaxation of restrictions could contribute to social and economic development.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Closure of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Children's Ward

The First Minister of Scotland has endorsed the closure of Ward 15, the Children’s Ward, of the Royal Alexandra Hospital citing as the main reason the advice of clinicians. Basically they have resorted to flying in the face of the well worn maxim that advisors advise and Ministers decide. But this is a Government decision and there’s no hiding behind expert advice can disguise that. I don’t decry the role of experts in helping form Government decisions but if government slavishly accept their advice and form policy only on that basis I have to ask myself why we bother to have politicians and we don’t just let the experts run things.
What has been sadly overlooked is that clinicians have vested interests in these decisions. They would not be human if, when asked whether they would recommend moving to a shiny new facility they would reject the idea. It’s almost like a promotion and who would reject that? Why would they want to stay in a facility that despite there being no plans to close it only 2 years ago has been run down so quickly that a mere 2 years later it is portrayed as virtually derelict and unfit for purpose? Why would they want to stay and fight for better facilities at the RAH Children’s Ward when the plan of the Health Board and the Scottish Government has clearly been to run it down at a helluva pace? Little wonder they are demoralised and want to move.
The clinician advisors are experts and when patients are presented to them they are very good at what they do. But they have no interest in how those patients get to them and are extremely vocal about late and missed appointments. They are not experts in transport infrastructure but just expect that patients will cope, and they don’t really care how. The new hospital is very poorly served by public transport but that counts for very little because people who have to use buses can’t really be experts. Can they? Well they’re experts on buses but nobody really cares about that.
Clinicians are also not experts in social cohesion and the type of local services that form a network which is the basis of a community. That isn’t their problem. They deal with patients as individuals as they should, but someone, and that someone should be the First Minister, should be looking at the bigger picture and taking responsibility for keeping communities alive. Localised health provision is a large part of that. The Government shouldn’t be guided only by clinicians in this respect. Investment in local health facilities is an essential part of what defines a community and this closure is a cut in local provision. It’s not a reorganisation. If you start with 2 facilities and end up with 1 then that’s a cut by any definition. People in our poorest communities are the real experts in the effects of cuts but that kind of expertise is neither wanted nor needed. They’re dependent on local services so they must be poor. Their expertise doesn’t count.
Much is made by the SNP of the proximity of the new facility to the old one. I live about 4 minutes from the RAH and I know that it takes at least 20 minutes to get to the new hospital from the RAH. A month ago they were telling me it was about 15 minutes from the old one to the new. Maybe in light traffic that could be done. Last week they were saying it was 7 minutes and now they’re telling me it’s just 5 minutes down the road. So maybe I worry too much. At the present rate I reckon it’ll be at the end of my street in about a month. But I think that might be a bit of misplaced optimism.
I hope the Scottish Government will think again, take into account the views of the other experts I have identified, and reverse this cut.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

Can I just put in my usual disclaimer. these views are entirely my own and I do not purport to represent any organisation, even those of which I might be a member.

Back in my lost youth Government introduced the Litter Act.  Litter was becoming a problem but it was never the intention to fill the jails with people who had dropped a sweet wrapper. Seat belt legislation was never intended to fill the jails with people who had forgotten to put on a seat belt. Similarly it was never the intention of the proposals to ban parents smacking their children to fill the jails with stressed out parents.

The point of all of this legislation was to try to effect a social attitude change.and to change public behaviour so that there was a consciousness among people that acceptable behaviour had changed, and that they should seriously consider and modify their conduct. It wasn't to criminalise people. It was to send out a signal of a broad societal change and back it up with penalties for the sake of society and which would only be imposed if the signal was ignored.

In the case of the OBFA it's beyond doubt that there is offensive behaviour at football matches which doesn't occur in most other sports, so to that extent the specificity of the Act could be justified. It's not impossible but it's difficult to defend the right to be offensive. I suppose there are issues of free speech but I think we're grasping at straws with that defence so I won't try. Offensive baviour at football is a stain on the fabric of our society but half a dozen police were never going to be able to jail 3 or 4 thousand chanting football fans so I think the act is best viewed, like the others I've mentioned, as a signal that a specific problem exists and needs to be addressed. It should be an indicator to young fans that the ancient bigotries of their elders, who want to be sure that their bigotries live on after them, has to change. The object of the act isn't to jail people, it's to make them conscious that society has moved on and certain things which were acceptable are no longer so. The object is to stop people being gratuitously offensive and I can't see how that is a bad thing.

There are however questions around how the act is policed. There is a mis-trust of the police, not always unjustified, among certain sections of our community and over enthusiastic policing only makes it worse. The real answer to that is that people shouldn't indulge in offensive behaviour and should get as far away as possible from people who do.

I know that there is very little in the OBFA that isn't addressed elsewhere in law by breach of the peace or other public order legislation but they lack the specificity to deal with this specific problem and send this specific signal.

But one thing is certain in my mind. If I'm right and the act should be treated as sending a signal then repeal of the act sends a much worse signal to our whole society.  Amend it by all means so that the offence is much clearer and people know where the boundaries are, but don't repeal it unless you can replace it. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Corbyn, Labour and Independence

First of all can I say that if I lived in England I would vote labour tomorrow. No if, no buts and no hesitation. Anything is better than the Tories.
But I would vote in the full awareness that the Labour Party is riddled with treachery, deceit and betrayal and has been for generations. They have had period after period of government and done very little to advance the country to socialism. Far from abolishing the House of Lords, despite the opportunity many times they have never attempted it and most of their former leaders, even the ones who purport to be socialists went on to sit in the Lords. They will always betray the working class. It’s in their DNA.
They spectacularly failed to support the miners when they really needed it. The miners were far too left wing for them. They love to complain about the press barons but as soon as they get a chance they cosy up to them. That’s why, despite all of their false posturing, we still have a media dominated by the right and which ruthlessly attacks and mis-informs working people. Labour had had many chances to put that right and they do nothing. They have no interest in an informed working class. We are just here to be exploited by a team which in the matter of the expenses scandal were not a bit better than the Tories.
As for Corbyn, he has been the subject of the treachery and betrayal which is endemic in his party. They have tried and failed to get rid of him because they think he’s too socialist for them. But they needn’t have bothered because he’ll join the betrayal of the working class just like the rest of them, it might just take a little longer. We already know he has a penchant for deceit. Three times he was elected on a Blairite manifesto and over a hundred times he voted against his party. To some that might point him out as a man of principle but to me it just says that he was quite willing to vote with or fail to oppose the Tories if it suited him. But his supporters seem quite proud of that. He will either betray them or he’ll be betrayed. They just can’t help themselves.
But as I said at the start, if I lived in England I would vote Labour but only as a slightly better option than the Tories.
But I don’t live in England. I’m a supporter of an independent socialist Scotland and since the Labour Party in Scotland are even worse I see no likelihood of them delivering any kind of socialism to Scotland. When Corbyn is knifed, and it won’t take long after the election is lost to the Tories, it is Labour in Scotland who will be in the lead among the plotters. They still worship Blair and Brown and see socialism as a retrograde step. So given that the road to socialism is temporarily blocked off for me I look at my other objective and I will cast my vote, however reluctantly to try to advance nationhood. We are lucky in Scotland that we can manufacture the opportunity to reboot our social system and start anew in an independent country. Even that won’t be easy but it will be far less difficult than turning around the Tory juggernaut that another five years of austerity will impose on us.
So I propose to vote for nationhood and to strengthen those who support it despite my reservations. Nothing else can stop the Tories from breaking the working class of Scotland and that has to be the first priority for me.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Service Sector and its Problems

I’m delighted to see the rise in output in the service sector announced today because it means more people have a job of some sort however poorly paid. But we really should be looking at the manufacturing sector to try to get a proper picture of economic performance.

The problem of the service sector is that it is predicated on the nonsensical belief that we can get richer as a country by cutting each others hair more often and that is just silly, but that’s how it works. Without an improving manufacturing base the service sector is no more than a giant ‘Ponzi’ scheme; a hoax perpetrated on us by city spivs, treasury wide-boys and political con-men and it will end in tears as all ‘Ponzi’ schemes inevitably do unless we do something about it.

Prior to the introduction of VAT we had a Selective Employment Tax which was more or less revenue neutral. What it did was to increase the Employers’ National Insurance in industries classified as ‘service’ and reduce the same tax for employments classified as ‘manufacturing’. It was very successful in diverting new investment into the manufacturing sector. Maybe it’s time to bring it back and Brexit might just offer that opportunity if government is bold enough. But I doubt whether they are.

Monday, 30 May 2016

How To Lose an Election (and I'm a bit of an expert)

I think the first thing to do is to acknowledge that standing as RISE in the Scottish Elections we did extremely poorly, but probably no better or worse that we would have done standing as the SSP, and any criticism of RISE here is only because it was as RISE that we stood. Standing as the SSP, I don't think we would have done much better because we would have run a very similar campaign using almost exactly the same methods as RISE did and achieved virtually the same outcome. There was very little new in either the approach or the policies we relied on to persuade the voters into our camp.

On the positive side the SSP has learned a lot about the quality of our social media offerings. Rise material was incomparably better than anything we have ever produced and we fail to learn from that at our peril. The medium was exploited about as well as it could have been. Would that I could say the same for the message.

As the left, whichever name we campaign under, we keep making the same mistake. We campaign on the things that are important to us rather than what is important to the voters.

Looking at the headline policies on the main RISE leaflet,we had we were asking for a second referendum at a time of our choosing. No doubt we were looking for disaffected SNP supporters, but there are very few disaffected SNP voters. Their new members haven't had time to become disaffected and their 'old guard' wouldn't go anywhere else at any price. Add to that the fact that 55% of the electorate had already rejected independence very recently and we were always backing a loser with this as a headline policy. We were competing on someone else's turf and they had it fenced off very well. The problem is that we knew all of this and still headlined the policy.

We said no to cuts and save local services. This is a message we were sharing with other parties. There was nothing distinctive about our approach. It didn't tell voters clearly enough where the money was to come from and that was where our distinction lay. We were asking them to take us on trust when they didn't even know us.

We were saying we would scrap the hated council tax and that we had a plan for an alternative that makes the rich pay. But council tax has been frozen for years and voters, especially those on fixed incomes like pensioners value predictability. We didn't define 'the rich' so many would assume we meant them because they regard the poor as being those on benefits and see themselves as being rich by comparison. We were asking them again to trust us without really knowing who we were.

We said we would de-criminalise marijuana, but we found ourselves at hustings in towns and cities where nearly every family has had a drug related problem or even tragedy within their ranks. Most of them would never challenge the policy publicly but they wouldn't let our view over-ride their own instincts without knowing us and being convinced that we were more likely to have a solution than the police, press and courts. They need to trust us before we can convince them that we know best.

We said we should end the Police Scotland farce, but for most voters a police officer is just a police officer. Their organisation structure is of no interest to voters, what is important to voters is that there are never enough police on the beat. Re-organisation of Police Scotland is of absolutely no importance to them in the polling booth however important it seemed to us.

Free public transport is the final headline policy on the leaflet. But the demographic most likely to vote already travel free on the buses and in poll after poll car owners show no interest in giving up their cars and you really can't sell this policy to the rest of the voters in one line, it's a long term message for after you're trusted, so as a headline policy I'm afraid it wasn't going to be very effective.

All of these policies are excellent and very important in their own right, but they are very important to us, not to the voters. If we are to convince the voters to vote for us we must first address their issues. We had nothing in our headlines about health or hospitals, education or schools, houses or housing or jobs and employment. We focussed on the things that are important to us instead of policies that are important to both us and the voters. Our policies should all have been in the manifesto, but on the leaflets, as headline policies, the ones we chose were absolutely inappropriate.

Before we can get people to believe we are right about our issues we have to let them know we are addressing their issues. We have to be embedded in their lives locally, not only in local campaigns but in their lives. We need to be in community councils, parents' associations, tenants' associations, fighting for them every day where they live. We are already well established in the trade unions and we should expand on that and that should be our model for involvement in other organisations. I don't just mean coming along to save a school here or a park there and hitching our wagon to a local campaign. We need to lead our people. Voters have to believe that we believe in them, working for them all the time and picking up the heavy end when other parties are attending civic receptions and doing everything they can to avoid their own people except at election times. And we should always be recognisably representing the SSP in the community, deeply involved and listening.

The notion of left unity is little more than a pipe dream. If all of the minor left parties were joined in cooperation we would still fall far short of a critical mass in terms of electoral muscle. And for reasons of doctrine or for other reasons some left wing parties wouldn't join with us and some we wouldn't consider joining with. Our future has to lie elsewhere and if we can make a success of it we will become the pole of attraction for the rest of the left, unless they decide that the case for left wing electoral politics is over or carry on dreaming and getting one or two per cent in the polls.

I think there was and is a fundamental flaw in our approach and severely compounded by the novelty of RISE. They had little or no recognition and only when we have done the hard miles will we be able to compete seriously for votes. We will only convince voters that the things that are important to us affect their lives profoundly if they trust us enough to think that we might know better than the media what is important for them in their society, and that the new society we advocate is possible.

That is the challenge for us in the SSP and there are no short cuts.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Scottish National Party Election Strategy

I must admit to being a bit, well more than a bit really, unsettled by the latest pronouncement from the Scottish National Party that it will allow ineligible candidates to stand under an independence banner with the support of the SNP.  If they want to amend their constitution to allow new celebrity members to stand then that is a matter for them, but if they are to support candidates from other parties who have been prominent in the independence movement and expect them to take the SNP whip then that is a different story.

It is, and has long been my opinion that every voter who supports the aims and ambitions of the Scottish Socialist Party should have the opportunity of going into the polling booth and placing their cross against the Red Star of the SSP in every election where we have a candidate.  No 'ifs' nor 'buts', we should be sailing under our own flag all of the time.  If we fail to gather sufficient support from the electorate despite having the best raft of policies then so be it. It means we must work harder to get our message across. We can't blame the electorate for our own failings.

But the latest plans of the SNP look like a giant step towards a social democratic one-party state within a capitalist framework and I'm not sure that such a one-party state led by the SNP and packed with the great and the good of independence minded celebrities is a price worth paying for our independence.  We should be thinking long and hard before we get our people involved.
We were useful in the referendum campaign and I held my tongue because the end was, in my own opinion, great enough to justify the means, but does everyone remember the howls of protest from the SNP when we were excluded from the Smith Commission despite being represented on the Yes campaign board. Neither do I, but if you lie down with dogs then you get up with fleas and we should remember that duplicity for a long time before we get involved in supporting them given their record of failure to support us.

We have our own vision of independence and it doesn't coincide with theirs except at the most basic level.  That is what we should be standing for and campaigning for.  We should not be looking for scraps from the SNP table

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Scottish Independence Referendum and the Currency Debate.

There seems to be a lot of nonsense being talked about the Scottish currency in the event of a vote for independence so I might as well get in my tuppence worth (assuming the new currency will have tuppence as an expression of currency). This is the situation as I understand it but I don't claim to be an expert. It's not really as difficult as the NO campaign would have us believe.

Plan A.
We keep the pound in a currency union with the remainder of the UK. The benefits of this in terms of transaction costs have been explored at some length but I have been asked to try to explain what transaction costs are.
For the most part they are that portion of your money which is stolen by the money changers when you convert from one currency to another, just as they do when you go on holiday but on a much more massive scale when you're buying and selling between two countries. In a currency union these costs would be eliminated.
The drawback is that you lose control of your monetary policy (the amount of money circulating in your economy) as a lever of policy. That means we will only have the same control over our monetary policy as France and Germany have in their particular currency union and they manage well enough. That doesn't seem to be all that scary because the economic interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK (except London) are broadly similar. We would retain control of our fiscal policy (the power to tax and spend according to our own social priorities).

Plan B.
We keep the pound without a currency union. Because the national debt has been incurred by the UK in support of the united currency, if we are, as the NO campaign seems to think, effectively kicked out of the united currency it seems unlikely that we would be required to assume part of the united currency's accumulated debt. If we don't share the asset it is grossly unreasonable to ask us to share in the liabilities of the currency union. The UK Government have already conceded that it would accept responsibility for the national debt should we vote YES, but we understand that this was only to re-assure the financial markets to keep their own credit rating up. That's not the Scottish Government's preferred option. They would rather have a currency union and accept a share of the debt.
We are told that if we do not share the debt then borrowing on the world financial markets would become difficult, but we already know that Scotland would have a triple A rating. The markets have said so. Even if we were to renounce the debt, interest rates depend on how much risk is involved for the lender. There is little risk in lending to an oil rich, stable democracy with a massive balance of payments surplus. International finance are no fools and they will recognise our renouncing of the UK's debt burden as a one off in peculiar circumstances and since the UK government has assured markets that the debt will be repaid they wont worry about lending to Scotland. It's just another scare story.
All of this is made clear in the Scottish Government's White Paper. It's not called Plan B but it is, and it's there for anyone to see who's interested and geeky enough, but lazy, bought and paid for journalists can't be bothered to look so they keep shouting that there's no Plan B. It's just another scary lie.
They like to talk about a Plan B because it implies the possible failure of Plan A, so Salmond will never refer to it as Plan B. He's old and wise enough to realise that Plan B is a term coined by the NO campaign to imply failure of the best option and a degree of uncertainty about planning itself. He's a consummate politician and since Plan B is a NO campaign term he will not accede to their terms. He knows that if you control the terminology then you control the debate and he will end up debating on the opposition's terms. So he will never use the expression 'Plan B' however desperate the NO campaign are to get him to utter the words. Language is important and all of us who are old enough remember the cheer that went up in the house of commons when Thatcher after years of calling it the Community Charge eventually used the words 'Poll Tax'. It was the beginning of the end.

Plan C
We use our own currency. However much I would like that to happen it seems unlikely, but if push comes to genteel jostle then it's got to be done. It may involve a longer wait for its full benefits to show but it'll be worth it in the long run.

That's my offering. Good luck with it.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Glasgow Airport Rail Link

 It is unfortunate that plans for the Glasgow Airport Rail link seem to be back on the agenda. We have made our reservations on these proposals clear on many occasions but would like to take this opportunity to once again look at the problems associated with this scheme.

We fully understand that the scheme would create many jobs both in the construction phase and in the enhanced passenger throughput for the airport, but construction firms tend to use their own on-book skilled labour force so we believe that the benefit to the people of Renfrewshire would be minimal. In return Renfrewshire would suffer all of the social, environmental and economic costs involved in making sure that travellers from Glasgow can get to their flights without ever having to set foot in Renfrewshire. It makes little sense. We also believe that the rail link would be vastly uneconomic unless heavily subsidised in its day-to-day operation and we are unsure what contribution the airport authorities would make towards both the construction and the running of this service designed to enhance the profitability of the airport.

We believe that if such a project has to go ahead, and we are not convinced that it must, especially when every environmental group is campaigning to reduce air travel, then there has to be a radical re-think of the whole thing from the bottom up. It is our belief that any proposed new line should go from Glasgow to Braehead, increasing the footfall to that centre which seems to be a priority for Renfrewshire Council. The line should proceed from there to Renfrew, which would increase the access infrastructure of the largest town in Scotland without a railway station and enhance the economic activity and employment in that area. It should then enter the airport from the Inchinnan end.

This would mean that all of the prospective jobs in construction and in the airport would be maintained and would be of some benefit to Renfrewshire and its people. It would also make the line more useful and might, through increased use, reduce the need for public subsidy.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Reaction Formation and Councillor Terry Kelly

Reaction formation is believed to occur when someone finds an idea in themselves so especially threatening that they deal with it by enthusiastically embracing its opposite, and so it is with the New Labour Party and Socialism.
The stand-out in this field is Councillor Terry (TKMax) Kelly of Renfrewshire District. There is a strong suspicion that Councillor Kelly is a closet Socialist, despite his support for Blair's Government, his support of the selling off of council housing to a private limited company and his latest aberration, the stigmatising of a foodbank user who dared to criticise the policies of the Cameron government. Still, on his blog, he claims to be a socialist. How can this be ?
The councillor runs the most vile, hate-filled blog it has been my misfortune to read. It is filled with spiteful venom and really obnoxious, and often has a special place for the Socialists. But Terry claims to be a socialist and although I do not know him personally, I'm told by those who do that he's 'ok'. So it's difficult to believe that a vile hate-filled, spiteful, venomous, obnoxious person could charm the voters, could they ? Unless they were modelled on Blair. I believe the explanation is that Terry is reacting to his own shame at allowing his own Socialism to be sold down the river for a place at the council table and a pay of around £460 per week. But he says he's a socialist and how could anyone think one of Tony Blair's New Labour people would tell a lie ? I mean, I'm sure that if they live long enough, maybe four or five hundred years, Tony Robinson and the Time Team will find those weapons of mass destruction, right ?
So he embraces all of the Tory policies with enthusiasm, attacking foodbank users, manipulating Renfrewshire's assets for tax avoidance and promoting big business at the Braehead Shopping Development. He gets into bed with Cameron's Tories to fight against independence with more vitriol than the Tories themselves. Nothing is too right wing for Terry, because we believe he has to do it to cover up his embarrassment and shame at having sold his Socialism for a paltry portion of silver and a small sliver of power. Ashamed of his own cowardice he has to try to be a bully, but he's not scary enough. That he has to be obnoxious, and to lose all respect among decent people is a very small price to pay when you have already committed the major act of betrayal of your community and working class heritage, and you can always pass off anger at yourself as strong commitment to principle if you are loud enough.

And as for the real Socialists, he hates us worst, because we are a constant reminder to him of his shame and betrayal. We are the open sore that just wont heal, we wont go away no matter what he does. We haunt him like a bad dream of what he believes but dare not admit because were he to come out of the closet as a socialist by action rather than just words then his leader, Councillor McMillan, would dispense with the services of his court jester as quickly as you can say Gulf War, and then he's off the gravy train.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Tories and the Great Pension Release Stunt

I've been thinking long and hard about the release of pension funds that the Tories announced in the budget. It's unlike the Tories to trust working people with large sums of money when they could leave it in the hands of their fat cat cronies in the City to continue to rip us off with fees and charges on money that's locked into their wallets. What, I ask myself, could the motive be ? Well, I'm no Robert Peston but I can tell you what I think.

The Tories are in trouble. Not economic trouble, with the support of the Lib Dems they have the brass neck to screw the poor to bail them out of that. They are in political trouble. One of the problems that all governments face is that the economic cycle lasts for about 8 years, despite Gordon Brown thinking you can abolish boom and bust. That's just the way it is, You can stretch it or shorten it but not by much. But the parliamentary cycle only lasts for 5 years. If you come into government at the wrong time you are in political trouble come the next election.

Osborne came into government at the start of the downturn and 4 years later he has an upturn. Exactly as anyone who knows about these things would have predicted irrespective of any government action. But growth is very weak and the brakes he put on the economy by restricting the incomes of those who have to spend 100 % of their income every week means that consumption, which fuels growth, can't accelerate the economy to the extent that real cost of living issues will have been solved by the next election. Basically the upturn will be too slow for voters to feel better off by the time they go to the polls.

Now if you're a Tory chancellor then you can't just go giving money to poor people who will spend it, so traditionally, to pump up growth by consumption he would resort to fiscal easing, or as it is better known, printing money. But that's been tried and the ailing banks just kept the money to shore up their ailing balance sheets. It didn't make its way into the consumption side of the economy so the effects of the multiplier weren't produced. I suppose I should really try to explain the multiplier but it's complicated. So imagine you have £100 and put down a 10% deposit on a piece of furniture. You can produce £1000 of consumption from £100 of cash. That'll do as an explanation for the moment I think.

In any case, another round of printing money would have a very bad effect on the UK credit rating. It's already under severe threat, so as an option, that would have to be a last resort. So in the pragmatic way that the Tories always adopt in a crisis he has looked around to see who has money he can get his hands on. Releasing the pension handcuffs will produce significant tax revenue in the year of the election but it will have the added, and perhaps more important effect of injecting massive consumption into the economy. The effect on inflation he can brazen out because inflation is starting from a very low base, and a bit of inflation in the system will help consumption as well. People will be more inclined to buy now if they think things will be more expensive in the near future, and it is obvious that a lot of the released pension money will be spent, bringing into play the multiplier. And a lot will go into 'buy-to-let' property fuelling a house price boom and there's nothing like your property value rising to bring UKIP voters back onside. It'll be a price bubble of course, but as we all know, in a price bubble it's only the last fool in the chain who suffers, but it might not burst before the election.

So this act of generosity to workers by the most elitist chancellor in living memory is, as far as I can see, no more than a political stunt to try to get the Tories back into power with a majority government at the next election, and if they have to wreck the pensions industry to do it then so be it. Thatcher did it with the coal industry for the same reasons, but the miners were the enemy. Osborne is so desperate he will do it to his friends. He's in real trouble and his generosity is no more or less than a very destructive election stunt. There were many other better ways to act against the rip off artists of the pension industry, but they wouldn't have been quite so politically expedient.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Scottish Independence. A Guide for My Friends Down South

We need to talk. If we're going to divorce then there needs to be an orderly transition. But some of my English friends don't seem to grasp the fundamentals, so I'm going to try to explain why Scotland has to vote 'Yes' in the upcoming referendum and hope that they will understand and support us.

It has nothing to do with hating the English. They've been our neighbours since before time was measured and we live in harmony with them most of the time, but we're different. The real problem is that my English friends can only see me through English glasses. They ascribe to a completely different, a fundamentally different set of norms and values to those that prevail north of the border and it affects their vision as my life experience shapes mine.

English kids are brought up with heroes who represent State and Empire. From Drake, Nelson and Kipling to Churchill, the Union Jack and the Royal Family, a sense of Englishness is rooted deep within them from their early years. They ingest it with their mother's milk and it lasts all of their lives. State and Empire are so deeply rooted that when Scotland becomes independent it might be the first country to become independent of Westminster without a shot being fired. No doubt someone wiser will correct me.

But Scots kids learn about missionaries like Livingstone and Park who, while deeply involved in expanding the Empire in reality, are presented as spreading Christian values in savage worlds. Their heroes are Helen Crawfurd, John Mclean, Willie Gallacher, Jimmy Reid, Mick McGaghey and others who led ordinary people in a struggle against the state to improve the lives of people. (It's just occurred to me that many of my English friends will never have heard of Helen Crawfurd. She stood with the women of Glasgow when they defied the English tanks in George Square in Glasgow in 1919. But it probably didn't make the papers down there). But back to the point, Scots kids are taught that if they have good luck it is a gift given to them so that they can improve the lives of others as well as their own. It's a universal duty of care and share taught to our kids, which doesn't always last forever but is sufficiently deep rooted to make us different. I know that this view is controversial, but please don't tell me an anecdote about a Scot you met who didn't ascribe to these values, I know as many of them as you do, and there are many. But producing an anecdote and trying to pretend that it overwhelms a mass of solid statistical evidence as presented in social attitude surveys is a particularly Tory strategy which might fool Sun readers but is really quite shallow. If I deserve abuse then I'm sure I deserve a better standard of abuse than that.

In Scotland we try to be a more compassionate, caring set of people. Put on one side all of the debate over how much money we get from the Barnett formula. That can be interpreted by either side to get the result they want. Instead look at how we spend the money we get. It is used in the main to improve our society as a whole, to improve the lives of those who need it, students, the disabled, the elderly and others who in England are regarded as a drain on the economy, as welfare junkies.

Look at the social attitude surveys and year after year you will see that we have completely different aspirations for our society from those that prevail down south. We integrate our immigrants to the point that they don't ghettoise themselves, they become part of our society recognising that our national social values are those to which all caring people can aspire. I know that in England they feel excluded in the same way as Scots often do. We don't always understand your ways just as much as you don't always understand ours. Kindness to strangers is an inherent part of our national character.

My English friends believe that the economy will be the deciding factor in the referendum, but they couldn't be more wrong. The economy and the currency come only half way up the crucial factors according to respectable independent polling. It's really more about the psyche of the Scots people. We're different by choice. It's a set of values instilled in us from childhood. And it's not something we want to change. We want our children to have those same values when they grow up. We don't aspire for them to be rich, only to be comfortable and free of the worry of daily financial struggle. That means a welfare system that provides not just a safety net but a platform, it shouldn't be the miserable existence some would wish on them should they fall upon hard times. That's a sacrifice Scots taxpayers are prepared to make which English taxpayers seem to resent very deeply. We don't want to fund a clinging to the last vestiges of Empire by maintaining a grossly over-large military and a nuclear capability which impresses nobody in the world, but allows us to intervene in all sorts of foreign wars so we can claim a seat at the big table. We'd rather have peace and eat with the staff.

I don't blame my English friends for not understanding all of this. They can't possibly understand because their whole lives has been dominated by the values of the society they were reared in just as mine has. Their views of Scotland have been peddled to them by a right wing media because they recognise that the social values we have in Scotland are a danger to the obscene wealth of their owners. So they have been fed stories of whingeing Jocks and subsidy junkies to the point where they really believe it. They have been encouraged to believe that our much valued social housing is an affront to their property values. Housing for them is sold as a competitive sport hence the ludicrous concept of a housing ladder that leaves their kids homeless or burdened with debt. We fight hard for our social housing but our views have been suppressed and ignored by various Governments and media consisting of Tories of all shades.

And the bottom line is this. If Jesus Christ himself came up to encourage us to vote 'No' in the referendum then I would guarantee that if he had an English accent then he would be sent homewards to think again and the 'Yes' vote would increase. We just wont be told that irrespective of whether we vote Yes or No, if Cameron doesn't like it then we are stuck in the status quo. We wont be told that the pound is non-negotiable. If the pound is strong then we have suffered the hard work and austerity that has made it strong along with our English cousins. We have made a proportionate contribution to its strength, so we wont be treated like that … not any more. We're not a colony of the Empire and we wont be talked down to or partonised any more.

The economics are important but not crucial or anything like as important as the English politicians think they are. It's all about pride. There's a feeling abroad in Scotland that it's our time, our opportunity to build the kind of society we want for ourselves without the English Government that we didn't elect coming along every five years with the wrecking ball and setting us back on our heels again.

So I hope my friends down south can understand that it's not about dislike or malice, it's only about difference. You have your way and we have ours, for better or worse, completely and incommensurable paradigms, and if you can't help us in our hopes then at least don't hinder us. We can do this on our own but we can do it so much more easily with your co-operation, and you would end up with a very good friend and neighbour, and you never know when you'll need a friend.  

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Leveson and Regulation of the Press

The press are still at it. Wittering on about how important they are to a free democratic society as if anyone still believed anything they read in the papers. I've got some news for them. We are increasingly getting our news from the internet and social media. But they still go on in their precious way about being the guardians of freedom despite being controlled, as I've said before by a few self important families or individuals. About the only things they are really good for is telling us what all the other media told us yesterday, mopping up large spillages and training puppies where and where not to piss.

If the press are so important in holding governments to account then that is really a case for giving them fewer powers, because they have usurped the role of democracy and the democratic process. Governments should be being held to account by the democratic process and if the press are doing that job then it is surely the democratic process which needs to be more powerful and not the press.

And when it comes to holding institutions to account, where were the press during the phone hacking that went on for years until it eventually had to come to the surface because it jeopardised a murder investigation? Many of the papers did it and most of them knew. Where was the holding to account when it came to holding their own to account? Criminal conduct was ignored because knowing which celebrity was kissing which other celebrity was clearly in the public interest, or so they would have us believe. Going through pop stars' bins was vital to uncovering … I'm not sure what.

But I've never seen a 'kiss and tell' story published by a newspaper, even a 'quality' newspaper, exposing the peccadilloes of the proprietor or editor of another paper. They must all be real paragons of virtue. But they all knew about Robert Maxwell's conduct and published not a sniff of it until he died falling off a luxury yacht and the workers, as usual, were left without a pension. Where was the holding to account? As I said, they all knew.

Just as they all knew about the systematic corruption of police and other public officials by many newspapers, but said not a word until it all came crashing down around their ears at Leveson. Where was the holding to account when it came to their own? Nowhere in sight, that's where.

So I say again, I'd rather governments were held to account by people I have elected to do the job rather than a troop of Tory 'grandees' wielding more power than they should have and exercising it in their own interests. They want to be above the law and not have their conduct regulated by law. But they have had many opportunities to put their house in order and they are being offered what should be their last chance to act responsibly. They should be told, 'Take it or leave it', and if they won't commit to behaving responsibly and having an oversight body which regulates that behaviour, then there should be legislation to make sure they do. It will take a 60% vote in both houses of Parliament and in the Scottish Parliament to change the deal they are being offered, and to be honest, if all of that lot agrees you're no good then chances are you're bloody awful. They should sign up, and sign up right now.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Leveson and a Free Press

I see that a lot of press people are unhappy with the regulation proposals following on from the Leveson Enquiry so let me throw in my tuppence worth.

We all support a free press, but the fact of the matter is that the United Kingdom hasn't had a free press for many years. It has always been totally under the control of a few powerful families who exercise that control in a completely scurrilous way. They have absolutely no problem in publishing half truths and complete falsehoods to the ruination of peoples' lives and for the sake of, and in the name of, something that will be wrapping a fish supper tomorrow. Provided always that it makes them money.

They are completely undemocratic, setting the agenda that their masters want and even claiming to decide who governs the country, if we are to believe the 'Sun wot won it' headlines. And who wouldn't believe the Sun.

All that is asked of them is that they stay within the law and tell the truth. Is that so very difficult for them. Those are the same rules that the rest of a free society seems to have few problems with. But they want to be completely outwith the law, they want to ride roughshod over everyone else's rights not to be defamed because they know that few if any ordinary people can afford to go to law against them.

So however distasteful, it has become necessary to rein their excesses, and it is only their excesses that are being restricted, because if we don't exercise some sort of democratic control over law-breakers and corrupters in the press and everywhere else then we risk losing democracy itself. But perhaps that is the ultimate objective of the press barons. They want to exercise that ultimate power that ordinary people having a right to vote denies them.

Royal Mail Privatisation

Any good neo-liberal economist will tell you that the value of anything is simply what someone else is prepared to pay for it.

So as the shares of the Royal Mail go on sale today we can know exactly what they were worth using the preferred theory of value of Cameron and his hedge fund and banker pals.  And knowing what they were worth and knowing what they were sold for it is easy to see that this was a major robbery of the taxpayer to benefit the already discredited financial system of the City of London.

And the saddest part is that it is ordinary working people who will have to fork out the difference in the form of cuts to schools, hospitals and other public services which could have been funded by that difference.  It's a bloody disgrace and an affront to all of the people who already dug deep to bail out the banks.

This was our Royal Mail and come independence it will be again. I only hope that our government, once we grasp the thistle, has the balls to take our share of it back into public ownership with minimal compensation for the greedy pigs who stole it.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Horse-Racing on Good Friday and the Christian Churches.

I'm not a Christian, nor am I a particular fan of horse-racing but I am a fan of quirky traditions. It is, therefore, with some regret that I heard on the radio today that the powers that be are to consider having horse-racing on Good Friday.

Good Friday has always been a no racing date in the racing calendar.  This was out of respect for the Christians and was intended to commemorate the soldiers gambling for the clothes of Christ at the foot of the cross.

I think this proposal should be resisted (even by us old atheists).  I know it's a bit quaint in today's climate of profit maximisation but there's nothing much wrong with being a bit quaint and quirky now and then.

Syria and the Crown Prerogative

It seems I was wrong in my last musings and we are not to go to war in Syria, a bloody good thing if you ask me. But there are other really beneficial outcomes from Big Dave Cameron's major parliamentary blunder. The power of the Prime Minister now and in the future has been seriously undermined, as has the power of the Crown prerogative, because unless I'm seriously mistaken, (which has been known to happen), it will be virtually impossible now for the Government to exercise the Crown prerogative to take us unwilling into a foreign war without the consent of Parliament.

I'm very happy that, at long last, the back benches have found a bit of backbone and that they are starting, in some small way, to represent the views of the people who elected them to do just that.  Long may it continue.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Syria, Scotland and the UK Government

As Parliament sits today in emergency session to discuss the merits of military intervention in Syria subject to confirmation that chemical weapons have been used, I hope they will consider the matter with some gravity. The usual response that we must back up our American allies isn't good enough. There is no doubt about the response of France. They are completely gung ho because they desperately need influence in the middle east because their oil leases in Libya are in the pocket of a jacket that's hanging on a very shaky nail.

One approach might be to consider that if we intervene militarily then the lives of some of our people will be lost. That is inevitable, whether it be in the theatre of war or at home when the Syrian people exact their revenge by terror attacks in the UK. But our troops or our civilians will die one way or another as a result.

Cameron and his crew may well consider that this is a price worth paying, so I urge them to consider, if by killing your children you could put an end to chemical warfare, would you kill them. or perhaps it is only a price worth paying if you are not the one who has to pay. Someone else's children will pay the price for your global ambitions, because all of this chemical warfare talk is nonsense, there are no nice ways to be killed. But the Eton / Sandhurst ethos doesn't care about that. They will sacrifice other people's children in the interests of empire without a second thought. That's what all of their training is designed to do. Those who do not belong to the elites are sub-human as far as they are concerned and unworthy of the same consideration they give their own children.

This is all about being seen to be a global power. There doesn't seem to be the same moral imperative on Denmark or Norway or a host of other countries to throw away the lives of their people to retain global influence. It's about English imperial ambitions, and not even all of England, only London and the south east. The rest of the U.K. are firmly against any intervention.  But the Joint Intelligence Committee will produce a review of the intelligence. The last one acquired the title 'the dodgy dossier' because they are so politically motivated that a neutral review of the facts is almost impossible. And off to war we'll go again.

But Scotland can opt out of those global ambitions and try to be a country that lives at peace with its neighbours. Scottish soldiers have been at war virtually unbroken somewhere in the world for the best part of 100 years, and what have we to show for it. The massive wealth of the U.K. has agglomerated into the south east and we have been forced by the money, our money, wasted chasing dreams of empire into poverty for which we are now condemned.

It doesn't have to be that way. There is a referendum on independence coming up and if we only have the courage to grasp the thistle it could be very different. It's time to say, 'enough', keep Scottish troops out of foreign wars, and call a halt to Westminster rule.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Tories Discover Where That Is

It's nice that the Tories in Westminster seem to have discovered that you can travel north of Carlisle without falling off the end of the world, and that Big Dave Cameron has offered his services to help out the tartan Tories of the SNP with the organisation of the Commonwealth Games. No doubt he'll fly in, meet a few millionaires, and fly out the same day. You wont find him hanging around to see the misery and devastation he's causing in Glasgow and elsewhere.

But just to remind him that Scotland has twice as many Giant Pandas as Tory M.P.s (and you can't say that often enough) and with any luck it'll soon be three times as many if the zoo gets it right.  So here's hoping for one more Giant panda and one less Tory M.P.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Diageo : There's Right Good Money in Butchery

Diageo former boss Paul Walsh 'earned' 14.8 million pounds in his final year with the company. No doubt he deserved every penny of it. He effected efficiencies that pushed up the share price and the shareholder returns by more than anyone ever imagined during his term of office. Of course Diageo wont pick up the bill for the social damage that it's products will cause, because Johnnie Walker and Bells whisky and Guinness are big brands internationally and generate lots of profit for the City. You and I will pick up the bill for that in the same way as the people of Kilmarnock were dumped from his organisation to shrink the cost base and increase the profits of the group.

Remind me again how we're all in this together. I can't quite get my head round that part where the seventh richest country in the world is really bankrupt and has to tax the sick to make ends meet and use foodbanks to feed hungry children.

Perhaps Paul Walsh could put his hand in his pocket and help out, but I doubt it.

Beau Derek Mackay M.P. and the Payday Lenders

It's good to see that Beau Derek Mackay has decided to speak out against payday lenders in the Paisley Daily Express today. But we have to ask, 'Why so late, Beau?'  Renfrewshire branch of the Scottish Socialist Party were protesting in the streets a fortnight ago and we didn't see you around. It's not like the SNP to miss a passing bandwagon. Maybe it's just that you don't really want to show your face in the streets of Paisley after the performance of the SNP when they were in control of the Council. Not that Tony Blair's New Labour seem to be doing any better.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Global Cities and Regional Crises. London and Scottish independence

London is a Global City. With New York and Tokyo it is one of the top ranked global cities of the world. At a lower level we probably have Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris and a few others. Decisions, social, cultural, political and, especially, economic taken in top global cities are truly global in their effects. They house the real levers of international power.

Having a global city as its capital can bring massive economic benefits to a country in terms of international trade and in attracting international investment and events, and looking in particular at London it is clear that the power of the global city contributes massively to the economic growth and performance of the economy of the United Kingdom. The City of London generates enormous wealth and its contribution to the U.K.'s Gross National Product cannot be overstated.

This means that in national terms the U.K. can be seen as one of the richest countries in the world despite its relative lack of geographic area. It can, and does, demand a seat on the United Nations security council and a variety of other world institutions. Having a successful global city as its capital helps the U.K. punch well above its weight in the world. The result of that is that the U.K. has to fulfil a role in world events and that means becoming involved on a regular basis in the internal affairs of other nations as an international policeman or 'peacekeeper' or some other modern type of colonialism in order to maintain its position as a global power led by a global city.

The real problem, however, of having a global city as the capital city of the U.K. is that, although global cities reside geographically in the countries that they lead, they exist more in another notional country where the only relationships which matter are those relationships with other global cities. Rather than being involved with other parts of the country London has a stronger relationship with New York and Tokyo than it has with Glasgow or Sheffield, Newcastle or Birmingham. Trillions of Dollars are sent whizzing around the globe in milliseconds between London, Tokyo and New York to generate wealth for those cities, but very little of that wealth finds its way out of those cities and into the real wealth creating areas of their respective countries. They are like black holes sucking in wealth and power of which practically none escapes further than the distance of the daily commute to the institutions of wealth and power.

So we end up with travesties like the London Olympics where billions of pounds were raised from the whole country from taxation and lottery funding and poured into the most affluent area of the country. The billions of pounds of returns which we were led to expect, if it eventually materialises will remain with the south east of the country. It will not escape back into the economy of the whole U.K. but it will be traded with New York and Tokyo to generate more wealth for the global city.
Similarly, the high speed rail project which is supposed to increase the flow of wealth to the north will only serve to suck wealth and investment into London, because given the choice, and if it is within easy travelling distance, business in search of higher profits will not re-locate out of a global city, it will re-locate to where the money and the market is. The cities of Manchester and Birmingham are in danger of becoming dormitories for workers who service the bee hive but can no longer afford to live in London.

It ends up in a situation where the south east of the country, in relative affluence, have little or no real understanding of the problems and situation of the other regions. They fail to see the problem because they don't have the problem of poverty and deprivation experienced by those unfortunate enough to live north of the Watford Gap. London has 281,000 millionaires (and it's been said that one in seventeen Londoners is a Dollar millionaire) while 34% of Glasgow primary school children receive free school meals and that tells its own story.

The conclusion is reasonably clear. Scotland would not be deprived of the wonderful economic benefits of the U.K. in the event of independence. They receive very little of the benefit of the sparkling economic performance of the economy of the south east at present and there is no real reason to believe that the black hole of the global city of London will surrender up any of its wealth any time in the near future. That's not how global cities work. Global cities make nothing but money. They trade currency back and forward between themselves and believe that the value of their currency assets is the price the last person paid for them. Until the bubble bursts and the last fool in the chain has to come cap in hand to the rest of the country to bail them out by increasing tax (but never on the rich) and cutting benefits for the vulnerable they have created.

Global cities are only good for themselves and other global cities. For the rest of the country that they occupy geographically they are a curse. A real economy can only be sustained in the long term by real people producing real goods and services in the real world, not in the cyber-world of the global city.

The other regions of England can do little about it because as soon as their representatives are elected into position they are absorbed into the London Parliament and sucked into the black hole to become part of the grand conspiracy. But Scotland can escape, so I'll take my chance on government from Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Scottish Independence Referendum and the Westminster Parliament

I speak here for no-one but myself as usual.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about some of the questions raised by Westminster about the future of Scotland after the Independence Referendum, so let me try to give an answer to the Westminster Parliament to some of the key issues e.g
Will we join the European Union ?.
Will we join the Euro ?
Will we join Nato ?
Will we have our own currency or piggy-back on another?
Will we retain the Queen as head of state ? … and,
What will we do about an army ?
My answer is that it’s none of your bloody business. These are matters that will be decided by the people of Scotland after we are independent.  You will not bind us in advance to policies of your choosing. You are no longer our big brother looking after us and making sure we act in the best interests of the English parliament, we will not submit to your oversight and we will no longer answer to you on matters that are no concern of yours. Independence will be just what it says on the tin.
The political parties of Scotland will have an election and each will, no doubt, propose a different raft of policies, just as you do at Westminster, and for you to try to insist that a common raft of the most fundamental policies must be agreed in advance between all of the parties is supremely arrogant. These decisions are for the people of Scotland and for them alone. They may well have consequences for the rump of the UK but that should affect our decisions no more than the effect on the UK moderates the policies of your other neighbours such as France or Germany i.e. not at all.
So please stop interfering. You have many bigger problems which are much more demanding of your attentions, such as filling in your expenses.

Wimbledon and the Other Class

In Ferguslie Park, Paisley yesterday …. The kids have a rope tied to a lamp post and the other end to a shopping trolley across the street. The Umpire is sitting in the shopping trolley and as cars approach he pulls himself along the fence so as to drop the ‘net’ and let the cars pass. Then he hauls himself back shouting ‘play a let’. I don't know if it’s actually covered in the LTA rule book but it obviously works for the kids.

And that’s what will make this country great again. Not individual achievement by elite individuals, but the teamwork, innovation and imagination of working class kids in housing schemes all over Scotland just waiting for that fair chance to shine that we hope independence will bring.

The Scottish socialist Party is the only Scottish party that can unleash the power and potential buried in the housing schemes of our country. The major parties and other elites are terrified that we realise what we have.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

David Beckham and the 2012 London Olympics

I'm sure we all know the feeling. Sometimes something just gets under your skin and you can't get rid of it. It doesn't matter that it might be quite trivial in the grand scheme of things, it just goes on irritating whenever it pops into your head, and this post is designed to get it off my chest, because it has to be said. 

I know I should be condemning the extravagance of capitalism and the unethical behaviour of the sponsors. I should be going on about 'bread and circuses' like the old lefty I am, but the 2012 London Olympics were a spectacular. An unmitigated success. I watched every second of both the main games and the paralympics whenever I could, and I loved every minute of them.

But one thing stuck in my throat. We all saw the way David Beckham worked to bring these games to London, and the fact that a place in the football squad could not be found for him was an absolute disgrace. As a Scot, I'm no Beckham fan, but it's a matter of dignity. The Team GB football selectors put winning before fairness and attacked Beckham's dignity. He should have been the first name in the squad, that would have been the Olympian thing to do, and I've no doubt he must have felt very humiliated. He didn't deserve that. 

I would have raised hell, but to his credit, Beckham retained and enhanced his dignity by working tirelessly throughout the games, proving that not only is he a much better man than I am, he is a much bigger and better man that those who tried to humiliate him by their lack of common decency. You just don't do that to people no matter what, and Beckham proved what a man he is.

Those people are not fit to clean Beckham's boots, at least his right one (because everyone knows he hasn't got a left foot).

Sorry about the last bit, but I'm still a Scot, and I promise never to say anything nice about an England player again.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tommy sheridan (or who framed Rampant Rabbit)

These are my opinions, nobody else's. As I have stated previously I am a member of a political party, but I hold no elected position in that party nor have I ever stood for any, and do not in any way speak for or on behalf of that party. Only for myself.

The sentencing of Tommy Sheridan today brings to an end a sad chapter for the left in Scotland. It is well detailed elsewhere but to sum it up Sheridan got himself involved in a sleazy lifestyle. Not that uncommon, but he got caught. He tried to turn the tables and obtain for himself £200,000 by lies and deception and when honest people wouldn't back him up he labelled them liars and scabs. He demanded that comrades conspire together with him to commit this greedy theft, they refused, and the jury decided. So he goes to jail on a three year sentence and I hope they can give him the help he so obviously needs.

If only it were that simple, but there were those who decided that they would support him and that split the SSP down the middle.

Some of his supporters knew exactly what he was doing because they were present at crucial times. They are the low. A self seeking bunch of liars who should never be allowed anywhere near a socialist again.

Others only knew the Sheridan spin and like many charismatic leaders (Jim Jones springs to mind) he was able to shepherd them along a suicidal path. Those I feel nothing for but sorrow. They got it wrong and they live with the consequences.

But there is another group and in my opinion they are the lowest. They are the ones from other parts of the left who said, 'We don't know all the facts so we'll reserve judgement'. They kept their heads down and hid in their bunkers like the cowards they are offering neither words of support nor assistance to those they had worked hand in hand with for years. They may not have known all of the facts, but they knew all of the people, and if when the words 'Scab' and 'Liar' were being thrown around by Sheridan they could not identify the lie then they are not fit to be making judgements on behalf of the working class. They knew all of the people involved and still chose Sheridan to be a candidate to run for election. They knew he was a liar and that the people he had insulted in the worst way were no scabs, but they chose personality over integrity. They thought they saw a short cut to socialism via personality politics, but that is a house built on sand, and we can now see clearly that socialism is built by hard work and not headlines. They embraced a model of personality led socialism that is now seen to be a failed and discredited model. So don't come to me preaching left unity, please. I want nothing to do with the SWP, TUSC, CWI or anyone else with a catchy set of initials. They are only passing through, like Galloway, and their loyalties lie elsewhere. And as for McCrowe. When did come to believe he was the saviour of the Scottish left. Bob, take your 59K plus expenses and go back to wrecking the left across the border. I want nothing to do with you.

The SSP should be fighting for a united left. We should be fighting to unite ourselves with the people who have lost faith in all politics and don't vote any more. We should be fighting to unite ourselves with good honest trade unionists and others who believe in justice, integrity and honesty, often despite their leadership. We should be uniting ourselves with the poor and the soon to be poor and fighting the upcoming war on their behalf. But we should not be sucked into alliances with the cowards who hid themselves away. They are beneath contempt.

There are no short cuts.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Allan Armstrong Speaks on Scottish Republicanism

Renfrewshire Scottish Socialist Party are hosting an open meeting on Tuesday 8th June 2010. Long time republican campaigner Allan Armstrong will be the guest of the branch to discuss the idea of an independent socialist republic for Scotland's future. All members and any others with an interest are invited to this open meeting at 7.30 pm in Paisley Grammar where they can find out more about the republican concept and about the other policies of the Scottish Socialist Party.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Israeli Stormtroopers and the Gaza Convoy

I was speaking to a friend tonight who knows about these things and he assures me that no forces who had spent more than half an hour in training would board a ship from a helicopter down a rappel rope without first clearing their landing area with, at the very least, stun grenades. And these stormtroopers who perpetrated the massacre were supposed to be highly trained marines.

Wouldn't it be nice to see the rest of the unreleased footage of the boarding video ?

And what the f*ck were the paintball guns supposed to be about ?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Helmand Province Afghanistan and the British Forces

I see that the British Forces in Helmand Province are to have an American commanding officer. Do you think he might be able to stop the gung ho G.I.s from bombing and shooting us ?

Catholic Church and the Child Sex Scandal in Ireland

It appears that the Catholic Church in Ireland is going to conduct a full investigation into the child sexual abuse perpetrated by the clergy in Ireland. The enquiry will be carried out by priests led by an Archbishop (I couldn't believe it either). The clergy in Ireland are a small gossipy elite (Father Ted is funny because it's so true) and if there was a cover up I would bet my debt that priests who didn't know what was going on were the exceptions and very few. What are the Garda, who should be carrying out this investigation doing. Isn't it a criminal offence in Ireland to conceal knowledge of a criminal offence ? Let's see the whole fucking lot of them in court to answer to man, who I think might be a harsher judge in this instance than their God.

Fergie, Duchess of York on Oprah

Well that explains it. She was pissed and not in the right place. Any suggestions as to the right place for the Ginger Whinger and her former in-laws gladly received.

More Israeli Bullshit

Israel are showing off the weapons used against their Stormtroopers by the Gaza Aid activists. It seems that the best they can come up with (on a boat) is a sailors knife with a 3 inch blade. and a few chair legs. Now maybe I'm wrong but I had been led to believe that the Stormtroopers were part of the elite Israeli special forces. So what went wrong ? They still insist that they were justified in their slaughter of these aid workers. They are replaying a video of a fight on the deck of the ship, but with Israel's reputation for forgery and fakery I don't think I'll be believing that until I see the result of a proper independent international enquiry. In the meantime there are about 500 prisoners left to the tender mercies of Israeli torturers (whoops, sorry, sleep deprivation, white noise and water-boarding aren't torture, the Americans said so) including 30 Britons. So what are Lord Snooty Cameron, his fag Clegg and his token working class accent Hague going to do about it? Well, whatever America says, obviously.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Israel and the U.S.A.

It looks as if the land of the free are unwilling to condemn the piracy, kidnap and murder of the aid workers taking humanitarian aid to Gaza. They are spouting their usual condemnation of the Palestinians and completely ignoring the fact that the ships were crewed mainly by Turkish workers. The official line seems to be that fully armed Israeli soldiers in battledress, body armour and steel helmets peacefully landed on these ships full of terrorists armed with clubs and knives and that the terrorists decided it would be a good idea to take them on. Americans always have a very good grasp of bullshit but if they think anyone is going to really believe that then they have lost it completely. They want to continue to support a country which sends death squads into any country it wishes using forged (U.K.) passports killing anyone they take a dislike to. Israel are war criminals, pirates, kidnappers and murderers and the U.S.A. finances the whole thing.
Are you watching Mr. Cameron and your fag Clegg. That's what you call a 'special relationship.

Israel. A Rogue State with Nuclear Weapons.

I'm drawn back to the blog because I've spent the day listening to apologists for the Israeli terrorist state and their continuing holocaust against the Palestinian people. These holocaust deniers seem to believe that they can commit acts of piracy in international waters by boarding peaceful ships with troops of armed-to-the-teeth commandos and killing any who resist or object whether armed or not. They are a disgrace to the international community and the single biggest threat to World peace. Their whole existence is founded on the belief that the Old Testament is a valid title deed and their Government, born out of terrorism, seems determined to starve to death a whole Palestinian nation. If the U.K. and the U.S.A. continue to support this fascist regime in its ethnic cleansing project then they stand to be equally condemned. 'Everybody hates us and we don't care', is a fine slogan for a band of thuggish football supporters, but thuggish countries present a different kind of danger. The fact that the thugs who govern Israel control nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to every bordering state, so Israel should become the pariah of the World and be excluded from every international event from the Olympics to the Eurovision Song Contest. My personal boycott of Israeli goods should become U.K. policy, travel restrictions should be placed on all of their Government representatives including trade delegations, and indictments and arrest warrants for those responsible for the latest and earlier atrocities should be issued by the International Court. Embassies should be closed down and all Diplomatic privileges withdrawn immediately from Israeli representatives in other countries and none of these measures should be reversed until Israel has given up its nuclear weaponry and made genuine progress toward a peaceful settlement with its neighbours.

Monday, 22 March 2010

British Airways Strike

British Airways are bullies. They always have been. They tried to bully Virgin in their dirty tricks campaign, they try to bully all of the other airlines with their virtual monopoly of useful landing slots at Heathrow, and they have bullied most of their staff into accepting a reduction in their terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions enjoyed by their cabin crew are a result of having a strong union in Unison, they are not a negative thing, they are to be aspired to by others who have weak unions.
British Airways under the 'leadership ?' of the arch-bully Slick Willie Walsh, who has lots of form in that department, are now trying to bully the cabin crew by threats and intimidation.

If they manage to break the union it will help them to sell off British Airways at a better price and maximise value for their shareholders at the expense of the workers. Under new foreign ownership every member of BA staff will suffer job cuts, a race to the bottom on wages, and new terms and conditions which are substantially lower than they currently enjoy.

The other sticking point in the foreign sale of BA is the pension fund deficit. This is money owed to workers past and present by the owners (shareholders) of BA, and if they can, they will try to walk away from that debt. They will sell off the profitable part of the company abroad and let the rump that remains go under to try to bully the government into taking on the massive pension debt.
This mustn't be allowed to happen. They can't be allowed to give away the silver and leave the debts to the taxpayer, but I suspect that is the plan.

This strike must be won, for all of our sakes, and the unions are trying to save their jobs, not close their company. They have offered concessions and cuts, but nothing less than a completely cowed workforce will suit Slick Willie's plans for a high income, lowest cost base company saleable to the highest bidder so the fat cats can walk away with their pockets stuffed.