:: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 ::

What's Italian for invoice?

Well Rifondazione Comunista in Italy are in a lot of trouble. To keep their place in the government coalition they are voting to send troops to Afghanistan and expand a NATO base.

And not only that they are using one of my pictures on their home page!

The original is here.

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:: Friday, February 23, 2007 ::

Get Your Trabbie Running

The DDR is not dead?

"Most people think East Germany ceased to exist in 1990, when the (East) German Democratic Republic was absorbed by the Federal Republic of (West) Germany. So did I. Turns out I was wrong: the GDR lives on, and in a very comfortable climate to boot: a small island off Cuba is the last official territory of the good old Deutsche Demokratische Republik."

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:: Monday, February 19, 2007 ::

Eighties, we're living in the Eighties.

The Shiny Toy Guns, originally uploaded by alister.

The Sounds/Shiny Toy Guns
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
Friday 16th February

For a change went to see two new bands although ironically both had major eighties influences in there somewhere. I should do it more often. Not only did the crowd look alarmingly arthritis-free they were also up for it. An enthusiastic crowd makes a nice change to the usual Edinburgh 'standing and staring' routine. The Sounds from Sweden not only had the crowd jumping but had some pretty nice tunes too with an electro-pop twist. The singer was clearly heavily influenced by Deborah Harry but I don't have a problem with that.

Shiny Toy Guns were a band of two halves really. I have heard them described as gothic electronica but that's not too accurate. The male singers U2esque vocals were not the highlight for me. I preferred the poppier stylings of the female vocalist. New Order were clearly a major influence but they seemed to be finding their own sound. Oh and the drummer deserves a mention for his bandage and KISS makeup.

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:: Friday, February 16, 2007 ::

Scotland and the Union

Scotland and the Union, originally uploaded by alister.

Union and Empire: Good for Scotland?
Professor Tom Devine, Chair Richard Holloway

Edinburgh University have scheduled a series of lectures and debates around the topic of the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union. The anniversary has come at a time when debate around the future of the Union has grown intense. The forthcoming Scottish elections have the prospect of seeing an SNP-led administration being formed, or at least of the SNP being the biggest party in the parliament. A referendum on independence is a real possibility for the first time, although the lib-dems today seemed to rule out supporting it therefore raising the spectre of a labour/lib-dem minority coalition. Interesting times anyway.

All of this doubtless helped filled the seats in the opulent environment of Edinburgh University's McEwan Hall.

Tom Devine pulled no punches in his contribution and there was something there to upset everyone, or to confirm their views. But that is history for you. He certainly flagged up the disproportionate contribution of Scots to the British Empire as administrators, engineers and soldiers. For example one third of colonial governors between 1850 and 1939 were Scots. Scotland itself saw an expansion of industry on the back of the Empire. Ship-building, steel and coal were all inter-related industries. Jute and cotton also expanded on the basis of the plundered raw materials of India. Devine argued that Scotland had a case of "mass amnesia" over its contribution to Empire.

But what was clear was that this massive wealth was not spread around and most Scots, far from benefiting, lived in positions of poverty and insecurity. Whilst the wealthy few bought up huge tracts of land and invested in grand building schemes most Scots lived in abject poverty. In 1867 two-thirds of Scots were unskilled labourers and two million lived in over-crowded conditions by the outbreak of the First World War. Millions emigrated abroad to seek a better life with only the Irish and Norwegians seeing a bigger proportion of their countrymen emigrate.

The army was one job option. Scots were used as imperial cannon-fodder and a 'martial spirit' was evoked. Perhaps because of this 30,000 Glaswegians signed up to fight WW1 by 1916. Devine argued that there was "an unrelenting use of Scots regiments as shock troops in battles". Losses were severe and one estimate is that Scotland lost more per head of population in the war than any other nation with the exception of Turkey and Serbia.

And the future? "The future isn't really my period" said the Professor.

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:: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 ::

Mair Blogs

A couple of new blogs for your perusal, both from SSP candidates for the May elections.

Councillor Jim Bollan

and Dumbarton's very own Les Robertson.

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:: Monday, February 12, 2007 ::

SLLU Voice

The first issue of the Second Life Left Unity Voice is out now.

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:: Sunday, February 11, 2007 ::

Simclar - The Truth

Workers in the Simclar factory in Ayrshire have been kicked out on the streets by the company management. Since then they have briefly occupied the plant and picketed other Simclar plants. Now they have a blog which is asking some pertinent questions.

"On the 29/01/2007 Simclar Ayrshire locked the gates on its 420 strong workforce.A statement from the company put the closure down to competition from the far east and falling orders.Significant efforts were made to make Ayrshire viable,they said.So why are there so many unanswered questions? Why did the company change owners weeks before? Why were our jobs advertised weeks ago at another plant? Where is the money we are due?"

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:: Monday, February 05, 2007 ::


From the Tories, to the Lib-Dems, party of government. Well they actually get fewer votes than the tories but make up the junior partner in the ruling coalition in the Scottish Parliament. With elections approaching the coalition partners have to stop being nice to each other and start with the slagging. But there is an interesting twist. What approach will the Lib-Dems take to the question of a referendum on Scottish independence should the SNP take power? Officially they are against having such a thing and favour a "federal Britain". But an internal poll of party members on their website showed a majority in favour (source: a comment in this article). An SNP-LibDem government? An outside bet but not impossible.

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:: Thursday, February 01, 2007 ::

Tory Aimless

The Scottish Tories haven't had their troubles to seek. The ranks have been seething at the poor performance of Annabel Gouldie as leader. We have also seen the launch of yet another centre-right party trying to do a better job for business than the Tories. The Scottish Democrats follow in the footsteps of the Scottish Enterprise Party.

But there seems to be a small problem with their new logo.

Not only is it different to the national logo (is that a more Scottish green colour? I dunno.)

but it also looks like a green party logo. More than one person I know mistook it for a Green Party logo. Not much like the actual Green Party logo, but just what people would imagine a Green logo to look like. Could this prove a problem for them in the May elections when all the party logos are printed on the ballot paper? Well, probably not, but it may cost them a vote or two. I suppose it could cost the Greens some too though.

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