:: Friday, October 30, 2009 ::

We're No' Payin'

20 Years Since the Poll Tax

This weekend if you are in Edinburgh and have a spare couple of hours you should get down to the wonderful Out of the Blue in Leith. For this weekend is the annual Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair. There are some great speakers, tons of books, posters, papers and zines to buy and a fantastic exhibition to view.

I went down on Wednesday night to check out the opening of the exhibition which celebrates twenty years since the movement against the poll tax. The exhibition looks at how street level community organising harnessed mass rage against the tax. Banners, leaflets and badges only tell some of the story. Check out the pictures of the mass blockades of streets in working class communities to block sheriff officers trying to carry out poindings (the valuation of goods prior to a warrant sale.) There was also a meeting with speakers recalling how the Anti Poll-Tax Unions got organised. Had a chuckle when an old comrade slapped a Militant - Pay No Poll Tax sticker on me that he found in his house.

Mass non-payment and mobilisation of communities ensured the end of the tax and the end of Mrs Thatcher. Twenty years on with mass unemployment, the prospect of huge cuts in public spending and fascism on the rise, we could do with some inspiration.

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:: Sunday, October 25, 2009 ::

Monty Python's Holy Ail

Monty Python's Holy Ail, originally uploaded by alister.

Purchased at Doune Castle which of course was also Castle Anthrax in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Delicious it was too.

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:: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 ::

Tram Trouble


Interesting article on the leftbanker blog analysing the financial crisis as it is affecting Edinburgh. The Guardian had a similar piece a couple of Saturdays ago, however leftbanker goes into much more financial detail based on new revelations from the council.

Leftbanker points out that there are likely to be big cuts in revenue from central government because of the billions spent on the bank bailout. At the same time rising unemployment in the financial sector in the city will mean a shortfall in council tax revenue of up to £10 million, not to mention increased benefits payouts like housing benefit. The blog also points to the cost of the new trams. The trams project faces a large shortfall.

The result according to leftbanker is "This means that the City council face either blindly going ahead with the project until the money runs out. Or make massive cuts to pay for the shortfall and/or raise the council tax. They would need to make a 30% increase in council tax to pay for the shortfall in the Trams budget and the reduced council tax revenues from the effects of the recession."

Leftbanker is pretty tough on the tram scheme ("The Trams project was essentially a carrot to developers to redevelop the Leith docks area with residential and commercial property. The plan was that the quick air-conditioned tram system could whisk the new well heeled residents of Leith Docks to the city centre and their highly paid jobs and exclusive shops without spending too much time in the company of the indigenous residents. It is in effect the ultimate bubble project.")and I think this is the weakness of the article. Whilst I can accept that the tram scheme is an integral part of the attempt to build a redevelopment/finance sector based infrastructure, it would have been a positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions. In my view the left need to start getting behind some solutions as well as just pointing out the problem. In Edinburgh we have failed to do this when it came to road tolls and now the trams.

The trams are certainly unpopular because, yes, roads need to be dug up to put them in place and buses diverted. But being in the minority is nothing to be scared of. Talking green is easy, acting green a bit more difficult. The problem is not trams, just that the tram scheme does not go far enough.

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:: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 ::

Waltzer the Softy

I love the internet. I love blogs, forums, tweets and even regular old websites. But there is still something magical about the written word printed on paper and lovingly bound for your delight. The smell of fresh ink on paper, can't see me sniffing a kindle somehow.

So great news that the Greatest Living Englishman Alan Moore is bringing out a new magazine in November. Dodgem Logic sounds from his description to be somewhere between Leo Baxendale era Beano and Oz. Which sounds great to me.

In a terrific interview on the mighty Mustard website Alan opines: "We want to provide something that is going to illuminate the rather dismal times that we are currently going through – and which I tend to suspect will be getting a lot worse – as well as giving people some practical information. Whether that’s under the rubric of our recipe pages, DIY clothing pages, articles on squatting or the more political articles. To keep people informed in a way the conventional media doesn’t do anymore."

I really cannot wait to read Dodgem Logic and it sounds exactly what Alan should be doing.

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:: Monday, October 19, 2009 ::

Doune Castle

Doune Castle, originally uploaded by alister.

As well as the smallest member of my family wielding the family Valyrian blade you can see a film crew setting up the castle for its part in the HBO adaptation of George R. R Martin's 'A Game of Thrones', here at Doune Castle near Stirling.

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:: Monday, October 05, 2009 ::

In memoriam, Mercedes Sosa, Managua, 1983

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