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

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Elitist, Steampunk UK.

If there is anything that screams, "THE UK POLITICAL SYSTEM IS BACKWARD..!" it is this years Jubillee.

BBC News 24 as I write is devoting another whole programme devoted to coverage of the many years the Queen has claimed huge benefits, multiple free houses, avoided tax and has promoted a racist inbred nepotism as an ideal for life.

I'm watching this programme in order to ensure I become as immune to Royal witchery as Martin McGuiness. He touched her and was still able to say, "I'm still a republican."  Likewise Danny Boyle, who MUST be this years top republican. Can we give him a citizens award?

Dear BBC. Please repeat "its a royal knockout. Please." And keep showing those rich, braided idiots standing in their rain swept boat, pointlessly jigging up and down to Captain Pugwash music. Two great adverts for the pointlessness of the existence of the house of cards at the end of the Mall.

Captain Pugwash... Photo from HERE
I have to admit, the Royal boating thing during the summer HAS to be the most pointless, nationally embarrassing thing since the M7.

"One feels an idiot!"

"Stop saying that, Kate!"
And todays headlines are... Rich bastards annoyed they cant rip a wild animal apart and rub the blood on their sons and daughters faces.

The fact is we the people have allowed this Etonianism of our society. The workers and unemployed are on their knees and with every union jack teeshirt sold, we have ensured austerity gets worse for us and life gets more and more feathered for the 1%.

Really - Why have we allowed this return to elitist,austerity UK?

Victorian times WERE a time when children died in the streets begging. When "The Little Match Girl" was written, it was written because the tragedy of whole families living on the streets was commonplace. Why go back? It says something that the only critique of austerity Britain on our media has been almost hidden in the world of the Christmas Doctor Who.

Watch how they and their causes are pushed to the top of the news agenda while poverty, rising prices,the NHS, attacks on education, the disabled, the old etc are hidden.
"Rich bastards annoyed they cant rip a wild animal apart and rub the blood on their sons and daughters faces."
Picture from HERE

The focus on the elites precious, vicious and illuminating Fox hunting is another diversion from the real misery of Cameron, Clegg, Jo Swinson, Osborne and Queen Elizabeth, William and Kate's UK.

The elite have ensured the education system, and even the set up of our mass media means we can't in at least the medium term, return to a time when working class voices and views are prevalent as they were in the sixties, seventies and even the eighties on our televisions and in our newspapers. Instead we have the mocking voices of faux cockney telling us what they think working class people think.

Even the tory Andrew Neill laments the lack of working class views (even though the only views he wants to hear are his). Though his want to return to a grammar school system misses the point, it did bring us people like Michael Parkinson and Melvyn Bragg who then championed working class voices and art.

Who do we have nowadays? 

To work in the media, you must be able to afford to work for nothing in order to cut your teeth. You must have money behind you in order to be an intern. The same goes for politics. To rise through the elite controlled main parties you must be "one of them." You must have been able to make the same social connections open to those who go to private school, Eton and the Bullingdon Club.

We can't.

So we must build our own networks. We must find ways to encourage working class children and young people to help in the intellectual fight and  struggle for our worlds resources.

Only we can rid ourselves from these leeches.

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Schedule of Shit….


Guest post by Matt Geraghy

Matt Geraghty accosted by a fan.

It is with an air of sadness that I approach the Christmas TV schedule.  The sadness of expectation borne upon a tide of past experience.  

A lifetimes experience of disappointment, delivered, hand over fist, year on year.  Disappointment conveyed with a methodical concussive force.

Does it have to be this way?

If Christmas is a time of joyful expectation – why is it that what I expect is disappointment.  And why am I never failed?

Disappointment with all the trimmings.  

A schedule to leave you weary of eye and slurred of thought. 

When conversation hits a lull I want a pick-me-up.  Television to enliven and galvanize.  Not fodder heavy as porridge (the pudding not the programme.  Though rest assured the programme will be close to hand).

Each year the powers that be serve up a schedule of TV so threadbare as to be virtually transparent.  For how long can they continue to shovel this mass of shit our way?

Forever apparently.

How many times can the Two Ronnies, or Morecambe and Wise be disinterred?  Given the length of time since the original airings you would think it would be the greatest comeback since Lazarus. 

Morecambe and Wise - not this pair of dead comedians again?

If it weren’t for the fact that they reappeared with such regularity.  Sucking the life from a festival so corrupted, it may work part time in Investment Banking.  Or politics.  Or the police. 

The Two Ronnies sing one of their hilarious ditties in drag... AGAIN..!
It should be renamed Consumermas – a time to celebrate the family buying experience.  With everyone gathered round the 52 inch, 3D television.  Sated by their TV dinner and indulging in a family ‘live buying’ session, on some sales channel, before flicking over to watch the 24/7 feed of ‘Britain’s Best Adverts’. 

And cheering wildly at every product ever purchased from the list.  With the winner chaired around the front room on the family commode.  Whilst expelling the seasonal log.

We should slay this festival.  Club it to death.  Along with all the greed and stress it produces.

Perhaps instead we should celebrate the coming of the light, with a mid-winter celebration at which the only presents to be exchanged are those made by yourself.  Or maybe the only gift is your presence.

In fact let us call it exchanging presence. 

Where over a jointly made meal we unwrap each other’s presence, through conversation, food and fun.

And as for the TV?  Leave it to sleep until the spring.

The Queen's Message


The Queen on December 25th 2012 praised our disabled Olympian athletes, yet she personifies the cuts and attacks our social system has administered on the disabled, old, poor, working and old.  She is the ultra tory.  She is the person Jo Swinson, Nick Clegg and David Cameron look to as the pinnacle of a society they want to encourage.


Queen Elizabeth the Second, the head of state of the 21st Century United Kingdom pays someone to wear her shoes to break them in.   “Amazing” and “Awesome,”  Said the Huff Post.  “Ultra Amaze,” said Heat magazine  
Shocking says me.

This is the woman all of those adoring people lined the wind and rain swept Thames to wave flags at.  The woman who gives a wave and hails the Olympians and everyone says, “how nice.”

People wonder at her mystery – what kind of woman is behind the banal celebrity line-up handshake comments?


I have told a few people about the Queens shoe breaker inner.  I have also told people about the people who dress Prince Charles and the other helpless Royals, from pulling on their underwear to tying their shoes.  And people fall into two camps.  One camp is the , “Wow, how luxurious!” and the other camp is incredulous.

Personally I think it says a lot about our social crisis – the inequality and poverty and violence that permeates the Western world.  It exposes the lie of “everyone is born equal with the same chances in life,” and it helps perpetuate slavery, exploitation, poverty and the latest dreadful lie of the deserving and undeserving poor.



A few years ago I was in Cuba.  We stayed in a resort, served meals and drinks by Professors and other highly educated people.  I noticed a real clash between our “culture” and theirs in the interactions between the tourists and the hotel workers.

The tourists saw their role as one of being pandered to.  They had worked hard all year for this two week luxury.  This was their chance to be queens and kings.  This meant that those in service to this should pander to their every whim.  The service workers should go out of their way to ensure they had all they need and discomfort should be completely eliminated from their lives in the two weeks of superiority they had worked for and bought.

The Cuban workers, however, were doing a job.  They were doing it in the best way they could.  With the dignity their social system ingrained in their spirit.  They were trained in all of the skills to deliver the work, but their attitude was one of, “I work, I ensure your needs are met as best I can, but I am equal to you.” 

This caused clashes. The first roots of the clash come between the worker and the hotel owner (the hotels are owned by capitalist companies).  In a socialist run restaurant or bar, there will be perhaps (as we saw outside of the tourist zones) more workers than needed - but this meant that no-one was under pressure, and everyone’s needs were met and no-one lost dignity. 

In a capitalist run restaurant or café or bar, the minimum amount of staff are put in place in order to maximise takings. 

At peak times in the capitalist run Cuban resort hotel, as in any hotel or café or bar in the West, staff were under pressure.  And this meant the customer became frustrated and some took it out on the staff.

The difference in how staff in hotels/bars/cafes  I have worked in in the West handle this pressure, and the Cuban workers who KNOW that all are equal around them, is that the Cuban worker bit back when barked at.  And quite rightly so.

I witnessed a barman who had been working up a sweat in trying to keep up with the demand for free mojitos and daiquiris, get frustrated at the impatience of the Canadian and British customers.  He threw a mojito into the sink behind the bar, plastic cup and all, and walked away, his bar manager going after him to calm and comfort him (a very different reaction to most managers I know when a worker expresses the pressure they feel).  A Spanish speaker told me the man was upset at how the tourists were treating him as a robot and said that, “these people are mean!” or words to that effect. 

Contrast this with the laid back atmosphere in an off campus Cuban run bar in town later that evening, when the lively crowd - of mostly Cubans laughed and chatted and waited patiently while drinks were poured and meaningful interactions took place between customer and bar-person – on an equal footing.  Dignity and respect in work.  And I could see why someone might choose to want to be a barman in such an atmosphere.  This was never the experience I had as a service worker in Ireland, Scotland or England.

How does this relate to our Queen and her shoes? 



Well in two ways.  One, the strange reaction of people when I told them about the Queen's precious feet and how they were protected, when they said, “Oh how the other half live,” and “what would it like to be rich?” - as if this having others in servitude was something to aspire to.  An acceptable way for someone to have lived all of their lives.  An acceptance of the inequity and of the exploitation.  

Our society teaches us to aspire to having people serve us.  Others lower in the scale of worthiness; in the hierarchy; in the class system; less socially mobile… take the pain.  They pay proportionately more tax, live without; struggle for time, resources and shelter. But, our society and our political system tells us, this is quite rightly so.  If you can afford for someone to clean your shoes, massage your shoulders, fight your wars for corporate control of other countries resources and give their bodies for your sexual pleasure, why shouldn't you take? You've worked hard for it.  They haven’t.

Get my point yet?

In my opinion, having someone break in her shoes says more about the character of the Queen and of our unequal and violent society than almost anything else I can think of.  This lovely, grey haired, waving old woman has, all of her life, thought it appropriate for a poorer person to take the pain of the tight new shoes.  She believes her feet are so much more valuable than her minions and they should not blister, nor bleed, but a plebs bleeding feet is an acceptable sacrifice to their social better.  This is a social norm to our head of state.  

The Queen personifies our cruel, impoverishing, undignified social system. If the established church's God insists on "saving her" even though she intrinsically believes others should be tortured by the pain of her tight shoes; if the country believes her position of having minions deal with her every whim is an acceptable price for her existence then church, state and country are complicit in every old persons death this cold winter, every disabled persons poverty, every soldiers death and every exploited man, woman and child.  

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Secret Santa

We had or secret santa in work yesterday. When I buy stuff, I try really hard to find out what the person likes and dislikes so I can buy something worthwhile. I think I did that ok.

Usually, as the only male teacher in the school, I get something forgettable, something stereotypically male or general. This year I was really amazed. I got a book and a tartan scarf.

The tartan is close to Scott tartan and the book is one I had borrowed from a friend and not yet started. I dont know how this was done because my work life and personal life are so separate. But anyway, thanks Secret Santa for being so thoughtful!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Swinson List

In my capacity as SSP Campsie Branch Organiser, I replied to MP Jo Swinson's request for information on shops I will be avoiding this Christmas.

HERE

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dump that friend to the right of you...

Dunblane letter


I wrote this to a friend from my time in Dunblane  - we were conversing on Facebook after he had read this piece I wrote on the tenth anniversary of the massacre in the local school thedrink.blog.com/2006/03/13/ten-years-ago-today/.  I've taken out names.  I wanted to place this here as I feel over time, the fragments of my memory of this time should be brought together.

Hi (Friend's name)

I really appreciated your message.  I often think of (child who was shot in Dunblane Massacre and survived) – I met her one day with (another friend) in a wee café in Dunblane a few weeks after the murders.  It was a meeting that really effected me.  It is brilliant to know she is happy – she was a really positive wee girl back then.  I remember her telling me that she had met Henrik Larrson and the Celtic team.  She had her Celtic scarf and top on. 

I apologise for the self indulgence of this message in advance, but lots of things have been going over in my mind in the past few days.  

Memories of Dunblane.

My time in Dunblane had a huge effect on me – even though it was a short time.  I worked in the hotel for a year from around September 1995– and lived in LC from December 1995 to August 1996.

It’s a hard one to talk about to people.  I sometimes feel I have an obligation to speak about certain things, like some of the things I witnessed in Northern Ireland and of the horrible events in Dunblane.  I don’t know what this compulsion is – but it happens on anniversaries of these events or when similar tragedies happen.  I suppose I just sometimes need an outlet or I want people to understand something about the realities of these things.  But few people either understand, or want to hear.

Writing about them is my outlet.

Our whole friendship circle at the time was an odd one – though to me a very precious one – intense, wonderful friendships that all seemed to end abruptly.  A time in parenthesis.  And one that bears thinking about and writing about in it’s entirety sometime. 

I look back at us all and think about our stories.  We were all quite “frivolous” on the outside, but all with depths none of us wanted to express or share.  All of us were kind of in hiding.  Damaged in some way (is that fair?) I know this is of no relevance to the horrible events, but I think those events perhaps changed all of us in ways we perhaps won’t fully understand.  I know that the events of 1996 – what happened in the school, my meeting you, (list of friends) and the others and then a family tragedy, pushed me towards the life I have now.  My “escaping” life – running from it – stopped. 

I remember what happened in Dunblane every year.  I am not religious, but I do think of those children and their teacher.  Every one of them a tragic wee story.  A wasted, beautiful life.  It is more than I can sometimes bear to remember some of the stories from that day and over the following few weeks.

I have been back to Dunblane a couple of times, but find it a difficult place to be.  I have never visited the memorials or the graves, though I always feel I should.  I think the short time I spent there must have been some of the happiest – perhaps though over-induced by chemicals- and some of the saddest times I have had.  But definitely a time that will stay with me forever.

I hear what you are saying about the conduct of the press.  At the time, I was absolutely disgusted at the behaviour of the press and the media in general.  I nearly hit a journalist one night. 

I remember this particular journalist had been arrested for trying to take pictures at the funeral of the teacher.  He had also spent his time complaining about service in the hotel and, if I remember rightly, had upset (a friend who was a waiter ) in the cocktail bar.
 
When he was checking out, I started the computer night audit, which meant he would have to wait for about 20 minutes for a printed bill.  He came with a list of complaints and added this wait on to the end.  The night manager, not (the usual night manager), but a “stand in”  - I can’t remember his name – was afraid to serve him.   I was only too glad to.  He read his list to me, and I remember standing listening, trying to control my temper.  I remember him telling me he had been in warzones all over the world and service had never been so bad.  I let rip.  I told him he was not in a warzone, but a small village in Scotland where a mad man had shot a class or five and six year olds along with their teacher.  I told him everyone in the hotel had some connection to people who were effected.  I told him what I thought of him and his complaints and how he should feel privileged that these people had continued to serve him even after his nastiness.  I remember he then challenged me by saying, “If what you are saying is true, then rip up that list of complaints.”  I did, in front of his face.  After he left, I remember the coward of a night manager said to me, “you were a bit close to the knuckle there, Neil.”  I was really angry with him, but said nothing.  I wrote an article for my local paper after that about the murders and also about how the press treated the people in the village.

My time in Dunblane was on many levels much more of a learning experience – and valuable in every way, than my time in Stirling University.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Never again.

This Government with the help of the snivelling quisling Liberal Democrats such as our local Jo Swinson, and a readily onside media have actually done more harm to democracy, equality and shared wealth than any other Government in modern UK history including Thatcher.

I have no doubt I will vote Yes for Scottish independence. For the sake of our children and future generations.

We should never ever hand power over to a rich elite ever again.

Unionism for dummies

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Walmart Militias


Well the flags that the gun lobby wrap themselves in are at half mast.

So that’s all right then.

America. You have a top down hierarchical society that has been conditioned by those at the top to believe the best way to deal with those who you don’t get on with is to gun them down.  A society totally controlled by corporations that tell you that freedom is their right to profit out of poverty, misery and death. 

Profit boosting collateral from Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya/Newtown/Dunblane.

The message that guns are good (which is the message the American Govt and the pro gun lobby promote with their billions of pounds of media access) and that people can unquestioningly wipe other people out as collateral, added to capitalist alienation is not a good mix. 

Murdoch has tweeted his distaste for American gun culture.  Let’s see how NRA loving Fox News plays it in the coming weeks.



Capitalism needs kicked out, but that isn’t going to happen soon - so alienation in the foremost, unequal , bleakly and starkly capitalist nation is only going to become deeper. This isn’t defeatism. Socialism is a long term project. I see few seeds or spark of revolution within  the US nor the newly emerging international capitalist states, at least in the short to medium term.

To ensure the safety of children in schools, YOUR society needs to adopt a reform.  

In our capitalist sticking plaster world, guns need to be controlled. Even the Irish paramilitaries acknowledge that. Those who once believed in the democratising handing out of weaponry amongst a “politicised” population took the step of “decommissioning” their weapons.  And Americans supported this; even those who had previously supported the Republican/ Socialist republican armed groups.  Yet some of the same people seem to feel that relying on Walmart and big corporations to hand out AK47’s  is ok.

As Michael Moore pointed out, in China the other day, a man ran amok in a classroom with a knife resulting in NO fatalities. We aren’t going to stop people with mental illness or symptoms of isolation/alienation from doing horrible things. But shouldn’t we as a society control their access to mass murder machines?

Whose freedom will that curtail?

The Drink...

Back in 2006, I went off the drink for a year.  I wrote a blog about it - the first entry is HERE

I had kind of forgotten about my old blog until tonight when I read a post about the terrible murders of school children in Connecticut a couple of days ago.  It brought back memories of when I lived in Dunblane, and I went searching for some of my writing.  I wrote a few pieces on my experiences there for the Banbridge Chronicle at the time, but also wrote this on the tenth anniversary in 2006.

This then led me to read a lot of the other entries, some of which I laughed out loud at, some of which were absolutely mince, and some of which were pieces of writing I am still proud of.

The cool thing about reading this blog, besides reading about my Grandad as if he was here again and also reading about my son pre-Kevin and Perry stage, was the fact I am off the drink again.  There are parallels of my present in my past... if that can be so...

I haven't had a unit of alcohol for two months (well, eight weeks this coming Wednesday!)  One thing I am happy about is the fact I am determined to be off booze for good.  I WILL drink again, but only on very special occasions.  The other great thing about reading the old blog are the entries that tell of my craving.  I don't have and havent had a craving for alcohol in the past two months.

I remember the year I gave up - I had become quite a heavy drinker.  In fact that summer I know I had not had an evening during the school holidays in which I didn't have at least four cans of strong lager, and on other occasions including the day that made me finally feel I should give up, I had much much more.  Ironically it was an inaugural meeting of a pro-Scottish independence group I was part of that was the final straw.  I had drank a LOT of Stella Artois that day and the hangover lasted three days - at least the effects the session had on my body lasted at least that amount of time.  It was also the summer of the G8 in Scotland and I drank a lot at the different demos (I remember having the worlds worse hangover at the big "Make Poverty History" event in Edinburgh.  There are pics of me lying in the sun trying to sleep it off).

This time, I am not ending my relationship with booze over concern for how much I had been drinking.  I wasn't really drinking that heavily.  I just feel it is time in my life to let go of something that has been fun, and dangerous, and liberating, and unhealthy, and defining, and cold and fizzy and thick and red and depressing and painful and sorrowful and rapturous.

Time to accept me as me at all times.  And for others to do the same, I suppose.

Sorry.  I'll be boring.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Tax efficiency

Just a thought.

As a concerned tax payer...

How efficient are the services we pay for?

Per child educated to read, what is the cost?

Per impoverished job-seeker, how mich does feeding and clothing them cost?

Per disabled citizen, how much does enabling them cost?

Per individual treated in the NHS what is the average cost?

And if guns, missiles, tanks, nukes, gunboats and aircraft carriers are built to kill, how much money is spent per person killed?

Taxpayers alliance?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Bridge

Acting Strange Theatre Co have published their latest adaptation of one if my short stories...

"Is a life defined by football colours? The Erskine Bridge is the starting point for this drama about two people who fall in love despite the difficulties inner city life throw at them. Starring Andi Rossetter and Beth Frieden. Edited by Neil Anderson. Written by Neil Scott."

HERE

Monday, 10 December 2012

Scapegoating the fragile...

The lowest, poorest worker is always under pressure. Always. Especially in a system in which they have no rights and no representation. Mistakes and wrong decisions fall on the heads of the lowest in the hierarchy.

Scapegoats. -They are never the rich and powerful. If the rich and powerful are caught out, in the way Murdoch has been, blame is quickly passed down the chain and PR people kick in. Watch how deflection after deflection keeps Murdoch's name away from any fall out from Leveson. Witness Jeremy Hunt. And watch how Blair with his powerful backers (those who make massive profits from death and mayhem) dances through the accusations of war crimes.

What pressures drove Jacintha Saldanha to suicide? Perhaps an unequal power balance pre and post the Royal baby hospital prank? I have no idea what her salary was, but at a guess, she was not on the salary of Amanda Platell or the other Daily Mail journalists who villified the low paid, overworked frontline life or death decision makers in the royal baby hospital. At a guess, her every day work, when it was going right, was full of pressure, and just guessing here- by the fact that when the receptionist was on her lunch, Jacintha had to answer the phone, she was over worked.

For what bonus?

Again, an "educated guess," I imagine Jacintha's reward besides her low pay, for her long hours and diligence, was putting food on her children's table and paying her bills.

Platell and the other powerful well payed detractors reward for vilifying low paid workers in the front line? The self satisfaction that they have made someone feel bad? That they have made thousands of pounds for shiting out unthinking, scapegoating words. And the gratification that their unthinking, hateful words are read and sucked in by sagely nodding unthinking Tory voters.

Not so much of "survival of the fittest," but more hunting down and gory murder of the weakest and most vulnerable.

And as for the rest of the press- no mention of Leveson during this dreadful scandal. No mention of power imbalance. Just more scapegoating.

Which devastated, crushed, DJ will fall first? Do well paid Platell and the billionaire backed Daily Mail really give a fuck?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Acting Strange Podcast

My short Story has been podcast by Acting Strange Theatre Co


Set in Troubles torn Northern Ireland in the late 1970's, Grainne's soldier tells the story of a young girl caught up in a terrorist blast...

Grainne is played by Anthea Irwin
Written by Neil Scott
Edited by Neil Anderson

MOBILE SITE HERE

Monday, 3 December 2012

Your having a baby...

Awww... It'll keep our minds off the grinding poverty and the Cameron /Clegg government giving payouts to their rich friends while taxing the hilt out of the rest of us.

It'll keep the homeless warm and the pensioners won't need to pay extortionate heating bills as Kate and Willy are having a bairn (or at least it wont feel like they are expensive as we coo and smile).

We won't worry that food prices are crippling and the disabled and infirm are being forced into working for free.

It wont matter that the crooks who stole our NHS and are bleeding our young people of a future walk around free with pockets lined. It'll be wrapped in the Christening cloth of the Queen Mum.

And everyone will say THANKS RICH PEOPLE WHO WANT FOR NOTHING FOR BRINGING FORTH ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR KIND WHO WILL GRACE US WITH SMILES AND WAVES WHILE WE SHIVER AND STARVE AND FUTURE GENERATIONS ARE ROBBED OF A FUTURE.

Yep. Thanks.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The 4th Estate we never had.

The "conventional media" is no longer the 4th estate. Pre Leveson and post, the establishment of rich people with vested interests in print media, satellite tv and some online "news" outlets attack dailly what has become the real fourth estate- our social media.

Over the years, and certainly more obvious today, we see the mainstream media constantly "report" what the establishment want us to read. Recent enquiries like the Bloody Sunday enquiry and the Hillsborough enquiry and the calls for enquiries into various aspects of the Miners Strike have highlighted the real lack of an independent voice reporting on reality. Instead they have reported what the authorities tell them to.

The establishment have learned through human tragedy, murder, Government defeats etc PR disasters like Vietnam, the Chavez coup, scandals etc that the fourth estate must be controlled and not be allowed to be free. Edward Bernays, back in the 1920s, wrote his book, Propaganda,  that has become the bible of an establishment who want to control democracy through its press and how it influences public opinion.

The UK establishment are very good at this kind if stymeing of the press and have ensured that little of the reporting in the mainstream media strays from their line. This has been true in Northern Ireland, during the Falklands and right through to the embedded journalists reporting the great victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Journalists who stray are always in danger of either never getting access to stories, or worse, becoming victims of "friendly fire" in theatres of war.

Shami Chakrabatti has said that if the Leveson report is implimented this will be an infringement of our human rights and will mean our press is no longer free. I would say our press needs an overhall from the top down before it can be said to be free. A press reliant on advertising cant be free, and the fact that huge corporations like Coca Cola or Nestle who infringe human rights dailly around the world are rarely confronted by our print media is testament to that. The dreadful reporting of the private take over of the English NHS by huge world wide corporations has hardly used up a typewriter ribbon across our range of media. The fact that the percentage of doctors and NHS workers etc who are against the profit making NHS plans of the Government and its billionaire friends is in the mid eighty percent is not reflected by the the broadcast media. They seem to be able to find doctor friends of Lansley and Hunt for every report, which ensures a lopsided media bias. And alternative voices -some very prominent- calling for solutions outside the conservative austerity plans are rarely heard. And the fact that 99.5% of all scientific research papers show that global warming is a fact and our current weather "difficulties" are a direct result of our use of carbon fuels etc is always cast into doubt when someone with a vested interest in us buying more and more expensive gas, coal and oil generated heating and electricity is wheeled out by the "free press" to make the strange comment that "nothing has been proved."

I would argue that this biased press reporting goes back a long way, but intensified when the staying voice of the journalist and print unions were smashed by Lonrho and Murdoch with the help of the Thatcherite Government in the eighties. The print unions regularly regulated reporting of the working class by refusing to carry derogatory stories that unfairly attacked the working class and their institutions.

This is definately not the case nowadays with the demonisation of the working class and the divisions the right wing press have created in the "types" of poor we now have.

Social media is casting light constantly on people dying after ATOS decisions to send them back to work regardless of their obvious illness or disability. The print media and our broadcast media have lapped up the new Tory words for those in need. During the Thatcher years, the Tories coined the phrase "underclass." We now have the new vermin, the "undeserving poor," a term I have yet to see a journalist challenge in the 60% of the "free media" that one, right wing billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, controls.

The recent battles over the BBC have split the left. Some, like me, have argued it needs to be separated from Government, be less of a British propaganda machine, but still independent of advertisers. Others say it should be broken up ( and sold off chunk by chunk to the wonderful Mr Branson or Murdoch?). The BBC needs reformed, as does the rest of the ownership and control of our media.

Social media, a new and very strong organ of the fourth estate, should be protected.

Lord McAlpine, the wronged multi-millionaire is currently doing what the establishment have tried to do for the past few years, stamp on the world wide conversation twitter allows. False allegations of McAlpine being involved in child abuse have been made on the internet for many years, and he has never tried to sue those making these allegations. Recent events have, it seems, smashed all of these allegations, yet it is rumoured ( and rumour is a powerful weapon!) that McAlpine will find a way to sue thousands of people who tweeted or RT'd his name on the lead up to the police admitting a mistake (the fact it was the police's mistake seems to have been wiped from the collective memory. The hounding by the tabloids of the abused man who was the patsy in all of this has been every bit as bad as anything reported by many to Leveson). I doubt that McAlpine will get much more money from twitterers. Those who have handed over cash did so in haste and fear of their jobs in the hysteria that was built up by the Mail, Express and Sun, in my opinion. All whose billionaire owners and shareholders, I may add, would profit from a BBC breakup attacked the BBC as a corporation over the newsnight aspect, but personalised the Schofield incident rather than attack the corporate ITV network.

In a proper democratic free press, social media would compliment journalism that is frank and truthful. Reports that capture the public imagination and strike a chord are tweeted across the world. Words written for a small UK readership, quite often reach across the world. A press that does not seek to profit from this, nor fear real freedom of reportage and loss of sponsorship should not fear this- but should welcome it. Human rights should be implimented before cries of "lets protect them" are made. We do not have a free press, therefore at present it does not need protected- it needs re-thought and it needs to reflect and be part of the information superhighway we live with now rather than make the pretence we live in the days of Woodward and Bernstein, which in my opinion, we never did- the story they broke was one that was fed to them- in my opinion the real investigative and brave John Pilgers of that time are the real heroes!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Our Society is not for us.

Composed on my mobile... So excuse mistakes!

52% of leading journos went to private school compared with 7% of the population.

Add to this the fact 53% of the Cabinet are privately educated- 35% of MPs- what chance have working class children in the world ahead of them?

The top of our culture is dominated by priveledge, from pop bands, actors through to real power. I watch the news and political programmes and always think, "none of these people speak like me nor for me." And I dont mean accent.

Take all the stuff about Leveson last night. Even the excellent Channel 4 news had 5 very posh people discussing this (including Jon Snow). It seems the only commentators allowed are public school mates.

Gove, the education minister has expressed his "anxiety" about this. His solution is to hammer teachers and schools rather than looking to the vested interests that control our society. In fact his solution is to look for a way to hammer schools in order to give his priviledged friends a way to make profit from the train wreck of an education system his carping is creating.

This is also the "solution" the Eton boys have for the NHS. Carp and criticise, strip back and then have their profiteer friends take over and charge for what once was free. Lets see how many working class kids go to university in the coming years with the £9k per year fees. And in the not too distant future, lets see how many working class people will be able to afford the insurance for a hip replacement.

This is a Government and a fourth estate for the privaledged.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow Councils are trying to kill me!


A melodramatic title, maybe, but as someone who recently decided to dust down my 30 year old bicycle and start to cycle to work, on most mornings and evenings it really feels like this.

I cycle from Mosshead Road (opposite the Allander) to Summerston – a round trip every day of around 8 miles.  This trip has ensured I don’t add to the global warming that is changing our weather; I don’t add to the wear and tear of the road; I don’t add to the incredible traffic problem Bearsden has during rush hour and I am feeling healthier – so, hopefully, reducing my use of our NHS which is feeling the pressure of a Tory Westminster Government and the dreadful health problems associated with Scotland.

All very positive and I would hope, all reasons East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow tax payers should be very happy about.

Since taking up cycling to work, I have been shocked on a number of issues.  As I write this, I see Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton, both cycling heroes of the Summer Olympics, have been injured in accidents involving traffic. Nearly every day I have near misses.

The first issue I have been shocked by is the attitude of drivers to cyclists.  Cyclists are, by many people I have spoken to over the past few months, seen as an inconvenience and more.  Speaking to work colleagues and friends, who rush to say their attitudes don’t of course include me, I have heard the kind of vitriol poured on cyclists I have heard in my past poured on “the other,” the scapegoat, in society.  I am originally from Northern Ireland and have seen the result of this kind of thinking.  I have made my home in Scotland now for twenty years, but, and again this might seem melodramatic, but some road users seem to think that cyclist road injuries or deaths are the fault of the flesh and bone balanced on two thin wheels keeping them back from arriving at their destination by at most, a couple of minutes.  I am incredulous at the amount of drivers who will take chances, at speed, to overtake me and have knocked a few windows of cars stopped at traffic lights and asked drivers why they want to kill me.

Sorry doesn’t do it.  Where is the legal protection for cyclists from the “it’s only a cyclist” attitude?

I feel this attitude to cyclists goes further than road users.  I have spoken to people who have said that they can’t understand why cyclists “choose when to ride on the Milngavie Cycle path.”  They can’t understand why we cyclists don’t stay safe on the orange asphalt.  Well, drivers, let me tell you.  I don’t call that strip a cycle path, I call it a psycho-path.  For some reason, the attitude of the planners when creating this nod to cyclists was the same as those drivers who see cyclists as a sub-species.   The asphalt, first of all, has been laid down with huge bumps between each “section.”  Second of all, it swerves OVER manholes with the associated cracks and pits in the road around them, and the side of the road seems to be where all of the recent digging by the council/ utilities companies took place, leaving HUGE pits and holes.  If I was to cycle into these holes I would be over the handlebars of my road touring bike.  The road between Canniesburn Toll and Maryhill is even more of a death trap with holes and cracks and traffic that seems to be racing each other between roundabouts and traffic jams.

To finish, I want to make a few pleas.  Drivers, as a cyclist I want you to know two things.  One, I am not in competition with you.  You will win every time with your ton and a half metal shell and 30mph plus speeds.  And secondly, if you see me ahead and I am in the middle of a traffic lane, there is a reason.  I don’t want to fall down a hole.  East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow Council, my plea to you is to ask cyclists to help you with your road and cycle path design.  Both health and carbon emissions are helped by those of us who brave the roads on our lightweight tubes on thin tyres and sustainable muscle power.  In Germany, every new road is designed with cyclists in mind.  Every new road has a cycle path that keeps cyclists away from speeding hunks of metal.  If Glasgow and the surrounding areas are to become some sort of cycling capital in 2014 with the Commonwealth Games bringing cycling talent from around the world to our streets and new velodrome, then real changes must be made.

Please stop trying to kill me.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

A track of my years...

A loaded gun wont set you free…” -Lyrics in the context of my growing up in Northern Ireland that had meaning beyond the meaning Ian Curtis perhaps intended. As a young man I was continually questioning all that was going on around me. Growing up in a mid-Ulster market town, answers were difficult to come by. At 14 I joined CND and around he same time I read Cry Freedom and had my address included in Christian Aids anti apartheid (snail) mail list. I found out about racism in Australia by sending off for a report on the plight of the native Aboriginal people and the organisation I sent away to had the genius idea to include a report on Ireland north and south and the inequalities within the two states. A year later I stole a book about Marx from my "non-denominational" Proddy High school. I stole it, rather than borrow because Marx/the Cold War was associated with Republicanism and Nationalism by those around me. I really could not see anything within its pages that I disagreed with.

All of these things made me think.

 I'll come back to New Dawn Fades in a minute.

 Of course other things made me think... challenged me... Made me realise that lots of these beautiful, wonderful, in other ways open, friendly and rational people were saying and supporting the most unreasonable things. Their entire house of bigotted cards was supported by an imaginary being I could not twist my belief system to believe in. And I tried! When seemingly reasonable, funny, kind people say that They had been found by God; were born again; found God; seen the light; were saved and so on, I tried to find what that meant. I looked at ways to think of God that wasn’t this beardy Marx like figure... to no avail. The house of cards of loyalism and unionism seemed equally irrational. "Directionless, so plain to see... The loaded gun wont set you free..." lyrics that could be applied to both sides in the war going on around me.

 All around me, death and mayhem drove the engine of our personal and economic society.

And death and mayhem was being cited as a solution by all sides including a Government not elected by Northern Irish people. Thatcher’s solution stepped up the killings and brought bombs closer to me. I saw mushroom clouds, broken, mangled buildings, cars and people and the aftermath of death and revenge and the hatred it perpetuated. The people around me, including me, were in the midst of an undiagnosed trauma. A violated people. And seemingly all of those in charge were out of control... On one hand saying death and murder were wrong, but on the other hand arming more people, and sending in SAS death squads to bereave more people and to harden more and more hearts.

"I've walked on water, run though fire, just can’t seem to feel it anymore." And the denial by all of us within the North of Ireland about the effect of the fire engulfing us, the numbing of our feelings for those around us, was plain to see by any outsiders who came to visit.

 Political music influenced me a lot. From the Specials, The Police (yes they did!) and Fun Boy Three through to Peter Gabriel And even Bono (who breeched the dam of Bloody Sunday denial). But the anger, stark, monochrome, industrial hopelessness of Joy Division did even more. It allowed me to realise that those around me might not have solution. The politicians and those they targeted with their biting, bigoted or rationalised violent solutions through to the preachers preaching difference through an imaginary, patriarchal deity were pulling us in ever decreasing circles of murder and hatred.

 The track that sums up my freedom from the narrow minded sectarianism was not written with this in mind... But it was part of the freeing of my mind. "Different colours, different shades, over each mistakes were made..." and the shoots of hope I see at home beyond the marches and ire of some politicians as ordinary people reject triumphalism and violence as a solution give different meaning to Curtis words than he intended, once again.

 My track is “New Dawn Fades,” by Joy Division. http://youtu.be/CbeNRHtpgOk

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Hiroshima Day

Monday 6th August UPDATE -

The Council and Police are being really awkward on this international day of action across the world. Their small mindedness has forced us to move to St Enoch's Square Glasgow - we are there now - so come along and make your lantern and show solidarity with people across the world who want rid of weapons that could spell the extinction of all living things.

Join the Facebook Event for updates and reminders! - HERE

Sunday, 24 June 2012

How the Onceller could have done it better...


In Dr Seuss's book, The Lorax, the Onceller is a faceless, straightforward, capitalist exploiter who ruins the world of the Brown Barbaloot's and Swammee Swans.  He and his family whack down the forest of truffulla trees to make thneeds (that everyone needs).

A thneed is something of many uses - mainly its use is for the Onceller to make lots of money from exploiting people's naivety, labour and of course, the natural finite resources the ineffectual Lorax claims to speak for.

Now.



In the end, the Onceller loses it all.  the land is degraded and devoid of all life and the Onceller sits in his tower, grieving over what he has done.

The Onceller is a fool.  He could have done it better.

He created something everyone needs.  A thneed.  A thneed can be anything.  It can power homes.  It can level cities.  In the wrong hands a thneed can be strapped to a missile and within forty minutes, it could devastate London.

The only way these thneeds can be controlled is in the hands of the state.  But of course, the Onceller would have problems extracting profits if the state where to own, process, protect and "deliver" these thneeds. 

If the Onceller was to own these thneeds outright, if anything went wrong, he would be to blame.

So.

How to extract profit from something too dangerous for him to own?

Well...

Why not create corporations that service, protect and even though delivery of these dangerous thneeds is out of the question, why not create delivery systems that will, of course, never be used?

Oh, but there is a snag.  what  if the country elects representatives who either take complete control of these weapons from servicing through to protecting, engineering and delivery?  That would be a disaster to the ambitions of the Onceller family, who want to bigger and BIGGER and BIGGER!

In fact, such a government - one that may decide to serve the people of the country rather than the profit taking Onceller family, could take over all of the important industries and run them democratically for the good of the people!

No!

This would be a disaster.

So...

The Onceller family have to create a political atmosphere in which freedom of speech is upheld, though within well defined and controlled parameters.  Any talk of "sharing" and "for the good of all" must be slapped down and derided as "extremism."

A political party or parties should be sponsored by the Onceller family (the more the merrier as this will give the impression of democracy, even thought the parties all will be controlled to ensure the parameters are kept).  The party or parties will speak about using the taxes collected from the people all in the name of freedom and progress and growth and deliver the cash to the Oncellers accounts.

This party must be helped by a Onceller owned PR company.  This company must of course ensure people know what has been created for them - ie. thneeds and ensure also they know that it is what they all need.  And need more and more of.  The company will control TV, radio, newspapers and wrestle the internet from the people.  The PR company will ensure people are more interested in the colour of Cindy Lou's shoes than in how Whoville is run.

Together the Onceller funded political party or parties and the Onceller run PR company will tell all of the Whos in Whoville just what they need.  Thneed power and Thneed weapons to ensure evil Grinchy countries will not develop their own thneeds that could be used against Whoville.

Now, the original thneeds were made from truffulla trees.  Everyone could see that these trees were whacked down leaving a desolated land.  The eco system collapsed Easter Island style.

The Onceller could have avoided this PR disaster.

He could have bought off another country, its government and its resource rich land.  A country far far away from Whoville.

The ruler of this country, lets call him President Grinch, could have been enriched, at a small cost to the Onceller family corporation, and through international aid sent by the Onceller political party, amd he or she could keep his army well fed and ensure they are given privileges for slapping down any attempt by the people of the country to push for democracy and control of their own resources that are being spirited out of the country.  

An evil dictator, one that that Oncellers PR company can now and again, when the dictator does something particularly vile, denounce and then ensure through the use of Cindy Lou Who's night life or love life, that people soon forget.

Whoville keeps it's Truffulla trees, but Grinchville is decimated.

The Truffulla trees from Grinchville are transformed into an intercontinental ballistic missile system that is serviced and protected by Onceller companies who charge Whoville tax payers billions to create and service these useless things that everyone needs.

And then the Onceller turns to the water system, electricity, schools, hospitals, trains, policing, prisons, care homes...

And everyone who thinks taxes should be used directly to ensure these things are run for the good of the people and not profit are denounced as evil Grinches... 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I am a nuclear extremist

by Neil Scott

Neil Scott hands in letter to the workers of Faslane... photo by John Lanigan



I’m a nuclear extremist. I hate the evil, ugly, murderous, vicious things. I hate the apathy that has been built around them by the Government and the press barons who obviously have shares in the companies profiting from the creation and maintenance of these obscenities. Companies such as the publically controlled RBS (the Government own 70% of RBS after a massive bailout using your money) and SERCO, a company with interests in the UK ranging from care homes and hospitals to the maintenance and running of Faslane Nuclear Submarine base.

 I could quote you statistics, and huge figures of money (such as the £3bn investments RBS makes in companies developing nuclear weapons), but I think it is hard to think of these weapons in terms of money.


And then there are the jobs. One of the first arguments the supporters of these mass killing devices turn to is the money. And I sing, 
“Is it worth it A new winter coat and shoes for the wife And a bicycle on the boys birthday… Within weeks they'll be re-opening the shipyards And notifying the next of kin…”


If you don’t get the reference it is the lyrics of the Elvis Costello penned song, “Shipbuilding,” a song about the seeming dichotomy between jobs and money for working class people, and their building warships that will ultimately be used to kill people. To me there is no dichotomy, and hence my opening sentence. Besides the expense of these vile objects, their raison d’être is to kill, indiscriminately, thousands, if not millions of people. The fact that there are 225 nuclear warheads in or around the Clyde – more than the rest of Europe put together, is bad enough. Have no doubt, the jobs on the Clyde and beyond are jobs created to manufacture, maintain and deliver something that if launched would mean the deaths of innocent families, children, mothers and fathers. 


 There is a minimum sentence for concealing a murder weapon of ten years. To conceal a weapon does not necessarily mean you used the weapon or even planned to. To profit or to make a livelihood around weapons of murder is despicable and the law agrees


 So, there is no dichotomy. The companies and people currently employed in profiting from these weapons are guilty. The Government is guilty. A vote for independence and a rejection of these murder machines is a condemnation of them. And what of the jobs? Let’s make it clear, anyone employed there at the moment is concealing murder weapons – weapons that have been created to kill indiscriminately. 


“Its all were skilled in We will be shipbuilding With all the will in the world Diving for dear life When we could be diving for pearls.” 


Let’s dive for pearls and create jobs that help sustain life. 


 Am I an extremist to reject mass killing? 


 Faslane Peace Camp is 30 years old this month. We are travelling up on 28th June to sing, act and shout, assembling at the Peace Camp at 11am. Come join us reject the war-machine on our beautiful shore.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

It were tough back in my day...

My latest Huffington Post blog

When I was young, we didn't have double glazing; our house didn't have insulation; we played on dangerous building sites; I dressed in hand-me-downs from my cousin (this was most problematic around the time flared trousers disappeared over night); free roaming dogs were part of our gang; Vesta dried food was seen as a nutritious evening meal; people were thrown out of their houses on to the street if they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage; public swimming pools were popping up everywhere; Libraries were expanding; income distribution was at its most equal in history; working class holiday makers were tentatively dipping their toes into the Mediterranean; council estates were well maintained and housed the unemployed as well as Doctors, teachers and skilled trades-people; rents were low; electricity, gas, telecoms and water were all publically owned and prices were stable and affordable; school friends were separated from friends at eleven years old - some told they were the crème de la crème, while others told they were "intermediate," "secondary," or "B" stream. Lots of good and lots of things our politicians needed to fix.


Read on HERE

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Serco - the company running Britain and the world?

From Nukes, , detention centres, prisons to schools...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

30 year occupation...

Video I made of our visit last Saturday to Faslane Peace Camp...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Is the BBC telling you what to think?


There seems to be a split in opinion amongst people over recent changes to fundamental rights.  Some people seem to accept changes to our society that to others are sinister and unacceptable. 




Some people say that these changes are inevitable as we have "been over-spending."  Others recognise change will lead to ordinary people paying for services we were given through our tax system - a tax system that reached its zenith of fairness in the 1970's - but a system the Tories and the corporations who drive their ideology, recognised prevented them from further profits.  "Overspend" is, of course, part of the language of the right which when stripped away, actually means tax money spent on those who need it rather than the arms dealers and those who want to exploit our tax system, such as the PPP/PFI corporations.  "Stagnation" and "growth" are their language - language that leads directly to the financial and ecological disasters that capitalism inevitably brings.


Why is there such a divide in opinion over fundamental change in our society?  Why are people accepting changes that increasingly mean that ordinary people are less likely to be educated to degree level and are leading to treatments we currently receive from the NHS being available only to those paying for extra insurance?
Originally from http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/  


I would argue that the ownership and control of the media, and their "manufacturing of consent" can explain a huge amount of the apathy that is leading us to a more expensive and less free society and a society less likely to critically analyse.  The language the media chooses to use is hugely important.


The fear of negative publicity and shareholder flight meant that the Murdoch controlled media outlet offered no critical analysis of the scandal after its recent confession of phone hacking.  Anyone watching the 24 hour news station wouldn't have known that it had confessed to hacking at all. Sky News unquestioningly uses the language of the Tories - today, as I write they are quoting Chancellor Osborne as being "shocked" that rich people avoid paying tax.  I wonder if any of the Osborne family cars and buildings are offset against their company tax?  I wonder if any of the top share-holders in Sky offset items in their tax returns?  What journalists are in senior positions in Sky, the BBC or the print media who have used hacking as a means to get information?  There was no analysis of Osborne's shock on Sky.  They have done nothing to have these legitimate questions answered.   But what is more shocking is that there was no proper analysis of this faux shock on the BBC either.


In my opinion, the only way our media can be publically accountable and reliable is through a publically owned, publically policed news service.


"Our" BBC is owned by UK PLC, but recent stories and the adherence to the pro-profit ideologically driven Tory line has exposed the inadequacy of the power structures that control the BBC. Let me say, before I go on, I am a huge fan of a national broadcaster that is not driven by the profit motive, though I don't doubt for a moment the threats from the Tories on BBC budget go some way in shaping content.


To take one instance of how overt the seeming adherence/compliance to the neo-liberal/corporate Tory line is, take the use of the word, "reforms." This word has been used to replace the words "political change" to our services, for example, Education "reforms" that are anything but, according to the majority of educational professionals - many of the protests against thechanges to the English education system have gone largely un - or under - reported (like the scandalous forcing of schools to be Academies).

And of course, NHS reforms that have been passed to the disgust of most doctors and nurses There were demonstrations against these changes to our NHS - some of the recent ones policed in a way the UK hasn't witnessed since the height of the Northern Irish troubles  - largely un-reported by the BBC, Sky or the UK print media (Police were issued with machine guns!).

The argument that Scotland was subsidised by London has been totally destroyed, and in Scotland has moved on, , yet this is never reflected in how the BBC report the unionist "case."  We also see Danny Alexander and Tory MP David Mundell on BBC news commenting on Scottish independence as if they represent some sort of equal voice on the subject here.  This is patently not the case, as Mundell is the only Tory MP- in Scotland, and Alexander is part of a coalition in Westminster that Scots did not vote for.  If the BBC were doing its job properly, the voice of the pro-independence parties would be heard much more clearly as they are very much in the majority.

According to the BBC over the past few years, we are all cap doffing royalists - and to say anything against this love-in of Wills and Kate etc is almost to be likened to Satanists.  Where did the voice of the other very British/ Scottish/ English institution, the "Republican" suddenly go?

And to say the equivalent of Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est about our troops in the Middle East invites scorn and accusations of "traitor!"  

Democracy and critical thought is only possible with an informed electorate.  If the press and rest of media are driven by fear of shareholders, or fear of government interference, then democracy has been compromised.  The use of the positive word "reform" to mean change in the face of the fact, at best, we don't know what the outcome of these changes are, suggest that the BBC should be taking a neutral stance in its use of political language in its reportage. 

Other news television channels completely out-doing the BBC in balanced reporting are Russia Today, Al Jazeera and Channel Four News. 

Sky nor, regrettably, the BBC are being balanced.  They are adding to the mis-information sent out by the pro-profit newspaper proprietors.

Thanks to Thee Faction for permission to use their video.