Friday, February 28, 2014

Better Together, bankrupt never

After learning about Better Together's financial difficulties - see below - Tocasaid finally summoned up the courage to abandon the desire for self-determination and to discover the power of 'no!'. Therefore, Tocasaid has put its entire team of graphic-design whizzkids at BT's disposal to kick start their hitherto moribund campaign.

Remember folks - 'no' is a positive statement!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bowie 1 - Scotland 2

Bowie? Or Moss? Who wrote the words? I've never really been a Bowie fan and it would be petty of me to reveal that his shit-anthem 'Changes' makes my ears bleed just because he's apparently come out against Scottish self-determination. I'd like him to try and find Scotland on a map though.

The Brits has long been a sickening spectacle. Kate Bowie's wittering is nothing compared to the glories of the past. Glories such as KLF above upsetting the apple cart by playing on-stage with Extreme Noise Terror and then 'maching gunning' the audience with blanks.

No, some of the best voices to counteract Moss-Bowie's four words are English. Novelist Tony Parsons said, "Love David Bowie until the day I die but I can't help feeling that Alex Salmond would not make his case via Kate Moss dressed in a Babygro."

In the world of music, there are two answers to Bowie-Moss. First is Billy Bragg:
Now the singer-songwriter thinks the prospect of an independent Scotland throws up the chance of a New England – to borrow the title of one of one of his most famous songs from the early 1980s.
Almost a decade ago, English-born Bragg wrote the song Take Down the Union Jack – a typically tubthumping anti-monarchist political number about the end of the British empire – and now says that the only way England can politically “wake up” is if Scotland becomes independent.

However, Bragg’s comments about Salmond “putting forward a nationalism that’s inclusive and mature – something that we don’t have in England” – may provoke disdain from some on the English left who have long feared the prospect of Tory domination in Westminster should Scotland gain independence.

Bragg says: “There will be a political realignment if Scotland becomes independent. We won’t be British any more. We’ll be English.” But his calls for a party south of the Border in the tradition of the SNP, whom he says have shown the English left how it can be done, is probably the most controversial view offered by this Labour-supporting musician.

Bragg and Bowie both played in Berlin in the 80s. Only Bragg made it to the east though.

For music and attitude that's got more edge to it, you could turn to the infamous Angelic Upstarts whose singer Mensi - seen below in a documentary on Anti-Fascist Action - wrote recently on Facebook:
Im all for Scottish independence. I wish we could have north east independence. if Scotland got independence I think I would move there.

The last word, not on Scottish independence, but on the Brits itself comes from another Sasannach - not a derogatory term btw - Charlie Brooker...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Joe Strummer, Class War and Welsh language revival

Retro time. I recently had the good fortune to come across the welshnot site on which was a comprehensive interview with Welsh music man Rhys Mwyn.

Mwyn was one member of legendary Welsh-language punk band Anhrefn. Despite the English media not quite understanding why any band would want to use a language other than English as a medium, they enjoyed good coverage and were well respected. I saw them a few times in Edinburgh including at anti-Poll Tax fundraisers and supporting Joe Strummer and Oi Polloi on Class War's Rock Against the Rich date in Edinburgh.

After Anhrefn, Mwyn was involved in various projects involving well-kent names such as Super Furry Animals and Catatonia. This rise in confident Welsh-language rock music was subsequently labelled 'Cool Cymru'.

Myself and Ruairidh Polloi also managed to bring Mwyn's later techno project Land of My Mothers and rockers Gwacamoli to entertain students at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye. This opened the door for other 'alternative' acts to play at the Scottish language college including ska-punks the Newtown Grunts and Breton-language rockers Sarah.

Welsh language

We always sang in Welsh but it was never done to exclude anyone. And we didn’t think of ourselves as a Welsh language band – we were just a band who sang in Welsh.
It was something we would constantly get asked about in interviews but when it came to the music itself, I’m not sure how many knew, or cared, about the language.
Anhrefn was just loud, full-on music with guitars blasting; so nobody gave a shit about the language really. As long as they liked the noise.
Our record company, Workers Playtime, did once ask us to do a song in English and we told them politely to get stuffed – they gave up trying after that. I’m sure a lack of compromise did limit our success but we were never motivated by getting on Top of the Pops or any of that.

I particularly admire Anhrefn's politics. Are they anarchists, socialists or Welsh nationalists? Who knows and who cares? They took a pragmatic approach but involved themselves in various grass roots campaigns supporting anti-Poll Tax resistance, Welsh devolution and of course, the Welsh language. This is the kind of approach that some on the anarcho/left in Scotland could learn from - voting 'yes' in the forthcoming referendum is only a new beginning. It doesn't preclude the wider aims for whatever type of fair and progressive society you wish for in the future. Voting 'no' or not voting does nothing for no-one. Mwyn's views on Welsh politics, music and Scottish independence are detailed in the link below.

Celtic Connections indeed and here's hoping we can see more of them soon.

Rhys Mwyn: Go Ahead, Punk

Sunday, February 9, 2014


G - not for George, gorgeous or Galloway or even Gilleasbuig Aotrom but Gàidhlig. FilmG is a project aimed at stimulating the use of Scottish/ Gaelic by young people and communities through the medium of film. It's great.

Kids in particular love it - both creating and viewing. For learners of Gaelic or for those in Gaelic-medium education - it helps normalise the language. And the cost of it all is minimal. That means that yon wrathful god in the sky, the Taxpayer, won't be overly troubled by it. George Galloway costs us more and gives us less in return.

This year also sees a bright and cheerful entry from YesAlba in the community section. There's also a competition involved so get there quick and vote for it. Even better, learn some Gaelic and make your own entry for 2015.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Seems like victims/ scapegoats are much in demand. In Russia, it's gay people. In Spain, it's bulls, Basques and Catalans. In England, it's foreigners who wish to honour the place by migrating there. In Scotland, it's what we have left of our indigenous language.

The latest buffoon to lay into Scottish speakers in George Galloway. As buffoons go, this guy is one fucking balloon. A self-serving publicity junkie he has the same principle deficit as the Labour Party he was ejected from. Currently, he is the MP for Bradford West having generously volunteered his services to the Muslim community there. To say he represents them would be overstating it somewhat. He draws a wage.

He also attempted to get himself elected in Glasgow, not by going Muslim but by discovering his zeal for the rights, Celtic fans.

Perhaps if Scotland's Gaels had a large urban community then we wouldn't see bullshit like this.

I suspect that the po-faced leftist cult that runs the Horte Strausberg youth centre in Germany would find common ground with Galloway. Since they decided to ban Oi Polloi on the grounds of them singing in Scottish Gaelic they have managed to cobble together some kind of response and explanation for their actions.

Their response is bewildering, not least the heinous charge that Oi Polloi support 'cultural diversity'!

About 20 attendees debated for about an hour. In that process we realized that a part of us consider some of oi pollois culturepolitical demands as backwardly. And therefore do not whish an appearance of the band on our stage.
Why backwardly?
Oi polloi demands that oppressed nations or indigen collectives arise together against cultural imperialism. This way they want to defend diversity (my italics) in order to look collectively and folkish towards a better world. The primordial/ original should be rescued , the indigen languages saved. In our world only the guys and gals of the national party refer positive like this to folk and collective. We don´t want to participate on a europe of the fatherlands and on the europe of the capital neither (as a note for the black/white fraction)

The full response can be read here - in German and English. It isn't a surprise that many Germans in the comments section find it incredible that a band with a long history of anti-fascism and promotion/use of multi-lingualism is compared to a neo-Nazi political party! It is proof, as if it is needed, that the actions of a few self-important cranks who have too much time on their hands can spoil things for everyone.

George Galloway would surely admire their Orwellian take on internationalism and anti-fascism. 'Folk' who use and defend diversity are the real fascists! Hurrah!

See also:
Know Your Place – Gaelic and Elements of the Left
Report from the Galloway Roadshow in Edinburgh
RIC - Report from the Galloway Roadshow
Report from the Galloway Roadshow in Edinburgh
Report from the Galloway Roadshow in Edinburgh
Report from the Galloway Roadshow in Edinburgh

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gegen Gälisch: the new German purists

Incredible but true - punk band Oi Polloi have been banned from a 'culture centre' in Srausberg, part of the former DDR in Germany because.... they sing in Scottish!

To quote from the band:
 Those of you who saw our last post will already know that we were yesterday "banned" from playing our forthcoming gig at the Horte "Kulturzentrum" in Strausberg in eastern Germany for the incredible reason that we sometimes sing in Gaelic, one of the UK's minority Celtic languages. When we were initially informed of this we thought that it had to be some kind of joke. Sadly this was not the case. What we first heard from our friend who was dealing with the Horte was -" the conzert is caceled... The reason is that some guys in the venue don't know about your gallisch songs ... I know a stupid reason. I'm so sorry" . He then forwarded a text from one of the concert crew which said "beim plenum heute gab eine grössere debatte zwekk des gallischem wa sie singen.... die band leider nicht spielen kann..." or, in English, roughly, "At the meeting today there was a big debate with regards to them singing in Gaelic" and, when our friend asked what that meant, the reply was "that the band can't play". In the online discussion that followed our announcement about this some suggested that this surely couldn't be the real reason but today we were contacted directly by someone from the venue who is involved in organising concerts there and who stressed that he personally didn't agree with the decision but confirmed that the ban was a result of our singing in Gaelic. "With us was discussed about it and there were a few people in the house that simply could not understand why your . Sing songs in the language I personally tried to do everything .... but there was still bedencken of people in the house. The mind rested more on that you just do not understand why you use this language." Well, we use this language because we believe in respect for minority cultures and their linguistic human rights, we believe in diversity and multiculturalism and we stand in total opposition to discrimination against minorities. If you've got a problem with that then it's probably for the best that we don't play in your so-called "culture centre". Needless to say we're in the midst of trying to organise an alternative gig right now - many thanks to all those who have offered help with this. We reiterate that there can be no place for racism or discrimination against minorities in our scene. For diversity, multiculturalism, respect for minorities and a punk scene free of discrimination!

The plenum has spoken

The reasons behind the Horte Soziales Zentrum's aversion to a minority language from another nation are not immediately apparent. One reason maybe that they are racist. Incredibly, there are publicly funded 'youth' centres in Germany that do apparently cater for 'right-wing youth'. Another reason is that the po-faced automatons on the 'plenum/ committee' that polices the centre's events for linguistic purity may actually be far-left loonies. There is a so-called 'Anti-Deutsch' movement that has previously taken issue with Oi Polloi on account that they sing in different languages - principally Scottish and English but also in Finnish and German. It would appear that speaking Scottish Gaelic is 'too nationalist' and speaking German will 'make young Germans proud to be German'. Either they see a movement that forces an English language monoculture on everyone as liberating and in sync with their extreme anarchist/ communist agenda or they believe rock bands shouldn't sing at all.

Either way, the discontent at the plenum's ludicrous bit of discrimination has grown wings with Oi Polloi and others spreading news of it far and wide. Horte has an handy online contact form here.

Despite the po-faced derision of some who think that solidarity between 'minority' groups is Not Cool, I see it as entirely pertinent to ask, 'Would they cancel a concert by a foreign band who sang in...Basque/ Corsican/ Sorbish/ Sami or one of the plethora of Asian or African languages?'.

Whatever, if they really wish to combat 'nationalism' by expecting the diverse strands of human culture to conform to one Anglo-American linguistic worldview then they should expect to be reminded of the last guy who attempted such a 'solution'.

Nur eine Sprache? Geil!