The Guillemots live at Edinburgh Liquid Rooms. Friday 26th May 2006.
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The Guillemots live at Edinburgh Liquid Rooms. Friday 26th May 2006.
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:: Tuesday, May 23, 2006 ::
Spooks, Nats and Oil
The SNP's Christine Graham MSP has an interesting article in the latest Scottish Left Review.
She looks at some recent revelations regarding state monitoring of the Scottish National Party and draws some interesting conclusions about what went on and what is STILL GOING ON.
"The use of informants and surveillance operations against the principal democratic political opposition in Scotland should be abhorrent to all true democrats. It is clear such tactics are being deployed against the party and I know from my own police insider that these files are `current and active'. What I'm trying to determine is the extent of this activity. It could well be that what we're seeing is directly connected to the options the British Prime Minister (Harold Wilson) and successive unionist governments of both Tory and Labour considered and implemented back in the mid 1970s; a strategy aimed at taking the `wind out of the SNP sails'. Ironic really given that it was Wilson's own well founded paranoia about the reach of the security service and covert intelligence which resulted in his introduction of the Wilson Doctrine, a convention which banned covert surveillance gathering by MI5 on MPs and which incidentally does not extend to cover MSPs. Indeed very recent reports show clearly that the real powerbase of the British establishment, the senior military generals and senior select Royals, both of whom had an arm lock around the neck of the Wilson administration for its duration, were quite prepared to use military force to ensure the sovereignty of their class and their view of how Britain should be. The SNP clearly had the capability to upset that apple cart and potentially still does.
The notion therefore that we are dealing with some benign and tolerant British establishment which cares neither one way or other whether Scotland goes its own way is a complete illusion. The reality is quite different and a long way from the cosy consensus politics we are so familiar with in Scotland today. The cosy politics ignores the true nature of the British establishment figures and organisations that are racked against Scotland and any attempt by us to see real social justice and prosperity redistribution take place. Amongst the documents that Kenny MacAskill uncovered was the thinly-veiled threat that the rump UK would have to use armed force to secure `its' strategic economic interests if Scotland chose independence. Professor Noam Chomsky described that disclosure as a'bombshell' and concluded that genuine democrats across the world, including those in the US, would be rightly horrified to learn of it."
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:: Monday, May 22, 2006 ::
I have an article on the new party in Norway in the current issue of the Scottish Socialist Voice. It is short and pithy, a bit like myself.
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:: Sunday, May 21, 2006 ::
Bolivia Support UK. Bolivia solidarity blog
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That Explains It
Prince Saud al-Faisal, as reported in The Washington Post, May 18 ("Saudi Warns Against Isolating Hamas"):
"You are dissatisfied with the results of the election which brought Hamas government," Saud added. "Of course we always warned against elections, that sometimes they bring results that you don't want. That's why we haven't applied the system yet in Saudi Arabia."
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:: Friday, May 19, 2006 ::
Pull the Udder One
Been a bit stuck for time and inspiration to blog much this week. So here is a picture of a cow.
Yes it's the Cow Parade.
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:: Monday, May 15, 2006 ::
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Go North Young Man
Back from Norway, land of the £5 pint, and the £9 sandwich. Not the place to go for a cheap weekend. I don't know how they can a-fjord it. ho ho.
But an interesting place for politics. The Red Electoral Alliance conference voted to follow the example of the SSP and merge the forces of its components to form a new left party capable of having a broad appeal. Particularly important given the fact that the rest of the left is currently in government.
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:: Thursday, May 11, 2006 ::
Stop the deportation of this Chilean origin musician, who is a victim of the current "foreign baddies" hysteria. His family came to Britain fleeing Pinochet. He was jailed following a pub fight and although it was a first offence, he now faces deportation. Go to the Friends of Ernesto website to check out the details and pledge your support.
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Wide Open Road
It's Grant's funeral in Brisbane tomorrow. I'll be in Norway at the RV conference. But I will raise a quiet glass to him. I started a Go-Betweens group on flickr, if you have any photo's you want to share.
In a strange aside, The Triffids are to reform (sans the late David McComb obviously) for two gigs in Belgium and Holland. Unlikely I will make it over there though. The Triffids are another brilliant Australian band and one of my favourites. They are promoting the forthcoming re-release of several of their albums in remastered form.
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:: Sunday, May 07, 2006 ::
Love Goes On
So I'm sitting in a deli in San Francisco having some lunch, waiting until it's time to get my bus to the airport. To my surprise my phone beeps, it's a message from my friend in Edinburgh. Grant McLennan has died.
I am still stunned by the news. I was a huge fan of Grant and the band he had with Robert Forster, the Go-Betweens. He wrote melodic, stirring and unforgettable songs, 'that striped sunlight sound'. They worked brilliantly with Robert's more edgy material. 16 Lovers Lane would be in my top ten albums any day of the year.
I can't believe I won't see Grant perform on stage again. I travelled to see the Go-Betweens several times, most recently in Bilbao. On the occasions I met Grant he was very kind and generous, stopping to chat and for photo's when I'm sure he had better things to do than talk to a drunk Scotsman.
Read more tributes at the Go-Betweens website, including this from Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake who toured with them when I saw them in Bibao:
"Francis called me earlier, and I'm still trying to take it in. It's terrible news. I am absolutely shocked. Grant was a wonderful person. Fantastic songwriter. Some of you may know that we were friendly with the Go Betweens, having played a number of shows with them over the years.
They were fantastic. Great music, lovely people. On the last night of the last tour that we did with them, only last year, Grant prepared us the legendary "go between" cocktail, basically taking whatever alcohol was near to hand, and mixing it together (that's how it appeared to me anyway) He was a sweetheart, a lovely, lovely guy. Always bright and engaging. Absolutely the life and soul of the party.
I'll be playing his music tonight, and thinking fondly of him and his beautiful smile.
He will be sadly missed. One of my heroes. Love you Grant."
Obit: Sydney Morning Herald and lots of other places.
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:: Wednesday, May 03, 2006 ::
Meanwhile back at the ranch
The fight is on to save the Canongate from the tender mercies of the developers. They want to kick working class families out of their homes to make way for hotels, conference centres and all that crap. The area is hot property since the Scottish Parliament set up there. The building set for demolition are historic and make up an essential part of the character of this area.
Residents are all for redeveloping some areas to create social housing, but this is all about profit.
Show your support at the Canongate Community Forum.
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Oh Say Can You See?
There were 100, 000 demonstrating on the streets of San Jose yesterday. The papers are saying 400 000 in LA but a guy from ANSWER who was unlucky enough to have to go on some dreadful right wing nbc talk show was saying a million. 400,000 in Chicago. One of the topics on that show was the controversy over that fact that someone has created a Spanish language version of the US national anthem. And the right are complaining about that. I would think they would be happy that anyone wants to show their 'patriotism'. Interesting in that it means different things to both sides. The immigrant movement want to say 'this is our country too'- quite rightly. The right wants to keep everything in English...to exclude latinos and other non-white immigrants.
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:: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 ::
A Nation of Immigrants
I'm in San Jose California right now. That means I was lucky enough to attend one of the massive demonstrations that took place all across the USA to protest against the proposed anti-immigrant law. Unfortunately the battery on my digital camera has died and I neglected to bring the charger (duh). So thanks to SlashChick on flickr for the above pic of the rally in San Jose.
It was a huge march, which I never saw the end of. Marchers were predominately dressed in white and were carrying a variety of flags, Mexican, Nicaraguan...but by far the most common was the stars and stripes. Now you won't see that too often on a demo in Europe, unless it is in the vicinity of some kerosene, but it clearly symbolised the struggle for full citizenship rights by people who are working hard at the jobs most Americans don't want to do. The TV news here was reporting that illegal immigrants generate $1.2 billion a DAY for the US economy. A quarter of agricultural workers are illegal. The economy could quite simply not function without them.
The march here in San Jose had everything from priests to Elvis impersonators but many young people and families. The most common chants were 'Si Se Puede' and 'La Raza Unido, jamás será vencido!' (apologies for my Spanish).
The truth is that this movement is moving beyond the legislation in question. Latino people in the US have found that they have real power and that they don't have to remain silent and in fear. Crucially they have power as workers and are conscious of that. This movement has developed almost entirely without the input of the small organised left in the US (they were invisible on the march I attended bar a couple of ANSWER placards). Working with this vibrant and dynamic new social movement will be a challenge that will need to be addressed.
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:: Monday, May 01, 2006 ::
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