:: Monday, February 28, 2005 ::

Kid Dakota

Kid Dakota, originally uploaded by alister.

Worth mentioning also is support act Kid Dakota. A white-stripesesque drum and guitar band they were entertaining and went down a storm with the audience.

:: Alister | 10:57 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

Low Live at Queens Hall Edinburgh

Low Live at Queens Hall Edinburgh, originally uploaded by alister.

From Duluth USA, came Low to the suitably sacred atmosphere of the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh. Their crowd was possibly the politest I have ever come across. I bump into someone whilst trying to get a good photo angle. They apologise and move out of the way. People who had camped out at the front give up their places so that shorter people can get a better view. Nice, no beer thrown, bring the family.

Highlights for me were 'over the ocean' and I liked 'monkey' from their new album (cute promo featuring this track here).

More Photos of Low in Edinburgh from me.

Review of Glasgow gig from the Herald

Photos of Glasgow gig.

:: Alister | 10:56 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (1) comments

:: Saturday, February 26, 2005 ::

New World In The Morning

New World In The Morning A new blog from SSP press officer Eddie Truman who always has something interesting to say.

:: Alister | 11:20 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Friday, February 25, 2005 ::



Gilbert Achcar on the Iraqi elections and after.

Washington's vain hope that Allawi's slate, along with other pro-occupation forces, could get a number of seats allowing them to perpetuate the puppet regime with the support of Kurdish members of the elected Assembly was shattered. Even though the UIA does not command the two-thirds of seats required for key decisions -- this according to the Bremer-devised Transitional Administrative Law, which is contested by the UIA and which Ayatollah al-Sistani vetoed when Washington tried to inscribe it in the UN resolution calling for the election -- it is by far the main pillar of the new Assembly, with more than half its seats.

:: Alister | 8:55 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments


In a blow to the New Labour Scottish Executive the Scottish Parliament has voted against ID card schemes. With every party voting against Labour, with the exception of their coalition partners the Lib-Dems who abstained (!), the Green party succeeded in getting a motion rejecting ID cards through the parly. But don't get too excited, it is of course a reserved matter. That is, Westminster will decide no matter what us dumb Scots think. But that raises an interesting point. Why should we have an ID card scheme foisted upon us when we have clearly rejected it?

:: Alister | 3:10 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Thursday, February 24, 2005 ::


snow, originally uploaded by alister.

It's snowing. Close the country.

:: Alister | 10:37 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 ::

Feral Scholar

Spent some time reading Stan Goff's blog. His analysis is always worth reading. The extract below is on the new shift in US intelligence.

P2OG (the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group), as David Isenberg wrote for Asia Times, represents “the largest expansion into the world of black ops and covert action since the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s.”

I encourage readers to do their web-homework on this group, because they will be behind a lot of headlines that lay the blame for shit at other people’s feet… if they haven’t already. (Think mosque bombings, think Lebanese assassinations, think anything that uses the name Zarqawi, then we should have a very high index of suspicion.)

Meanwhile, even though it’s still fun to beat up on the CIA, be aware… they are no longer the heavy breathers. Watch Negroponte. Watch Rumsfeld. And watch Alberto Gonzales. This is the new axis of… okay, I won’t go there.

:: Alister | 11:58 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 ::

Edinburgh is (traffic) hell

The Edinburgh congestion charge ballot has returned a No vote. So there will be no London style congestion charges. I must confess I voted against the party line on this one and voted Yes. Although the proposals were inadequate and did not take ability to pay into account, they were a necessary first step in dealing with Edinburgh's appalling congestion and pollution problems. This city was just not designed to deal with the volume of traffic on its roads.

Turnout was high in the all-postal ballot at 61.8%. 74% voted to reject the plan.

:: Alister | 3:05 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (4) comments

Glasgow is Hell

Evening Times reports that Glaswegian crime writer Denise Mina, author of the hit novel Garnethill amongst others, is to script some hellblazer comics. Could be interesting. Reviews on Constantine (the main man in hellblazer) are mixed. Guess I'll have to go see it and make my own mind up.

:: Alister | 3:05 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Monday, February 21, 2005 ::

Justice for Chile

My recent centre page article in the Scottish Socialist Voice is now available online. It is an interview with two of the lawyers currently involved in prosecuting Pinochet and also some background information on Chile's political scene and the revival of the left there in the Juntos Podemos coalition.

Juntos Podemos
El Siglo newspaper

:: Alister | 11:03 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

Red Dawn

Whilst Europe's political focus is on the Spanish referendum on the EU constitution, and Bush's visit there have been elections taking place in Portugal. The Socialist Party won power and the Left Bloc (Bloco Esquerda) took an impressive 6.38% of the vote winning 8 seats, an increase of 5. This follows on from the success of the Danish Red-Green Alliance who won 6 seats with 3.4% of the vote in the recent elections in Denmark. The RGA and Left Bloc have been involved with the European Anti-Capitalist Left group which also includes the Scottish Socialist Party and the LCR of France. It seems that the European left is on the advance once again.

2005 Results

PS: 2573302 (45,05%) 120 seats (+24)
PPD/PSD: 1638931 (28,69%) 72 seats (-32)
PCP-PEV: 432139 (7,57%) 14 seats (+2)
CDS-PP: 414855 (7,26%) 12 seats (-2)
B.E.: 364296 (6,38%) 8 seats (+5)
PCTP/MRPP: 47745 (0,84%) 0
PND: 39986 (0,70%) 0
PH: 16866 (0,30%) 0
PNR: 9365 (0,16%) 0
POUS: 5572 (0,10%) 0
PDA: 1604 (0,03%) 0

2002 results

Partido Social Democrata PSD 40.1% 105 seats
Partido Socialista PS 37.9% 96 seats
Partido Popular PP 8.8% 14 seats
Coligação Democrática Unitária CDU 7.0% 12 seats
Bloco do Esquerda BE 2.8 3 seats

:: Alister | 10:23 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Friday, February 18, 2005 ::

Welcome to the Spookshow

Tony Blair meets with other party leaders to discuss his plans to allow politicians (not judges let alone juries) to place people under house arrest. Indefinitely. With no trial. Meanwhile in Australia the Northern Territory government are defending the database they kept of citizens political views (calls to phone in radio shows etc). And over in the good ol' US of Stateside Prez Bush has appointed John Negroponte, organiser of Central American death squads, as Chief of Intelligence. Another great day for democracy.

:: Alister | 2:33 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 ::

Points of View

I have a report on the SSP conference on theInternational Viewpoint website.

:: Alister | 10:49 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (2) comments

Soak It In

Revolutionary Worker, paper of the US Maoist group the Revolutionary Communist Party, interviews SpongeBob SquarePants following the recent reactionary christian fundamentalist attacks on him.

An Absorbing RW Interview: In Hot Water with SpongeBob SquarePants | rwor.org

RW: Recently there was also an attack on another cartoon, "Postcards from Buster," because it featured Buster visiting a girl in Vermont who had two mommies. This time it was the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings who launched the attack, saying that "OMany parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyle portrayed in the episode." I think you’re right. The fact that the people who are saying this are actually the people who are now in power makes this even scarier.

SpongeBob: Well, if this isn’t a sign of Christian Fascism on the rise, I don’t know what is. And if you don’t mind me citing Lenin, since you’re a communist and all.

RW: Go right ahead, I didn’t know you read Lenin.

SpongeBob: My collection is a little waterlogged. But anyway to paraphrase Lenin in What Is To Be Done, I wonder why we toons "manifest little revolutionary activity in response to the persecution of the most innocent cultural undertakings."

RW: Do situations like this make it hard for you to even think of visiting the human world?

SpongeBob: Yes. You see, in that letter that I mentioned earlier, Dobson also said, "Make absolutely sure your child is not being targeted for this purpose. If it happens in his or her classroom, take an army of like-minded people to the next board meeting, and let your voices be heard to the rooftops." An army of like-minded people who only believe what the Bible says and have no tolerance for other people of different sexual orientations—that’s not exactly the kind of welcoming committee I would hope for. You see, we sponges are not known for getting married. We reproduce asexually, which for Dobson I’m sure is considered a sin.

RW: That’s interesting. I’m a big fan of your show, and from watching it I would not have known that you’re asexual. But, I guess that’s because cartoons aren’t real.

SpongeBob: ( laughs ) We’re as real as the stories in the bible.

:: Alister | 10:12 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (1) comments

:: Monday, February 14, 2005 ::

The Fair City

Colin Fox and Tommy Sheridan, originally uploaded by alister.

Some of us feared the worst, but the Scottish Socialist Party's annual conference in Perth turned out to be one of the most united and succesful to date. What was clear was that there was a real mood for unity in the party, to draw a line under Tommy Sheridan's resignation and the subsequent convenorship contest and to turn outwards. The choice of who to vote for in the convenors election was difficult for many of us. Colin is a better known candidate, as he is an MSP. He is also better at communicating outside of the party activists than Alan McCombes. On the other hand Alan has a record second to none as a tactician and leader, he was one of the architects of the campaign of non-payment of the poll tax and steered the creation of the SSP. Colin's victory means the party can move on and build a team which will put in a credible showing at the general election and will play the leading role in opposing the visit of the G8 to Scotland (nice to see the Scottish Tourist Board helping out the protestors by the way!)

I found myself moving the second motion of the conference in the debate on Iraq, in which the party took a very good and correct position, rejecting attempts to give "unconditional" support to the the Iraqi resistance, whilst supporting the Iraqi people's right to resist and laying emphasis on providing solidarity for socialist and labour movement organisations in Iraq.

And finally I want to thank Citylink bus driver Rab, who not only went out of his way to track me down when I left my mobile phone on his bus, he also charged it up for me. What a cool guy.

:: Alister | 9:33 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Friday, February 11, 2005 ::

Wax on Wax off

soulwax2, originally uploaded by alister.

Soulwax Edinburgh Venue 10th February 2005

There seems to be something of a trend towards old school synth sounds these days. The Killers are the best known example, using those warm Korg tones reminiscent of the Duran records of ones youth. Another is soulwax. These creative Belgians make great use of the 80's keyboard sounds combined with guitars, vocals and drums. At times sounding like Donna Summer at others like Def Leppard. Highlight of the night was probably the main sets closer 'Too many DJ's'.

:: Alister | 6:03 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Thursday, February 10, 2005 ::


Rejoice, rejoice! A mighty blow for republicanism has been struck

:: Alister | 10:36 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (2) comments

:: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 ::

All Aboard the Convenorship

For Socialism & Independence - Journal

Alan McCombes blog covering his bid for the convenorship of the SSP has moved. The new one is above.

(update: typo fixed)

:: Alister | 9:59 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 ::

Return to the Forbidden Planet

One Edinburgh blogger who has been hitting the headlines in a big way is Joe at the The Woolamaloo Gazette. I actually read about his story in El Mercurio de Valparaiso, with the words 'blogger de Edinburgo' jumping out the page somewhat. Joe was sacked from his job at Waterstones in Edinburgh because he gave his opinion about his boss on his blog. His case was taken up throughout the web by such luminaries as Neil Gaiman. And now he has a new job as SF expert at Forbidden Planet in Edinburgh. This is a shop I have been known to frequent so I'll be seeing you Joe.

:: Alister | 11:44 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Friday, February 04, 2005 ::

A New Viewpoint

I see that International Viewpoint has a new website. Looks very good but more importantly the content is thoughtful and of a high standard. There are other comprehensive Marxist news sites like In Defense of Marxism and the World Socialist Web Site, but frankly you could write most of the articles by computer programme.

Included in the new site is a report on the World Social Forum, which saw controversy over the path taken by Brazilian President Lula, whose PT dominates the forum.

Bob Crow of the RMT recently visited the Scottish Parliament and told the story of his visit to the WSF. He was billed to speak at one of the big rallies. Immediately before Hugo Chavez. No pressure then.

Chavez' speech is interesting. Here is a little excerpt.

"Everyday I become more convinced, there is no doubt in my mind, and as many intellectuals have said, that it is necessary to transcend capitalism. But capitalism can’t be transcended from with capitalism itself, but through socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. But I’m also convinced that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of democracy being imposed from Washington," he said.

"We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition," he added.

Chavez said that Venezuela is trying to implement a social economy. "It is impossible, within the framework of the capitalist system to solve the grave problems of poverty of the majority of the world’s population. We must transcend capitalism. But we cannot resort to state capitalism, which would be the same perversion of the Soviet Union. We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one, which puts humans and not machines or the state ahead of everything. That’s the debate we must promote around the world, and the WSF is a good place to do it."

He added that in spite of his admiration for Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, he said Che’s methods are not applicable. "That thesis of one, two, or three Vietnams, did not work, especially in Venezuela."

The President cited Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky by saying that "each revolution needs the whip of the counterrevolution to advance." He listed actions by the opposition and the U.S. government to drive him out of power. "But we resisted, and now have gone into the offensive. For instance, we recovered our oil industry... In 2004, from the oil industry budget we utilized $4 billion in social investments, education, health, micro-credits, scholarships, and housing, aimed at the poorest of the poor, what neoliberals call waste of money. But that is not a waste of money because it is aimed at empowering the poor so that they can defeat poverty. He added that "that money before stayed out of Venezuela or just benefited the rich."

He criticized privatizations by saying that "privatization is a neoliberal and imperialist plan. Health can’t be privatized because it is a fundamental human right, nor can education, water, electricity and other public services. They can’t be surrendered to private capital that denies the people from their rights."

:: Alister | 10:28 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (0) comments

:: Thursday, February 03, 2005 ::

Defend SpongeBob SquarePants!

Dr. Dobson's Newsletter: Setting the Record Straight

The American fundamentalist right are always good for a laugh, well they would be if they weren't so powerful. Witness this from family.org which spends its time fighting 'diversity' and 'tolerance' "which are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy" according to them.

"If you had told me a month ago that I’d be devoting my February letter to a cartoon character named SpongeBob SquarePants, I’d have said you were crazy."

He holds hands with a starfish it seems.

Parents, I urge you to keep a close eye on your sons and daughters. Watch carefully everything that goes into their little minds. Monitor their textbooks and the words of their teachers.

Focus on the Family will continue to help you fulfill this task of bringing up your children "in the fear and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

Sounds like a lot of fun in Dr Dobson's house.

:: Alister | 2:12 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (1) comments

:: Wednesday, February 02, 2005 ::

B for Belmarsh

v for vendetta

A nightmarish world where the government install cameras on every street to monitor the citizens. Identity papers must be carried at all times. Any citizen can be detained indefinitely without trial by the government. How far fetched.

Alan Moore's V for Vendetta portrayed one insane gay anarchist terrorist's response to a dystopian fascist society with certain resemblances to Thatcher's Britain. Christ knows what Hollywood are going to do with it though. One website is reporting it is set in a world where Germany won WW2, whereas in the original fascism was imposed in an internal coup following a nuclear war, which puts a completely different slant on it. Sections of the British ruling class have contemplated a military coup from time to time. Other websites report the original plot will be used.

The opening scene is the fawksian demolition of the houses of parliament with high explosives by V. Guess they're aiming at the blue states.

:: Alister | 10:28 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | | (2) comments