Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Rise crisis continues as internal election results delayed

The crisis engulfing the Socialist Workers Party's hostile takeover of Scotland's most successful-ever socialist party is intensifying tonight as the group plunges into chaos amidst concerns over whether it will be able to make it into May's general election.

Having embarked upon its takeover of the SSP by promising the SSP membership that it was an electoral alliance, and specifically and categorically not a political party, it sneaked registration as a political party with the Electoral Commission through the week before Christmas. 

Embarrassingly for a group often derided as a gang of middle-class student politicians and wealthy Merchant City socialists, its registered address is a swanky flat in the exclusive Shawlands area of Glasgow, a magnet for students and the more discerning clubbers. 

The group, marketed as a bottom-up political party composed of "circles" who collectively make decisions, now has a "Leader". It also has a nominating officer - the polarising figure of Frances Curran who has attracted criticism from SSP members for attempting to hand the SSP membership list over to Rise, riding roughshod over the Data Protection Act, and who attempted a pro-Rise putsch against the SSP's popular co-spokesperson at the party's last annual conference, before abandoning it on the day. There appears to be no record of any vote ever being taken within the membership of either Rise or the SSP for either of these two exalted positions. 

Intriguingly, the registered Treasurer does not appear to be the actual Treasurer, the latter also being the person who counts the votes in a highly controversial selection for List places which has led to continuing chaos and anger in SSP branches in South of Scotland.

With Rise not yet managing to break above the 0% mark in any opinion poll yet, this would seem unimportant: yet the entire point of Rise was to hijack the SSP's increased public recognition from the independence referendum in order to sneak SWP people into Holyrood. The complete failure of Rise to register in the public consciousness has rendered this extraordinarily unlikely - such failure to elect even a single radical Left deputy despite the raising of our profile in the last three years must lead to the resignation of those of the SSP's Executive Committee for railroading this through against the wishes of the membership - but there is still jockeying for the top position on the Lists "just in case". 

h/t Yes Giffnock

Voting in most provinces closed at midnight on Monday the 28th December, yet on the evening of Saturday 26th December, Rise had already leaked the "winners" of the internal election to the Sunday Herald. Not a great surprise as the List leaders had been decided in a shabby backroom deal between the SWP types and the SSP leadership months previously. 

Previously, a potential perception of impropriety in that some of those counting the votes had personal stakes in those seeking election had led to crisis meetings between the SSP and the Rise leaderships. My understanding from very senior SSP figures tonight is that this crisis has intensified, with the remaining Rise-sceptic figures on the SSP EC extremely peturbed by news that many SSP members - and in at least two cases, entire branches - had been banned from voting in the Rise internal elections. 

In a curious development, these members and branches are exclusively Rise-sceptic ones, who could not be trusted to vote the "correct" way to ensure the List results rigged in the backroom deal would be achieved. 

The results of the elections, due out on Tuesday 29th of December, have now not been released as anticipated.

Separately, there is a brewing unpleasantness over Rise's merchandising section: the group has appropriated the "refugees welcome" slogan used by refugee charities and has printed it on merchandise which it is selling on its website at £6,99 a pop (the group is obviously not one for the low-paid worker, given the expensive membership fees and sky-high prices to attend its set-piece conference, at which only Rise-approved members are permitted to speak). At the time of writing, the group has not yet managed to respond to questions about whether the money raked in from appropriating the "refugees welcome" slogan will go to the refugees, or whether it will be pocketed by Rise for use in its campaign to catapult the SWP into Holyrood. 

Calton Books - the excellent radical bookshop based on Glasgow's London Road, next to The Barras which you should visit now - is selling "refugees welcome" merchandise, with every single brass cent going to Glasgow-based charities. Would that Rise follow suit. 

Rumours are swirling about mass resignations from the SSP in light of the continuing opacity and mendacity surrounding the Rise project; and the Radical Independence Campaign has confirmed that no money from its upcoming conference, organised by comrades in Aberdeen, will go to the struggling group. There are also low-level rumours that many SSP members, released from their membership obligation not to campaign against the SSP by the leadership's standing down from contesting the election, will campaign in favour of other socialist parties, such as TUSC (which is banned from the "socialist unity" group, Rise) and the Socialist Labour party, founded by the great Arthur Scargill, and other Left parties such as the Scottish Greens, against Rise.

Given the continuing unease by many long-serving and founding members of the SSP over Rise, as well as a widening fracture between the SSP rank and file and the Rise leadership, the group limps on for the moment, but it looks increasingly likely that it may not make it to May. 

The SSP without Rise is the country's most-successful socialist party, capable of attracting over a quarter-million votes in a Holyrood election. 

Rise without the SSP is a gang of SWP-linked student politicians, and some children with little to no knowledge of politics.

I know which one I'd back to survive independently.

A note on terminology: Although it has now transpired that Rise and the SSP leadership lied when assuring SSP members Rise would not be a political party, I have referred to Rise as "the group" and the SSP as "the party" throughout in the interests of avoiding confuddlment. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Spanish election; Scottish consequences

Victory to the forces of radical socialism and the smashing of post-Franco consensus capitalism!

Well, not quite. But it’s a start.

Yesterday’s general election to the Cortes General was a defining election which result was a seismic shock to the European establishment, producing an existential threat to the Spanish state itself.

For the conservative Partido Popular (PP) government, the losses, if not the outcome, were terrible. While Mariano Rajoy’s party finished in first place – presumably to the plaintive cries of Jim Murphy sobbing about how the party in first place must automatically, always be the government, regardless of parliamentary arithmetic – they lost 64 seats and suffered a 16,3 point swing against them and won fewer seats than at any election since their first.

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), the most powerful party in post-Franco Spain and the official in a time of harsh austerity, ought to have expected victory given the scale of PP losses. Instead, they stumbled to the worst defeat in their history, losing 20 seats and seeing a 6,8 point swing away from it.

With 176 deputies required for a majority in the Cortes, both the PP (123) and PSOE (90) have fallen drastically short of power.

For the PSEO in particular, it is a dramatic collapse. Against an unpopular incumbent conservative austerity regime, Perdro Sánchez should have been skipping up the Puerta de Hierro, ready to claim his presidential hat. But the social democrats turned in a risible performance, just narrowly coming in in third place in the popular vote.

This is the next chapter in an increasing pattern of social democratic parties who are perceived to be insufficiently opposed to Euroausterity being stomped on by their national electorates. This year alone, the primary social democratic party has lost seats from opposition in the Estonian (lost four of nineteen seats in the Riigikogu), Andorran (social democrat/Green bloc lost three of its six seats in the Consell General).

Greece saw the social democrats go from being the main opposition to being seventh party in the Voulí, coming behind the radical Left, some neo-Nazis, and the ruling conservatives. In new elections just nine months later, PA.SO.K contrived to come fourth, with the radical Left remaining in government, and both the neo-Nazis and pro-austerity conservatives beating them. Indeed, the collapse of the social democrats in Greece was the first major sign of the death of social democracy in Europe, and has given its name to the process (i.e. the Pasokification of Scottish Labour) of the elimination of an established social democratic party from parliamentary strength in favour of either the established or insurgent conservative party or the radical Left.

The Portuguese general election bucked the trend, with the social democrat PS coming second and taking control of the government – albeit after a major constitutional crisis involving the conservative President of the Republic – but even then, they require the votes of the radical Left to govern, effectively giving the Left a veto on the PS manifesto.

In both Hamburg and Bremen state elections in Germany, the ruling social democrats lost seats, with the radical left Linke being significant beneficiaries.

In Finland, the main social democratic party came fourth, losing eight of its 42 seats in Eduskunta, and were dropped from the coalition government; and in Denmark, the social democrats were swept from power by the conservatives.

Our own general election in May saw the same result – the Scottish electorate perceived the main social democratic party, Labour, as collaborators in austerity, and crushed them in their worst-ever result (“worst-ever” is an adjective applied to many social democrat austerity collaborators in Europe this year).

It is, therefore, a time of crisis for left-wing capitalism, which seems to have been found wanting by electors hungry for change and a move away from austerity. The coming year seems to be no kinder, with elections due in Ireland, Lithuania, German states, English councils, Scotland, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Wales, as well as Russia.

But it is more than a time of crisis for social democracy. It is an existential crisis for the Kingdom of Spain.

All parliamentary arithmetic points to either Podemos or various regional nationalists being vital to the viable governance of the state. Podemos, the insurgent Left, has been clear that it will not begin negotiations to form a government until constitutional reform has been achieved. It is in favour of an independence referendum for Catalunya – and a legal independence referendum in Catalunya will certainly pass. 

The diagram of results shows the situation:
The extent of the collapse of the PP now means that a PP-C coalition – generally predicted by commentators – cannot muster a majority, and nor can a PSOE-Podemos coalition. The only bipartisan coalition which is able to command the confidence of the Cortes would be a PP-PSOE Gran Coalicion, the result of which would be the return to power of president Rajoy, and – in the next election – the complete extinction of the PSOE. A PP-C government might seek to run as a minority, but the strident anti-Euskadi tone taken by Ciudadanos would render it unlikely that such a minority administration would be able to win the votes of Euskaldunak deputies (PNV, 6 and Bildu, 2): and the PP and C opposition to Catalan democracy makes it likely that Catalan deputies (ERC-CATSI, 9 and DL, 8) would attempt to defenestrate such a government at the first opportunity. Popular Unity might be expected to use their 2 seats to support a PSOE-led government only if it faces replacement by a PP-led administration. The Canarian Coalition (it is an insular, not an avian reference) has but one seat and is likely in any event to support the PP.

In an odd reflection of the situation in Scotland, Catalans chose overwhelmingly to return a majority of pro-independence deputies to the Cortes yesterday where previously they were content to restrict their pro-independence parties to the Parlament de Catalunya and behave themselves in elections to the Cortes, sending grown-up, proper Spanish party deputies there. No longer.

The Senado retains its PP majority and is thus the last bastion of the Spanish state. The upper house has the power to veto or amend legislation from the Congreso. Significantly, organic legislation, which includes regional devolution, requires an absolute majority in both chambers, and further, constitutional amendments require a supermajority of 60% of members of both houses. While the Congreso can force constitutional legislation through the Senado if an absolute majority of the latter and a supermajority of the former is in place, this does not pertain to the current membership. Thus, the Senado has effectively a veto on constitutional and devolutional reform.

Spain is, therefore, heading inexorably to an insoluble constitutional crisis: it is likely to have a government which enjoys the confidence of deputies solely inasmuch as it remains committed to constitutional reform and an independence referendum for Catalunya, whilst the upper house has a veto on any such reform.

It is likely that King Philip will consider than the PP has won the election as it came first, and will ask Rajoy to form a government. It is equally likely that this government will fall at the first hurdle (Spain uses a similar system to Scotland to elects its head of government in that s/he must first win a vote of confidence in Parliament before the head of State will appoint them) and that King Philip will then ask Sánchez to make an attempt. Should Sánchez follow Rajoy in failing to gain the support of the Congreso as president, then the king, constitutionally, has no choice other than to call for fresh elections within two months.

This will take us up until March, 2016. Should a similar result be produced, it may take another month or so of negotiations to form a coalition and select a president. So Spain will be without a government for at least the first third of 2016. This is dangerous for David Cameron’s renegotiations with the European Union: agreement will have to be unanimous to reform the Treaties, and with no functioning Spanish government, it raises the possibility that discussions will not even take place until April.

More Scottish interest comes through the Catalan process. Should Spain fracture – and Catalans are in favour of independence – and Catalunya becomes an independent state, the European Union, already facing the loss of the United Kingdom, is unlikely to tolerate the loss of one of its wealthiest, most productive regions. Catalunya – wealthier than Spain – will be fast-tracked into the EU, and Spain, under fiscal and political pressure from Brussels, will not veto their continued membership. This shoots one of the Unionist foxes ahead of 2021.

Scotland has shown Catalunya how to go about the independence process, and Catalunya is seizing the baton and sprinting ahead of us. The pieces are falling into place: Catalan membership and reaccession to the EU gives us the precedent to point to; and British withdrawal from the European Union as a result of not being able to renegotiate its concessions is becoming ever more likely.

In talking about the collapse of social democratic parties throughout Europe, one must pity one above all others: Scottish Labour, the party who committed suicide to save their Union, and is watching as it’s being dismantled by all sides. Independence is coming, and Scottish Labour is dying.


Happy Christmas.

_____________________________________

I wrote the above article before the quite incredible TNS poll was released. It's an earth shattering poll for the Yoons, particularly for Scottish Labour. 

The numbers are thus:

Constituency:
SNP 60% (+10 points on 2011)
Scottish Labour 19% (-13)
Conservative 15% (-1)
Liberals 3% (-5)
Rise 0% (=)

List: 
SNP 50% (+6)
Scottish Labour 19% (-7)
Conservative 14% (+2)
Green 10% (+6)
Liberals 5% (+5)
Ukip 2% (+1)
Rise 0% (=)

These are stratospheric figures for the Nationals, which suggest a second - increased majority nine years after first taking office. 

Kezia Dugdale, already under pressure as "leader" after a series of catastrophic blunders and an admission she isn't up to the job, is dragging what's left of her party into oblivion. There are now genuine concerns over the future of Scottish Labour as an independent Unionist party. 

And Rise, well, perhaps it should change its name to Risible. It has yet to breach the 0% mark in any opinion poll, and with the SWP-linked clique, racked by internal strife and controversy over the relationships between senior figures, still completely unknown to the general public, it doesn't look likely it'll get above 0% in the election itself. With just four full months of campaigning left, they don't have a single candidate in place. (Officially, of course. Everyone knows that they have already selected who is topping each List - although it now appears that their non-existent poll rating, now behind Squalidarity, proves the belief that the organisation is a triumph of the hope of enthusiasm over experience, and that hijacking the SSP and topping the List will not be the guaranteed ticket to Parliament that some people thought).

One of the few things in Scotland as unpopular than Scottish Labour is the idea of leaving the European Union: just 19% of Scots will vote to leave. Scotland being dragged out of the European Union against her will is a material change in the internal settlement, and will lead to another independence referendum in which the EU fox will have been shot - whether that is by the British or the Catalans. 

The clouds are gathering for the Yoons. From Andalucia to Alva Street, everything is turning against them. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Taking over Scottish Labour

In May, Scottish Labour are set for another shattering defeat, their second in a year. In May past, they were utterly trounced in elections to their beloved Westminster, losing every constituency bar the seething masses of workers that is Morningside. 

Their entire Scottish leadership was decapitated, with their most important members being thrown out of parliament by a furious electorate. Every big hitter in the Scottish branch of Labour became irrelevant has-beens in one night: Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander, Maggie Curran, all were swept out of public life. Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown chose to flee in advance rather than face the wrath of the voters. 

They got less than a quarter of the vote and lost 328.831 votes from the last election, scoring just seven hundred thousand. 

The flower of the Scottish Labour party was lost. 

The party's credibility died in one night. Its image as an inviolable behemoth, bestriding Scottish politics now, then and forever, was shattered. The veneer of invincibility was chipped away, leaving it exposed as an Easter Egg party - a shell made up of parliamentarians and councillors, but with nothing inside. 

It must have been devastating for its remaining few thousand members (there are just under 1000 active Scottish Labour members, with fewer than 100 in Glasgow). To have won the referendum, but at the cost of sacrificing their party, must have stung. 

Imagine what it's going to be like come May next, where they're forecast to lose all of their constituency seats in Holyrood? To summon up the energy to get the shoes and jacket on and head out into the rain to chap doors, knowing that in their best areas, one household in ten will welcome them? To pin the rosette on, knowing that it means hostile stares on the bus and in the streets, and doors slammed in their faces? To trudge the streets night after hostile, unwelcoming night for weeks on end, trying desperately to sell the idea of Kezia Dugdale as first minister? To be met by cold indifference at best and betrayed anger at worst?

And then, after all that, the reward: to lose every constituency. Having already lost your top teams in successive Holyrood and Westminster elections (the only serving Labour parliamentarians - in either parliament - to have government experience are Malcolm Chisholm and Hugh Henry, who are standing down, and Patricia Ferguson, who is extremely unlikely to rank highly enough on the List to be re-elected), to then be utterly humiliated by the electorate again, to be kicked while you're already down. 

There were times in the May 2015 election where Labour could only muster tiny teams of three or four paid "volunteers" to canvass. Doubtless in May 2016's, the pattern will be writ larger - but with fewer resources, and fewer bodies. 

The activists, sick of defeat after humiliation after annihilation, will fade away.

And that's where we step in to help. 

It would not be at all difficult for a small, well-organised team to take over Scottish Labour with relative ease. At most Constituency Labour Party AGMs, a group of between ten and twenty people would be able to secure the election to office of its candidates. And it's CLPs which send delegates to Slabberfest to make policy. 

By taking over CLPs, we would have a major say in the policies of the Scottish Labour party, as well as its national office bearers. 

Scottish Labour is so small and so weak now that a co-ordinated campaign by just a couple of hundred people could take over half of its organisation - putting our own people in senior positions in the branch office, and - if not able to change their policy on independence - would be able to make them ungovernable and descend into civil war. 

Scottish Labour is the single reason the referendum was lost. If we are to win in 2021, Scottish Labour must be neutralised. We have already destroyed them in their Westminster power base. We are about to destroy the 2nd XI in Holyrood. And in 2017, they will see their last bastion - local authorities - fall. All that is now required is to move into their capital - their CLPs - and capture their flag. 

As Shelley wrote in The Masque of Anarchy: Rise like Lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few!

Or if you prefer your poetry from Cato: Slabbers Delenda Est.

This campaign should begin in earnest now, but we should infiltrate the Scottish Labour party at this time, yet not show our hand until they are at their weakest and most dispirited after the 2017 local elections.

_____

A short note on Rise, which is definitely not a political party, and has demonstrated this by, er, registering with the Electoral Commission as a political party. 

Every single person in the Rise leadership who has not come from the SSP found their way into politics through the Socialist Workers' Party. What they are doing is not dissimilar to what I suggest we do with Scottish Labour. They are all interconnected: whether it's a prospective Rise candidate in Glasgow whose internal election will be conducted and counted by a partner whose commitment to independence is so total that they previously stood on George Galloway's list for Holyrood. These relationships have provoked crisis talks between the SSP leadership and the SWP cadres. 

A very senior office bearer in Rise is related to the treasurer of a local branch and further related to the leader of a local branch, who is also standing to be considered for a place on the List. 

The panic within the SSP over Rise - and the SSP leadership now know the gerrymandered affiliation was a catastrophic mistake which may now prove fatal for Scotland's most successful Socialist party - is such that the leadership have now resorted to sending out e-mails to SSP members pleading with them to engage with the candidate selection process. This involved the party e-mailing members in Glasgow telling them that no SSP member in Glasgow is good enough to top the List there, and that they should vote for an SWP/Rise person instead (in return, the SSP has been given a free run in Lothian which, you may notice, is generally not referred to as the Leningrad of the West). This is a nonsense - I know all of the SSP members in Glasgow, and there are many talented, bright people there who would be a credit to the Scottish Parliament, and tough, doughty fighters for their communities. The SSP leadership has sold out Glasgow to the SWP.

This is borne out of snobbery: the SSP membership in Glasgow is overwhelmingly working-class people who seek nothing other than to help their own communities in the likes of Pollok, Govan, Shettleston, and so on. In contrast, the SWP/Rise types from Glasgow tend to be excruciatingly middle-class, white-collar, intellectual blow-ins and property owners from the West End and Merchant City.

The SSP membership in Glasgow reflects the working-class communities from which they emerged and in which they work. It is a disappointment that they have been betrayed by their leadership. 

Should Glaswegians - and Scots in general - fail to fall for the lecturers, civil servants and Glasgow University student politicians who make up SWP/Rise, the Radical Left will have been the only side of the Yes campaign to have failed to benefit from the referendum. The SSP leadership, having sold out its members and its class, may then face a day of reckoning. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Third party; Fifth Column

Tonight's shameful display by a gang of hard-Right extremists masquerading as Labour MPs has finally clarified a situation which has been bubbling over for a while. 

It is a little-known fact that there are more Scottish Unionists representing seats outside Scotland than there are Unionists representing seats in Scotland. Liam Fox and Jim Fitzpatrick (a man whose hate-filled Islamophobia even extended to a Britain First-style disruption of a Muslim wedding in his constituency) are examples. Prime examples of hard-right, pro-war, DUP-style loyalists who would be unlikely to be elected to any seat in Scotland with its much more progressive electorate. It is not an accident that every Scottish Labour MP left at the 2015 election who voted for Labour's genocidal mania in Iraq was sacked by a disgusted electorate.

It became obvious this evening that the third party in British politics is not the National party, nor the remnants of the Liberals, nor even the mouth-breathing cretins of Ukip. The third party in British politics is now the Fifth Column: Blairite cuckoos in the socialist nest who have no loyalty to the Labour leadership, Labour values, or the Labour membership. 

These Lawrence Wainrights are strident British nationalists who have inveigled themselves into safe Labour seats in the knowledge that their natural home - the Conservative party - is unelectable in their areas. 

The Fifth Column has two types of MP. The first is the cuckoo. The likes of Tom Harris, Chukka Umunna and Liz Kendall - Tories who joined Labour as a career move. They are open about what they are.

The second type is perhaps the more contemptuous. People who believe in (watered-down) Labour values, like Hillary Benn, but who marched into the voting lobby with the cuckoos, Tories and the fascist DUP to slaughter Syrian babies in their thousands - victims viewed as acceptable collateral damage in the fight against the common enemy, Jeremy Corbyn ISIS.

There also exist bloodthirsty fascist savages whose aim is to slaughter as many Muslims as possible in as short a period of time as possible. People like Margaret Beckett, who voted for the genocide in Iraq, and enjoyed the experience so much she voted for it, almost salivating with glee at the death and destruction to come as she ranted for it in the Commons today, again in Syria. These people are callous and evil, and should be pursued - peaceably, but volubly - everywhere they go. 

They complain that people protest outside their homes and their children are scared by it, whilst they prepare to bomb Syrian homes and slaughter Syrian children. You will forgive me, dear reader, for being rather lacking in my sympathy for these creatures. 

At least Jenkins, Owens, Rodgers and Williams - the orginal Labour traitors - had the decency to leave the party when they formed the SDP. The modern traitors, those who have made a conscious decision to betray the members and do all they can to systematically undermine the Labour party and its leadership - don't have the guts to leave. Instead, they are an undeclared third party in Westminster. 

A third party, and a Fifth Column. 

It is vital the Labour party purifies itself of these individuals, and that the membership purges them. If they wish to give succour to a Tory prime minister and prevent the collapse of his government, then let them stand under a Tory mandate at the next election. 

Scottish Labour no longer exists in any tangible, meaningful sense precisely because it was viewed as a violent extension of a hated Conservative party. The only hope for the Labour party in England is if it learns, and learns quickly, from the mistakes Scottish Labour made in its headlong rush to violence, conservatism - and extinction.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Amazing Disappearing Dugdale

All of Scotland's civic society, always so desperate to hear the latest pearls of wisdom from this month's Scottish Labour branch manager, is bereft that Kezia Dugdale - usually so keen to try and promote herself - is in hiding.

The hard-Right Unionist leader has vanished over the last week or so since the putative British bombing of the Syrian people has become the major political talking point of the hour. 

She has sent Ian Murray out to claim that she is "against air-strikes", but by fleeing from the public eye at this time of international crisis, it appears clear that she has done so in the cause of plausible deniability. 

To wit: Dugdale's support comes from the extreme Right of British politics. The erstwhile Daily Mail columnist is backed by Scottish Labour, which is by some considerable distance the furthest-Right part of the Labour party. For her to oppose war on Syria's people would lead to a withdrawal of support from the far Right of Labour: the McTernans, Harrises and Murphys. 

But she will well remember the bitter consequences for Scottish Labour of backing a savage attack on civilians: before the horror of the Iraq savagery in which Scottish Labour systematically slaughtered over a million people, Scottish Labour had fifty-six deputies in the Scottish Parliament, and forty-one MPs at Westminster.  Today, it has a solitary MP (the representative for the seething masses of Morningside), and just 37 deputies in Holyrood. It is predicted to lose every constituency in May's general election to Holyrood.

Dugdale is hiding because she knows what the consequences will be in May should she be seen to support yet another Scottish Labour war on Muslims. Already, she is relying on the increasingly-discredited List system to return any deputies to Holyrood. Being seen to stand four-square behind the Tories - yet again - can only damage her electoral prospects. 

Yet, opposing war on Syrian civilians will damage her standing amongst the blood-cult psychopaths who prop up her "leadership" in Scotland. 

So she hides, and flees, and maintains radio silence, and while she maintains her position in Labour by refusing to condemn the war, she slithers around corridors, whispering into various ears that she's against it. But always, with plausible deniability. 

It is utter personal and political cowardice by a nonentity concerned above all with her own position, and without a single thought to the thousands of civilians who will be massacred to satisfy the Labour bloodlust. 

Isn't it time to flush her out? To force her at least to make her position clear?

The British have the ultimate decision whether or not to commit Scottish working-class kids to fight - and die - in the middle East. For all the talk about respect and autonomy, the Scottish Parliament is refused the power to prevent it. And for all the talk of war, there's not a Scottish Labour activist shrieking for war who has joined the anti-Isis army, or has sent their sons or daughters to do so. It's other mothers' children  they want to send to war. 

Holyrood held a debate on Britain's savagery in Iraq. And Scottish Labour stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Westminster Tories and Blair's regime to support it in that Holyrood debate. 

Our national parliament mightn't have the power to stop the war in Syria: to stop working-class economic conscript kids from killing and dying for nothing - but we have the power to make a statement. 

And we should make that statement. 

Holyrood should hold a debate denouncing war on Syria's people, and demanding that if the British do decide - as seems inevitable - to rush back to war, Scottish regiments are not sent against its will. 

Let's flush the despicable, racist, hate-filled, violent blood-cult of Scottish Labour out, publicly and irreversibly. Let us flush Dugdale out as yet another middle-class lawyer happy to send Scottish working-class kids to their grisly deaths, to become killers, to suffer mental trauma for the rest of their lives. 

Kezia Dugdale pretends to be the "leader" of a political party. But she hides, like a capybara in the sunshine, when she's forced to make a decision. 

So let her come to Holyrood and make her position clear, not through some Union Jack suit-wearing goon from Morningside.

Are you in favour of war, or are you in favour of peace? Do you stand with the Blairites and the Tories, or do you stand with Scotland? 

You're the "leader", Kezia. It's time to lead. And if you want to encourage the Right to go to war, then do so openly. Have - for once in your pathetic, miserable career - the courage to say so.

This isn't the time for sitting in primary schools gurning, or galloping to threatened workplaces to get your photo taken, grinning with delight at the workers' plight, outside them. 

It's a time for leadership. And if the "leader" of Scottish Labour continues to refuse to talk in public about this dreadful war, she ought to be forced to. 

Let her speak for, or against the motion: "this House denounces any British military operation in Syria". 

Rats breed in the dark. Get them in the open. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Blood Cult

One of the more predictable - and sickening - results of the horrific terror attack on Paris at the weekend has been the instant clamour from the extreme Right of mainstream Scottish politics for vengeance. 

Even before the bodies of the victims have been identified, even before the identities of the evil perpetrators have been fully confirmed, the Right have already settled on bombing Syria. 

Of course, this isn't a reaction to the horror in Paris - it's an excuse. The Scottish Right agitated more than two years ago to be allowed to bomb Syria (it has, after all, been several years since the Labour blood cult got to taste blood) and were devastated when it failed. 

The usual suspects then are back. And they're demanding the blood of civilians afresh. Jim Murphy has emerged from under his rock, Tom Harris and John McTernan have reprised their "bombralottarum" double act from Iraq 2003, and Ian Smart stayed sober enough this morning to write an article demanding he gets to bomb people.

It's intriguing to see that many of the Scottish Right - pretty much entirely now composed of the remnants of Scottish Labour - are young, physically fit men. But their calls for "us" to take military action against Syria are siren calls indeed.

The "us" does not include them, or - for the older ones like Murphy and Harris - their offspring. The young, middle-class, besuited, pomaded, wannabe-SPADs don't see themselves taking military action against the filth of "Islamic State"! Heaven forfend! No, they won't be travelling to join the Kurdish peshmerga in their firefight against the fascist extremists. 

It's not, in fact, "us" at all for them. "We" will not be "taking military action" against the medievalist thugs of "Islamic State". Instead, those screeching loudest and most hysterically for war want to send "them", and "you". It's working-class boys the middle-class want to send to fight - and die - in the sands of the middle East.

It's economic conscripts from Possil and Airdrie that the loudest voices for war want to send to Syria. Tony won't be sending Cherie's Euan or Nicky to Syria - it's not for the governing class mothers to mourn their sons bleeding out to die in a foreign land fighting an imperialist war for territory and ideology of which they know little and care less. No, it's some other mothers' sons who are to die gloriously to defend our right to seize whatever land and slaughter whichever tribes we desire. Some working class mother's son is expendable. Euan and Nicky are not expendable. 

In 2003, thousands of people were slaughtered in the United States when citizens of Saudia Arabia - Nato's closest ally in the middle-East - funded and trained by Saudi citizens launched the world's worst-ever terrorist attack. 

The Right's reaction was to bomb Iraq - a country none of the murderers had ever set foot in - and allow Islamist terror, which had previously been completely suppressed there, to gain control and influence over the country. The secular, multiethnic republic was destroyed and replaced with a sectarian terror. 

Now, just a dozen years later, dozens of people have been slaughtered in Paris by citizens of Nato countries. 

The Right's reaction is to demand to be allowed to bomb Syria - a country none of the murderers had ever set foot in. Assad's Syria was a secular, multi-faith republic which allowed progressive (in regional terms) rights for national minorities and women. Nato wish to remove Assad and replace him with an Islamist regime. 

"Islamic State" was created by Nato's closest middle-East ally, Saudi Arabia. Its extreme, fascist, warped version of Islam is inspired by Saudi Wahhabism. "Islamic State" is funded by Saudi Arabia, and armed by Turkey, which uses Islamism to counter the socialist Kurdish separatist peshmerga. 

And why does the Right express horror at "Islamic State", and go to such lengths to bomb it, whilst at the same time allowing its closest regional ally to succour, fund, arm and fund it? 

Because if we have no enemy, we have no security state. If we have no security state, we have no war. If we have no war, we have no arms industry. And thus, if we have no enemy, it becomes necessary to create one.

The Right-wing extremists want to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of civilians in a far-off land to keep the vicious circle going; who are prepared to sacrifice hundreds of working-class boys to satisfy the blood lust of their psychopathic cult, won out in 2003. 

We must not forget, just a dozen years later, what they did. "Islamic State" is a direct, and inevitable, result of what Nato did to Iraq in 2003. If they are allowed to repeat what they did then, there will be a similar direct, and inevitable, result.

This is a price the extreme Right - the Tom Harrises, John McTernans, Jim Murphys and Tony Blairs - are prepared to pay. They're content to have our citizens die in the street and our working-class boys slaughtered fighting to occupy a country with whose people they have no quarrel and which they could not place on a map in order to satisfy their fanatical lust for war and blood, influence and power. 

They won in 2003. We cannot allow them to win again now. 

Monday, 19 October 2015

On the steelmens' job losses

Fact: the steelmens' trade union, Community, has an assistant general secretary who is a Scottish Labour activist.

Fact: the steelmens' trade union urged its members to support a No vote in the independence referendum with a poster campaign of "don't put your jobs at risk with a Yes vote".

Fact: the steelworks are now closing down. 

The steelmens' union - with its Scottish Labour-linked leadership - terrorised its members into voting No with the threat that a Yes vote would cost them their jobs, and the implied associated promise that they would be safe with a No vote. Those jobs are now gone, after a No vote. 

It's clear that neither Community, nor Scottish Labour, gave a damn about the workers. They were concerned with a No vote at any and all cost.

Would a Yes vote have saved the steelworks? In truth, most probably not. The issue is capitalism: the steelworks are owned by an Indian-based multinational, motivated by profit rather than the best use of Scotland's resources for the benefit of Scotland's people. Only with nationalisation of all of Scotland's industries can we exploit our natural resources for the common weal. 

But there is this. The No vote didn't just deliver a Scotland within the United Kingdom. It delivered a Scotland governed by the Conservative party, with only one MP here. A Conservative party which has, therefore, no electoral advantage at all in saving steelworks jobs in Scotland. The realpolitik is this: it is far more politically advantageous for the British to shift as many jobs from Scotland as possible. One can see this in their incentive to move the Young's fish-processing plant out of Scotland to northern England. 

There are potential votes for the Conservative party in England that do not exist in Scotland. 

A No vote didn't cause the job losses in the steelworks. But what it does mean is that those men are condemned to take their chances with the Tory welfare state. 

A No vote means that those men will be forced into unpaid menial labour to receive unemployment social security. The result of such unpaid labour is that those who otherwise would have worked at those jobs will not be able to. They, too, will be thrown onto the scrapheap in Tory Britain. 

A No vote means that young people made redundant from these job losses will not be entitled to Housing Benefit. They may well be made homeless.

A Yes vote wouldn't necessarily have saved these jobs. But the Yes campaign never claimed it would. The No campaign did imply that a No vote would save those jobs. This has been demonstrably false. 

The trade union, infested by Scottish Labour supporters, backed those workers being reliant on a Tory social security system in the event of their jobs being lost. 

That is what they campaigned for. 

That is what they wanted. 

That is what they got. 

They terrorised their members into voting No on the basis that they would lose their jobs with a Yes vote. They have now lost their jobs - and the consequence of a No vote is that those who have lost their jobs will fall into a safety net which treats them as shirkers and scroungers, which pays them less than £80 a week in social solidarity payments, which bans many of them from Housing Benefit.

To be afflicted with joblessness is an horrible situation. To be treated as a scrounger when one seeks only to get back from the system what one put in is worse.

The Community union and Scottish Labour got what they wanted. 

It's what we warned about. 

They should hang their heads in shame. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Arrogance and complacency could cost the pro-EU side the vote

Us Scots know quite a bit about how to Hibs a referendum. Last year, the Better Together campaign turned a vote which it was literally impossible for them to lose into a nailbitingly-tight result which leaves them staring long-term defeat in the face. 

Indeed, there were even news reports a couple of weeks back that the Remain [in the EU] campaign had sought a meeting with the laughable Blair McDougall, head of Better Together, and the brainbox behind Scottish Labour's catastrophic election campaign this year in which they lost all but one seat, about how not to fight a referendum.

They don't seem to have listened.

Today's launch was a disaster. It actually echoed the launch of the Yes Scotland campaign, which gave the impression of being a self-satisfied back-patting session for the political, middle, and chattering classes. 

The first problem with the campaign is the name. Britain Stronger in Europe. It reads like the front page of a Conservative manifesto from the mid-1970s. But what they've failed to take into account is that there's more than 1,6m people in Scotland for whom a stronger Britain would not be a positive. There are, similarly, more than a quarter million people in the north of Ireland who would not be positively inclined to a campaign which is marking itself out as stolidly, conservatively British. 

In Scotland, the No campaign had a thirty-point lead that it could afford to (and almost did) throw away. The Remain campaign - BSE - doesn't have that. There are two million people who have been partially alienated from the get-go to a campaign which they would be naturally inclined to support. Now, I'm not saying that this is going to turn a Europhililc Scottish Green into a No, or make a Sinn Féin voter who attends IRA commemorations into a Union Jack-waving British nationalist. But in a tight finish, BSE might come to regret alienating what are its natural supporters with its very name. 

In an attempt to broaden its appeal, it is going to alienate even more people. A campaign led by a Tory peer couldn't have been better designed to alienate the millions of people who voted Yes in 2015, or those who were turned on to politics by Jeremy Corbyn's campaign. It epitomises the "sit down, shut up, do as you're told" attitude of Westminster politics that has repulsed people in their hundreds of thousands. Sticking a Blue Peter presenter on stage won't change that - it just comes across as patronising, in addition to patrician. Is "you're young, so you can't possibly understand these awfully important, grown-up debates, so here's a children's TV presenter to talk down to you" the new "shut up, eat your cornflakes, and vote No"?

So, it starts off arrogant, complacent, and patronising. It's alienated swathes of voters. It retains a lead, but not one remotely as large as Better Together started with. It is already, truth be told, in difficulty. 

I am pro-European. And I am pro-Europe. But my inclination at the moment is not to vote to remain inside the European Union, for the following reasons:

1. The British are particularly poor Europeans. They refuse to join in with things, undermining everything that the EU actually stands for. Aloof and apart, they stood away from the single currency, and refused to join in with Schengen. These two things are sort of, like, the point of the EU. They clearly don't want to play a full part in the Union, and would be happier out of it rather than inside, screeching, wailing and sobbing like "Kez" Dugdale when someone's rude to her. Britain removed to the naughty step would be better for her, and better for Europe (and in the longer term, it completely eliminates one of the Three Pillars of British Unionism). 

2. Intervention from the EU in internal political affairs of member states worries me. The previous president, JM Barroso, lost the run of himself, and believed it was his place to interfere in the Scottish referendum last year. It was none of his business to interfere - and his threats to the Scottish people (on the instructions of the British government with the promise of supporting him as Secretary-General of Nato) will not readily be forgotten. 

3. Greece's treatment at the hands of the European Union was a democratic outrage on the part of Germany. One might have thought they'd got out of the habit of punishing a weaker member of a group pour encourager les autres. Sadly, old habits die hard. 

4. Following on from 3., the unaccountability, and thus in my view the illegitimacy of the European Commission. Similarly to the House of Lords, it is a stain on democracy. The Commission shouldn't be accountable only to itself, it must be accountable to the people of Europe. If the Commissioners were appointed through the European Parliament, accountable to them, and removable by them, would they have been so intransigent toward Greece? The absence of any threat of being voted out leads to arrogance and, inevitably, corruption.

5. Again following from 3., a Europe of peoples is a great and noble idea. I would vote for a pan-European state like a shot. But this unaccountability of those who govern Europe puts me off. A Europe of peoples, united as Europeans, protecting human rights and promoting the brotherhood of workers is what we need. Instead, what we have is a Europe of conservatism. Of bankers, of spivs, of speculators. A Europe which has no hesitation in bullying her people - as it did to Ireland - or even mounting coups d'etat against her democratic governments, as in Italy and Greece. 

Change Europe, from one of the bankers to one of the workers, and I'll vote for unity every day of every week of every year for the rest of my life. But the only renegotiation the British are interested in is one which throws out the Social Chapter, to continue to grind away at workers' rights.

And for that reason, I can't see myself voting In.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Belarussian presidential election (Sunday 11th October)

Belarussians go to the polls today to select a president. 

The incumbent president, Aleksander Lukashenka, is standing again. He has been president since 1994 of the Republic of Belarus, a state whose existence he opposes (he was the only MP in the Belarussian Supreme Soviet to vote against independence from the USSR). His entire presidency has had the aim of reuniting Belarus with Russia, an aim which came closer with the coming into being of the Union State. Last year, he signed an agreement with Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to launch the Eurasian Economic Union.

The EEU is primarily a trading bloc. Whilst Russia and Belarus seek closer political, military and cultural integration, Kazakhstan is resisting. However, military integration is demonstrated by all of the members of the EEU simultaneously being members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (also known as the Tashkent Pact, a successor to the Warsaw Pact). Both Lukashenka and president Putin are on record as viewing the EEU and CSTO as being the precursor to reunification of the former Soviet states (with the exception of the Baltic republics).

Lukashenka is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator". When I was last in the CIS, I travelled to Minsk, and met with some young dissidents, one of whom mentioned that Lukashenka has the unfortunate habit of imprisoning his opponents. (Minsk, incidentally, is the most terrifying place I have ever visited, and I've been to Paisley three times).

That was certainly true of the 2010 presidential election, where the president won a fourth term in office. On election day itself, two opposition candidates were beaten by Committee for State Security (KGB) troops. Lukashenka comfortably won the vote, and the runner-up, Andrey Sannikov, who scored just over 2,5% of the vote, was arrested by the KGB and sent to a prison camp for five years. Of the nine opposition candidates - none of whom got more than 2,5% of the vote, seven were arrested by the police or the KGB within a day of the vote. Lukashenka won the election with 79,7% of the vote.

This was a drop in support from the previous, 2006, election, where Lukashenka scored 84,4% of the vote in elections described by CIS observers as "open and transparent". The OSCE attempted to monitor the election, but its Georgian observers were arrested by the Border Guard. There was no immediate mass imprisonment of opposition candidates, although the Social Democratic candidate was beaten by interior ministry troops as he attempted to enter a meeting of the Supreme Soviet. 

However, within days, a protest movement had arisen. This was soon disbanded by the police and KGB, and the opposition leader promptly arrested. 

In considering all of this, it may seem unlikely that Lukashenka will be toppled tomorrow. 

The candidates are:

Sascha Lukashenka (Independent)
Sergei Kalyakin (Belarussian Left)
Sergei Kaidukevich (Liberal Democrats)
Tatsyana Karatkevich (Tell The Truth)

The CIS monitoring mission consists of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the CIS Parliament, the Union State Parliament and the CIS Executive Committee. 

Opinion polling so far suggests that Lukashenka will win a fifth term in office. 

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the first round, a run-off will be held between the top two candidates. But this is similar to saying that if I turn into a massive beaver named Geoffrey tomorrow, I will spend most of my day living in rivers and building dams. 

Lukashenka will retain power, there will be protests, people will be arrested, and people will die. Such is the reality of life in a country without a functioning democracy. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Labour's parallel universe

by DAVID CLEGG in Balado, TORCUIL CRICHTON in Morpeth and ALAN COCHRANE in Famagusta.

BUNGLING NAT CHIEFS ARE under fire today after losing the iconic T in the Park festival to Northumberland for a paltry £150k.

The festival, worth an estimated £16 MILLION to the Scots economy, was forced by the local authority to move from its historic Balado base for health and safety reasons. 

But Nats Culture supremo Fiona Hyslop REJECTED a plea from organisers to help fund the move to rural Strathallan - where former Liberal Scots Secretary Michael Moore and ex-Tory MEP Struan Stevenson were educated - despite the emergency relocation cash amounting to less than ONE per cent of the tourist bonanza the festival raked in for the local area, which is just YARDS away from a stream in which ex-Rangers hero Paul Gascoigne once fished.

Opposition MSPs lined up to attack the Nats over the blunder. Labour's Jackie Baillie rapped: "this is absolutely typical of the Nats. This wasn't in their much-derided separation White Paper. Fiona Hyslop's refusal to come to the aid of one of Scotland's most famous cultural events is a disgrace - and the Nats will pay for it at election time. The crust is starting to come off the SNP pie, believe me."

Telly personality and political expert David Torrance was STUNNED by the decision as he was interviewed on BBC Good Morning Scotland, the BBC Scotland News in the afternoon, Reporting Scotland at lunchtime, Reporting Scotland at teatime, Scotland 2015, and an emergency news bulletin presented by a grim-faced Jackie Bird, a single tear ROLLING down her face. 

Torrance, who once WENT to a music festival, SLAMMED the Nats over the blunder, saying "it's time for Nicola Sturgeon to come clean. Frankly, this is why they scraped into government in the first place. The SNP is crumbling at the seams. What's this story about, again?"

Meanwhile, Tory boss Ruth Davidson hit out: "this is absolutely typical of the Nats. This wasn't in their much-derided separation White Paper. Fiona Hyslop's refusal to come to the aid of one of Scotland's most famous cultural events is a disgrace - and the Nats will pay for it at election time".

A feeble Nats press release claiming the funding would BREACH Euro state aid regulations cut no ice with Lib Dem chief Willie Rennie, who laid the law down to the Nats, saying: "this is absolutely typical of the Nats. This wasn't in their much-derided separation White Paper. Fiona Hyslop's refusal to come to the aid of one of Scotland's most famous cultural events is a disgrace - and the Nats will pay for it at election time".

Northumberland County Council, meanwhile, WELCOMED the move, with bosses claiming the switch could be worth up to £16 MILLION to the north-east economy. Council chief Grant Davey said "this is an incredible result for the area. For just a £150,000 outlay, we've secured one of the most lucrative music festivals in Europe. The free advertising alone is going to be worth millions". 

Michelle Mone could not be reached for comment.