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Sunday, 7 February 2016

"Isms."

I've been thinking about my relatively recent "conversion" to vegetarianism and why I stopped eating animals.

I think the second part of that opening sentence is more important than the first. My decision was NOT to become something, it was a realisation that meant me stopping something. Vegetarianism was a bi-product. Vegetarianism is the name given to the product of what I realised. I stopped eating animals and therefore my diet became almost entirely made up of vegetables, fruits, herbs. I think that is an important distinction to make. Labelling ourselves as a complete "ism," I feel, grinds education of ME to a halt. I label myself as a socialist, a feminist, a humanist NOT as ends; not as a font of knowledge on those isms, but as someone who has come to certain realisations and through these realisations, I explore thought processes, feelings and try to find roads towards solutions both communal and individually. Education should have no end. Our place in this world of people and other species is one that is still developing.


How the world looks in one hundred years time depends on what knowledge we pass on and some of this is scientific, empirical, "proven" theory. Some knowledge is passed on through dialogue and some through families and community. Learned by experience or by proof from a teacher. What I've learned as an individual can perhaps only be passed on by my living; being the change I want to see in the world. And one change I want to see in the world is peace- non-violent solutions to our problems and sometimes diametrically opposed beliefs and opinions.

So I am not going to write here to defend my ever expanding knowledge of my non-flesh diet; I want to try to explain WHY I stopped eating other conscious beings (regardless of what level of consciousness they enjoy). I can only try to explain where I am. It is a journey, and I personally haven't reached any destinations yet. I'm accumulating experiences and knowledge.

My stopping eating animals wasn't a sudden epiphany. It was very gradual. I enjoyed eating dead flesh.

I remember when I was at university, in first year, our corridor in our halls of residence came together and cooked together. Someone took responsibility for one meal a week. Boy did I pile on the pounds! Each meal was elaborate and delicious. I learned new things- some of those in the corridor were experts. We all came from different backgrounds. I could cook- I had a good wee repertoire of sauces and pasta/potato and rice dishes - but had rarely cooked for more than myself. Others in the group; A chef, an ex-soldier, and others of varying backgrounds and knowledge, all contributed and taught and reviewed, praised and cajoled.

And the food was great.


But one day, the usually harmonious group became discordant. Matt announced he might make a veggie salad. He was needing something less heavy. Less meaty.

I remember talking to another member of the group and saying, "if I am served a vegetarian bloody salad, I'll throw it at him. I want meat with my meat!"

I loved most meats. I was brought up in a meat eating family. There was always meat in the fridge and on occasions, game hanging in the garage. There was always a freezer full of trout or salmon or other freshly caught fish. And I loved it all. I loved trying different ways to cook it/season it/serve it. I loved how cooking could change its texture. I loved melt in the mouth steaks and lamb that fell off the bone. I loved meaty salmon. When I ate out, I loved seafoods, poultry of different shapes and sizes and cuts of different muscle tissue from animals large and small.

For a few years during my "mature student" college and University years, I worked in a chicken processing factory. I worked with others on a distribution computer programme. I saw the live animal, through to the fancy packaged and shipped, sauced, spiced and herbed limbs and carcasses. Though I didn't really. I saw green writing on a computer screen representing "product." I saw simple computer graphics (this was the early-mid nineties) representing product in, product at different stages of production (hatchery, kill, fresh, distribution etc) and rarely visited the actualities of what was happening. Though at times I did. Watching people hose blood from their waterproofs, scrape flesh from bloodied boots and the floor. A friend of mine, Ian, another student worker used to complain heavily about the smell and mess he worked in, hosing down trays and cleaning floors of dead guts and blood. I laughed it off. I only visited his section in which he was waterproofed and booted, in whites splashed in reds of varying deepness to show off my clipboard and tie. I was well apart from the process he was engaged in. I didn't get my hands covered in guts. I didn't witness or press buttons to kill, behead or gut the birds.


I never visited the hatchery, but tails of cruelty were laughed at and were just seen as part of the product chain. The recent video that emerged online of someone "stage diving" into a packed room of piglets on a factory farm isn't really that surprising - the only new part of that was the ability of onlookers to video it in order to bring the guy to justice. There are many people at large nowadays who took part in cruelties such as that who never were caught, some of whom, I hope, have thought long and hard about what their younger, less experienced selves did.

But none of what I saw or heard in the chicken processing factory changed my eating habits (except never again buying chicken nuggets unless they were whole chicken breast or trying to avoid chicken that had ready made sauces added).

Well, except for one conversation between managers I worked with. One of them, the same age as me, had left his managerial position and was doing theology to train as an Anglican minister. He was employed during university holidays to continue his work on the new Stock Distribution System. He and I worked very well together. I enjoyed his company- he made me think. We had theological/political/ ethical conversations daily over coffee in the canteen and in the office. He recommended reading to me, which I lapped up, but none of it "brought me to God." Rather, if anything all of what i read made me question what was around me and sold as "truth," much more.


The one line I remember of the conversation between managers on the ethics of working in the chicken processing plant was, "which point in the chain of production is the least or the most neutrally ethical operation?" The managers discussed and debated this question. None of them could agree which part of the chain of the production was the least ethical. The minister said he had difficulty with the hatchery, which set off the whole room. Without the hatchery, none of us would have jobs! There would be economic meltdown in Armagh and South Down. If ethics ruled our system, where would that end? All those jobs in farming, in government departments, in subsidiary manufacturing like vets, drugs, leathers, glue, butchery, canning plants, TV cookery, and rows and rows of aisles in our supermarkets full of dead animals, graveyard shelves as I think of them, would go.

Was everyone in that chain, from slaughterer, through to pen pusher as guilty as those making huge profits?

Ethics would stop war industry and injustices across the world. Building ships for murder, slaughter, mechanised death when we should be diving for pearls. An ethical world would be a peaceful one in which humanity would do as it needs to do- value life and ensure all of life is valued.

This conversation stayed with me through my most ravenous animal eating years. And slowly I changed my diet as I observed the world around me. And then one day, four years ago- one day after eating a delicious young lamb cooked beautifully in the Pot Belly restaurant in Tullylish, I stopped. Because I observed two things.

One was as we drove from the ferry  through Ayrshire, I watched as a calf leaped and jumped and enjoyed being alive as its mother passively watched over it. Like all mothers, animal and human do. That mother stood protectively as her little child enjoyed the space within the barbed wire enclosed jail. Her love and protection would mean nothing when the "cleverer" humans decided her offspring was to have its brain electrocuted and its throat cut; its guts torn out and most of its innards, skin and bone packaged in beautifully designed cartons and tins.

As we drove on and neared home, the sun was setting, beautifully orange- it was stunning. And another herd of cows in a field ran to as close as they could get to the beautiful sky; pushed, crowded against the wire and all of them stared towards the setting sun. Where they thinking it was beautiful? What thought process was going on in their heads as they stared at something I too thought was "beautiful?"

The next day I stopped eating meat.







Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Forbidden Planet, Glasgow...

My first furtive, uneducated fumblings in Forbidden Planet were nervous affairs. It was a coming out- an acknowledgement of my love of pen art and adventure and character driven writing. The thrill was as close to the forbidden dens of my youth, the under aged drinking, the shebeens and the crossing over into dangerous forbidden territory across the border or in West Belfast or across into other territory I was always told I shouldn't go. But I'm like that. I explore. I taste. I experience. I jump. Well, I used to. I'm 50 now and have inclings of mortality, so comic shops are perhaps as daring as it gets these days.

Was I really going back to my teenage love of comics? Would someone see me there? One of the shop assistants in the shop, today, professed a love for Abba and Queen, and said he didn't care who knew. That's life as it should be. Living la vida loca. Be you. Disco dance to Joy Division.
Be seen reading 50 Shades or Harry Potter and the Burning Saltire... That was after a while, the view I took at my love of comics. I am a comic user and am proud. I mainline graphic novels. I drink deeply from the font of Garth Ennis and Marvel and DC.

The shop became a place of therapy. A world of characters I hated, loved, wanted to swap places with, was glad I wasn't, and a place in which I could scan imaginations as eclectic and bizarre and colourful as my own not so hidden madnesses. And I found it when I needed it most, during a time of upheaval in my work life and my political work. It fuelled my need for narrative when my own inner narrative was all over the place. It transported me to other planets, other lives, other countries, other times. What other shops can do that?

The shop is a weekly treat for me every Thursday or Friday. I have less time in it I would like, but dream of a holiday day when I can scan the shelves for an hour or more, though I already spend far too much dosh in it as it is, so that could be dangerous.

The staff are great. They know their stuff and are friendly when prodded. I've had some great recommendations from them (as I only recently re-entered the comic world after quite a few years of absence). No bum steers. Just turns into different cul de sacs or onto long, winding highways...

The back catalogue of must reads are all there. Novels and collections of all kinds from the odd through to political and just sheer exhilarating from times gone by through to the most up to date brilliant pieces of work from all over the world. And authors who should all be writing for the screen.

The choice of music in the place along with the smell of print and the narrow walkways give the place a real Indy feel and I love the mix of people scanning the titles, from obvious cos players, emos young and old, people from all over the world-mangas of every nation- and a few "norms," of which I hope I don't fit in with TOO much.

My one complaint is the low shelves- for 50 year olds like me scanning a-z can be a dizzying affair. I would not be surprised if a few have fell faint to the floor after jumping up too quickly from c to d...

My treat of the week is buying a collection (like this week Jessica Jones, Alias book 3) and nipping across the road to Tinderbox for one of their wonderful custard tarts and a large black Americano and scanning pages of great art and dialogue.

Coffee, comics, great music and a universe to explore- you don't get that on every high street.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The King is Dead


I remember when Elvis died. And the world didn't stop. But the world changed, for me.
Clark, Alan, Alistair, the English twins and others, left my life. They were still alive, but at 11, the system meant we were driven apart. Separated by verbal reasoning tests.

When I was a child, I thought of TV and pop stars as Gods. People who came into your house and who you talked about and heroised. I remember my friends and I talking about what might happen if a superstar died. I remember thinking that the world would just stop! These were people who, surely,  made the world go round. An incestuous, almost intangible world in which they spoke to each other, married each other, sang to each other, were in magazines and tabloids together and were never seen in real life. They were from planet TV. Planet Holywood. Tabloid Town. A place so sunny and happy, we were imperfect subjects, incomplete, unlike the Gods.  Subservient, deferential; the worker bees, buying, sharing, sanctifying the product of their genius and talent. Our lives in the shadows beneath their feet.

Elvis seemed different. He was apart; living behind the gates of Gracelands; a place fit for a King - with its walls of TV's, food and drink and music and friends on tap.  A man blessed; a man even the stars genuflected before.  But a man who had known what it was like to be poor.  From the ghetto... or the dustbowl equivalent. A man who was surely an American Jesus.

There was something very tragic about him, even I could see that. I remember going to get my hair cut and reading a tabloid while I waited. Elvis, it was rumoured, was taking drugs. Photos of him, bloated, sweating, dying were contrasted with photos taken just a few years previous looking healthy, fit, lithe. The recent photos were not the Elvis we watched in the morning during holidays in his summer, happy, formulaic films.

I remember thinking, "Someone will help Elvis. He'll be OK!"


The next visit to the barbers showed that this hadn't happened. More revelations about Elvis. Someone who knew him had said he was killing himself with drugs and food. And people he knew were implicated.  It couldn't be the fault of the King; that God, that innocent from the sticks.  He was being killed by other forces.

And then one day, when dad and I went to the Ulster Grand Prix, on the car radio, the news of Elvis' death began to filter through. And I thought, "the world will be in bits!"

I thought my mum would be upset. But she wasn't, when we arrived back home from Ray McCullough's win; from Tom Herron's return; from Joey Dunlop's Hares Leap bounce, my nanny and grandad were in our house, having a wee vodka or liqueur, a cup of tea, bracken, wheaten, soda, jam and a biscuit, as they were every Saturday night and there didn't seem to be any tone of grief or morbidity. No one seemed to miss him.  This was not a house grief stricken like those outside the King's big white gates.  We only had his films.  We heard only his voice still alive, still happy in Hawaii.  Elvis' death was as far away from our reality as his life had been. The Stars told us he had been their biggest influence. He hadn't been my dads - his had been his mum and dad.  He wasn't my mum's - her's were here in my living room, laughing, sharing a joke.

Elvis died at a time when my life changed. It was the last long, hazy, lazy summer my primary school friends and I were together. Shortly after his death, We were split up and we went to intermediate for us eejits and grammar, for the snobs. Or so we said.

Though one friend remained constant, Mickey Neeson, who had always went to a different school. We were different since birth. Our descendants belief in Empire over King or vice versa, meant our friendship was one that was after school. My cool friend. The Fonz personified. Always happy, always positive and someone who influenced my political thought more than he or I could have known back then. Mickey was still Mickey. We cycled with a new found, more mature freedom to my Granny and Grandad's miles away out of town, in Tullylish, and watched saturday afternoon wrestling with Mickey's aunt and Big Daddy in Lawrencetown. And ate boiled sweet peanuts amongst the grass at the top of the big hill. And for a few days more, my primary school friends were not wrenched from me by way of different uniforms and a sense of being better or cleverer or not. Girls looked different and Blackpool in July, with my sisters Karen and Margaret, my mum and dad, Nanny and Grandad, cousins Ian and Amanda and aunt Lorna and Uncle Ian, was even more beautiful.

Elvis was dead. And his films brightened our mornings. His music played, tinny, mono from small radios and other stars spoke about him and their world. It didn't change that much. They were still far far away. But my world was about to change.

The world continued to turn and the King was replaced in the tabloids by others. Lee Majors, Farrah Fawcett, George Best... they were the new incestuous golden families. Parkinson laughed as comedian and Carry On star regaled with story and revelation.

And this Christmas, my son bought me Elvis' latest album and I remember the summer before it all changed. Elvis didn't influence me, his death didn't touch me too much, but those around me that summer certainly have. A last summer of security and with everyone around me I loved.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

And the Interweb says, Kill for the Billionaires.

According to the BBC news tonight, TV/Internet is now at tipping point. More people are getting news and entertainment from the web than from the static, communal TV. We are, more and more, reading, viewing, writing, playing, getting our thrills (my latest one being the fantastic Firefly) etc on our hand held devices. This is great news for teachers, writers and wankers everywhere. It is also brilliant news for democrats and those of us who want to see information and the media democratised (and Murdoch, that evil little snotter who buys and corrupts nations, broke, jailed and the key thrown away). But it is also great news for those who have had to invest huge sums in print media and 24 hour news channels in order to control the propaganda we are pumped full of and kept docile by, because they can chunk it up, buy and sell it and control what we know through devices we scroll on during every shit break or advert break. In other words, this "tipping point" could also mean more or less social control and an easily manipulated populace OR a populace more able to analyse and act.

The panic as the aristocracy shrank and equality rose during the seventies was tangible- secret right wing coups were planned and strike breaking establishment armies undermined workers struggles for the real share of the wealth of the country. Country piles were leaking and the titled were clinging on for dear life to their tumbling, unprofitable estates by their knitted and patched fingerless gloves. Wealth was being shared. The hold of the exploiter was diminishing, and they knew it. Rather than the time when the country, according to academic studies, was happiest, more equal and safest, the seventies have been almost forgotten amongst the fetid shit storm of right wing propaganda that tells us about winters of discontent, unburied dead, soviet take overs, looney leftists etc.

As we walk through X-ray spec airport security, showing your bits to a minimum wage G4S guard, previously only known in trouble torn and army controlled Northern Ireland until ten years ago, or surveillance of ordinary working class communities surpassing that by the security forces in the Divis area of Belfast or the Bogside in Derry, and as workers struggle with exponentially falling wages and increasing energy and housing bills, we should use our hand held to study that era. Go on. Do it. Don't have me spoon feed you. Learn to learn. And keep your mind free by searching, by doubting and by increasing your skills.

When workers had far more money to spend on leisure and when owning a house didn't matter, rents were low- as were energy prices and professionals and unskilled workers lived side by side in council estates kept beautiful by proud, happier, safer, well paid workers. Do I exaggerate? Well do some research from the device you are reading this on, rather than playing candy crush, wankfest.com or whatever.

And when in 1979, the Thatcherites took power, workers communities, institutions, representation and education was one of their first targets.

In the glorious, big shouldered, wine bar'd, J.R. Wet dream, and loadsa moneyed eighties, one of the Thatcherite targets in our education system were courses and syllabuses that promoted critical thinking (Thatcherite politicians had many more targets of course -miners, teenagers, the Irish, the Scots, gay people, black communities, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and 2000AD to name a few). The changes they wanted to make- from a well paid, well educated and well protected industrial economy to an economy sustained by low paid workers with few rights and few roots and a proverbial (actually, no. LITERAL-) bicycle in order to ensure they could smash community and workers comradeship; needed a workforce that did not care about its rights- only where the next Lidl loaf came from.

Thatcher and the recently deceased Cecil bastard Parkinson and the rest of the vile Tory elite began to attack "Mickey Mouse degrees." They began to draw up the National Curriculum, in which famously Thatcher ensured History ended circa 1950. And it was fact laden. Pupils were tested on memory and recall and on digraphs and semi-colons. Art in Primary schools became the study of a door in many media. And any course, degree or syllabus/scheme of work that encouraged the love of learning, social sciences and critical thinking lost funding and through repeated tabloid attacks, credibility, with the working class who through the onslaught of the new right wing project, needed to learn to think critically most.

The control of the BBC and the media ensured Thatcherites and the establishment could control news in and out of Northern Ireland. They controlled what we learned about the Falklands conflict and they controlled what the country read or saw, edited in the way they wanted, news of the Miners Strike. On occasions manipulating footage so much that rather than show striking workers being attacked by baton wielding army trained police on horseback, their retreat was made to look like a charge.

Rather than me feeding you facts, use your device to find the truth. Look it up.

I want to get to the crux. My worry as a father. My worry as a worker. My worry as a human being in a world where the elite tell us, as they did in Rabbie Burns day, " Broke? Fucked off with living in the shitehole we've forced generations of you into? Want to escape the fate of your mates as a drunken drug user just trying to make the greyness, the struggle to survive, the inability to escape hell all the more bearable in a haze of dreams, fights, stomach cramps and early mortality? Join the army. We take you places we want to profit from. You might die. We won't. You fight for our freedom to rape the world for our luxury lives on Necker Island and houses across the world and our heavily armed yachts... We are alright because of our right to exploit you, keep you shovelling shit and corpses, and feeding your emaciated sugar filled bodies with cheap, rancid, chemical filled, profitable puke and giving you the pretence of escape for piddly pay that keeps you doing our bidding."

Burns wrote of a young man who had lost everything when the aristocracy fenced off the common land people lived on, grew crops on and reared livestock on- the land that made them  free. Your ancestors, fenced off from stolen land ensured you now are owned. Slave wage earners. Economic conscripts.

"Oh why the deuce should I repine
And be an ill foreboder?
I'm 23 and five foot nine,
I'll go and be a sodger!

I gat some gear wi' mickle care
And held it wiel thegether.
But now it's gane and something mair,
I'll go and be a sodger!"

Now all of us have been stripped of what little we'd regained from the aristocracy post ww2, all we have is to be a soldier; a call centre slave; a fast food worker- all de unionised, powerless. Fucked.

And the mass media most of us watch, that "fourth estate" gives not a flying fuck for you. It still lies and edits and passes on fashion and business as "news." It sells you Coronation Street story lines as water cooler conversation (who has fucking time at a water cooler to talk about Coronation Street?) And it tells you Dave Cameron, Tony Blair, Ronald Reagan and multi-millionaire, many houses/cars/private planes Mrs Windsor and her God given Demi-god family are wonderful- worth dying for. Worth freezing for. Worth struggling with three jobs for. Worth killing other poor bastards, emaciated children and mothers in foreign fields for.

The Internet is ours now. But they want to fence it off. The new enclosures. Facebook, Twitter, and Google, all of them will hand over your right to know (they do in China and other places were autocratic, dictates hips and downright corrupt bastards have total control). Your children, who won't watch Al Jazeera, RT, BBC News 24 and Sky News will be caught up by the corporations, trained to buy, trained to sell themselves for low prices. The Internet, if we allow the enclosure, will leave your sons and daughters no choice but to "Go and be a Sodger." Unless our education system is made to teach them how to analyse, question and detect bullshit.

If we allow it, the right wing- the billionaires- will ensure your children will find Coronation Street (or its equivalent) the most important thing to think about outside the many hours of work, outside the killing fields and outside the plugged in world of Candy Crush or Angry Birds. Our ancestors lost the fight for their freedom to farm and live out of the factories and Corporation owned Empire armies. The Internet has given us freedom to learn, freedom to live, converse, and freedom to create community that can again fight back and help us win the world. Thegether.

Don't let them take it.

Now for episode 8 of Firefly- I do have to fit in at the water cooler.

Monday, 25 January 2016

I'm really not your problem, you are.

Some things that have annoyed me about social media lately.


I do think being PC is a good thing, - it amounts to doing your best to understand perspectives, oppression and privilege - but when it is use to shut people up, by lefty on lefty, it is not a left I feel part of.



And using the fact we all have billboards to express our views to say "your views are giving me a mental illness" is beyond vile (this has been levelled at me by a couple of people).

I don't follow nazis. Their views would annoy me to the hilt. I warn my family about the fact that they may get annoyed at my political views, so they can decide whether to follow me or not. If "Ann. Oyed from Annoyed-ville" (or to ensure I am not the target of the "you are a fucking misogynist" mob - Angry Bob) hasn't not got the sense to unfollow/block me, they either don't want to and want to be annoyed, or they really don't understand social media (or reading for that matter).

I don't call you a capitalist pig for flaunting your plate of Jamie Olivered, pretentious Otter Livers and fucking Cous-Cous on Twitter- in front of the rest of us struggling with Internet bills.

Who you follow-or read- is your choice. Same goes with me- I choose not to read certain people. I also know friends views can annoy me- but I respect them enough to either unfollow, not read or if they are reasonable folk in real life I will discuss/debate and/or argue with them.  Most lefties I know don't bother themselves with Mein Kampf - if my bleating on about my opinion on the wrong approach in Scottish politics literally drives you to Prozac - stop reading my posts.  Simple.







My Facebook/blog/ Twitter account is not "mass media." It is my views expressed to a very small pool of people. My Facebook is closed to those who are not my friends, facebook or otherwise. I am a teacher. I try to ensure my privacy settings are high. So if you are reading it, it is because you are a FB friend. You have chosen to be.  If it annoys you, unfollow or block. I won't take offence. It really is not that important to me that you disagree with me. My blogging, facebooking and tweeting is used as a journal/ notebook and sometimes as something to share with like minded people.  And sometimes just a place to be silly or rant to the world.   If you rant back - I take it for granted you are on message - you like a rant - you wont be making an appointment with a therapist after we have traded the finest points - angrily - on whether or not 300 people make a movement.  Or on whether or not we should have the full stops in R.I.S.E. or S.S.P. (Rise/SSP).  Get a life. 







I rarely post in groups, but if I do, I expect people to agree or disagree comradely. I don't call you names, you don't call me names. Be passionate - I know I can be.  Be sarcastic, sardonic etc.  But belittling and nasty?  Fuck off.  You don't understand the game - go find other people to use your shitty hatreds on.


I recently messaged someone who I felt had gone too far in attacking a friend (who I agree with and disagree with in equal measure) who then removed the post. The insult did not become a slagging match and I appreciate that. I understand some peoples need to feel superior to others in how they use their "pc'ness", but please, do that with someone else. From now on, the stupid "ism" folk will be ignored.  Certainly take to your high horse on issues that you are passionate about, but just remember we all type from our horses.  Changing minds and hearts to your superior view is not done by labelling people as "forever fuckwits," unable to change or see your light.  Go read Freire - or if you WANT to abuse those who know less than you - become a crap Primary School teacher, because young folk condemned by labels will never surpass your superior knowledge and wonderfulness.







As for creating monsters of the left; enemies of the party; and using adjectives mindnumbingly idiotic to describe someone's views and perspective that is different from yours, well just stop it. You look like an idiot and are single handedly, amongst your social media friends and audience, wrecking any plausiblity your cause could have had.



Now go get some fresh air or straighten that mobile phone hunch and lift your gaze to the world around you.



People need to learn to step back and take a walk in real life sometimes.

I'm away to get my lunch.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Rise King is in the Altogether

I read the piece in The Record today on "The New Left Alliance," Rise. I have nothing against either of the candidates interviewed-in fact I have huge respect for Colin Turbett- nor have I anything against the policies laid out.

However, I won't be ticking the Rise list on the ballot sheet in May. This is for a number of reasons, not least how this project was launched upon the membership of the SSP.   The Machiavellian tooing and froing of Frances Curran and Colin Fox, and how they manipulated new members, has isolated, insulted and denigrated many comrades, many of them who have been working towards a left mass party for years, some irreparably lost to national politics. I won't support it because of how some have been treated and I won't support it because both the self selected and labelled, "Team Rise" and SSP have corrupt structures, that have played on new and young inexperienced comrades in order to basically create something that in any public sphere would be jumped upon and lambasted by democratic socialists. The SSP structures so well re-designed AFTER the Sheridan fiasco have been shut down by a small group of people who were not involved with the United Left Platform formed to save the party. And Colin Fox, as he so often says, is, despite the SSP constitution not allowing a "leader" nor allowing a Spokesperson to have his or her place for more than two terms, is the longest surviving leader of a Scottish political party nearly 11 years, to be exact. The excuse was that the party had reduced numbers and no one else came forward to take over. Perhaps Colin might announce in May he is standing aside and allow a real election to take place.  Going by the fact the NC illegally (according to the present constitution of the party) adopted a new constitution on the word of a select few that the old one was unworkable (nonsense) and Colin's love of the limelight, I doubt it. But perhaps he will surprise me and others after his defeat in Edinburgh as a Rise List candidate.

It's what comes AFTER  May that matters.

I have really thought long and hard about my political loyalties. I've thought about jumping ship. My loyalties aren't with the SNP enough to join, there are too many right wing folk in there, despite the many comrades there I have met over the years, too many dodgy "beliefs"; I could not be in the same party as some of the capitalist Greens, though again, many in there I would happily call comrade; but I AM in the same party as Colin Fox, Frances Curran and others that I trust as much as I would trust a hungry Python.

As for the Cat Boyd vehicle, there is no way am I going to be in an organisation with folk who will brand you misogynist, a scab or whatever discussion crushing "ism" they have rolling off their keyboard or tongue to shut you up (and although Boyd has been attacked for stupid reasons on social media by some, I found out via an email to the SSP National Secretary, that she is not immune to making the old personality attacks when she is not happy with someone's stance or objections to her or her teams machinations) So, although good folk are in the "alliance" and the SSP; using one of Tony Benn's questions about democracy- "can I vote you out?" I can't vote Colin out, nor Shafi (the registered leader, selected by a small group of people- not the whole membership), Curran or Boyd. Neither can any of the membership of the SSP or Rise. The new young and inexperienced membership have either lapped up the nonsense that Rise has no leaders, or they are all exclaiming how beautiful the emperors new Robe is (as are more experienced folk who should know better- and probably do, but are so desperate for left representation, they let it lie or go along with the pretence). The acceptance of this deformed democracy is really concerning- especially from parties that are supposed to be about democratic socialism.

Well, 'the King is in the altogether.'

So I am staying well clear of both, nationally, until post #SE2016.

No doubt some in the SSP (who have wanted to purge the party of those who can't go along with Colin's farce) and those who are Unquestionable "Risers," will have an ism or a mental health adjective for me in due course. It's what many of us have become awfully, dreadfully, disgustingly used to throughout 2015.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The fight against Scotland's nukes is an internationalist fight.

I'm not a nationalist. Neither is nuclear fallout, radiation or indescriminate weaponry.

The odd thing about those from SNP, SSP, Greens and those with other political outlooks who campaign to kick Trident into history is that, even though the huge majority of them in Scotland are pro- independence, their anti nuclear stance is far from nationalist.


A few years ago, I was driving towards the England Scotland border towards home in East Dunbartonshire. As I sped along the road, I caught up on a car that was flying a huge Jolly Roger and had signs stuck all over it proclaiming danger ahead, nukes out and "Death to Trident." The to was scored out and replaced with "with."


I soon caught up with the deadly convoy the internationalist was warning me about. Grey lorries, carrying a deadly nuclear cargo through towns, villages and the English and Scottish countryside. It was the first time I had seen them, and their menace reminded me of the time I was in a traffic jam behind a military landrover in Belfast from which a squaddie was pointing his gun straight at my car as I pulled up behind them. Unlike the worry that a single bullet may hit me, the thoughts of an accident as I passed the lorries and crossed the border, made me worry about my family and friends.

The dangerous convoys of nukes still make their way through our towns and villages - the most recent videos are HERE.



Nuclear war or accidents know no borders. And our fight to rid Scotland of the weapons (and the energy) is an internationalist fight. It is one that, WHEN won, will make our whole world that bit more safe.



I have been a body amongst thousands, protesting at Faslane, on George Square and writing letters, making banners and videos protesting these vile weapons and the costly, dirty and deadly energy. CND was the first "political" organisation I joined, 36 years ago when I lived in Northern Ireland, a place without nuclear weapons or energy. But it was during the Cold War- a time when we all knew the internationalism of dreadful war and the ultimate weapon.



If we in Scotland manage to kick Trident off the Clyde, I will still be a CND member. I will, like that single car protesting that deadly cargo crossing the Scottish border, protest the existence of these murderous weapons and these dreadful cargoes endangering our world, wherever they are housed.



Be an internationalist, join CND and write to all of your representatives protesting these convoys and the existence of these weapons. It's a fight for the future of humanity.



Join CND HERE