Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yes men from south of the border

The days of portraying pro-independence Scots - sometimes called 'Nats' - as anti-English have more or less gone. These days though, you're more likely to have the likes of the 'Poison Dwarf' of New Labour, Brian Wilson rolled out to argue the... 'positive' case for the Union?

Maybe not then. His latest outpouring of bitterness in Da Hootsmon mainly argues that working class Scots are much the same as working class English.

So far, so good. Shame he doesn't extend his logic to proposing that Ireland applies to be ruled from London once more. Or are the Irish working classes different somehow? Hell, why not get the French working classes ruled by David Cameron and William fckng Hague as well?

It's an obvious point that's been made before but surely to be internationalist you first need to add your own nation to the mix?

Let us stand in solidarity with the poor of England. But where does Scotland being ruled by London-based millionaires fit into this?

Here then are three progressive Englanders who very much welcome Scottish independence. Just don't expect to hear their views in the West Highland Free Pravda anytime soon.

Ken Loach, filmmaker

If I had the change to be independent from the Tory-Liberal-New Labour bunch, I 'd jump at it. Scotland has the right to hold any referendum it likes. The English ruling class are such dyed-in-the-wool imperialists that they can't conceive anything can happen without your approval. But I think: go for it. Other colonised countries have asserted their independence.

Billy Bragg, singer-songwriter

Jaz Coleman, composer and frontman of Killing Joke

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Black Dwarf, the Unionists and their socialist economics

The 'YES' campaign's launch this week was greeted with the familiar gurning by those who would have us believe that Scotland 'cannae do it'. Apparently we never did nothing and never will. We need London rule to keep the wolf from the door. Though ironically, as Tristram Hunt spelled out in his recent 'debate' with Irvine Welsh on Paxman, Scotland should seek to be the tail on England's wolf as it prowls the world stage inspiring fear and awe in 'lesser' nations. Without Scotland, England would be a rather strange looking wolf whereas Scotland would only be a small nation minding her own business.

Like Norway or Denmark perhaps?

A Black Dwarf reader.
The whinging in Scotland though came chiefly from Alastair Darling whose first salvo in 'the positive case for the Union' was that a recent Unionist-sponsored poll showed that support for independence was 'only' 33%.

Who is this man Darling? Some may have forgotten that he is Labour's ex-chancellor and is still a sitting MP despite his long bouts of silence. More interestingly, he is an ex-Trotskyist. For those who have forgotten what that is, perhaps it is best illustrated by the fact that had he not forged a successful career in the Labour Party of Great Britain, he more than likely would still be manning a stall on Easter Road, awash with Maoist, leftist and Stalinst pamphlets, defending the policies of North Korea to the hilt. Worse still, he would probably still be wearing that beard. Aye, the one that Labour's PR team told him to lose if he wanted to be taken seriously by middle-England's Tory-voters and the Sun. It is rumoured that Murdoch's empire was about to pillory him as a Suttcliffe lookalike who would take a similarly violent approach to the UK economy.

Vote 'No'. Or else.
As his ex-comrade, George Galloway, reveals:
“When I first met him 35 years ago,” Galloway states, “Darling was pressing Trotskyite tracts on bewildered railwaymen at Waverley Station in Edinburgh. He was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, whose publication was entitled the Black Dwarf.
Politically speaking though, his blood is neither red nor black but quite blue and not only because he had the privilege of attending Musselburgh's uber-posh private school, Loretto. This from his spiel on Wiki:
Alistair Darling was born in London[1] the son of a civil engineer, Thomas, and his wife, Anna. He is the great-nephew of Sir William Darling, who was Conservative MP for Edinburgh South (1945–1957). He was educated in Kirkcaldy, and the private Loretto School,[2] Musselburgh, East Lothian, then attended the University of Aberdeen where he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B). He became the President of Aberdeen University Students' Representative Council.
Before joining the Labour Party at the age of 23 in 1977, Darling was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, the British section of the Trotskyist Fourth International.[3] He became a solicitor in 1978, then changed course for the Scots bar and was admitted as an advocate in 1984. He was elected as a councillor to the Lothian Regional Council in 1982 where he supported large rates rises in defiance of Margaret Thatcher's rate-capping laws and even threatened not to set a rate at all.

Currently, he is seeking to forge a Unionist alliance with other parties and groupings like the Tories, the Lib Dems, UKIP, Tax Payers' Alliance and presumably even the BNP and Orange Order.

He is also being ably supported by Labour's new 'tour de force' of Scottish politics, Kezia Dugdale. She claims that she was 'surprised' to be elected to the Scottish Parliament and sure enough her few bizarre pronouncements to the media in an attempt to raise her profile tell of someone who is still befuddled.

Hey Kezia, guess what?
In fact, one of Kezia's first rants was against BBC Alba being given a slot on Freeview! Anti-Scottish? Not her! She was apparently standing up for her many constituents who were now going to lose the means to access radio programs like 'Gardening Hour' on their TV set! Her maiden speech to the Scots Parliament was somewhat rambling - she claims to have only recently discovered the blight of child poverty in Scotland and was shocked to find out that some unemployed youths 'hate the police'.

Poverty it seems, and especially child poverty, was unknown during the salad days of Labour rule.

Strange too that Kezia also claims that free prescription charges are 'right-wing' policy on the part of the SNP. Presumably then selling schools and hospitals to PFI pirates, Labour's illegal wars, stockpiling of WMDs at home, courting of rich businessmen (mind Ecclestone anyone?) and tuition fees are hallmarks of the kind of socialism that Alastair 'Black Dwarf' Darling used to champion back in the day.

Which brings me to those 'socialist economics'. As my partner hails from the former DDR, this something that I've learned about in recent years. Those 'Eastern Bloc' nations used the state's wealth to provide jobs for the people, irrespective of whether the items produced were in demand. Hence stories of 'shoe mountains'.

This is exactly the policy which all the main Unionist parties are following when they advocate the maintenance of nuclear bases on the Clyde and the construction of yet more aircraft carriers et al.

Their are some obvious points arising from this. Seems as if the Tories are happy to go socialist when it comes to war. In the case of Labour, what happened to making ploughshares from swords? Scottish Labour must be more devoid of wit than I first thought if it's beyond them to see that the naval bases and construction yards of the Clyde and Forth could be used for more progressive and peaceful means.

Why not a more modern play of words on the old 'shoe mountain' imagery? Wave turbine mountains? Cheap public transport mountains? Reforesting Scotland mountains? Hospital mountains? Non-PFI school mountains?

'Yes' is only the beginning.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hearts and Hibs - those celeb supporters!

Its the most interesting Scottish Cup Final for a long time. The media are having a field day. To be honest its refreshing to have something different to Rangers' financial corruption and impending meltdown and Neil Lennon's incessant whinging.

Some attention has been paid to Hearts and Hibs' respective 'celebrity' supporters. Tocasaid would like to join in albeit from a different angle. Which celebs are most punk? The reasoning for this lies in the claim by millionaire stadium-rock guru (!!!) Bruce Findlay in the recent 'We Are Hibernian' book that Hearts' fans are 'establishment figures' and Hibs' fans are naturally 'anti-establishment'. Are all Hearts' fans - including myself - sinister right-wing Masonic types and all Hibs' fans cool boho types who strictly adhere to the laws of political correctness?

Let's find out...

Irvine Welsh
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: writer of Trainspotting and other classics, filthy and funny prose
Punk points: 9/10

Ken Stott
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: actor of the 'gritty and Scottish' mold, Rebus
Punk points:  6

The Proclaimers
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: penned the classic 'Letter to America', some other good ones and a lot of pseudo-country crap
Punk points:  5

'Thatcher you c...'
Wattie Buchan
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: lead singer of 80's street punk heroes the Exploited, lyrically 'uncomplicated' but he hates Thatcher and has led an extreme rock 'n roll lifestyle for decades now.
Punk points: 10

John Leslie
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: ex Blue Peter presenter and alleged sex-pest turned property developer
Punk points: 1

Mark E Smith
'A Lagavulin please'
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: founder of legendary Manchester post-punk indie rockers and heroes of the student union, the Fall, a working-class member of the SWP, whisky aficionado
Punk points: 9

Dougray Scott
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: actor of the dark and brooding type
Punk points: 5

Alex Salmond
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: well... he's the man with the plan for our nation - hope it works out
Punk points: 7 (on account of his unsettling of the London establishment and Eton old boys' network)

Eric Milligan
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: ex-Labour Provost of Edinburgh, debauched and enthusiastic arse licker
Punk points: 0

John Gibson
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: bigoted Evening News columnist of the right-wing shock-jock type, Tory bastard, hates Gaelic speakers
Punk points: -10

Ronnie Corbett
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: comedian of some renown, rumoured to be a Tory
Punk points: 1

Fish, 'these colours run'

Fish/ Derick Dick
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: somewhat pompous ex-singer of prog-rockers Marillion, supports Scottish independence
Punk points: 4

Alan G
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: guitarist of Edinburgh street punks, the Happy Spastics, Lochend anarchist and anti-fascist
Punk points: 9

Andy Murray
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: tennis player, known to 'bottle it' when on the verge of something great, likable guy otherwise
Punk points: 5

Chris Hoy
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: multi-gold medal winner at cycling, went to posh school though
Punk points: 4

Stephen Hendry
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: one of the best ever in the 'exciting' sport of snooker, quiet man, went to Dalkeith High School
Punk points: 5

He's a knight.
Sir Elton John
Team: Hibs
Notoriety: was given a Hibs' top after his 'storming' Easter Road gig a few years back. Seems like Hibs are his 'candle in the wind' of Scottish fitba.
Punk points: -1

Team: Hearts
Notoriety: Spanish singer of Berlin based rock band Frogcircus, lived in Gorgie Road
Punk points: 3

Frightened Rabbit
Team: Hearts
Notoriety: kind of cool and hirsute indie rockers from the Borders, take their music to all corners of Scotland
Punk points: 6

The science would seem to suggest that Hearts' take the prize. That leaves the Hibs' celebs to enjoy their runners up Simple Minds box-set.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This is England Euro 2012

With the Euro championships not far off, the official song for Team GB England has been unveiled with a fun loving Chris Kamara bouncing around with a selected audience of nice clean England fans - no EDLers, home-grown Islamic fundamentalists or rioters here. The song itself is unremarkable save for the fact that the strangely mustachioed and effervescent Kamara looks like one of the guys from camp 70s disco kings Cameo. The Word Up though is that John Tewwy and the other duds will once again let down the nation that is in a state of perpetual expectation. Go on! Ming 4 England lads...

We're ready for the Euro boys.

Perhaps though, in this age of MPs' expense scandals, corrupt or incompetent bankers, inner city riots and mass phone hacking by journos close to Blair and Cameron that something a bit more gritty should be chosen to represent this green and pleasant land (forget about industrial graveyards like Consett). Meanwhile in Alba, Craig 'nothing up front' Levein has lined up some glamour friendlies against Papua New Guinea and a reconstituted Libya to prepare Scotland for the next World Cup campaign. At least on the smaller stage, no-one notices us fail anymore...

Monday, May 14, 2012

When opposites collide: Welsh and Hunt

This caught my eye over on the good ship Bella Caledonia. Watch it. Can you spot the nationalist?

Irvine Welsh spells out the problem for some lefties and ex-lefties like Labour. The likes of Welsh and many ordinary Scots want no truck with a big beefy nation that strides the 'world stage' like the school bully. We just want to get on with our lives and want the right to prioritise our needs and those of our community. As James Kelman recently said, 'Scottish independence is about self-determination.'

Scotland's history like that of many other nations has its fair share of fighting, especially amongst each other. Sure, when the usurpers came, we kicked their soft southern/ hairy Norse/ bronzed Roman bottoms. Sometimes. But apparently, the need to be seen to be 'powerful' is all important to some.

But this is 2012. Empires are not cool no more.

No-one in Scotland really wants to be part of the big cock on the block.

Tristram Hunt does.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Are you Mom enough for administration?

In the frei market, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

Equally, as anyone familiar with feeding kids au natural will know, sometimes tits are unevenly balanced and one will be visibly more laden than the other.

No prizes for guessing then which mammary has been keeping Glasgow Rangers FC afloat in recent months. Despite entering administration under the prudent and watchful eyes of Duff & Duffer, Rangers have been allowed to linger. Like a plague of ants immune to any and every white powder you may sprinkle around your house. Or cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust apparently.

The worse aspect of this sorry episode must surely be the cowardice of the SPL and all its component parts. Under the leadership of Neil Doncaster - and just where did he come from? - the once brave noises made about ending Old Firm domination of the Scottish game have withered away to a 'we need the revenue...'.

Rangers now have an apparent saviour - Green (!) - though all his bluster about his 'preference' for a Company Voluntary Agreement will more than likely come to nothing. Even if does, it could take weeks. So what about next season's SPL fixtures then?

The SPL and Kneel Down-caster should seize the opportunity to do the right thing for all:
  • firstly and most importantly, apply the same rules to all or to none
  • send Rangers packing to the 3rd Division - this would provide a financial boost for the Scottish game. I'd certainly love to see some 4 and 5 figure crowds in Division 3 as would Elgin, Albion et al
  • the increased competition for 2nd spot in the SPL would surely offset the loss of thousands of 'troublesome' Rangers' fans once or twice a season

Back to the other breast though...

...and unfortunately, there was no Neil Doncaster or Duff and Phelps to provide milk for the Hebridean firm of Uist Builders (UBC) who went under last week. UBC who had been operating for nearly 40 years and went into administration on May 8. Three days later, 240 out of 270 jobs were axed. The only part of UBC that may survive is their roofing subsidiary. Do I detect a shorter fuse for those 'teuchter builders fae the islands'?

Job losses are not to be taken lightly anywhere, but I wonder what percentage of Rangers' staff has been shown the door in the months since this debacle began?

Or are footballing giants more equal than others?

Today's empires, tomorrow's ashes.

* Tocasaid would like to thank the up and coming Glasgow-based graphic designer, A.McCoist, for the amended Time breastfeeding cover.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A letter to Johann Lamont

Dear Ms Lamont,

I am writing regarding the recent council tax cuts imposed on the people of Stirling and the employees of Stirling Council. It appears that the local Labour Party actually opposed their own proposal and united with the Tories. As an employee of Stirling Council and active trade unionist, I am deeply worried about the effects of this on public services and jobs in Stirling. Many schools are now without specialist teachers in the areas of music, art and Gaelic and I fail to see how these cuts will improve this situation.

It would appear that the average household in the Stirling area will save only £12 a year. Unfortunately, the impact on pay and conditions, jobs and public services will not be so slight.

As I understand it, Labour has in recent years condemned the council tax freeze as a threat to jobs and services. It makes me wonder how Labour imagine that uniting with the Tories to deliver tax cuts will protect our jobs and services.

Lastly, in view of this, do you still expect us to vote Labour this week?

I look forward to your reply.


Further reading:

The Tories like Labour's 'manoeuvre' though...

As to the photo above...

A confused driver has ended up trapping his car on the steps of a Paris metro station, after mistaking it for the entrance to an underground car park.
"There's a sign saying 'Haussmann Parking' right in front... I made a mistake," the driver - identified only as Johan - told the AFP news agency