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

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Keep your nasty, trolling version of socialism. I'm not interested.

The warring, one upmanship/ womanship in Rise/SSP really do not represent the left I joined and worked to help build back in 2002/3. My idea of socialism is not their jolly japes, shouty pointy fingering and trolling ways. I know some here are pissed off with some of the snp's decisions of late-me too- but can you imagine any of these damning and demeaning  people near to power?

Me neither.
It's one thing going at the BNP, UKIP and the Tories- but to constantly be goading, spitting, hissing and trolling people from whom the left need to persuade regional votes from shows me the difficulty these folk have in having more than two consecutive logical thoughts...

The sadness I have in what has happened on the left in the past few months is the same, profound, depressing sadness I had in the ssp from 2005 through to the court cases and split. The left seem to want to stay small and unloved. A rebellious wee purist self righteous slogan machine.

Count me out of this.

It's all yours.

My activism will be well away from this dangerous, self harming, bullying and politically immature grouping. I really despair at good activists wasting oxygen on it.

My vote next week, unfortunately will not be going to the very brilliant comrade, Colin Turbett. I can't give a vote to a group that thinks it is being positive for the oppressed working class by spending it's time and energy creating spats for publicity, fighting by "ism," (a tactic now being used by Tories against Corbynite Labour), and damning comrades rather than doing real community work that isn't shouting or leafletting and much much more positively life changing for those around them.

I know this is an election and this is a way for this "thing" to get itself known- but I have not seen a group make itself more reviled (and laughed at) so quickly, when it should be making friends and moving beyond the wee "your not the boss of me" screams way.

People who know better are bumping along with this, afraid to offer guidance and speak up because of the barrage of name calling, bile and spite thrown at them if they so much as point out a fraction of the negativity pouring across social media from Rise.

And it is so sad.


It's really odd that new memories are often made nowadays by the bringing together of people from the past to talk over old memories.

It has been wonderful over the past 24 hours, meeting family again- some of whom I haven't met in over 30 years.

Years that since the boating pool and the sand castles by the Irish Sea have flown by in a flurry and blur of faces, decisions and moves.

Everyone has a perspective on past events and some remember aspects others had forgotten. I relish and love filling in the gaps in my memory.

Time is a very strange thing. In thoughts, you can touch the past. It exists. Those innocent and almost carefree days in the past that became suddenly hormonal, reaching out into the world, grasping, clinging, sprinting, limping and coasting silently and brevity borne in the blink of an eye to the present.

Flickering images, time stained, burnt out by the bright light of decades...

Stretching out fingers to that past self and asking -how should the next thirty years be spent? The last thirty were full of haste, mistakes, hope, love, music, art, drama, screams, security, lost and found, friendships and lost connections... How do I make the next as satisfying as the most important, happy and golden times?

How do I relish every moment and make sure it has value to all around me?

How do I acknowledge mistakes and allow others freedom to make mistakes, and keep hold of what is light and beauty in everything I am part of?

Blackpool boating pool, 2p one armed bandits, Orford Park, yearning, yearning, yearning, Tullylish, pubs across Europe, North Africa and Cuba, animal flesh boiled, fried, rolled and minced, sugar, learning, learning, learning, smoke and jailed to make someone else's millions... Love lost, gained and held with all of ones might...

That's the beautiful, flash of an eye past.

The future is what I've learned. And that should be friendship, health, family, shrugged shoulders and learning, learning, etching, listening and snow flake light footprints.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Billy Shakespeare...

...from Belfast...

JULIUS CAESAR  ACT III  SCENE II (Mark Antony’s funeral speech By Billy Shakespeare – the Grammatically correct version)

Antony:     Hi biy’s, fella’ Ulstermeyn, c’mere de a tell yis. Jist listin’ t’ m’I'm here te bery Ceasar, nat te bum an’ blow about’m.

Win pe’pil are bawd win thir livin, ye remember it win thir dead.
Ye niver remember if thiv dun good things.

The same with yer maun here.  Good oul’ Brutus towl’ yis that Ceasar hawd a wee bit’ove a wire about himself.

If that wis right, it wis a bit of a failin’ and well, he’s bloody well paid fer it.

Anyway, with Brutuses an’ his mates permission, ‘Cause Brutus isina bawd fella’, and so’s his mates, all of them aren’t bawd fellas, I’m here to give Ceasar a bit of a sendaff.

He wis a good oul’mate of mine, nivir let m’ down an’ wis a fair minded mawn, mind you in my opinyin;

But Brutus say’s he hawd a wee bit’ove a wire about himself, an’ Brutus isina bawd fella.

He took a lot’ive prisners back here te , gettin’ a bit’ive money fur the cumyunity frum ransims n’ all; wis that the acshin of a somebody with a wire about thimselves?

Win poor pe’pil wir cryin’, Ceasar wis bloody well waypin’;
If yiv a bit of a wire about yerself yid think y’ wudn’t b’ such a big pansy;
But Brutus say’s he hawd a wee bit’ove a wire about himself;

An’ Brutus isin a bawd fella.

All’ive yis saw m’ at the parade w’in three times I tried te make ‘im lead!

An’ the three times he toul mi’ te git away from about him. Wis that somebody wi a bit of a wire about himself?

But Brutus said he hawd a wee bit’ove a wire about himself, an’ sure Brutus isina bawd fella’.

I’m not here te call Brutus a liar, I kyin only say what I know.

Yis all thought he wis a great fella’ not so long ago, an’ well ye might’ve thought that.

What, then is stapin’ yis frum mournin’ him?<->

Sure the wile animals must have all the judgemint, an’ men have lost her wit
Bear with m’;

Ach, houl’ on to a gather m’self, a keep thinkin’ about yermaun in the box, there, an’ a have te try to stap.

1 Pleb:     Y’ know, he might b’ right there.

2 Pleb:     Aye, if ye think about it, a think pe’pil’ive bin a wee bit hard on oul’ Ceasar

3 Pleb:     Houl on, ye boy ye!  I think thir might be worse t’ come after’m
4 Pleb:     Have y’ bin listnin’?  He didn’t wan te be head’ove the parade an’ I don’t think he hawd a wire about himself atall.

1 Pleb:     If that’s right, somebody will have te pay fer it.

2 Pleb:     Look at that poor fella’ up there, his eyes are raw with cryin’.

3 Pleb:     There’s not a better fella’ in than yer maun Antony, up there.

4 Pleb:     Houl yer wisht!  Give my head peace! He’s startin’ to spake again.

Antony:     Yistry what Ceasar said wud’ive bin heard all over the place, an’wud’ive bin lisin de, an’ now he’s in a bax, so he is.  An’ thir’s nobody wi’a good word’ove’m.

Look, if I wis here to turn yis, ad be doin’ Brutus an’ Cassius a bawd service, so a wud, an’ thir not bawd fellas, as yis know.

A wudn’t turn yis ag’inst thim, I’d rather spake bawd of the dead, an’ indaid’ove m’self an’ yerselves, than spake bawd of such great fella’s.

But a have a wee bit a’ paper here in Ceasars han’ writin’, it wis in his wardrobe, a’ll tell yis, thisisis will.

If any’ove yis cud see what he has on it, but a’m sorry a’m not goin’ t’ read it t’yis by the way, yis wud all go an’ kiss Ceasars cuts, an’ yis wud dip yer hankies in his holy blood, an’ b’lookin’ t’ have a bit of his hair for te remember him with, an’ win youse wud die yis would leave it to yer childer, so yis wud.

4 Pleb:     Go on yerself, read it Mark Antony.

All:  Read the will!  We wanna hear Ceasars Will!

Antony:     Houl on, lads, fer play te ye, but I can’t read it. It wudn’t be right fer yis t’ know the good word’ove yis Ceasar hawd, so it wudn’t.

Yis aren’t made’ove wood, or stones, yis are flesh an’ blood, an’ if yis were t’ hear  Ceasars Will, yis wid go aff yer heads!  Hones te God, yis wud go mad!

Yis don’t need to know that yis are benifishyuries, fir if yis did, I cudn’t tell yis what wud happen.

4 Pleb:     C’mon fukyi’!  Tell us what’s in Ceasars Will.

Antony:     Houl’ on a minute.  A shud’ve kept m’bake shut, ave bin slabberin’ too much.  A’m givin them boy’s a bit of a bawd doin’, hem there boys that stabbed Ceasar, so a am.

All:  The Will!  The Will!

2 Pleb:     They’re a bunch’ive murderin’ bastards; read the bloody thing!

Antony:     So yis want me t’ read the will, do yis?  Will c’mere round Ceasars body in a circle an’ take a look at the man what wrote this.  Will a come down there?  Is that all right?

All:  Come on down!

2 Pleb:     Aye, come on down.            Antony comes down.

3 Pleb:     Aye, it’s all right.

4 Pleb:     C’mon everybody, get in a circle.

1 Pleb:     Git back frum the hearse, keep back a bit frum the body.

2 Pleb:     Stan’ back a bit, give the fella’ a bit’ive room.

Antony:     Stap pushin’ mi, fer fuksake.  Get back a bit.

All:  Git back a bit, c’mon make a bit’ive room!


 (Nb: I wrote this back in the early '90's)

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Team Rize showz da oppressive mehnz!

So, today I gotz an email from Team Rize. They want us to meet in town for AN ACTION!!!

We'z gonna go some nasty stuffs to da system right now (or as soon as mum getz her act together and getz me my crunchy nut cornflakes on dat tray!).

I switch the telly over to Dave so's I can tell mum about how patriarchal and stuffs Jeremy "Stale Male" Clarkson iz. She rolls her eyes in a patronising way. I'm going to contactz the Young Team and suggest we plan a demo against the patronising old peoplez who are oppressing us.

I grab my rucksack (mum has wrapped my sandwiches, Haribo and Irn Broo in tin foil. I go crazeeee at her disregard for my being green on the outside and redz on the inside like a big watermelon (I suggested at our Rize Young Team Circle that we should get badges and teeshirts made with water melonz on them with big axes sticking out of them to symbolise what mehnz are doing to our planet. I noticed at Victoria park yesterday that it was mostly the mehnz doing the park cleaning. This council is just sexist. Can't women cleanz?)

I throw my cereal bowl into the sink as my """mother""" oppresses me about my room and dishes and meaningless shit. Doesn't she know we activists are working hard to SAVE THE PLANET FROM CAPITALIST PIGS LIKE HER???)

I manage to get on the train without paying. The capitalists will not get my money (I want to getz my hair dyed and a pair of DM's).

Aaaaaagh! The capitalist pig mehnz have barriers at Queen St Station and I'm forced to pay _£2.20_!!!

Da crew is gathered with the Rize bannerz and felt tip penz. We gonna change this world!

The mission today is secret. Wee Craigy (cool for an older guy- heez nearly 25!!!!) haz brought a mic and a battery powered speaker. We gonna show dose pale male stale MEHNZ who's da boss!

Craigy tellz us we are going to highlight Rize'z opposition to the exploitation of people from the mehnz who make our lives so shit. I tell him he is a honourable sister. He rolls his eyes and smiles. I'm glad he is on our side. He is so clever. And he is part of Team Rize!

By the way, if you don't know what Rize is, where have you been? We've been taking the fight for the sisterhood against capitalist pale male stale peepulz across Twitter and Facebook. We are going to get amazing sisters (and bruvverz) from Team Rize who brought the party together and kinda rulz us in a non-patriarchal capitalisty way into the Parliamentz. He sayz our parentz and the old mehnz who ruled da movement before Team Rize took over in a democratic way, were stale and mostly male and all pale. I'm glad I know lotz of peepulz who isn't pale male and STALE!

Kill da mehnz

Onywayz (if my working class writing bugz you, fuck right of. I wiz brought up near to Glasgow. Itz da language of da street and in Milngavie we just say fuck right off and stop OPPRESSING ME!!!!)

Craigy leads us into KFC and we shout at the oppressed workers about not paying tax. And I cry beside someone's cardboard box full of dead chicky wicky wingz.

Kfc must be one of the most worst capitalist patriarchal patronising pale male stale places I have beenz to! (I will be telling mum to stop oppressing me and my wee bruvver, Angus, wif dead corpses of chickenz and tax avoiding beardy white mehnz stuff every Friday night. Itz Pizza Hut for me from now on!).

At the end of the day we post pics of Craigy and da cool kidz standing on KFC tablez. I love da face of the capitalist wummin whose bag of chips I stood on. She got ketchup all over her tracky top as my black Vans with the sparkly sequinz stomped the capitalist muck into the table.

As usual onTwitter the oppression from the pale mehnz beginz. I know we are doing the right thing when people call us naive idiots and I know we have educated peepulz what a better Scotland can be.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Healing the Scottish left post #se2016

This years rift in the left in Scotland has been the second most destructive I have witnessed in 11 years (and there have been others!). And it was acerbated by a really terrible understanding of social media, relationships in the old Militant Tendency grouping who were central to the SSP, relationships between the small group who were the core of the ISG and the SSP core, and the independence campaign, on the part of some of those in key positions in both the SSP and in the grouping that became SLP/Rise. None of these misunderstandings were helped by the manipulation of young and new activists by some experienced and older activists.

The rift (or rifts) was magnified by the disrespect, sarcasm and personal attacks on "socialist" by "socialist."

The misunderstanding of how social media works is still failing the ailing Rise (and the SSP), though Rise has, perhaps too late,  began to get its house in order. Slowly Rise have began to realise that social media is NOT a cinema screen or a notice board- it is a conversation. Their conversation undertaken by angry folk with the Rise roundabout insignia was entirely negative until recently. Condemnation of socialists who "just didn't get" Rise and pro-independence folk is now slowly, making way to sensible persuasion or ignoring of the trolls. There are still blips- spats witnessed by thousands with Tommy Ball and with journalists who aren't saying what they want them to- unfortunately some feel the loud voices in MacDonalds approach works in social media. It doesn't- or at least, not against the left you are supposed to be persuading that you are a new thing. A positive change in the left in Scotland. Its roots, as I say are showing.

The SSP used to understand that, and was incredibly profitable for it- during my team's tenure of the social media aspect of the ssp, it had 60k+ interactions (views/ likes/ rt's/ shares etc on FB and Twitter), 4000 listens a fortnight on its podcast and 15k followers on Twitter. The SSP social media fell into reverse as it was taken over by Colin Fox- someone who really has no idea of how to hold a public conversation. A man who is more used to making pronouncements others must follow.

The personalities of Colin Fox, Richie Venton and Frances Curran, and their inability to compromise on tactics and the trading on their respective (and respectable) political history have been stamped on what rifts opened within the ssp during 2015. They spoke at each other and tried to outflank each other- the Machiavellian nature of their political relationships confusing National Secretary Bill Bonnar, who is still spinning from the briefings he had from Colin, Richie, Frances and his branch secretary daughter who went from being enamoured by the promise of power from Frances, to realising that the self entitled "Team Rise," the small group of ex-ISG people, are what the party building was really for.

The confusion around what the SLP/Rise was truly about now has the SSP in a spin over its future. Within the party, groups are saying that the leadership must change. The leadership, in turn, are preparing its members for a disastrous election and are already whispering "leave Rise," and as predicted by many ssp members now either sitting this election out or who have left in disgust at the treatment of activists who had concerns about how internal democracy was twisted last year, many new members are ready to jump into the new party that will split the left further.

The realisation by Rise leaders at how destructive a completely autonomous new, almost unpolitical teenage rebellion online, is now helping create a more positive atmosphere in Rise. Those who say it is a long term project are now gaining credibility within its ranks. The sprint to the May finishing line this year has alienated people who should have been allies. But many SSP loyalists are realising that the SSP name/brand, although buffed up during the independence campaign, has been hollowed out by a very undemocratic core.

So post May, there are many socialists who must create respectful, honest spaces- discussions freed from the machinations that wrecked the left during the 20th century- for those who want to create a better Scotland. A space better than the one created by the SSP in 2002 (when the party included the seeds of its destruction within its ranks).

Those in and around Rise are confusing the ground. Some are trying to create this space. But the rhetoric on social media from some of those around that is "exclude."

In my opinion, the only people who should be excluded from real discussions are those who want to build their own groups through getting involved. The purist sects like the SWP and the CWI should not be allowed to, as they are prone to do, dominate meetings or discussions (total exclusion should be an option, and the recent history of both Scottish branches of these groups should be grounds to do so). Likewise the personalities driving and manipulating the SSP or "Team Rise." At the same time, all views and concerns should be heard.

Building the framework for that process should now be the challenge.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A Radical Independence Forum, not new political parties, will unite the left pro- #indyref2 movement...

I've been pro Scottish Indy for many many years. I voted Labour in 1997, but because of problems I had with Blair's "third way," and subsequently with his economic programme-"Thatcherism on speed," I eventually, around 2002, once they proved themselves to be more than a Sheridan Show, joined the Scottish Socialist Party.

(photos in this article are from THIS photo essay I did in September 2013)

I was pro-Irish independence when I lived in County Down for 27 years.  I never supported any paramilitary group- I believe strongly, that the paramilitaries set politics and community relations in Ireland back generations- hearts are still hardened by the loss of family members by those who took up arms on both sides since the 80s (and believe me, I understand the subtleties of who was "worse" than the other- I knew people who carried out horrendous acts for their "cause." Acts I hope are seared into their eyelids and haunt them at all times) - that stance changed for a while when I read Militant Tendency's view-but I think that was more to do with me trying to justify my family/community I grew up with. My Northern Irish community- largely unionist/Protestant, means a lot to me- the people I grew up with were working class, strong people, a lot of whom said cringeworthy, self defeating  things (and I am sure I said cringeworthy things in the past- though I always seemed at odds with sectarianism- I always had catholic friends). I learned a huge amount about my community's place in the world through my nationalist/republican/catholic friends. I admire what has been achieved in Northern Ireland through talking and listening and through forums that bring opposing programmes together. And I fully believe somewhere in the future the people across Ireland will steer their own future in a settlement that benefits the poor and working class on the whole island.

My pro- independence stance has always been about fairness. About ensuring democracy was real, informed and not gerrymandered. And about people taking charge of how their resources are shared; how their labour makes their lives better; how informed democracy devolved to the smallest unit ensures people can protect themselves from exploitation and manipulation.

When I first came to Scotland- 1993, I had a friend who lived in Sighthill, Glasgow. I stayed there often over a period of two years. The neglect of that community at that time shocked me. Walking through Glasgow shocked me.

I understand that Glasgow had moved a long way from the poverty of just twenty years before- but comparatively speaking- the poverty left by Thatcher - the joblessness, the hopelessness around Glasgow, to me, was tangible. It was different than anywhere I had spent time in around the UK. The hopelessness was etched in faces; scored into paint and stone; growing out of the cracks in the abandoned industrial heartlands. In my time here, I saw wonderfully intelligent, witty, interesting people reduced to shadows through drink and drugs. I couldn't understand why the Scottish independence movement was not stronger at the time- the poverty and homelessness in Glasgow was like nothing I'd seen elsewhere in the uk, perhaps with the exception of mid-late eighties London, when I used to go there a lot. And journeys across Scotland taught me that it was a wealthy country- oil/industry and huge swathes of unused land. Comparatively, homelessness in Belfast had been more or less eradicated (though, of course, poverty had not), and Northern Irish politics had created a hopeful, positive attitude within the anti imperialist working class communities. Culture was vibrant and an outward global identity, proud. Scottish culture was not that. It was about decay, defeat, poverty, the kale yard, the crumbling industrial heartlands, drugs, violence. Many worked hard to change this identity problem- and we are on an upward curve nowadays, thanks to the new pride in history, culture and shared purpose of the past few years.

Allan Grogan of Labour For Independence

During the 2000's I became involved with pro-independence left groups. Within the left, these groups were almost ridiculed as fringe. The Scottish Socialist Party was pro- independence, but the debate within the party was continually about how important (or how unimportant) that stance was. The forces that eventually created RIC, and the left indyref movement (The SSP, The Greens stance, Solidarity, the SWP, the ISG, the CWI/SP etc) were mostly made up of the same people who only a few years before were saying "independence is not important/ independence splits the working class."

When the SNP announced the referendum, some of these organisations continued to debate. Some of us immediately, wholeheartedly began to build the working class argument. (My first article for the Huffington Post was on independence and is here-
http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/918219 )

Our want for independence was not a selfish, flag waving nationalism. It was not steeped in "Scotland for the Scottish" rhetoric. It was not a tartanry or blood and soil, swear allegiance to the St. Andrew's Cross belief. In fact, when we began to work with the SNP on the streets, doorsteps and at public meetings, we clashed over our "no borders, rise with your class" message. I remember standing, late at night, debating outside a local town hall, with an SNP right winger over the internationalist message Green organiser, Ross Greer had given to the audience. The right wing of the SNP just did not get the fact our pro-independence stance was not about creating borders and changing ownership of our wealth from London based billionaires to Edinburgh based billionaires.

Colin Fox and Allan McCombes (who first designed the pro-independence vehicle that became the SSP)

Eventually, the left bloc within the independence movement was joined by other voices, who in varying degrees had been persuaded the breaking up of the imperialist Westminster run UK would be beneficial for the world. The degrees of involvement ran from "this is a great recruiting tool" through to people who had genuinely changed their analysis.

Of course, we lost the referendum. Though in my opinion, we won the first main stage. We won 45% of people- a huge swathe of them working class, fair minded folk, to the cause of a fairer democracy and a fairer redistribution of wealth.

Perhaps we didn't persuade all SNP members; we didn't persuade all socialists- but a massive population were persuaded by our left, internationalist view.

Of course, as I say, this is stage one. We have a huge platform from which to build for stage two, launch it and win.

The Triad parties of Yes Scotland...

I have one problem with how representatives of the left have conducted themselves since the referendum.

#Indyref2 is a cornerstone to Rise/SSP's May election manifesto. A reasonable demand. One few disagree with. My problem with it is the collective loss of memory. The left during indyref1 did not just call for "Yes." We called for A Better Scotland, taking its place to help create a Better World. And all of our memes, leaflets, statements to the press etc reflected that. Our slogans were not an empty "vote for the Saltire," they were about why voting for a better democracy would benefit us all.

In the aftermath of the independence referendum, the left, made up of people who once opposed independence are now seemingly, trying to out "indyref" the nationalists. The calls for a new referendum as soon as possible, are not grounded in real analysis, or policy beyond getting list votes in the Scottish Election in May. This has hugely let the left down. It has actually created an adversarial atmosphere within the independence movement rather than the original stance of the left of "independence is a great idea- this is why," that persuaded so many in the lead up to September 2014.

Lining up for the wonderful Margo...

"Taking the fight to the SNP," as Colin Fox, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party said at the first Rise conference, has been the most damaging policy the one time Radical Independence Campaign spokespeople/ leadership have created. Of course the SNP should be challenged- but post indyref, when many socialist and left minded folk joined them because of OUR message- attacking those who in time could be persuaded into a mass left party is really unwise. We can of course say, "we aren't attacking socialists," but as I have said in a previous post, attacking organisations is now actually attacking the identity of many newly politicised people.

So what should the left do in this very strange new political landscape?

I believe rather than closing doors and pointing fingers, we should be creating real space (and time) for dialogue. Cobbling together organisations to attack former allies has been a disaster (though that analysis will, of course, be denied until post May). The SSP should have continued to fight as the SSP -a cornerstone in the triad that made up Yes Scotland- for at least this election, while the other groups who came to independence later, should have continued dialogue with the SSP, to develop RIC- which when indyref2 does come around, will be a much more influential vehicle than it was first time around.

That's what should have happened. Instead, the players decided to build Rise- a vehicle that has been full of rancour because of how it was built. A vehicle that when floated in late 2014, some warned of how divisive it would be. That has proved correct. And post May, the SSP and Rise may divide into two separate entities.

Eddie Reader leading a vibrant cultural movement within Scotland and Yes!

There are many people who were involved in indyref on the left, post May, who will have no where to go. Rise nor the SSP will be attractive. Labour, even with Corbyn in the driving seat is unattractive in Scotland, given the fact that the Scottish Labour leadership are the very people who would knife their Westminster leader in the back.  The corrupt Sheridan vehicle, Solidarity, at last is dead. The left sects are dead- the SWP is a shadow of its former disrupting self, as is the tiny CWI in Scotland.

The SSP is unattractive because of its predominantly male and undemocratic nature. Rise has created too many enemies online with the extraordinary nature of the conversations it smashes into on Facebook, Twitter and in forums (and because of its "taking the fight to the SNP message).

Calling for indyref 2 as an attack on the SNP, is not a vote winner, nor a mature political stance. "We need independence from tax evaders and people who have indebted councils in PFI schemes," etc is. All on the left in the SNP, Greens, the now disbanded Labour for Independence would agree.

Taking the fight to the many many working class socialists who joined the SNP has got to be the biggest suicide note since Ratner called his jewellery "crap."

Independence from the Billionaire elite who impose Trident; who create tax free cash mountains abroad; who make our children pay for capitalist greed; who send our young poor people out to other countries to kill other young poor people; who crush the very souls of the vulnerable and disabled and abandoned...

The Radical Independence Coalition/Campaign- an open forum now active in communities across Scotland, but largely abandoned by the "faces" of the left, can build the confidence of the crucial working class bloc towards their own Emancipation. Some of the (well meaning at times) Rise slogans are creating division, platforms for ambitions and are far from uniting the left. This was not the intention- but it is how it has played out. Many of those involved in its development did not get involved in the Yes coalition- and the dislike from some of those influencing its public statements of the SNP, is one as insidious -and misinformed- as that from Labour.

The Radical Independence Movement - the future of the left in Scotland...

Uniting the left will not be done by a political party this side of a second independence referendum. So the left need to have vehicles in which to influence the nature of the future campaign and the nature of the independence the people of Scotland and the world, needs.  Socialists have chosen to do that enmasse within the SNP -and small numbers of them have decided to do that in the Greens, the SSP or as the tiny Rise.

None of these organisations will unite the left. So all of the left need a neutral ground. Those who built that wonderful neutral ground abandoned it for political ambition. It's time to climb down and help unite the left independence movement, not smash it apart again.

After election fever, the left needs to reboot its effort on building RIC as a place in which we can all work together.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Scottish Socialist Jazz

"Don't call it some made up name- jazz. It's social music." Love that quote being used as a tag line for the new movie about Miles Davis. 

Over the past year, I've been slowly dipping my toe into jazz. I've started with Brubeck, Monk, Davis and some of the singers like Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Ella. 

Like my going back to comics this year, it has been something that has brought me to other places. Other worlds. 

The Scottish Socialist world has proven to be not very social in the past year. On the contrary, it has been discordant, adversarial, vicious. 

There are a few people trying to pull the strings and the percussion together again, my baseball hat comes off to them. They have a difficult job after the past year of name calling, Machiavellian manoeuvring and denigration of comrades over social media. 

I suppose when new people enter the orchestra with their different musical backgrounds, influences and sometimes narrow perceptions of what music is, the tapestry of sound will have plucks and at times unravel. Having said that, it doesn't do for sweet music, or even mind expanding music that moves us all into a new world when the new comer to the band hits the existing members over the head with the amps. New influences, voices and instruments are always needed- but like Friere teaching literacy to those scraping a living from inhospitable places, it is sometimes best to sit and learn from the existing members first before adding new chords, beats and melodies. Music can become stale without the composer/ the social elements listening to new elements- learning comes from all participants.

I love the fact that some of those who have been the most divisive within the socialist movement have been posting links to Paulo Freire's works (it's telling though, that Pedagogy of the Oppressed- his most inaccessible book- is the one they post. Pedagogy of Hope is a better, more rounded, researched and much more accessible book). Freire advocated "social music," in that he saw us all as contributors to learning. His pedagogy was not top down. It wasn't about leaders of learning. It was about all participants knowing they had something to learn. It was like jazz music- everyone had a turn to speak, supported by the others, and then all could come together in a symphony of sound from different perspectives. All playing off each other, all learning from each other and absorbing the experience of others. 

The left in Scotland this year - the left I am part of - has crashed and shrieked and instruments have been used as weapons. Unfortunately the orchestra is at present divided into different melodies and beats. The various sections are not listening to each other. Some are pretending to. Some are ready to create their own 5 piece.  The members MUST become social. They must become Freirian. The basis of a great orchestra is experience plus new ideas. Without both sections the social music becomes discordant and shrill, and no one listens.