Sunday, March 29, 2009


I don’t take a great interest in financial matters in terms of family spending and saving etc. the good lady takes care of that, today that changed and I now intend to sever all links with the Dunfermline Building Society, why you may ask am I piling on the misery for this beleaguered institution particularly when you consider that I have been dealing with them for 20 years. Today I watched the Politics Now show and my interest was taken by an article on the Dunfermline Building Society for rather obvious reasons, are our modest savings safe? etc.
As it turned out all savers and borrowers were being protected by Govt. action as are jobs which was reassuring for those of us involved, cue celebrations from the people at the ‘Dunfermline’? well no actually.

On came the Dunfermline Chairman a Mr. Jim Faulds; the leader of the guilty executives; to tell us why the Govt. had got it wrong, his solution was a better one and would allow the Dunfermline B/S to carry on as before with of course him still at the helm, clearly a man with no shame, it was everybody’s fault bar him, a belligerent arrogant wee barrow boy. It struck me that the people who are responsible for advertising the Dunfermline B/S must be good at their jobs if they can find investors with this guy in charge, they must have kept him well hidden.

When his wretched attempt at blaming others was over he then launched in to an act of revenge on those who disagreed with him, the Labour Govt. he burst in to a paean of praise for the mighty (spiv) Salmond he was ‘a wonderful man and an honest politician; he stood 4 square behind the Dunfermline, he gave them great help’. He went on to say; quite outrageously that he “would remember him and he hoped others would to ” meaning of course , vote SNP not Labour when the time comes. A bitter response based on nothing other than self preservation; an unedifying spectacle, I could only conclude that the business would be better off rid of someone with such a small minded and selfish outlook.

As I said above I will now write to the Dunfermline B/S and sever all links and I urge everyone else who agrees with me to do the same; when I am assured that this malevolent and self interested little man is history, then and only then will I reconsider my decision.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Here is an interesting little statistic for you and; anyone who is interested in the education war which is raging between the SNP and the people of Renfrewshire.

Renfewshire Council now has; under the SNP; the worst teacher/pupil ratio in Scotland.

It's nice to be kept up to date with how the SNP are looking after our children isn't it, I will come back to this later.


Today saw another round of the farce that is Renfrewshire's full council meetings, A couple of diamonds as always emerged albeit unintentionally, a cracker started the meeting when Cllr. Adam attacked Labour over it's attitude to the Scrutiny and Petitions Board. Cllr. Adam is relatively knew and perhaps a bit lazy and; inexplicably no one seemed to have told him that prior to being made the administration in May 07 the SNP had not bothered to turn up to a Scrutiny board for 7 years, I'm not making this up honestly. There was rather a stunned silence when I pointed this out to him and the SNP were off to a rather gaff strewn and bad tempered start, it's not great to kick off the full council by making a complete a**e of yourself but at least Cllr. Adam did not seem too concerned. He gave the impression that he did not get it, his colleagues around him though did get it, if looks could kill. He looked stupid and they were made to look equally stupid for not spotting the gaff in advance, I think he might have his comments looked at in advance in future, still I suppose we should to remind ourselves that some people voted for this guy.

Cllr.Adam started off bad and then went downhill; I moved a motion against the part privatisation of Royal Mail and the SNP sneakily got the hapless and gullible Cllr.McCartin to move an anodyne amendment which we accepted, they did this to hide their own record on privatisation and it would have worked OK except for the aforementioned Cllr. Adam who decided to break the fragile agreement and attack the Labour Party. This gave me no choice but to raise matters like the attempt by the gnats to privatise the highland forests, and I of course had to mention TNT. They are the private company who are tipped to get part of the Royal Mail if privatisation goes ahead. Unfortunately for Cllr. Adam and the SNP; TNT also took over Renfrewshire Council’s internal mail service when the gnats privatised it so, to clarify; the SNP don’t want TNT to get a part of the Royal Mail but, they took the work from their own staff and gave TNT their own internal mail contract, this is the same TNT Co. who are fighting in the courts of several countries to avoid paying the minimum wage the SNP can sure pick them eh wow! there’s more. I also mentioned the municipal golf courses in Fife which the gnats are also privatising and the leisure centre in Stirling which they have privatised by handing it to a private Co. who; wait for it; wait for it; also own the Stirling Council PPP schools estate. Metaphorically speaking this was the day that Cllr. Adam and his unintentionally hilarious colleagues ran out with forks when it was raining soup; laughing aside though they, ‘the SNP’ are the Renfrewshire Administration. And that is not funny.

The title of this piece refers to 4 items on the agenda which related directly to workers and their wages, rights and conditions. All 4 were subjects of motions from Labour in favour of workers everywhere including Renfrewshire Council. The motion concerning the Royal Mail was; as you have seen, carried in favour of the CWU members 1-0 to the workers. Then there was a Labour motion to pay our council workers a minimum of £7 / hr. In line with Glasgow’s Labour Administration. The SNP squirmed and twisted producing spurious arguments and shamefully and; all to predictably turned their back on their workers again; despite being reminded that they gave senior officers a rise of £11,000 a year, that made it (workers 1 – 1 SNP).

Labour also moved that the council in preparation for the oncoming building work to upgrade its houses employ more apprentices again the SNP talked and blustered and once again predictably let down working people by voting it down; that made it – (workers 1 – SNP 2). We then had a truly sickening exhibition of cowardice from the gnats, the Labour motion was to condemn the recently exposed scandal of firms blacklisting workers because of past activities in union and health and safety matters, we called for Renfrewshire Council to be more diligent and find out if any of these companies were employed by us and whether any of them were tendering for council work with a view to bringing them into line. The idea that the council should stand up for victimised and blacklisted workers brought a palpable shiver of terror to the serfs on the SNP? Lib. Dem. side of the chamber and this was also defeated by the administration that made the final score ( workers 1 – 3 SNP )

These are the people who call themselves ‘Scotland’s Party’ their Lib. Dem. allies spent the day as usual grovelling and staring at the floor, a gutless bunch with no grasp of decency and no position on anything, they came in last in the election and are now forming the administration, is it any wonder these opportunistic political frauds like PR?

Just a foot note - the behaviour of Cllr.McFee SNP seems to be getting quite erratic; I fear for him I really do, it now seems that he feels obliged to speak on every issue no matter what , and with such fake passion as well. My theory is that his disappearance in to what was for him the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ known to the rest of us as Holyrood has traumatised him, not being allowed to appear or speak in public for 4 years by his own side has left him with an overwhelming desire to make up for lost time so; no matter how banal; no matter how preposterous the line, the self delusion or the embarrassment we, all of us will have to suffer, the knowledge that his own colleagues feel the same is little comfort.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Labour Party was created by the Unions to represent the working class people of this country and it’s gains for working people are incalculable; it has a strong tradition of cooperation with the Unions and other socialist organisations and that continues today. Many trade union members are party members and many others go on to represent the party as elected representatives, the experiences of such people in shipyards, factories and building sites remains as invaluable today as it ever was, it is a tradition which must be maintained and strengthened, I’m delighted to see that that is still happening.

A good example of that tradition is right here on our doorstep in the shape of Jim Sheridan; Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Jim is a union man to his fingertips and knows the hardships which working people sometimes have to endure; he has got that “T-Shirt” having worked in the shipyards and suffered unemployment as well, he knows the score and can relate to people through his own experience. It comes as no surprise to find that Jim has just recently enjoyed success in bringing improved redundancy laws a step closer; meaning that a better deal for workers in hard times is making progress. A leading supporter of the Statutory Redundancy Pay (Amendment) Bill Jim was present on March 13th for its successful Second Reading in the Commons – a crucial step in the legislative process. If the Bill is enacted into law, it will increase the value of statutory redundancy pay by over £200 for every year that an employee has worked in a comany.

Speaking after the Bills Second Reading a delighted Jim said, “The value of redundancy pay has declined since its introduction in 1965, and is now capped at less than 60% of average earnings, meaning workers are losing out on thousands of pounds at the very moment they need it most. It is estimated that three out of every four workers facing redundancy today would benefit from a change to the redundancy pay level. Last week’s victory in Parliament was critical. We are now one step closer to making sure that hard-hit workers get a fairer deal.”

The Bill is also being backed by a coalition of the country’s leading trade unions and the Chair of the coalition, Tony Woodley (also the joint General Secretary of Britain’s largest trade union, UNITE) thanked Jim Sheridan for his continued support. “Workers take very close note of those who appreciate the difficulties they are going through and are striving to help them. Jim Sheridan MP is a true friend of working people. This campaign is a priority issue for the trade union movement. With the support of MPs like Jim we will win justice and deliver fair play on redundancy pay.” The Bill now awaits its Committee stage in the House of Commons, although trade unions and Labour MPs are urging the government not to delay and to make the changes in the Budget. Mr Sheridan also said, “In my constituency, just as in others up and down the land, workers are worried that they or someone in their family could be out of work. My priority is to do everything in my power to help people stay in work but I will also be fighting hard to make sure that where people do lose their jobs they are compensated appropriately and able to support themselves and their families. With the Budget looming there is a real opportunity before us to bring redundancy pay into line with the real cost of living. It would be tremendous to offer a helping hand to workers faced with tough times before the summer is out.”

This is a bread and butter issue and in the grand scheme of things at the moment with financial ruin and recession going on it might not register very highly with some people but, to many it is crucial; this is exactly why Labour MP’s like Jim Sheridan go into politics and it’s why we elect them, his priority is to the people whom he represents and many of them are vulnerable and in danger of losing their jobs; that is his priority and rightly so. Jim is fighting every inch of the way for people who need the strength of the union and Labour around them.

In the case of Jim Sheridan Labour MP; it does exactly what it says on the tin, “a union man and a Labour man” more power to him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


When the bombs were falling on Gaza a little while ago it was on our screens and in the news constantly; albeit the Israeli version of it; the BBC and western news agencies acquiesced with Israeli/American wishes/commands, you had to search for a channel like ‘Al Jazeera’ or ‘Press’ to get some kind of balance. This was a shameful episode for what was once one of the world’s great news agencies the BBC, people must make up their own minds about why this was allowed to happen, even in the face of horror and revulsion from millions of British people they did not break ranks with those powers, why was that I wonder?

Following the end of the carnage when the awful consequences of the Israeli aggression were becoming more and more difficult to hide and the world watched in disgust, when we thought the BBC could not get any lower they did. When plans to appeal to the country for aid for the Palestinians of Gaza the cowards at the BBC refused to show the appeal claiming that it would create an imbalance in their reporting of the war in Gaza. With 1,300 Gazans dead and Thousands injured, homeless, and hungry while 13 Israelis were killed; I think that someone had already created an imbalance.

British playwright Caryl Churchill wrote a well received play in response to the Gaza tragedy called “Seven Jewish Children” the play’s theme is taken from Jewish history and guess what; BBC radio bosses refused to broadcast it because they claimed again they were concerned about impartiality, what is going on here who is pulling the strings?

How do you make someone like George Galloway disappear; better still how do you make him disappear when he is actively seeking publicity; not only that; he is being helped by thousands of volunteers but he has still disappeared. Those who keep an eye on such matters will know that he has led a convoy across land to Gaza with hundreds of vehicles and volunteers to bring aid to the strip and highlight the plight of its people. Is it only me who finds it strange and not a little worrying that we have seen nothing and heard very little about their progress on this humanitarian mission? Why have we not seen it on TV why do the BBC not have a correspondent with them, who has decided that it will not be reported, like them or not no one can possibly claim that it is not newsworthy, what has happened to the BBC? Why was it not possible to see pictures of the earlier mercy boats travelling to Gaza in international waters to deliver desperately needed aid?
This is a news blackout by the BBC and someone is standing on it’s neck, Orwell used broadcasting house as the “Ministry of Truth” in his novel 1984 it would appear that the torturer O’Brien is still stalking the corridors with his cage full of rats and those who run what has now become a farce are cowering before him.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Renfrewshire is becoming a dark depressing place under the SNP; one of the things which took pride of place prior to the election of the SNP administration was our reputation for excellence in the field of music in our schools, St. Andrews, Grammar, Park Mains and the Renfrewshire Schools Orchestra have a reputation which is second to none along with the other schools in the area.

This success is now being put under threat by the SNP cuts, music tuition will now be supplied on a fortnightly instead of a weekly basis; this will cause job losses and will hamper the progress of young musicians. It is not a core subject but it shows the callous nature of the philistines who now run the council, music is an integral part of the school community, it’s a valuable component of what makes a school a lively and likeable place to be for everyone in the building. It really is a miserable dumbing down of our education provision to half it’s provision, can you think of a more backward action than this, what does it say to children, parents and the people of Renfrewshire, the soulless dour people in grey kilts are in charge and from now on there will be no more whistling on a Sunday, what a bunch of killjoys.

School pupils were protesting against these cuts at a schools concert last night and will do so again tonight, teachers however are not raising their voices because they are afraid to do so, this is intolerable. The SNP are acting like prison warders, teachers are not even allowed to say the obvious, that is that fortnightly tuition is not as good as weekly tuition, what are things coming to? The SNP should promise that teachers will not be disciplined for speaking their minds, is this the kind of Scotland that they want?

Yet again the SNP have gone very quiet over the matter of compulsory redundancies, surely staff are entitled to know about these things. Under labour we had a policy of no compulsory redundancies which we held for 27 years the SNP have significantly refused to give a similar guarantee to their workforce; this is the reality of the SNP in power.

I urge everyone who cares about our schools and the reputation for excellence which is being corroded by this SNP administration to protest by visiting the surgeries of SNP councillors to protest. People will now be beginning to see clearly why they decided to stop councillor’s surgeries from being advertised in the Paisley Daily Express, it’s precisely to prevent people taking them to task for educational vandalism like this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


What do Gerry Adams, Martin McGuiness, Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, Georges Jacques Danton & Lev Davidovich Bronstein (more recognisable of course as Robespierre, Danton and Trotsky) have in common? Apart from being revolutionaries of one kind or another they all have or have had trouble keeping control of the causes they espoused and fought for; in the case of Robespierre & Danton, these two former giant figures in the glorious French Revolution found that despite being great revolutionary leaders and famous orators, their former revolutionary comrades eventually got round to making a date for them with Madame Guillotine. In the Case of Trotsky; a fall out with Stalin led to a well documented fatal incident with an ice pick, In the case of Adams & McGuiness some comrades would like a similar fate to befall them, alas, it was ever thus.

Revolutions are notoriously difficult to control and ending them can be as difficult as starting them, think about Spain, Russia, while Ireland itself is a good example, 93 years after the Easter Rising the killing goes on and people live in strictly segregated areas, where wandering into the wrong place by mistake can get you shot.

Revolutions throw up heroic figures; opponents don’t agree of course about who is and is not a hero; both sides have their own and both write their own version of events, songs, poems and stories. Ireland has been at war of one kind or another for hundreds of years, mainly with Britain/England that’s why it was sadly no surprise to me when the latest killings took place. Unfortunately there are those involved who will always want to continue the fight because they will never be satisfied with compromise, some see them as heroes and some as fanatics.

When Michael Collins signed the partition agreement he was congratulated by someone at the meeting to whom he said “I have just signed my own death warrant” and he was correct as he was gunned down later by former comrades. If leaders in Northern Ireland of whatever stripe are genuinely surprised by events then I accuse them of naivety; my daughter has a very close friend from Belfast whom she visits; they spoke on the phone about these events and her pal said her mother had said despairingly “here we go again; I’m off to ASDA to buy a bin lid” black humour indeed but; an indication that she; and; I think many others knew that something like this could happen.

Like most others I hoped that the latest peace process would succeed and; to an extent it has; the overwhelming majority want it to hold as has been demonstrated by the public outcry, they have had a lengthy period of peace and they have had the chance to live relatively normal lives. Intractable enemies have been sitting round the table and learning to compromise, that is anathema to some, the immediate future will be volatile and edgy, we must all hope for the sake of sanity that the diehards will think again and fall in line with the huge majority that they claim to be fighting for.

Having spent a holiday last summer travelling around Ireland I am very sad indeed to think that the place I visited has been threatened yet again with public disorder and sectarian crime, last year it was lovely and the lack of tension was notable, clearly it is still a tribal society in the North but it was far more welcoming and good natured than before; the thought of it unravelling again is unbearable and must not be allowed to happen.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Thursday March 5Th. 03 to the Renfrew Ferry at Broomielaw with wee brother Brendan and nephew Steven; (both accomplished guitarists) to see a German gypsy jazz guitarist called Joscho Stephan. Many years ago the great guitar maestro Andre Segovia was introduced to the then 11 year old classical guitarist whom we know today as John Williams, the boy played and the great man declared “he has been touched by the hand of God” hyperbole? Of course it was but; tonight I got an inkling in to why people say such things. Along with some friends I have enjoyed this type of music for many years, my first interest was stimulated by my great friend Davie Spiers (Guitarist as well) who; many years ago took me to a concert by Stephan Grapelli and the Diz Disley Trio, this left me spellbound and I have been a big fan ever since. Grapelli was of course the jazz violinist who partnered the legendary Django Reinhardt in the “Hot Club of France” we saw Grapelli many times more as he played into his eighties, a great musician and true legend. Davie's dad John (Jazz Man & Pianist) had me in stitches once when; after listening to some pop group or other said "Reinhardt could make better f*****g music falling down stairs drunk with his guitar while wearing boxing gloves" a truly epic rant.

Joscho Stephan is the embodiment of that music and he does it more than justice. Over the years I have seen many fantastic guitar players play this exciting music, Disley, Denny Wright and Scotland’s own Martin Taylor to name a few and although I’m not an expert I have to say this guy in terms of Gypsy Swing Jazz is the best I’ve heard.

As we entered the hall my brother Brendan growled softly to me “that’s the b*****d there” as this unassuming young man assisted setting up the stage, a rare and heartfelt compliment from a lifelong player (Brendan) consumed by good natured envy; he was of course having a laugh but he was in awe of the young man. Joscho has reached the ripe old age of 25/26 and he is astonishing; he plays with a trio consisting of a brilliant base called Max Schaaf and a superb rythmn guitarist called Gunter who looks as though he could quite easily double as a bouncer but happens in fact to be his dad, Mr. Stephan.

The group had a stall with them selling CD’s and I reckon everyone who was there tried to buy one, they sold out; I got one which I’ve been playing since it’s superb. We had a front line table 2 yards from Joscho and sat bewildered by his talent and the apparent ease with which he mastered the most incredibly difficult pieces of fast flowing Jazz; the reaction from the Guitar buffs in the audience was sometimes spontaneous laughter at his virtuoso playing which he joined in with, we were in the presence of greatness, hyperbole right?

He is touring just now and I would urge anyone who likes Jazz or indeed just music and watching the best to try to catch him or; watch out for his name, you can ‘Google’ him or 'You Tube’ him and be prepared to be astonished, Joscho Stephan, remember the name

Sunday, March 08, 2009


The big question; the awful question; the one we all avoid; because revenge/retaliation is so strong in some cases that we don’t want to consider right and wrong is, how do we deal with people who commit heinous crimes. Some crimes are so horrible that we sometimes can’t bear to read about the details; highest on this list of crimes are those committed against children and once again we find ourselves confronted with the awful; brutal murder of an 18 month old infant boy Brandon Muir from Dundee; by a drug addicted young man called Robert Cunningham who was his drug addicted mother’s partner. I call him a young man and not a monster and call her his mother and not a monster as the tabloids do, everyone knows that young people like this are part of our society, they; and the tragic broken child are great news for them. “If it bleeds it leads” that’s the motto of the gutter press who will embark on a campaign which will be predictable, it will blame in no particular order; the police, the doctors, the social work dept. it will demand corporal punishment, capital punishment and every other reaction they can come up with, what they will not do is attempt to prevent such things happening in the future, what they will do is maximise sales and others will “chase the ambulance” in a competition to look tough, sadly, very sadly we have been here before, and we seem destined to come back; why? because we don’t care enough to do something about it, that’s why.

Like it or not we have a legal/penal system which is charged with dealing with these cases and handing out punishment to the guilty; whether we think that the system is harsh enough is not an issue; the guilty should be punished and rightly so; in such a case the punishment will be harsh and rightly so but, it must always remain the job of the authorities to decide on the guilt and the punishment, not vigilantes inside or outside of prison. The thought of the life that the child must have led is unnerving and pitiful; I ask myself what kind of existence is it when a young couple can behave in such a way, how can they live like that? How do they become desensitised to such an extent that they are capable of this kind of behaviour, we of course could never descend to such a level could we? And here gentle reader is the part that my enemies have been waiting for, I won’t disappoint them, I will be consistent and say yes we are capable of such things; the reason? You will be ahead of me by now, the reason is circumstances, very few; if any people are born evil; that’s what I believe. The question which sticks in my mind here and I wish it didn’t is; if this young couple had come from different backgrounds, if they had followed a route which began in a stable loving home; to school and then university and on to good jobs, a nice home and stable loving marriage would they have done this to the child? Some people can answer that quickly and firmly by saying their backgrounds are nothing to do with it, I can’t and won’t because that’s the easy way out, no one to blame but them right? wrong.

I’ve been dealing with young people like these for approx. 10 years since I became a councillor and I long ago formed the opinion that we are a hypocritical society. There are lots and lots of young couples like these two and many of them are never more than a couple of hours or minutes away from some kind of catastrophe; society looks the other way and hopes that social services will continue to keep sticking plasters over the lives of those who have no stake whatsoever in normal society, for these people Thatchers maxim of “no such thing as society” has a cruel and unintentional meaning to it.

So then; punish them; make it tough they deserve that but, don’t try to tell me that there won’t be another case along shortly because I can promise you that there will be. There is a conveyer belt of them capable of unspeakable actions because they don’t care, that’s the world they live in, it’s the world we live in as well, just not at the same address, not on the same estate.

The horrible truth of the matter is that had the child lived and become an adult he might have grown into someone like his mother’s partner, lots of his friends as well face that kind of future, these are the facts folks, this is the world that we; all of us live in, we; all of us sustain it, we created it, people created it. When a child grows up in such an environment he/she might some day say “I’ve got F**k all; I’m uneducated, I’ve no job, no money, nowhere to stay, mums on drugs, dads in jail, I’ve got no future so, why should I give a f**k, I will drink or shove stuff up my nose to feel better and; if I fall in the river and drown, who gives a f**k, this is the society we live in, no point lying about it because tragic young victims like Brandon Muir will continue to come along and rub your nose in your own lies.

Either we genuinely start to improve life chances for everyone or we can resign ourselves to periodic outbreaks of synthetic rage and hypocritical breast beating about the monsters in our midst, the truth is that we know that they are there and we know how they got there, we also know the long term solution, can we grab it?

Saturday, March 07, 2009


25 years is a long time to some people but; to those who have been betrayed in the most bitter of circumstances it is the blink of an eye; when serious trouble stalks a community and people rely on each other for their very existence there is no hiding place for anyone; it becomes a shared battle to survive and everyone relies on each other. When that reliance, that solidarity, that commitment is broken by the treachery of members of that community it follows those involved on both sides to the grave and IMO it deserves to. The 25 years is of course a reference to the Coal Dispute and its effect on mining villages and their families and on those who scabbed, a truly awful word and one which does indeed follow some to the grave.

I was involved along with my union branch led by my younger brother Hugh in supporting the miners; we ‘adopted a mining village’ called Oakley in Fife everyone donated money every pay day along with any other thing which could be used by the strikers including food, clothing etc. We went on picket lines and attended demonstrations and learned as we went along about what political struggle meant and the importance of solidarity, that’s why I will never forgive the miners who broke ranks and scabbed and they will always be the lowest of the low to me. We stood by the striking miners and their families to the bitter end and they eventually returned to work with heads held high, we have the evil Thatcher to thank for politicising so many people.

The media tried everything they could to harm the strikers from showing doctored news film which showed the strikers in a bad light to campaigns against their leaders mainly Scargill, who was vindicated by the end because his every prediction was proved accurate. The Sun had him a millionaire with union funds and living in a Spanish bungalow all, c**p of course, they also refused to print the fact that the leaders accepted no wages for the duration of the strike. Scargill proved to be a true leader; courageous, loyal and utterly trustworthy, lionised by the members and rightly so, Nottingham miners by contrast will bare the shame of their actions for life, they have made Nottingham a byword for cowardice and treachery.

Neil Kinnock was destroyed by the strike and he deserved to be so; his refusal to become involved with him coming from a Welsh mining constituency and being Labour leader exposed him as a coward and a charlatan, he sat on the sidelines and let his people go under with never a whimper from him; his position was then rightly untenable. Many people today still look back at these events with bitterness myself included; many lives, families and communities were destroyed and the memories remain painful but, as I said before we learned a lot.

At the end of the struggle we were invited to the miners club in Oakley Fife for a celebration of the events (celebration seems a strange word but that’s what it was) and we were treated like royalty, the miners and their families had only known us through posters going up every week from our branch in the middle of the village, they all wanted to meet my brother Hugh who had been their contact throughout , he was introduced at the event and he received the most electrifying, emotional standing ovation I have ever witnessed, he and I and our union members were speechless, yes even me, completely humbled, a heart rending experience.

I hope the memory of what took place never fades; I hope that what the miners did and what the union and working class movement did at the time is remembered for ever. Quite simply we can’t afford to forget, the lessons are too important.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


It’s the Tory conference circa 1992 and the Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley one of the new breed of right wing reactionary Thatcherites is working the crowd like it’s a Nuremberg rally; he performs a pastiche of Gilbert & Sullivan’s song from the Mikado “I’ve got a little list of those who would not be missed” his version has the following line “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue” This was the Tories at their populist worst. Remember Edwina Curry brandishing handcuffs from the platform and screeching like one of the women at the foot of the guillotine; knitting and cheering to the sound of the Tumbrels, it was that kind of atmosphere. Single mothers were always one of the Tories favourite easy targets and it appears that today they still present a soft option for aspiring politicians with ambition, ambition’s the thing of course that did for Julius Caesar so; step forward Tom Harris Labour MP for Glasgow South, an apparent admirer of the opinions on single mothers held by the right wing Tory Peter Lilley, yes you read that right I said a Labour MP Mr. Harris is a Labour MP.

The Evening Times records him thus “young mums are a drain on society - teenage mothers living off the state are nothing other than a catastrophe - teenage girls should not be collecting benefits or having under age sex – they make no effort to achieve any qualification” It appears that this obdurate outburst came about as a result of Mr. Harris’s wife being put through the ordeal of having a teenage mother put in the next bed to her in hospital after both had given birth. Can you imagine the horror of it? The trauma of having a young girl and her new born infant put in a bed near you, we can only try to imagine what the young mother and child must have been like to provoke such an outburst, at least we can be grateful that Mrs. Harris and baby Harris survived this ordeal.

Mr. Harris and I are members of the same political party; Labour; and I have said often that it is a broad church Mr.Harris certainly proves that OK, I don’t know him and I don’t know why he is a member of the Labour Party but I know why I am. I am a member because I’m a Socialist and that means that my political stance is to help those less well off in society such as single teenage parents not to condemn them and moralise about them in an arrogant outburst of superiority. His remarks could have easily come from a Tory backwoodsman instead of from a Labour MP; he doesn’t make a single remark about how teenagers find themselves in such predicaments, no attempt to help; just condemnation, no comment about sex education or the treatment of women by our society either, as someone else once said “there is no such thing as society” right Mr. Harris? I wonder how you get on with members of your CLP. how did you ever get elected as a Labour candidate?

Raising a child is a difficult job; more so if you are a single teenage mother; N.B. it is very rarely ‘single teenage father’ Mr. Harris has nothing to say about that either, young mothers in such circumstances need encouragement and help not condemnation, like others who do not conform to what some like to call normal society like same sex couples, elderly siblings or teenagers on benefits they are all families. The idea that young girls should be punished by the removal of benefits because they have had a child is outrageous; it’s the world of the poorhouse; a Dickensian obscenity and the idea that a Labour MP is suggesting such a thing beggars belief.

To decent people everywhere; to young struggling single mothers everywhere, to people who love them and their children, to those who help and rally round them, to the vast majority of our fellow members of society, I want to say that Mr. Harris does not speak for the Labour Party, the day that he does on such matters will be the day that I leave.

Monday, March 02, 2009


The (wee spiv) Salmond called the short sellers and bankers “spivs and speculators” but; he appointed one of them to lead his economic advisory team Sir George Mathewson, George thought it unnecessary to tell his fellow (spiv) about his other life; ‘when thieves fall out eh’ but there’s more. The busy Mr. Mathewson it transpires is also avoiding paying tax by using the tax haven of the Cayman Islands to run his hedge fund businesses; wee Alex (the spiv) was left out of that loop as well. He chairs a company called ‘Old Oak Holdings’ their tax avoiding Cayman Islands exploits were described by US president Obama as “the biggest tax scam in the world” I’m not bad at pouring scorn, particularly on the disingenuous Janus faced spiv that is Alex Salmond but; on this occasion I will defer to Andy Kerr Labour MSP describing Mr. Mathewson “Here we have a short-selling, big-bonus-bragging, RBS-super-salaried, tax-avoiding adviser to the first minister” who would have thought that big Andy could be so eloquent.
Places like the Cayman Islands are the most immoral countries there are , no questions asked; they will launder anyone’s money; an irresistible lure for people like Mathewson and his like, I reckon Salmond will regard him as a hero. He (the spiv) continues to sing the praises of Mathewson, they deserve each other. Last week Salmond (the spiv) trying to catch the popular mood stated that capping banker’s bonuses was a good thing while Mathewson called it “grossly simplistic and populist“ no not Alex (the spiv), the capping proposals, do try to keep up.

A cartoon caption the other day showed the (wee spiv) with Hilary Clinton with Hilary saying “I’ve been to Scotland 3 times” and (the spiv) replying “so has Sean Connery” I wonder how much Scotland’s greatest patriot and Royal groveller Connery saves in taxes by living away from his beloved Scotland? Neither Salmond (the spiv) nor Connery the cod actor are all that concerned about paying taxes in Scotland they are quite happy to use each other. It remains a mystery to many people that there is still no one in the SNP prepared to show any dissent, Mathewson, Trump, Souter, Connery, Local Income Tax and the rest of the falsehoods and still the rank and file quiver and hide; what will it take? Even the sidelining of their ‘raison d’ĂȘtre’ independence can’t get them off their knees; it used to be “free by eighty three” then 2,003, its now “freedom the noo cause it’s 3002”

Meanwhile back in SNP Renfrewshire Council a meeting is being held which will decide whether the council is allowed to engage in a 90 day consultation with it’s work force over huge radical plans to change the way they work, bringing in more flexible working and cutting out allowances as well as wages and jobs, the consultations carry a caveat stating that a failure to agree will mean the council sacking those dissenters and re employing those who agree. No this is not a banana republic run by some crazy general this Scotland under the SNP; this is Renfrewshire under the SNP. Some of those hardest hit will be librarians, the service most hated by the philistines of the nationalist movement; wage cuts of the order of approx. £300 / month will be hitting them if this goes through with no compensation and an insistence that they still have to work the same as before, this is the reality of voting SNP this is the party to the right of the Tories who support them.

This is the SNP who if you remember gave annual rises of £11,000 to senior officers while people in their own workforce were not earning that as an annual salary and surviving on benefits, this is the real face of nationalism and as I have said many times before there is more, much more to come.