Frontline issue 8 is now finished and ready to go to the printers, so hopefully it will be out next week (but no guarantees!) I think it is a great issue. Contents include articles on the Trade Unions in Scotland, and a series of polemical pieces focusing on debates with the SWP - one article on the united front and another "Where is the SWP going" by Murray Smith which is excellent and should provoke a bit of controversy. Also a nice article on the debate between Darwinists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins. Plus an article from the late Manzoor Hekmat on Political Islam (reprinted from Links magazine), and lots more. Oh, there is some piece of crap called dot-communism which is about blogging and the left...
I will not be putting this issue on the web until the magazine is out long enough for most subscribers to get their copies, as it only upsets them.
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:: Thursday, August 29, 2002 ::
CSS Colouring Book: Simplicity
I based the layout of this site on the free templates from Firda in Indonesia. She has now designed some smart new ones you may be interested to see.
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Herald Letters Page
Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell has announced a huge publicity drive to counter Scotland's appalling health record. Absolute hypocrisy of course, he and his loyal troops enthusiastically voted down Tommy Sheridan's bill for free, nutritious school meals for all children. Plenty of letters on this subject in the Herald letters page.
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Yet more stuff up at the Edinburgh People's Festival site. Photos of the performers and of Jeff Fallows great paintings. The picture above is of a mural which is inside the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar. Jack Kane was a local councillor who played a big role in getting the original EPF together. The Jack Kane Centre is in Craigmillar, which is a housing 'scheme' on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The area has had its share of problems, including a severe heroin problem for many years, but also a very active community.
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:: Wednesday, August 28, 2002 ::
Edinburgh People's Festival
Reviews and pictures of Saturdays Edinburgh People's Festival are now up on the above website. More pix will be added soon.
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:: Monday, August 26, 2002 ::
Edinburgh Evening News - Entertainment - King for a night
The Edinburgh People's Festival was a big success. Check out the EPF website over the next few days for reports and pictures. In the meantime see the link above for a brief report from the Edinburgh Evening News.
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:: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 ::
Edinburgh People's Festival.
Set for this Saturday, and I have been asked to write a review for the Morning Star. The website http://www.edinburghpeoplesfestival.org.uk/ has been updated.
There are quite a few articles in the press on the festival.
The Independent 11.8.02 - Welsh backs rival festival for locals
Scotsman 21.8.02 - The '4 am girls' discuss the Edinburgh People's Festival
Evening News 1.6.02 - Tribute to man of the people
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My article on the European Social Forum is now up on the Scottish Socialist Voice website.
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Letters to the Herald
A series of letters to the Herald in reply to their editorial attacking the Scottish service tax.
from Prof. Mike Daily of Paisley University:
The Scottish Socialist Party is the only party in Scotland that dares to demand more than this. Scotland is not fair. As The Herald knows only too well, in Glasgow we have multiple ghettos of poor people living next door to new housing developments for the super-rich. South of the river, Glasgow City Council talks of regenerating the Clyde and presides over the extinction of proud communities like Govan. Govan gets sewerage plants, proposed waste recycling plants, and empty industrial units - squeezing out the population: creating misery and poverty. Down the river, a handful of wealthy people get luxury apartments and pay a little more council and water tax than a low-paid worker up-river.
If it's old-fashioned socialism to say we need to address obscene social inequalities, then so be it.
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:: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 ::
Imagine there's no old firm, it's easy if you try.
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:: Monday, August 19, 2002 ::
This is a job for Action Man letter to Edinburgh Evening News
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SSP plan to redistribute wealth
Sunday Herald: Sheridan's tax seeks to squeeze high-earners
BBC: Socialists reveal tax plans
SSP Website Press Release. Socialists put wealth redistribution at heart of election policy.
Tommy Sheridan said "The SSP is the only political party not to have wiped the issue of wealth redistribution from its agenda. The Scottish Service Tax is an imaginative plan to use the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor."
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Scotland: Socialist party's star rising in Scotland from the Canadian National Post.
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:: Thursday, August 15, 2002 ::
Last night I went to do a spot of leafletting at 'An Audience with Tony Benn' which is part of the Edinburgh Festival. He has been speaking here for two days as part of a national tour. On both nights 1800 people have turned out to hear Benn's socialist message. A kind member of the public offered me a ticket, which is lucky as they are £14 each. So I was fortunate enough to attend.
Now there are a few who decry Benn or Bennism, a trend of the 'hard left' of the Labour Party which essentially failed. But Benn fills an interesting rôle in British politics. He recently retired as an MP, saying he wanted to spend more time on politics. He is widely popular, across the political spectrum and still spends a lot of time supporting grassroots causes of one type or another.
The audience was a mixed bunch, mostly older, in their forties or more. But there were a few youngsters there too. Our leaflets for the European Social Forum went down well and many copies of the Scottish Socialist Voice were sold. But there were quite a few New Labour hacks there too, councillors and MSP's out for some 'old time religion' and then back to implementing cuts and privatisation.
Tony said that the night was really a public meeting (albeit a somewhat expensive one I thought) reviving the tradition of public debate. Half of the night was taken up by a talk from Benn and after the interval he took questions for an hour or so.
In his talk he put todays events in a historical context. With references to Marx ("last of the old testament prophets" whose ideas "were obviously right") and the history of British imperialism he looked at Zimbabwe, Palestine and the new US imperialism.
The interval is worth discussing. Benn had brought his own tea in a flask, but didn't have much time to drink it as he spent the whole interval signing autographs.
The questions session was also interesting. There was, in my opinion, a divide in the audience between those who would never desert Labour and those who had had enough.
One woman explained that she had been in the LP for years but now had decided to join the Scottish Socialist Party. There was a round of applause in the audience. Half of the gallery where I was standing applauded the mere mention of the SSP. And I had never seen most of those people before, I doubt if many of them were SSP members.
Tony of course remained loyal to the LP, drawing a distinction between Labour (a party which was not socialist but contained socialists in it) and New Labour (the hideous creation of Tony Blair.) He said Labour is the party of the unions and there were too many tiny socialist parties ("too many socialist parties and not enough socialists" as he put it) for them to succeed. At the same time he spoke of his liking for Tommy, who had attended the previous evening, and condemned his expulsion from the LP for fighting the poll-tax. At this there was another big round of applause from the audience!
The exchange did make me think how important the process of socialist unity has been for the SSP, when the left joins together it creates confidence in the class and creates a body which is greater than the sum of its parts.
All together an interesting evening and Benns attempt to revive a genuine democracy and democratic debate in Britain is interesting. Possibly all a bit cosy though, and the older generation present are now giving way to a new generation of activists and leaders. I have included a couple of pictures of Benn speaking (taken from 'the gods) and a marvellous portrait by Scottish artist Elizabeth Mulholland which was on display.
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:: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 ::
Edinburgh Evening News - Capital City - Question time for Benn
One good performance at the Edinburgh festival - Tony Benn. He left parliament to concentrate on politics.
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Edinburgh Evening News - Opinion - A festival that’s for the people
An article by Colin Fox on the Edinburgh People's Festival.
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Nye tider, nye mål
New Times New Goals. New Technology, New Socialism. Not entirely sure what this Norwegian site is all about, but it does link to me. Which is nice.
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:: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 ::
Edinburgh People's Festival
Now live, the website of the Edinburgh People's Festival. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe today is a massive event of thousands of shows which generates millions for the city tourist trade. But did you know that the origin of the Fringe was the Edinburgh People's Festival, an event designed to bring working class culture to the elitist Festival.
Now we are reviving the People's Festival. Check out the website for details.
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New kid on the blog, the Clipe, Scottish journalist who likes Tunnocks Caramel Logs. Needs to update his link to the SSP website though.
Overseas readers please note, 'clipe' is a Scots word meaning tell-tale.
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£5 deal ends strike threat by ancillary workers The Herald
Carolyn Leckie, Unison branch secretary, said the deal was a major success for the trade unions and the rights of low-paid workers. "This has been an overwhelming victory for some of the lowest-paid workers in Scotland, the minnows have taken on the giant of a multinational corporation and won," she said.
"All our demands will have been met by April 2004, which is a sweeping victory for the union movement."
Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist party, supported the strike action and welcomed the result.
He added: "These people do an essential job and are paid poverty wages. They had a moderate set of demands, and they fully deserved them to be met.
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:: Monday, August 12, 2002 ::
Sheridan calls time on his council life to concentrate on Holyrood The Herald.
Last week, an NFO System Three poll for The Herald suggested the SSP could take six seats at Holyrood next May after surging to record levels of support.
Mr Sheridan, 38, was first elected in Glasgow on a Scottish Militant Labour ticket in 1992 while chair of the Scottish Anti-Poll Tax Federation.
In what was to become something of a trademark, he was in prison at the time, half-way through a six-month sentence for trying to stop a warrant sale.
He was re-elected for the SSP in 1995 and 1999, and for the past three years has had to balance the duties of being a councillor with those of being a Glasgow list MSP. His Pollok ward will be contested by Keith Baldasara, his paid assistant since 1999.
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:: Saturday, August 10, 2002 ::
The SSP website has been redesigned. In the coming months we plan to radically improve the content also, as the web will be an important point of contact for the party in the Holyrood elections.
Comments welcome. Please also let us know of any browser problems. The site has been designed using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), so it will display ok but look different in obsolete browsers that do not support CSS - eg IE 4.x, Netscape 4.x
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:: Friday, August 09, 2002 ::
NEWS.scotsman.com - News Archive - The hard reality beneath SSP’s soapbox rhetoric
Yesterdays Scotsman contained an interesting piece on the SSP. It was written by a former Labour spin-doctor, who was Wormtongue to the disgraced Henry McLeish's Saruman. The article was an attack on the SSP, but instead of digging dirt or making weak jokes about sunbeds (well ok there is one) it looks at our policies. It says that firms will be leaving Scotland if we increase taxes etc, well it looks to me like the 'flight of capital' has already started. With the Scotsman's front page yesterday announcing that the country is in recession and huge multinationals like IBM in Greenock ready to pull out with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
The article further states "Most revealing, they showed their true Trotskyist colours by demanding "confiscation" of the assets of any company that pulled out of Scotland in search of a more profitable environment."
At the moment firms can get grants and tax breaks to come to Scotland, and then pull out without notice, sacking all their workers. Well if Sodexho were to pull out of Scotland what would we do with their workers? Cause Sodexho sure won't be taking them to Paris with them. We would employ them in the same jobs in hospitals and schools, but with decent conditions and back in the public sector. In the same way why should IBM workers be redundant? They are the ones who produce the computers etc, not the execs. Put their skills to use. Build an internet network that can properly service the whole of Scotland from the Borders to the Shetlands. Let's provide computers for every schoolkid, student, community centre etc. Lets use our wealth and skills for the good of our communities, not the profit of a few fat-cat executives.
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Colm Breathnach of the Irish Socialist Network is currently in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement. Read his diary above.
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:: Thursday, August 08, 2002 ::
Hospital pickets block strike breaking kids
The bitter strike of Sodexho workers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary continues, with mass pickets turning away scabs. Many of the scabs were teenage kids who had been brought in from hundreds of miles away, without being told they would be used to strike-break. Many of them are now heading home.
One 25-year-old, who refused to be named for fear of being sacked, said: “It’s awful. Sodexho did not tell us we were coming into this terrible situation.
“One kitchen porter was in the hospital yesterday and he said rubbish bags were piling up in the maternity ward.
“It’s terrible when you think of the bacteria and the babies in that part of the hospital.”
Most of those brought in to help beat the strike are in their late teens or early 20s and work at the tank firing range at Castlemartin, near Pembroke, and two other military bases nearby
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Socialists cock-a-hoop over latest poll results The Herald.
"Colin Fox, SSP convener in Lothians, said the findings were "brilliant" and added: "When this figure was produced last month our opponents immediately rubbished it. But this confirms this is not a blip. It is a trend. To rubbish one set of figures is unfortunate, but to rubbish two sets is carelessness."
"We are cock-a-hoop to know this is not a one-off and it confirms our own private research."
...The Tories refused to comment."
With the SSP only 2% behind the Tories, the party of the bosses, no wonder they refused to comment.
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Leftist Parties of the World - New Links
The monumental Leftist Parties of the World website has been updated. Check the link above for 106 new entries. The site aims to list the website of every leftist party in the world.
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:: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 ::
BBC NEWS | Scotland | Politician eyes Fringe benefits
And this story, of Tommy Sheridan appearing (briefly) in an Edinburgh festival fringe play, got much more media coverage than our stunning poll result yesterday, funny that.
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Pickets chase strike-breakers
Evening Times (Glasgow).
Unison strikers against private firm Sodexho at Glasgow Royal Infirmary confront scabs.
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:: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 ::
Latest poll shows more support for Sheridan
Todays Glasgow Herald poll is absolutely sensational news. It proves that last months poll was no fluke. In fact our support has increased. We are on an average of 8% for the list vote, across Scotland. That goes as far as 12% in Glasgow and 10% in the Highlands and Islands, Lothians, and South of Scotland. The tory party is now only 2% ahead of us on the list vote demonstrating that the SSP is on its way to become a major party in Scottish politics.
Our support increasingly comes from the radical left supporters of the SNP as well as Labour. The SNP are paying the price for Swinneys attempt to move the party to the right and their treatment of Margo McDonald. The Greens must be disappointed - they have not made the best of their opportunities and Robin Harper has not made the impact in parliament that many expected.
The SSP is now set to shake the establishment next May!
"The Nationalists will feel frustrated that a brake is apparently being put on their performance in list voting by the SSP, which can celebrate a second successive month of record support in both first and second votes."
"The Socialists are now in double figures in half of the Scottish regions and on an average 8% across the nation, enough to suggest that if this level of backing is maintained, Mr Sheridan could be joined by five party colleagues in the next parliament, according to independent analysis by Electoral Reform Ballot Services."
"System Three suggests the SSP is attracting 12% in Mr Sheridan's power base in Glasgow, and 10% in the Highlands and Islands, Lothians, and South of Scotland. His support of 6% in the first vote is also a record, but probably meaningless because the SSP is unlikely to win a constituency seat."
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Thanks for the links and mentions Loud Mouths and Wisse Words
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:: Monday, August 05, 2002 ::
The Scotsman - Politics - Sheridan urges McLeish inquiry
Scotlands former First Minister, resigned amidst revelations of financial irregularities. But he got a big payout from the parliament. Now the plot thickens.
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:: Saturday, August 03, 2002 ::
Executive has failed us say refugees
"A year down the line, we’re still waiting for the facilities that we demanded ...If it means that we have to take to the streets to get money out of them, then we will - but it will be the whole community, asylum-seekers and us united."
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:: Friday, August 02, 2002 ::
Revealed: Red Ken Livingstone's triumvirate of terror [The Rockall Times]
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:: Thursday, August 01, 2002 ::
The Herald: Scotland is sick woman of Europe
Poverty remains the common strand among risk factors and disease. Nearly half of all people in the most deprived areas still smoke. Cancer mortality is 40% higher than in affluent areas.
Finland used to have the highest rates of heart disease in Europe, until they introduced free healthy school meals for kids and the figures radically improved. See folks, voting New Labour is bad for your health.
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