Whether we sing in tune or not, after the Revolution, Scottish Labour are facing the music.

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There is an iconic scene in David Lean’s  Dr Zhivago, where the rich and privileged are dining in glittering splendour  and the huddled masses marching for bread, stop their march and sing outside.  In an effort to remove the tension  Viktor Komarovsky  quips “No doubt they’ll sing in tune AFTER the revolution” to laughter and a standing ovation.  Thus demonstrating how unassailable the privileged in Czarist Russia believed their positions to be, and how small a threat revolution posed, but ultimately how out of touch their instincts were.

Later the same scene is described from the point of view of the hungry, Pasha Antipov claims “There’ll be no more peaceful demonstrations. There were women and children, Lara, and they rode them down. Starving women asking for bread. And up on Tamskaya Avenue the pigs were eating and drinking and dancing.”

On October 30th in Glasgow, Gordon Street became Tamskaya Avenue for a few hours, as hundreds of protesters, many homeless, many representing the 34 food banks in Glasgow, demonstrated outside the Grand Central Hotel where Scottish Labour held their £100 a plate dinner, and  eye witness reports claim that diners looked down on the crowd while sipping their champagne. Many of the diners, perhaps their consciences pricked, or vaguely aware of the grotesque juxtapositions of the positions of those inside to those outside, or for fear of reprisals eschewed the main entrance opting instead for the back door. Jim Murphy, Westminster’s leader in waiting for Scotland, brazened it out at the front, dropping off a food parcel at the food bank collection as he went in, though whether it matched the value of his dinner in contents hasn’t been revealed

And all of this carried on against a back drop of resignations within the party leadership in Scotland and a poll suggesting Labour could lose 36 seats in Scotland, all but destroying Miliband’s  chance of a majority in Westminster in a tight General Election race. The placards said it all “Labour the Judas Party, Enjoy Your Last Supper”. All the while Miliband, with  Komarovsky like dismissal of the reality facing him, deludingly claimed “We will do what the SNP has not done and will never do: deliver an agenda that meets the needs of working people in Scotland.” All of this, despite the reality of Labour voters in their heartlands deserted them over independence and the SNP now being the second largest political party,  by membership, in the UK  from a population smaller (as were always being told) that the city state of London

Labour talk of the “revolution” that Scotland demand, of the extraordinary events which unfolded in this small country, of the profound difference the debate has and will generate, while the media claim that  post “indy”  UK politics will never be the same, that moulds have been broken. No-one living here could disagree. Meanwhile those that campaigned for independence continue to grow in numbers  and say there is no going back, and a further momentous political ground shift may occur at the General Election if even half of the expected number of SNP seats are won. Yet Miliband continues to think that an £8 an hour minimum wage, a 50p tax rise for those earning over £150,000 and a promise to tax bankers bonuses are so revolutionary and are so breaking of the mould that they will turn the tide up here back in their favour. Where as in fact they are the very least a so called just society could demand. The only thing the Johann Lamont has said in recent weeks that was accurate and heartfelt, is that Labour have no idea what’s happening in Scotland to their vote.

Those of us who cut our teeth on Labour politics could never really understand why Scottish Labour didn’t back independence fully, assuring them the real possibility of lasting power up here, against the real chance of never having power in the UK again.

Within the Scottish parliamentary Labour Party there were several shaking heads too. The ONLY way Labour in Scotland will ever be the force it once was will be to cut ties with London and be what they say on the tin:  a Labour Party for Scotland. The only trouble is while they hum and haw, and dine and sup, about this and that, they will, on looking over their shoulders, find that others have taken up their mantle of social justice and equality, others are wearing their clothes and others are singing their songs.

We might sing in tune after the Revolution Mr Miliband, but even if we do not; Scottish Labour and Labour UK are sure set to face the music.

And so it begins…..Entente Cordiale at the expense of the vulnerable

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And so it begins

On 27th October, an event in Glasgow celebrated and rewarded the successes of asylum seekers and refugees in their efforts to integrate- and for those who are allowed to work- to recognise their contribution to their new society. The employers who play such a part in this were also rewarded and applauded by the 120 or so people who attended. In my speech I robustly and passionately defended the record of my company The Bridges Programmes in this work but warned the audience that with just over 6 months to go to the General Election that we knew that race, and in particular, immigration would be one of the main battlegrounds for votes, and with the main UK parties outdoing each other with tough talk, that while we may not know who is going to win the election we know that migrants both forced and voluntary will be the losers.

Expect lazy journalism, I warned, where the difference between those that flea from persecution are confused with, and lumped in with, those that come voluntary looking for a better life. Because wanting a better life is NOT the sole desire of people in the wealthy West.

It started the weekend before with the Defence Minister Fallon’s ill-chosen use of words talking about being swamped and under siege by foreigners. While he apologised later the damage is done the papers and media reported and revelled in it. Like the barrister who in court makes outrageous statements which a judge tells a jury to ignore, these things cannot be unsaid and Fallon and the government know it.

But even Nigel Farage couldn’t have predicted the gift that would be given to the anti-migrant cohorts with the intervention of the centre right self-serving mayor of Calais Madame Bouchart who crossed the channel – in more comfort we have to assume that many migrants- to lecture the UK Parliament no less on its benefits and asylum system. Bit of a turn up that, given that we certainly don’t want Johnny Foreigner to import their brand of trade unionism and activism and we don’t want to know that they think about the UKs involvement in illegal foreign wars, but suddenly it’s fine to have their views on our asylum system and its effect on asylum seekers based in France.

But before we begin to count the holes in Bouchart’s arguments let’s just for the sake of clarity understand what we are talking about.
Migrants as opposed to asylum seeks from outside the EU are not entitled to benefits until they can turn their entry visa into indefinite leave to remain which can be between 5-10 years. Migrants from outside the EU get entry visas to support a work permit for a job they are coming to, for study with restrictions on that too regarding benefits and ability to work, or as family members who have no recourse to public funds.

Migrants from inside the EU have to wait 3 months to be eligible for benefits but those are not the people the Mayor was talking about.
Migrants without entry visas are illegal and not entitled to benefits at all.

So the only people waiting to cross ,by her own admission, and evidence are people coming to claim asylum and just to be clear about this there is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker and asylum seekers are not migrants.

Got that?

Good. Then let’s get on with the blog.

The simplistic message from Madame Le Mayor was this: stop being so bloody generous to asylum seekers in the UK and they will stop coming to France and especially my back yard of Calais trying to gain admittance to “Eldarado” as she ironically referred to it. The UK government and the right wing press rubbed their little white hands in glee and will clearly stop at nothing, even colluding with the French, to promote the misinformation and vilification to little Englanders.

Now I don’t expect a reasoned and accurate review of the facts in the UK media anytime soon but here’s a small attempt to set the record straight.

Calais
Mary Tudor on losing England’s last foothold in France said when she died Calais would be carved on her heart. David Cameron might be thinking the same thing. The shortest crossing to the UK it’s been a place where migrants and asylum seekers have gathered for decades. In 2002 the official refugee camp run by the French and the Red Cross at Sangatte was closed down by Nicolas Sarkozy when he was Minister for the Interior, as much at the demands of the UK government as the French. In 2009 when President he went further demanded the destruction of the informal camps that sprung up when the formal camp was taken down. He called for the destruction of the Jungle as he saw it. When President Hollande got his hands on the Elysee Palace however, in a humanitarian gesture he said that a series of small camps with basic shelter and cooking facilities should be re-established in the North of France to support migrants living there, run by officially recognised NGOs to provide a vestige of humanitarian support, and more crucially to countermand the rise of violence, mafia like activities and people trafficking which had increased in the feral atmosphere of the informal and irregular camps. These small camps have now been set up around , though not in, Calais and surprise surprise but Mayor Bouchart has gone on the record to say she SUPPORTS this humanitarian move if it means that these people are no longer living in poor conditions or in her back yard in the suburbs of Calais. She is concerned she says not so much by the plight of the tragic individuals living there as the very same rise in violence, mafia like activities and people trafficking that she has seen develop in the last ten years. So perhaps this is the real reason Madame Le Mayor is exercised. With a view to her own political future and re-election she wants to be seeing tough on asylum seekers and in an example of NIMBYism that is quite breath-taking is blaming an asylum sysstem in another member state for being too generous. That’s a bit like blaming the rise of heart failure and alcohol abuse amongst the middle classes on a surfeit of Camembert and French wine. Ridiculous.
Eldorado it’s not
So let us examine this fabled generosity of the UK system. Asylum seekers are housed in community housing in a number of local authorities across Britain through a contract between private housing companies and the UK government to utilise poor quality housing stock that otherwise could not be rented. As they are living in the community they are in receipt of a single person’s weekly allowance of £36 from which they must feed and clothe themselves and use public transport. It equates to about 50% of income support levels and has remained static for over 5 years. They must live where they are put and report weekly (sometime more regularly) to a reporting centre to prove they are still around. For some in Glasgow the cost of that reporting trip is equivalent to a day’s worth of their allowance. They have limited access to health care, full access to schools for their children and no right to work. Initial decisions (80% are no) are normally granted within 6 months so they have no right to appeal to be given the right to work under EU rules that say if there is no initial decision within 12 months limited access to work can be applied for. Over half of the right to remain granted are as a result of appeal proving that the initial decision system is not robust. In England asylum seekers can access no support, help or training that might promote their speedy integration and entry into the labour market should they being granted Leave to Remain. In Scotland integration is deemed to be from day one so access to wider integration services is allowed including English lessons. So it’s not living in a cardboard box on the French north coast but it’s not exactly easy street.
The French system
Now compare this to the French system. Asylum seekers are housed in reception centres and fully provided with food, clothing, heating and other essential services such as French lessons and integration programmes, so there is no need to grant most of them additional funds though asylum seekers with families are able to access other French social service payments. They have access to Universal Health Care and education for their children. So its arguable that though asylum seekers in France like many other parts of Europe have restrictions on their movements thy are not materially worse off than those in the UK.

French politicians accuse their system of sending out a message that THEY are the soft touch, not the UK. So suddenly the UK system doesn’t look quite so much like Candy Mountain. So maybe the further motivation for Bouchart’s claims is less to do with people striving to get to the UK and more to do with what is widely recognised as a French asylum system in in crisis, at least that’s what a French Parliamentary report in April of this year thinks.  So is the rise of Mme Bouchart a cynical attempt by the French trying to blame someone else for their own mess, sacre bleue!!

The report highlighted long-drawn-out and ineffective procedures and spending way over budget. But, although the number of applicants has almost doubled in the last four years, it is still far from the record numbers reached in 1989 and 2003. And there is NO EVIDENCE what so ever that this doubling of numbers in the last 4 years has meant the numbers congregating at Calais have increased to the same extent. If anything the numbers have decreased, and interestingly the numbers of asylum seekers coming to the UK hasn’t doubled n the last 4 years but has been cut m by more than half!
And here’s another interesting fact about the inefficiency and failure of the French system: costs have soared 70 per cent since 2008 while the number of demands has risen just 55 per cent, so somebody somewhere is being a tad careless with the Euros yet French MPs say that relevant agencies are “chronically underfunded”. Interesting, non?
The report also targets long-drawn-out administrative procedures (sometimes 2 years before an initial decision against the UK’s 6 months, that frequently do not result in failed applicants leaving the country so it can’t be refused asylum seekers “dying” to get to the UK then as according to their own figures France says refused asylum seekers are staying put.

So maybe the reason for all the asylum seekers in Calais is less to do with the race for London and more to do are because of a poorly run French system but a system attractive enough and “generous enough” to mean people are quite happy to be in France. Oh and all those asylum seekers coming to France might just a have a little to do with that country’s colonial past and the fact they are happily bombing civilians in Syrian and Iraq.
Not convinced?
OK if you are still not convinced let’s look at what the people involved are saying about it all themselves. No-one yet interviewed by the BBC has admitted it’s the generosity of £36 a week that’s leading them to risk their lives. What they DO say is they believe that the UK respects and understands Human Right (ironically just as Cameron says we’ll ditch the Human Rights Act) and that British people are fair and kind. They also talk about wanting to work, and no they don’t mean on the grey market. I’ve never met a migrant or asylum seeker yet who gets up in the morning and says yippee I can’t wait to be hired by a gang master today and exploited and work for £1 an hour.
In 2002 the UK government commissioned a huge piece of research through University of Cardiff as to why people come to the UK as migrants and asylum seekers, with the aim of proving it’s all to do with the benefits. Unsurprisingly this research got buried because the results were NOT what was expected. Turns out it’s not the benefit system people are after (most didn’t know anything about the system before they got here) it’s because of our colonial past, the belief that UK does stand up for the underdog, that English is spoken, that we have a multi-cultural and diverse society and more recently, as we have sought to bring down dictators people suffering at the hands of these dictators expect, not unnaturally to my mind, the UK might help them get their lives back.

And every time since 2001 people have tried to prove that migrants and asylum seekers are here for what they can get rather than what they can contribute, the benefit system is never mentioned. And remember from way back up at the top of this blog no migrant as opposed to an asylum seekers has automatic right to benefits when they arrive. But Maybe Madame Bouchart knows something that we don’t.
When is a UK asylum seeker not a UK asylum seeker?
There is another element to this whole debacle that Bouchart surely is aware of but chooses to ignore. Thanks to an odd bit of EU legislation called Dublin II it states that if t can be proved that asylum seekers have entered the EU from any other member state other than that in which they have claimed asylum they must be sent back to that original state. So Mme Bouchart knows that even if lots of asylum seekers make it to the UK there is a very strong chance they will be sent back to France and that France will be required to process them, so the outcome might be that migrants/asylum seekers that the French system deem to be irregular, and not under their jurisdiction, might in fact be ruled to be, thus putting more strain on the system. Could this be a case of passing the buck?

It seems clear to me that while undoubtedly people are trying to cross form France to the UK it’s not in the numbers she claims and it’s not for the reasons she claims. If not a single person crossed to the UK in the next 12 months it would not educe the numbers moving to France though it might mean they don’t make a mess of her little part of France and she might stand a chance of being re-elected.

Colluding with this shameful piece of self-promotion by a minor French official by the UK government, to further add fuel to an incendiary issue, is stooping pretty lo even for them.
And let’s not forget while we get caught up in the finer points of asylum law and variations thereof, what we are dealing with groups of highly vulnerable people who have left their homelands under duress, whether war, famine, persecution or good old fashioned poverty and who are looking for a better safer life. Both countries are signatories to the UN Convention on Refugees and so have to step up to the plate. Playing political football with claimants is despicable, and diminishes both countries, especially when we have to accept that actions by both France and Britain since the second world war, in various parts of the world , has added to the sum total of displaced peoples.

The fact remains that both France and the UK play politics with all sorts of vulnerable people but this is the first time it’s been cross border! Perhaps we are seeing the start of a new Entente Cordiale.

And in a final and ironic twist there is an early day motion gathering momentum in the UK Parliament for the daily rate for UK asylum seekers to raise from the paltry sum of £5.23 a day to the princely sum of £7.17 a day. 80 MPs have signed it so far. Madame Bouchart and her new “compines” in the UK government must be hoping this doesn’t happen otherwise clearly France will empty and maybe not just of asylum seekers. But in the meantime the scaremongering can really get under way with her false claim screamed from headlines that migrants are
dying to get to Britain for our Benefits.
And so it begins

Bride of Frankenstein and moral outrage.. it’s all part of 24 hours on Facebook

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Fans of Facebook and other social media portals will be no stranger to the buss feed.com type of “quiz” that abounds and circulates in offices on Friday afternoons. Totally meaningless and devoid of any worth what so ever they seem a tad compelling. For the want of a few clicks on a series of randomly selected statements or pictures we can learn so much about ourselves, anything from our spirit animal; the colour of our aura, (I once had my aura read for real – for real who am I kidding – and was told it had slipped – a bit like my morals then) who’d play us in the movie of our lives; which Shakesperian character we are and all points in between and roundabout. I’m guessing it’s all to do with algorithms or maybe it’s just all complete and utter nonsense, right up there with the idea that everyone born on a certain day of the year shares the same fate. Or anyone born between certain dates is having the same sort of day. And algorithms that’s a thing too, most of us never heard about them until people started scaremongering about said social media’s use of them to dictate what we see on our pages; or how dating agencies help you meet the partner of your dreams. Currently Facebook’s algorithm assessment of me is foisting adverts for slippers, shirts, dating for over 50’s and funeral insurance. But maybe they do have the power of the oracle in which case I’d better get going on that dating for over 50’s thing, before I need the last one of the list.

But what if, what turned up on your FB feed in any given 24 hours, was to be taken as a guide to who you are and what your friends are like.  Not for me a gallery of cat pictures or snaps of what people are planning for lunch, instead I get a regular rant from a friend who abhors people who eat (hot and smelly) food on trains. I suspect it’s a class thing! And if the comments and the shared posts are a sign of anything it’s clear from that most of my friends are pretty depressed, grumpy and permanently angry about so many things.

So I have people getting hot under the collar about the appalling police treatment of the Protesters in London including and the fact that police arrested people bringing food and water to the protesters. The same people are very worried indeed at the plans for Hungary to start taxing internet usage as a challenge to free speech, and anything to do with the creeping privatisation of the NHS is widely decried, as is the suggestion that GPs in England and Wales should, get aid £55 every time they diagnose someone  with dementia.

Women’s issues pretty much go down gender lines with female chums posting and sharing widely the US video of kids using bad language to make a few feminist points about unfairness in the workplace and the fact that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted or raped at some point. One male friend suggested that these were US figures only – as if somehow that was OK! On the issue of young prostitutes in Columbia, the Fox News’ suggestions that pretty young things shouldn’t get involved in politics when they are so many dating sites they could spend time checking out instead, the exploitation of au pairs and the fact that all flexible working means is that its making it “easier” for women to take the double burden of childcare and work, male chums are pretty silent. The hot issue of the EU maternity Directive’s lack of adoption by the Commission ( 4 years after its adoption by the EU Parliament) has caught the eye of only the most European chums, though the fact that post natal depression costs the UK 87 billion  a year is sighted as further proof that women are undervalued in the UK. Men chums on the whole are also quiet on the stories trending about football violence in Europe in the last 24 hours. Neither defending nor decrying it! However on the petition to stop Chad Evans being resigned to his club and the question of whether Oscar P’s sentence was just, those, with one exception, who have commented have shown that their cages have been rattled. Though confusingly they can’t decide if footballers are role models or not and they are more concerned with issues of the impact of the verdict on racism in South Africa than on the impact on the victim’s family.

Those friends who have a healthy scepticism of the police and all things authority don’t just have their activities in Westminster square to howl abut but also the fact that  3  immigration officials have been caught lying on oath and a massive trial has collapsed into the bargain. Yet on the other hand I have friends whose shock at the axe-wielding thug who attacked police seems to be more shocking because the critical victim is a policeman and similarly the pending release of Harry Roberts who killed 3 policemen in 1966 and who has served 45 years for the crime is re-igniting the debate of whether somehow killing a policeman is worse than killing anyone else. I can’t find a link though if the people who claim  Ched Evans has served his time, think the same for Mr Roberts. This tendency to cherry pick moral outrage is a mystery and no mistake, and one fuelled by people’s use of  social media.

Occupy supporters are up on their hind legs too and I’m grateful for the friend who posted up  a list of issues from the 1956 Republican manifesto, it not being what we might expect:

1956 REPUBLICAN PLATFORM

1. Provide Federal assistance to low paid communities

2 Protect Social Security payments

3. Provide asylum for refugees

4. Extend the minimum wage to more people

5. Improve Unemployment Benefit

6. strengthen Labor Laws

7. assure Equal pay between the sexes

Though their disgust at Facebook not paying taxes in the UK for a  second year running is pretty unequivocal

The North South divide, flamed by the post indy lack of progress, is everywhere. From how London will benefit to the tunes of billions from fracking to obscene house prices in London to all things fracking in general and the impact on Scotland, to fury over the BBCs decision to exclude the SNP  from election leaders debates, to outright glee that all supporters of NO seem to be reaping what they sowed by YES consumers turning against them so Michelle Mone is going bust as is Tescos, BBC are losing licence  fee payers and several newspapers circulations are in terminal decline: and to think it was going to be a YES vote that buggered up the Scottish economy. And don’t get them started please on the “official” announcement that far from running out next Thursday oil revenues, due to “new” discoveries, are set to rise and continue for hundreds of year. And I think it’s fair to say that these same folk are dismissive of what the Smith Commission might deliver….. sweet FA being the general view. And there is not enough space in the blogosphere to capture the rabid hatred of the Scottish Labour Party amongst a certain cohort of friends.

But parochial they are not there is widespread shock and condemnation of the shootings in the Canadian parliament though I detect a touch of EBOLA fatigue. Chums aren’t terribly green either there being minimal interest in the selling off of public forests, and people are split between whether Lynnda Bellingham is a national treasure (there is even a post from a friend suggesting we all sign a petition to get her OXO ad back on the telly for Xmas which would serve OXO and their shareholders very well but not any-one else), or whether dying people really should keep it to themselves. And finally friends have posted about and shared links to articles that say we should all wear poppies and alternatively why we should not. Who says Facebook isn’t democratic.

I’m not criticising or applauding people for their choice of posts or shares, some I agree with others I don’t, it’s all just part of this “rich tapestry of life” and other clichés  and I would rather have my typical Facebook day  filled with issues and passion rather than insults and pussycats. Though I’m not entirely immune; interspersed with all this angst and outrage and moral high grounding are the posts about where people have eaten and what they have been to see at the movies or theatre (bit guilty of that myself if truth be told) and the usual first world problems of the horror of the school run, what’s been “Overhead in Waitrose and a smattering of baby photographs.

But for the record just two cats. Oh and in case you were wondering What Kind Of Friend I Am,  apparently I’m a dreamer who is also rather strangely an absurd over achiever and my  Horror Monster Soul Mate this Halloween is the Bride of Frankenstein. Maybe these quizzes aren’t so odd, they may have a point, I was a truly appalling wife back in the day!!

A song of such intensity

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The National Theatre of Scotland’s new adaptation of Joe Corrie’s “In Time of Strife” asks a lot of questions of its audience. Chiefly why is it that miners and striking miners in particular seem to threaten the establishment most and therefore need the harshest response. Written in 1926 to support, in its production, the soup kitchens that were feeding the starving miners and their families in Fife during a 7 month strike and lock out, it has been adapted and redesigned ostensibly because it is the 30th anniversary this year of the 1984-85 miners’ strike. A strike that effectively broke the powers of the Unions and heralded the Neo Liberalism that has shaped Britain through and after Thatcher. Profit and enterprise always and before community and the workforce.

While the seemingly prescient lines from the poem Women are Waiting, make it clear that the press will always pour their vile propaganda in the public’s ear about the miners’ strikes to come in the future; and the public will turn against them as a community as quickly as they mourn a pit disaster. The real point of the play doesn’t need the link to 1984 to make it speak volumes today.

The key messages and themes are ones which we are all too familiar with in 2014. The isolation within wider society, of a community bound by generational ties, ties of blood in every sense, is the same as we see in migrant communities in Britain. The fear of the other, at the same time of us, but apart from us. In 1926 as in 1984 the suspicion of those outside the mining communities of their motives and behaviour allowed the media and the politicians to paint them as pariahs deserving of little sympathy. In 1926 it meant that parish councils withdrew support and closed the soup kitchens six months into the strike to save the ratepayers, starving women and children so their men would go back to work. Shopkeepers and tradesmen refusing credit to the families of striking miners. People died of starvation in 1926. Children still go to bed hungry in 2014.

In 1984 I raised money for and donated food for foodbanks for the miners. 1n 2014 I am still donating food to foodbanks.

In 2014 this fear of the other is giving rise to a far right party now seen as mainstream and is seeing a rush to the tight by all the other Unionist parties to out scaremonger about the hated foreigner. A refugee in London has his belongings destroyed by bailiffs because he was £18 in debt with his rent. They do it because they can, just as they could in 1926.

In 1926 the value of the labour of the miners was cheap. With no control, mining companies could pay what they wanted and set the terms of the job. Returning to work after 7 months the miners were faced with longer hours for half the money.

In 2014, despite a minimum wage a government spokesman says that the disabled are no worth more than £2 an hour and that the unemployed must be prepared to work for their benefits, and pay differentials between men and women continue despite legislation to the contrary. Despite a move to create a living wage as a policy in the public sector there is no agreement to spread that to the third sector and crucially the private sector cannot be legislated to take up this humanitarian policy. No wonder Jock in the play says “ I will sell my muscle but not my soul”

In 1926 the miners felt betrayed by their political leaders and the unions and the companies would only take back men who denounced heir union and who would have no further allegiance to it. In 1984 Thatcher effectively emasculated the Union movement in the UK. In 2014 the trust in traditional politics has never been so low and we are seeing a backlash against Labour the traditional party of the “working man” in Scotland.

In 1926 the betrayal of blackleggers was no less fierce than it was for the scabs of the 1980’s. In some parts of Scotland in 2014 a similar sense of betrayal is felt for those that voted to put the Union ahead of the aspirations of an independent Scotland.

The videos of the police riding down the miners in 1984 and the disembodied voice of Thatcher denouncing the miners as the ones “killing democracy”, were chilling and made the link palpable for those of us who can remember 1984 but who have no living family members from 1926. But the real link that has to be made for generations to come whenever this play is revived is that despite the passing of the generations, despite the rise of the left, despite workers’ rights and legislation the truth is that we are moving back to a world private company ownership but ownership that is global and so much harder to beat. That we are moving back to a world where the gaps between those that have and those that will never have the means to have enough are growing again, that we are moving back to a world where people will take jobs on longer hours for less money and zero hours contracts. And we are moving back to a world where like the parish councils before them governments will remove benefits for those that don’t play the game and do what they are told. And we are moving back to a world where the now seemingly permanent tent for the “needy of Glasgow” almost Victorian in its nomenclature, seems almost normal.

It will take more than the singing of the Red Flag in theatres across the country to stem that tide but as Corrie eloquently put it in his final challenge to the audience

“Will no-one sing a song of such intensity to the men of all the nations?

That will shatter the system of things to its very foundations?”

Time to start singing loud and clear

New blog on the block

Following several friends suggestions I have decided to join the blogasphere. The 6 o’clock blog will post at 6.00am and update at 6.00pm throughout the week (though perhaps not everyday!) How the world looks to this  woman from her Glasgow rooftop tgarden; politics, theatre. ; films; culture; friends; work; travel and much much more.