:: Thursday, January 29, 2004 ::

"We were all wrong"

Tony Blair's triumphalism over the Hutton report came on the same day that former US chief weapons inspector David Kay testified to the US congress. His testimony showed that he had come to the same conclusion as previous US weapons inspector Scott Ritter, UN inspector Hans Blix and the International Atomic Energy Agency's Mohammed ElBaradei.

  • Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.

  • Iraq was not supplying such weapons to other countries, actually Iraq had no significant weapons programs for nearly a decade.

  • The mobile weapons labs that Colin Powell revealed in his famous UN presentation were carriers of hydrogen for weather balloons.

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:: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 ::

The mighty Atom

This site now has an xml feed which means you can read it in your news aggregator. You can finda list of compatible software here. See the link on the left 'atom feed'. It uses bloggers new atom system which seems to be an alternative to the rss feed.
Also the comments are playing up, indicating there are 0 comments when there are several. I imagine this will sort itself out.

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:: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 ::

Mission Impossible

Reasons to be Impossible is a new blog from the oldest sectarian left group on the planet - the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

"Impossiblist socialists say if you want socialism, you have to stand for socialism and nothing but: no claims to be able to manage capitalism better than the capitalist parties, no cockamaymee reforms trying to change capitalism without abolishing it - only the clear and constant call for the abolition of the wages system itself."

You have to admire their dogged sticking to abstract propaganda and abstention from actual struggles. They are very consistent. The SPGB will always be with us.

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:: Monday, January 26, 2004 ::

Dumbing Down our History

I thought that Channel 4's 2 hour special commemorating the 20th anniversary of the miners strike, Strike - When Britain Went to War was very disappointing. The material was clearly there for an interesting and revealing documentary. Instead Channel 4 dumbed it down, turning it into something more like 'I Remember 1984' or 'top ten industrial disputes'. There were some who had something interesting to say such as Ann Scargill, the former head of the Metropolitan Police and others. So why fill it up with Alexei Sayle's inane recollections about Wham or John O'Farrell's pointless nonsense (featuring several factual inaccuracies). Was there any point in playing Phil Collins over shots of miners at soup kitchens or returning to work. No. It trivialised and demeaned what was one of the key events in Britain’s post-war history.

Hopefully the BBC's effort will make some amends, if I can bear to watch it. It is easy to forget the significance of the struggle in 1984-85. We had the creation of an unofficial national police force, the occupation of entire villages by police (and, it is said, troops). We had the extensive use of the intelligence services used in an industrial dispute. We had the relentless barrage from the media. All for the purposes of destroying effective trade unionism in this country.

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Can you tell what it is yet?

See me, I ken famous people. Congratulations to my old friend Maggie Milne who not only got to meet Rolf Harris but also produced the winning portrait of Meera Syal in the BBC's Star Portraits with Rolf Harris. And another old friend Susan is up for the Becks Future Award.

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:: Thursday, January 22, 2004 ::

Poised over the pause button*

Or "i know someone who knows someone who knows Allan Mcgee quite well"**


Indie MP3 is heaven for all you ageing indie-kids like me. Specialising in the golden age of C86 shambling jangly guitar bands it features an archive of all those hard to find, 7 inch vinyl only, tunes from the likes of the Close Lobsters, Wedding Present, Baby Lemonade etc. It will bring the memories flooding back. Yes I remember seeing Jesse Garon and the Desperados at the Bruce Hotel Dunfermline, when I was still at school. How I laugh at the memory of drunkenly annoying This Poison when they played at Dundee University. Not to mention being one of four people dancing at the first Wedding Present gig in Edinburgh. If only digital cameras were around then. The site does tend to bring out the 'High Fidelity' tendency, I must dust my early Creation Meat Whiplash, Primal Scream and Jesus and Mary Chain singles, in their cool plastic sleeves.

Also featuring a streaming radio station, forum, yahoo group and blog the site is run by a 36 year old beer enthusiast. Dodgy and illegal? Well as he says the site only contains stuff that is unavailable on CD and generally hard to get.

*Big Flame song, from a band named after 70's autonomist Marxist Scousers.
** The Pooh-Sticks

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:: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 ::

The Devil's Dictionary

The Devil's Dictionary explaining what all those bloggy terms really mean. For example:

warblog, noun

A syndrome, consisting largely of myopia and cognitive dissonance, that prevents the afflicted from perceiving the parts of reality that make them uncomfortable.

“My world is safe and warm, because of my warblog.”

Via LinkMachineGo

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:: Monday, January 19, 2004 ::

Poetic Justice

Former cadre of the International Marxist Group (British section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International), George Kerevan is no pal of the Scottish Socialist Party. George has regressed politically to embrace neo-liberalism in all its glory. These days he cosies up to SNP leader John Swinney, attempting to give the Clark Kent of the Scottish Parliament some intellectual gravitas. George, along with some of the rest of the coterie of washed up spin doctors and special advisors had threatened to expose the crazy agenda of creating a healthier, happier more egalitarian society (apologies if I sound like Michael Howard there). Obviously any sane politician should be privatising education, getting McDonalds to fund our schools and destabilising the world in the name of US imperialism democracy.

But George seems to have forgotten all this to come up with some surprising praise for an SSP initiative. Writing in his Scotsman column he says:

"Last week, Mr Fox shocked me by coming up with a sensible proposal. Unfortunately, it was so sensible that it was not taken seriously by a lot of the media. So, in the spirit of recognising a good idea, no matter whence it comes, I think the Scottish Parliament should endorse Colin’s suggestion that Scotland appoint its own poet laureate as a tribute to the national bard, Robert Burns."

Well he was right about the idea not being taken seriously. See for example the unamusing Allan Brown in the Sunday Times "The Scottish Socialist party has called for Scotland to appoint its own poet laureate, mainly because rabble-rousing keeps them busy and there weren’t any derelict swimming pools that required saving this week."

George suggests that the post should be privately funded, specifically by a whisky company. A brilliant suggestion for a nation with an appalling problem of alcoholism and binge drinking.

And he is not much better on the subject of Burns "Burns was a dedicated supporter of the only modern political revolution that did not end in tears and gulags, namely the American democratic one. It was successful because, above all, it protected the freedom of the individual from the encroachment of the state." Didn't do the slaves much good though, did it Dod? And besides Burns was also keen on the French revolution. To quote just the first three lines of 'The Tree of Liberty' (1794)

Heard ye o' the tree o' France,
I watna what's the name o't;
Around the tree the patriots dance,
Weel Europe kens the fame o't.
It stands where ance the Bastile stood,
A prison built by kings, man,
When Superstition's hellish brood
Kept France in leading-strings, man.

Upo' this tree there grows sic fruit,
Its virtues a' can tell, man;
It raises man aboon the brute,
It maks him ken himsel, man.
Gif ance the peasant taste a bit,
He's greater than a lord, man,
And wi' the beggar shares a mite
0' a' he can afford, man

This fruit is worth a' Afric's wealth,
To comfort us 'twas sent, man:
To gie the sweetest blush o' health,
And mak us a' content, man
It clears the een, it cheers the heart,
Maks high and low gude friends, man;
And he wha acts the traitor's part,
It to perdition sends, man.

George concludes "That means our poet laureate must be a master of words, not a hack; someone who can talk convincingly about love and sex as well as about politics. A bit like Robert Burns, really." Well on that we are agreed.

I say Keith Mackie (author of Doctor Who in the Style of Irvine Welsh) for poet laureate of Scotland and Mark E Smith for the equivalent post in England ("Ah Queen Mother Ah! Dead Ah! Prussian monarchy Corgi Atrocity Ah!")

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:: Friday, January 16, 2004 ::

Owl Reekie

J K Rowling has certainly come up in the world (to state the blatantly obvious). A mate of mine spotted her scribbling notes for the new Harry Potter novel in the Harvey Nichols cafe in Edinburgh. Watch out for the Prada quidditch stick.

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:: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 ::

Power to the Panda

The New York Review of Books spots an interesting dedication in the hit book about punctuation 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves,'

The book is dedicated to "the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers
of St. Petersburg," who, Ms. Truss writes, "in 1905 demanded to be paid
the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly
precipitated the first Russian Revolution."

She should have called the book "Battleship Pedantic". Geddit!?

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:: Monday, January 12, 2004 ::

I once ate 6 mars bars in half an hour

In the spirit of half man half biscuit, who always have a place here at perspective, some other classic 80's wits are still going - the less well known I Ludicrous. They authored such great tunes as Preposterous Tales in the Life of Ken McKenzie, the ultimate pub-bore tune

I lost a £1,000 playing brag last night
I flew to Amsterdam to start a riot
And I once saw the Palace score 4 goals away from home
and I've won every game of Trivial Pursuit I've ever played

1986's Three English Football Grounds, Sunday Lunch at the Geldofs/A Pop Fan's Dream (in leafy Surrey, where there is no famine) and many more.

And if anyone knows the current whereabouts of Ted Chippington please let me know.

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:: Friday, January 09, 2004 ::

Party Time

Brian Nugent of The Scottish Party (see post below) contacts me to point out that the main emphasis of TSP is for an independent Scotland outside the EU as opposed to the SNP position of 'Independence in Europe'. Brian is a former SNP candidate for Westminster and the Scottish Parliament and was a party member for nearly 30 years. He is also appealing for supporters to help him come up with the £150 fee to register with the Electoral Commission, so I think it is fair to say TSP is not a mass movement at this stage.

His founding document notes “Do we need to be part of the EU? Look no further than Norway for an answer. A country blessed by much the same resources and many more logistical problems than Scotland but one of the richest countries in the world. In comparison to Scotland, Norway is independent and has twice voted against membership of the EU!” This is quite true and the SSP has made the same point. However the question is also what you do with those resources when you have them.

The biggest source of dissent in the SNP seems to be from those on the left who see the leadership's move to the right on social and economic questions (eg their promises at the last election to give tax breaks to big business, that needy social group) as a sellout.

The recent defection of leading SNP left Lloyd Quinan to the SSP is indicative of this tension. With the SSP now gaining affiliation from RMT branches in Scotland the party is shaping up as the main force to the left of Labour, the SNP and the other big business parties.

I am sceptical about the political space this leaves for the likes of TSP. The main constituency would still seem to be those in fishing and similar industries, and the SNP, whose strongholds are in the rural North East, still have that area pretty much sewn up.

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:: Thursday, January 08, 2004 ::


ALE-FAN - The Blog - I'll drink to that ! is (you will not be surprised to learn) a real ale drinkers blog who have kindly linked to me. Features a nice post about The Ex. All of which reminds me of my annual pilgrimage to Fellows Morton and Clayton in Nottingham this yule for a pint of Post-Haste. Yummy. Combined with a trip to Page 45 its the perfect day out. "Perspective - you can really taste the hops"

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:: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 ::

:: FreeBatebi.com ..

:: Free Ahmed Batebi :: one of many imprisoned student activists in Iran. This is the website of 'The Committee to Save Ahmad Batebi', a useful source of info. Thanks to O in Tehran

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:: Monday, January 05, 2004 ::

Fishing for Votes

One of the interesting aspects of devolution has been the potential for small parties to take up space abandoned by the big parties. This has obviously been successful in the case of the SSP and the Greens not to mention the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. But there have been other attempts to do the same. The Tories have faced two attempts to replace them in the shape of the Scottish Business Party, which sank without trace, and the Scottish People's Alliance. The SPA showed potential with a couple of ex Tory MSP's signing up for them and a wealthy backer putting £50, 000 into their Scottish election campaign. It didn't do them much good though, they put in a derisory showing at the ballot box. One of the highlights of the election campaign for me was persuading two (rather posh) girls giving out SPA leaflets to bin them, having outlined some of the parties policies.

The SNP also faced a threat from the Fishing Party at the Scottish elections, but they failed to make the breakthrough getting only 2.28% of the vote in the North-East Scotland region.

The Fishing Party basically saw the tension between the SNP's support for the EU and the tough EU fishing quotas.

Now another party covering very similar ground has been formed, calling itself The Scottish Party. As party founder, and 30 year veteran of the SNP, Brian Nugent said in the Shetland Times "Voters in Scotland need look no further than the fishing industry in Shetland and Scotland to see how the EU looks after Scotland."

The SNP have been pretty dismissive (eg in this Sunday Herald article), and it does seem as if the founding member is, well, the only member.

So it seems unlikely that the Scottish Party will be a serious threat to the SNP, and more likely that it will end up as another fringe party.

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Fresh for 2004 II

Left Outlook - The Front Page is another new blog, from ex-RCP/Living Marxism type Dave Amis. The site includes an archive of his writing mostly for RCP fronts of various types. However Dave makes clear All my ties with the Institute of Ideas (IoI), 'spiked' and Internet Freedom are now severed completely. I'm on my own and looking for a new political home. The problem is, my association with the above and their predecessors, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) means I'm damaged goods as far as many people on the radical fringe are concerned! Does a long period of re-assessment and rehabilitation beckon before a political career (some evenings and weekends only) can be resumed? Don't worry Dave, I'm sure you'll find more outlets for your talent soon.

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Fresh for 2004

Cogito, ergo Zoom is the new blog from Scott McLemee, lefty writer and commentator on politics and culture. His site also features bits of writing on everything from Sartre to the folklore of the occult.

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