:: Thursday, May 24, 2007 ::

The Sad Truth

The perfect gift for the blogger in your life.

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:: Monday, May 21, 2007 ::


I am really looking forward to Control the new film about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. The film is by the classic post-punk Photographer Anton Corbijn, who did so much to create the classic stark, industrial image of the band. The film promises to be much darker than 24 Hour Party People, the Factory Records movie which covered similar ground (very well).

So dust off your greatcoat, and start practicing your chicken dance. There is no trailer yet for Control, but here is a classic clip of Joy Division from YouTube.

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:: Friday, May 18, 2007 ::

Big John, Littlejohn

Someone has been playful with the reviews of right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn's book on Amazon.

"After reading this book, I decided to put two fingers up to the evil siamese twins of political correctness and Health and Safety by racially abusing a Nigerian immagrant WITHOUT wearing the regulation safety goggles as ordered by EU working-time directive EE38. He then congratulated me for doing so as he realised that by JUST being a Nigerian, he shared collective responsibilty for his scam-email sending fellow countrymen and probably anything else evil that any black people have done ever. Naturally he didn't try and ascribe responsibilty to me for any evil things white men have done because a) there are none and b) it doesn't count for white people anyway. He then gave me his job and deported himself."

Richard Littlejohn has, in just 320 pages, done what took Hitler over 600!"

"This book, which contains hundreds, possibly thousands of words"

"One is reminded of Orwell, who once said "Every book is a failure." Well Orwell was clearly a fool and had not stumbled upon 'Littlejon's Britain' whilst browsing on Amazon, for no educated man could dare claim this seminal piece of literature a failure. If, as H.G. Wells assures us, that "Good books are the warehouses of ideas" then this book is a vast chasm of a warehouse, overflowing with such a smorgasbord of enlightened ideas that may liberate us from the shackles of contemporary liberal Britain. Oh how i feel complete having read this book, now i truly understand the meaning of Bernard Shaw's musing, "Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love and beauty." LittleJohn i am indebted to you. hurrah"

There are 75 of these, all hilarious.


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:: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 ::

Furry International

Red Wombat's and Red Squirrel's. What is going on?

I'm working on a revamp of this blog by the way, try to contain your excitement.


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:: Friday, May 11, 2007 ::

Who Voted SNP?

An interesting analysis of the Scottish elections, by Murray Smith over on the Canadian New Socialist website.

Despite the controversy over the union and the hysteria whipped up by the Labour Party in particular, the vote was much less than the first Scottish Parliament election and only slightly more than the second. So where did the extra SNP votes come from. Labour? No, their vote was down only by about 10, 000. The combined vote of the smaller parties was down 150,000.

"These elections were a triumph for the Scottish National Party (SNP), which won 47 seats out of 129 (20 up on last time) to Labour’s 46 (4 down). Any idea that they were essentially a defeat for Labour rather than a victory for the SNP does not resist an examination of the facts and figures. In a rather confused article in this week’s Socialist Worker, Neil Davidson writes of “a serious desire on the part of voters to punish Labour for its many crimes”. But later in the same article he notes that “the great majority of new SNP seats came from the smaller parties, not from Labour”, which is much more relevant. In fact the Labour vote fell, in the constituency section, from 659,879 (34.6 percent0 in 2003 to 648,374 (32,2 per cent) in 2007. Hardly a severe punishment. And in the regional lists it actually went up from 561,379 (29.3 per cent) in 2003 to 595,415 (29.2 per cent) in 2007. In fact the big drop in the Labour vote was between 1999 and 2003, when it lost 250,000 votes in the constituencies and nearly as many in the regions. The SNP on the other hand went up from 449,476 (23.8 per cent) in 2003 to 664,227 (32.9 per cent) in 2007 in the constituencies and from 399.659 (20.9 per cent) in the regional lists in 2003 to 633,401 (31 per cent) in 2007. That brings the SNP in votes to its level of 1999, though its percentage is higher because of an 8 per cent less turnout in 2007 compared to 1999.

So the main reason for the SNP’s victory is that a lot more people voted for them in 2007 than in 2003, and those votes did not come from Labour to any significant extent. In fact there was a real polarisation between the nationalist vote and the unionist vote, and specifically between the SNP and the main unionist party, the Labour Party. Where did the SNP’s extra votes come from ? Well, Labour’s coalition partner the LibDems lost 40,000 votes in the constituency section. Maybe some of those went to the SNP, probably not many. But the combined SSP, Green and Solidarity vote in the regional lists was 150,000 down on the SSP-Green vote in 2003 and since the SSP didn’t stand this time in the constituencies, there were 117,000 votes looking for a home. Add in a 2.4 per cent increase in turnout, which perhaps favoured the SNP, and you start to make up the difference in the SNP vote between 2003 and 2007."

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:: Thursday, May 10, 2007 ::

If voting changed anything...

I read somewhere that if Venezuela had lost 100, 000 votes then Bush and Blair would be calling for tanks to roll through the streets of Caracas. Here in Scotland it turns out that there were actually closer to 142,000 votes disqualified in last weeks Scottish elections.

Well they have sworn in the new MSP's so the chance of a re-run is slim to none.

You can protest though and call for Scottish secretary Douglas Alexander (a man I once campaigned for to be rector of Dundee University when he was high heid-yin in NUS Scotland) to resign and for a proper independent enquiry. Sign the petition organised by the YouScotland site.

Oh, and we still don't have a government yet.

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:: Friday, May 04, 2007 ::

Circus Games

The story of the Scottish elections so far have been dominated by the chaos of the voting system. Most regional votes still haven't been announced and up to 100, 000 spoilt papers have been recorded. Constituency after constituency reported 1000, 1200 or more spoiled papers. In the overwhelming number of cases this will be because of voters making mistakes and voting wrongly, for example marking a cross on their council paper or numbering their Scottish Parliament paper. The decision to have both the council elections and the Scottish parliamentary elections on the same day, with two different voting systems and three different votes was a disaster.

Instead of two ballot papers for the constituency and the regional lists there was one with the regional list on the left (although previously this was popularly known as the 'second vote'. The paper said to mark two crosses on this ballot paper with an arrow pointing directly down to the regional list vote (although it meant one for each vote). Those mistakenly marking two votes on the regional list had their votes discounted.

On Radio Scotland polling clerks and counting clerks are saying that smaller parties suffered worst from this confusion.

Additionally, unlike in previous elections, ballot papers were not supposed to be folded before being placed in a ballot box. This would be confusing for older voters especially. It's not clear whether this would invalidate these votes, though I tend to think not.

In addition to that a new electronic counting system was introduced and there were major problems with the postal voting system. In some constituencies the winning parties majority was smaller than the number of spoiled papers.

It has been a terrible night for democracy.

For the left the night has been bad. In reality our hopes were to get maybe one or two seats. However neither side of the SSP split have succeeded in being elected (there are still some results to come in as I write but this is how it looks like turning out). In the previous Scottish Parliamentary elections the fact that the left was united made it credible and gave it a boost that was more than the sum of its parts. The reverse has proved to be true this time with a divided left losing credibility all round. But probably a bigger factor was the big swing to the SNP and the polarised situation between the SNP and Labour. SNP votes went up in the constituencies and on the regional list. They recovered the list vote in spectacular fashion and smaller parties suffered accordingly.

From here we can only look for consolation in the council election results. After that we need to re-assess where we are politically. A divided left is not viable but overcoming that division could take years. Campaigning will return to the streets, workplaces and communities. A lot will also depend on the outcome of the election. A neo-liberal SNP government will expose their politics although the possibility of constitutional crisis may overshadow that. A weakened labour coalition will lead to a heightened polarisation between the SNP and Labour and the circus will carry on.

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:: Thursday, May 03, 2007 ::

Game Day

Don't forget to vote folks. We need a party of the left in the parliament to keep the pressure on whichever gang of neo-liberals gets elected, SNP or Labour. Giving your regional list vote to the SSP will send a message that Scots want a country with no place for poverty, hatred or warmongering.


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