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Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015; The SSP.



Its been an odd year for the SSP, which I have been involved with for 13 years.

I've been on the EC a few times, was a committed branch organiser for many of those years, and over the years fought, politically, against the 'British Socialism' of some of those who recently took on the pretence of a commitment of Scottish Independence in RIC etc, and I led our online campaign during the Yes campaign.

This year, however,  like others, the warping of truth, the attacks and the bad feeling left by those condemning discussion and debate, disappointed and to be honest, totally alarmed me to the point I did not feel safe in this party. The shock of members threatening and insulting those they disagreed with and seeing and hearing language not misused since the Sheridan Daily Record headlines after the travesty of his civil case made me question my commitment to the party. "Scab, racist, sexist, Pale Male and Stale," all insults flung like reeking  decades old Stalinist shit at comrades who have given their lives to equality, fairness and workplace fight backs made my pale skin crawl.

And the decision of Colin Fox to congratulate Sheridan's legal team  after the  abuse he meted out on women and SSP members in and out of court, ranks as the self proclaimed "longest surviving of the scottish political leaders" first of many, odd decisions on our behalf in the past few years. Rise being the latest.

After a great start to the year, new branches; large newly boosted branches, the SSP then subsumed itself in a huge internal (and ongoing) fight over handing this new vigour to people who have, since 2009, been wanting to see its demise. And since becoming involved, diminish it has. This has been massive mismanagement by a feeble EC "led" by the nose by an old guard who see themselves as, laughably, "gurus of a new movement." They are, in fact, trying to reinact the extraordinary  (and badly and self congratulatory analysed) success of the SSP circa 1999-2003; and tacking on a veneer, using chewing gum and spit, of "a new politics," though like the SSP "democracy" of 1999-2007, has a not very well hidden central leadership.

The strange analysis of the success of the party in 2003, plus a spree to Greece by Fox and the new "Team Rise" during the Greek election early in 2016 seemed to add to egos and their self deceiving analysis of RIC, the Yes movement and their speech making contributions during that time. Their analysis seems to have left out those who worked hard in their communities and who built the platforms they proselytized from. And their analysis of national and international events and the independence movement as part of that seems to have been poisoned by their self importance. It leaves out their self deceit that they, almost  singled handed delivered a newly invigorated "principled"  Scottish left. It is the politics of left sects and "natural succession" of "on message" cadres. And it, rather than being new, goes back to the ice pick in the cranium of the principled Leon.

As the new "movement" limps forward with its preordained decisions (decisions taken during a period pre independence referendum and finalised this time last year), the energies of the new "allies" continue to be spent on old obsessions of Sheridan and dissolving the SSP. A huge swathe of those who kept the SSP together long enough to get to the rebuild point of the Yes campaign, have disengaged completely from the "latest shiny solution." Instead, they have turned their efforts in trying to keep people onboard long enough to rebuild a socialist party capable of bringing the fight to our communities again, and into our councils in 2017. The new shiny Rise has stunted this campaign, which should have been raging all this year, and the damage done to the SSP name and local campaigning machine MUST be patched up and rebuilt post May, but those disappointed at this years dreadful decisions by the self named "SSP leadership" should be assured, socialism starts with us, not them.

And the newly fanaticised Risers continue to shout and insult across social media.

As Rise limps on, and new SSP members realise how they have been used and abused, this is a time for those in the SSP who want to look beyond the top table machinations of the "gurus." As predicted, the new energies built have been dissipated by this shiny thing and the thousands of new socialists and lefties have not clamoured for membership. The flawed analysis of the self appointed gurus is still tacked to the peeling mdf they stuck in the sand. Our fight, built in the foundations of our communities must go on, in the SSP name. Leave these people to their Merchant City pubs and coffee shops and like Councillor Jim Bollan, get on with making a difference.

The disappointment I feel at the wasted energy of this time last year, I feel, MUST be converted into a 2016 of local socialist hyperactivity.
Contrary to the dissolving the present SSP "leadership" seem to want to lead us to, I'm comforted by those who are fighting back in our branches and communities. The SSP will not dissolve into the debates and discussions which bring us further fracturing and meaningless talking shops. Entire branches of the party have pulled out of the Rise project. And community campaigners have remained in the party, fighting as they have done for years, under the mature, well known brand and community of the SSP. Young people, and old, women and men are leading fights against cuts at local level- fighting welfare cuts, discriminatory pay deals and community asset closures. The SSP are distributing food and clothing to those in need locally and across Europe as the neoliberals divert the common funds our taxes fill to private pockets. And members continue to fight against the UK war machine, unapplauded, living in the cold, draughty NECESSARY Peace Camp at Faslane. Not for them the luxury of taking the festive season out to "reflect" on the glory of self praise and the next speech.

Roll on 2016 and the rolling away of the old and the redirected vigour of the new.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

UN-Christmas Songs...

On my facebook, I've made a promise not to post anything political up until christmas.  Instead I've been posting UN-Christmas songs.  Songs that bring back memories... and I have, after the first one, decided to tell people WHY they bring back memorirs.  I'll piost them here from tomorrow onwards... here are the first seven I've posted so far (in order)...

UN-Christmas songs Number 1. Get yer lugs around this one...




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2  35 years ago, I had owned this song for a few weeks, and then the singer went and got shot. I remember around that time playing this to death and Beatles/Lennon stuff. Before Lennon died I borrowed Rubber Soul and Revolver on cassette from the library and taped them. An ex boyfriend of my sister lent me some Beatles vinyl and I bought a few Beatles singles (like Let it Be, Please Please Me, Love me do and others) from one of those old collectors catalogue things that used to be about. I remember Lennon being shot, because at 14, I had become a fan. And I was really annoyed that I had just really discovered all the non-single stuff and he was launching a come back sand he had died.
I know he most probably was a prick. But his music, the sentiment and the political aspect of a lot of his work, did go a little way in shaping my ideas.
Although I'm posting this as my second UN-Christmas song, it was number one around Christmas 1980. But it was never written with Christmas in mind.


3  Today's UN-Christmas tune. I became a fan of Joy Division/ New Order around 1981. My sister, Karen Young had bought the single of "Love Will Tear Us apart" when it came out, and around 1981 I started to investigate the band and their new formation after Ian Curtis died. I was blown away by some of the Joy Division stuff I bought at the time - Transmission, These Days (the b side to Love will tear us apart) and I played their two albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer every day, religiously for over a year! I bought the album "Still", which came out after Curtis' death in London when I was visitingAmanda Griffiths and Terry (and took a trip up to Warrington to visit Ian Davison who brought me to a club where the dancers from the Kenny Everet show, "hot gossip" were doing a gig. I was on the smae train as them the next day back to London 
smile emoticon
I remember bringing the 12" of Love Will Tear Us Apart and Blue Monday to the local Youth club disco and the DJ playing it. I remember being slightly tipsy on my can of Tennents Lager... At the time, my favorite track was "New Dawn Fades" and it doesn't get old. Blue Monday was brilliant, and Temptation, Everything's gone green and their first album, Monument, was Joy Division 3. Their second album as New Order was the one they decided to do "Dance." It was released around the same time as blue Monday. "Power Corruption and Lies" in my opinion, helped shape Ibiza and what came after. And this track, which their record company wanted to release as the next single after "Blue Monday," is typical of a superb collection of tunes. they refused to let the record company release it as they had a "no singles off the albums" policy. Such were the seriousness of "independent" or indy bands in those days. commercialism didn't matter too much - and they was shown by the fact that Blue Monday - the highest selling 12" single of all time for quite some time, lost them money because of the cover design... anyway, enjoy "Your silent Face."



4  If I had any "Indy pop heroes," Ian McCullough came close. I loved the indecipherable lyrics he wrote. I loved his style and I thought his voice stood out amongst the unconventional voices of the eighties indy scene (Robert Smith, Morrissey, Bernard Sumner etc...).
I loved the genius of the Echo and the Bunnymen music. It was mad stuff, even in the sea of madness that was serious Indy pop in the eighties. Nothing sums all of this up than today's UN-Christmas tune, The Killing Moon (All Night Version). I used to play this loudly and stand in my room with my stereo speakers pressed against my ears, getting lost in the layers of strings, guitar and every other synthesised and real musical instrument. I had my hair cut short at the sides and messy, curly, bushy at the top. I bought suits and baggy black trousers. I tried the "eighties beatnik poet" look, but could never, ever reach the coolness of the Bunnymen in the "Bring on the Dancing Horses," or the enigmatic-ness of "The Cutter," etc. I was never enigmatic or cool. No matter how much I wanted to be or tried!
Never meet your heroes.
One day while in a bookshop in Glasgow, Ian McCullough was doing a talk on his new book. He insulted a member of the audience. He picked on a working class guy, whose look was scruffy, but probably because of his economic situation, which was very different from McCullough's, who became rich because of fans like this. McCullough was scruffy in a mod style green coat, jeans and white shoes- but hey, he could afford to look scruffy, and unconventional... "and all of his untidiness had probably been bought that way, for a small fortune," I thought as the guy he had insulted looked embarrassed.
I've since forgiven McCullough as I found out he has aspergers and actually some of his indecipherable lyrics are describing how he thinks.
I have recently bought and loved The Bunnymen's new album, Meteorites" - a brilliant return to form (not that, in my opinion, form ever left them!)
Enjoy, The Killing Moon, "All Night Version" loudly...


5  I was never a Duranny. Nor a big Spandau Ballet fan. I prefered ABC and the Lexicon of Love album at the time (a guilty pleasure as I saw myself as a post punk kinda guy).
Both groups, however, did release at least a couple of good tunes in my opinion. Duran Duran had three great songs - two of them from their comeback album in 1993, nicknamed "The Wedding Album" and both of those tracks (Ordinary World and Come Undone), out around the time I decided to change my life, give up my job and go back to school, bring back great memories. Ordinary World is particularly poignant for me for personal reasons, with the lyric, "Where is my friend when I need you most, (Gone away)." Heady times.
But, just beating those tracks is my UN-Christmas song today (see previous posts for others) "Save a Prayer."
This is for a number of reasons.
The first being the time it was released, coinciding with me leaving High School and starting out into the world and secondly for the recent dreadful Paris massacres.
The song brings back memories of the in between time. The time when I was supposed to start coping with the adult world and also the teenaged rebellion, discovery and fun. It reminds me of tentatively stepping into nightclubs, pubs and carryouts outside. It reminds me of my cousin, Amanda Griffiths wedding and taking a notion of my second cousin Lisa Jayne Harriswho was having none of it... lol, and it reminds me of Ian Davison , my cousin in Australia.
There is little reasoning behind these association, but I suppose music, hormones and place and time always come together. It was a time of life when you feel all around you is important, difficult, and against you, but you are free to explore and experiment. You realise as you board the rat race, those years are short and oh so important because it is when you experience real freedom, but have no idea what to do with it (as a working class person, I suppose).
It also reminds me of Andrew Ewart, who wrote a review of the album for the school magazine (and a piece on the Jam).
And more recently, I saw the performance of the Eagles of Death Metal with Duran Duran, on TFI Friday, just days before the dreadful massacre of a lot of their in the Bataclan.
I have no idea of its lyrical worth, I know the words but have never really thought if their meaning. My experience of some music can be at the sound level primarily-this is one of those tracks. But I suppose a lyric about prayers etc, an emotional "sound," and a video set in troubled, but beautiful Sri-Lanka is apt as a song on some level, as a song for the families of the victims.
Save a Prayer.


6  In the late eighties, at the end of my teenaged years, I was still rebelling. It was a time not unlike between childhood and teenaged life, when some of my friends were moving on, but I wasn't ready.
At that time, I was working as a Specifications Clerk in a shoe factory in Northern Ireland. Like everyone that age, work filled my head and it got in the way of life, which to me, was the weekends in Belfast, in Gowdys in Banbridge, in the Coach, etc. But to escape, I really kicked out and met the world.
More important to me than making money, was using it to party. And along with Madeline, Una, Patricia, Paula, Alison, Toronto Kathryn, Paul, Alan, Alan, Coral, Charlotte (Charley), John, Andy, Alex, Colin, and many others, I did that.
In my "flying Strada," I, to quote Toronto Kathryn, "Had some fun!" in Belfast, Dublin, Donegal (towns all over Ireland, I suppose!), Scotland (in a mad tour with Paul in 1988), Ibiza and Gran Canaria.
Paul was someone I can't really remember how I met. A strange guy, older than me, with an interest in art and obscure music, like me.
But when he met Patricia, I met someone who was on the same path as me of drunken madness and wildness.
Patricia and I partied beyond Paul. When he went home, I partied with her into the light of the morning.
And we partied to music that smoke filled rooms of people discussing politics, art, music and odd stuff seemed to inhabit, to lounge and to marvel at Patricias energy and beauty. We ended up in places to this day, I have no idea where they are, discussing things I probably will never remember!
The music was cool, subversive and sometimes pretentious.
Classical stuff, overtures; sixties hippy stuff; my Velvet Underground stuff; Only Women Bleed; Leftfield stuff; seventies prog; loads of punk, post punk, Morrissey and trippyness; Come Up and See Me and dancing in Circus Circus to Wonderful World, and falling, laughing out onto the street, seeking an early morning newsagents for Embassy Regal, crisps and a jar of coffee and collapsing, totally smashed onto Patricia's couch.
We loved The Doors. From their pop stuff through to their bluesy stuff. Jim was a hero, the perfect hero, dead and frozen in his rebellious, Che/Elvis iconography.
Hyacynth House was a beautiful leaden skied hangover song to sit in a Smokey kitchen, eating bacon sandwiches and recounting the madness of the day before, because our partying was not restricted to the dark hours! Patricia was a "brand new friend."
Un-Christmas Song today, for all of you hung over Christmas party goers...The Doors, Hyacinth House.


7  Today's UN -Christmas song is from 1978. 
I was 12 and I was coming to the end of my childhood and in to my, what are now called "tweens."
This song reminds me of the wee gang I ran around with, Mickey Neeson, Mark Anderson, David Anderson and Paul Jackson.
Mickey lived in quite a big terraced house, with four levels. He had a big family. His mum and dad owned a couple of shops in the town, one of them sold TV's and other electrical goods.
We used to ask for the big boxes and one of the things we did was to make slides out of them (loads of us would cling on to the edge of the cardboard and then slide down a steep grassy hill).
But best of all, we also created "Newtown," in an old outhouse at Mickey's house.
We spread the collapsed boxes and drew roads on them and we asked Donaghy's shoe shop for old shoe boxes (Mrs Donaghy told us we were "very enterprising" when we told her what they were for).
Newtown had lots of characters in it. But there was a great lesson on inflation and monopolies. Mickey had a character called "Bill the Mechanic," who sold the petrol and as the whole thing was centred around us playing with our toy cars (my favourite being the VW Beetle I had painted with model paints to look like Herbie), all the toy money we made went to him. Money became valueless very quickly as we made more and more of it to but petrol and gave Bill fix our cars after car chases ala "The Dukes of Hazard."
The song reminds me of those times, because along with Mud, ELO and Showaddy Waddy, it was a favourite of the wee gang.
The other thing this song reminds me of was Aldergrove airport (the,International airport in Northern Ireland) and the increasing security that seemed to appear each time we went. Although the song is very much railing at the airport, it always reminds me of flying off to Blackpool or Majorca when I was little. A portal to different lives and way of being. Holidays... When the family really came together...
Enjoy "Airport."