A small selection of news items and reports that have a particular relevance to Scotland or Scottish workers and our communities.
LABOUR Party conference opens tomorrow in Brighton. The issue of Trident and nuclear weapons is one of intense discussion, both on the conference floor and around the conference hall.
Last week all of us heard the tragic news of the death of Alan Mackinnon who had been a friend to many of us.
I don’t recall our first meeting but I was always impressed by his presence, knowledge, politeness and contribution to CND meetings in London and at our annual conferences and in Scotland.
Alan combined an enormous knowledge of peace and disarmament issues with his work as a doctor, and was committed to good-quality healthcare free for all as a human right.
I last met Alan in Glasgow when we held the last of our Scottish rallies as part of my election campaign.
It was a huge affair with over 200 people present and concluded with the singing of Bandiera Rossa.
I was proud to start my speech by recognising Alan and his wife Karin’s presence on the front row.
I was able to thank him and Karin for all the work they’d done for the peace movement over many years. Alan seemed embarrassed by this attention. That was exactly my intention.
After the rally I took the opportunity of going to a bar with our supporters and later went to Alan’s house in order to have some supper with him and talk about issues facing the peace movement.
It was clear he was very ill but was coping well after the amputation of his left leg. The following morning he drove me to the station, wished us well on the journey and assured me that we were going to win the election because of the support of so many young people and so many coming back to Labour politics after having been driven away by New Labour and the war in Iraq.
He assured me that he would give me any help I needed and I took up this offer with alacrity.
A couple of days later I phoned him and asked if he would be good enough to draft me an outline for the establishment of a defence diversification agency to cope with the job security problems of those who work on the Trident nuclear missile system and the submarines designed to carry them.
His document was timely, excellent and very valuable and in all the work I am putting forward for this agency I will always think of Alan’s crucial contribution.
His life was one of principle, decency and success because he inspired many more to think differently about the way we look at the world, to think of the human consequences of war, and the inequality of disease and healthcare around the world.
Apart from working in Glasgow as an iconic GP, he also volunteered to work in west Africa to help with the training of doctors and medical staff.
Cancer took Alan far too soon and far too young but we are all the richer for having known him and many thanks to him.
The world is the better for having had him in it. Deepest sympathies to Karin, Maeve and Ian and all his wider family and friends.
Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North and leader of the Labour Party.
From the Morning Star http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c390-A-life-of-principle-and-decency
Monday 15 June 7.30pm Volunteer Room, Irvine
Marcos Garcia of the Venezuelan Embassy and Matt Willgress talk about Venezuela - an Ayrshire CND Public meeting
Wednesday 16 June 7.30, Unite the Union, 42-44 King St., Aberdeen
Social Progress in Venezuela
Marcos Garcia, First Secretary at the Venezuelan Embassy on the gains of the Bolivarian revolution and the challenges faced by the progressive movement. https://www.facebook.com/events/1437632183224333/
Thursday June 18th, 7pm, STUC, Woodlands Rd, Glasgow
What's happening in Cuba? The New Era and the Future of Socialism.
Dr Stephen Wilkinson of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba will speak on current developments both within Cuba itself, and internationally.
Friday 19th June, 1.00 pm, Main Building, University of Glasgow
Communities Affected by Mining in Colombia
Colombian environmental lawyer, Ximena Gonzalez, from Tierra Digna, will share their latest reports on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Colombia, and the impacts of business on some of Colombia’s most vulnerable groups.
SCIAF and Glasgow Human Rights Network (GHRN)
Saturday 20 June, 5.00 pm, Edinburgh
Taken from http://scottishvenezuelasolidarity.org.uk/
SPEAKERS from across the left condemned austerity as a political project aiming at shoring up the profits of the super rich at the recent Morning Star spring conference.
Professor Prem Sikka told an audience of Star supporters that the austerity project had succeeded in weakening trade unions, workers’ power and purchasing power. He made the link between the erosion of trade union rights and rising poverty and inequality in society.
Workers covered by collective bargaining agreements have fallen from 85 per cent in 1979 to just 23 per cent today and falling, and 13 million people in Britain are living below the poverty line.
At the same time the highest corporate profit has been recorded, and the richest 10 per cent in Britain have doubled their wealth to £519 billion.
“Just 10 per cent of this profit would pay off the so-called deficit” he told the audience.
Trade union activist Jennifer McCarey warned that the latest round of cuts would fall particularly hard on young people, women and disabled people.
She called on the audience to “reach out to our communities” in new ways and draw in people who are not necessarily involved with the labour movement but are being punished by austerity.
Unite political officer Jackson Cullinane argued that the Conservative government was succeeding in their desire to create “high unemployment and a desperate labour force” in order to “drive down wages and undermine terms and conditions and trade unions.”
Mr Cullinane noted that 1.8 million workers across Britain are currently on zero-hours contracts, guaranteeing them no security and rights in the workplace.
The contracts don’t just exist in the private sector, but right across the public sector, with one in four public-sector workers being paid less than the living wage in Scotland, he added.
Mr Cullinane called for full implementation of the living wage, as well as the restoration of collective-bargaining agreements and the end of fees for employment tribunals, which have caused an 80 per cent drop in cases brought against employers.
Robert Tressell’s classic socialist novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is set for a new lease of life on local radio tonight, says playwright MARTIN CHOMSKY
TODAY marks the 104th anniversary of the death of Robert Tressell, writer of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. The fact that the book is still acutely relevant a century or so after its first publication is a searing indictment of capitalism and the imperialist mentality that underpins it.
To those who remember how the world worked pre-Margaret Thatcher, the newly heightened prescience of Robert Tressell’s words only serves to reinforce how much society has regressed. Which is why, in the prelude to the most vital general election since 1979, we’re faced with a rise in de facto fascism, from flag-toting stormtroopers and Hush Puppyed beer-swillers alike.
But then, as actor Ricky Tomlinson’s conversion from National Front supporter to Tressell aficionado testifies, enlightenment can be but a short step.
Deep within their souls everyone knows that the system is iniquitous at best and, at worst, perilously corrupt. But who’s to blame? The foreigners? The disabled? The work-shy?
Or the 1 per cent who, quite deliberately and with a cold, calculating shadowy presence, keep the masses subdued in poverty, anger and bewilderment?
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, instrumental in the spirit of 1945 that swept Winston Churchill from office and ushered in the welfare state, answers this question with razor-sharp clarity.
Ridiculed as a crank in his own lifetime, Bob Noonan — as Tressell was known to his work colleagues — is now quite rightly revered as a visionary. A house-painter by trade, his lyrical prose explains in graphic detail how the “sacred few” rule over the rest of us with rods of iron, robbing us of the fruits of our labour through “the great money trick.”
A century later, this sleight of hand has been honed, rehearsed and polished to such an extent that the working classes can barely see it coming — until it’s too late and they’re already buried in an avalanche of debt on zero-hours contracts.
Teeming with universal truths, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists continues to rile and inspire in equal measure. Hopefully, RTP Downsized: The Audio Play can help override the left-right paradigm that’s divided and conquered us for generations and replace it with a vigorous “right versus wrong” approach to governance. A system that doesn’t benefit everyone is injurious to us all.
For me, the greatest indication of the esteem in which Tressell’s work is held is the manner in which RTP Downsized came to fruition. When the mainstream media wouldn’t commission it and the funding bodies didn’t back it, a tenacious, typically Glaswegian DIY-or-die ethos kicked in, ensuring that it got made regardless.
And what transpired was the kind of radio drama you thought had been consigned to history. Last week the audiobook was serialised on local Glasgow radio station Sunny Govan radio with sponsorship from the Morning Star.
Tonight, it’s being broadcast from 8pm in its entirety on the same station. So gather round your laptops, PCs, iPad and radios, tune in and listen attentively. Bring in your family and your children, your neighbours and even your pets. This book will change their lives forever and they’ll never see the world in quite the same way again.
So sit back and enjoy the greatest story never told. With May 7 looming, let’s make sure we’re the most enlightened electorate in history.
More on the series on the RTP page at Sunny Govan: http://www.sunnyg.com/rtp.html
Tonight at 8pm, Sunny Govan Community Radio begins its serialisation of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (RTP) audiobook by Martin Chomsky. You can listen in here and every night at 8pm until Friday 30th.
On Wednesday night, 7-9pm we will have a special 2-hour episode of the Sunny Govan Radio: Social Awareness Programme where I will be joined in the studio by Kevin Magee, Sunny G's Jim McMillan, audiobook creator Martin Chomsky and Prof John Foster amongst others for an in-depth discussion about RTP and it's relevance today.
During this episode, part 4 will be played at 8pm.
It's a wonderful book that everyone will love and must hear/read.
I hope you can all tune in because you won't be disappointed and you'll be glad you did...
Morning Star journalist PETER FROST recalls a unique meeting of minds and cultures during one Burns Night event decades ago
SUNDAY January 25 is Burns Night, for Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns was born on that day in 1759.
All over the world, particularly where Scottish emigres are gathered, the peculiar and very special event that is a traditional Burns Night will be celebrated.
From the backwoods of Canada to the far corners of New Zealand, in Africa, South America and the US, the standard format of the night will be played out. The skirl of the pipes will be heard, the haggis will be addressed and then stabbed and much whisky will be consumed.
Every town, village and hamlet in Scotland will have its Burns Night. Many will be held in England too. Morning Star supporters in Manchester will celebrate in fine style, raise some useful money and a smile on Ivan Beavis’s face.
I’ve celebrated a good few Burns Nights in my time, but there is no doubt which is the most memorable.
Some three or more decades ago I was working for a short while in Moscow. Soviet journalist comrades invited me to the International Friendship Club for a special event.
“Oh yes,” they asked, “and could you could buy a bottle of whisky from the hard-currency shop in the tourist hotel where you’re staying?”
I found a bottle, although from the label and the brand name I guessed it may have been brewed beside the Volga rather than the Spey.
The event that night turned out to be a very traditional Burns Night. I hadn’t realised just how popular Burns and his poems — inspired by internationalism and a love and respect for the common man — were among the Soviet people. They recognised the poet as a republican and a revolutionary — a kindred spirit indeed.
We started, despite any official atheism, with the Selkirk Grace:
Some have meat and cannot eat,
Some cannot eat that want it,
but we have meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
As always Burns’s humanity and his principled egalitarianism was much stronger than any of his religious sentiments.
The night took the usual form, but sometimes with a distinctly Soviet twist. The chefs in the club had made a remarkable job of recreating the haggis — a dish they had read about but never seen or tasted. Neeps and tatties however totally defeated them — my explanation came much too late.
The address to the haggis was bilingual. A Soviet literature professor proclaimed it in stentorious Russian and yours truly did the job in as near to the original Scots as a London boy could get.
Poems too came in a variety of languages, including French and Vietnamese from the assembled international Burns fans.
Most of the toasts — and there were many — were taken in good vodka but my bottle of the “water of life” gave many a Russian their first experience of what all the fuss was about.
And from the Moscow conservatoire came a brave young man with a set of ancient bagpipes.
Regular readers will be pleased to know that I only disgraced myself once. I was chatting on the top table with two top Burns experts from Moscow University. Which was my favourite among the poet’s works, they asked.
I explained that I had always had a soft spot for some of Robbie’s ruder works. They looked puzzled, so I gave the assembled poetry lovers my party piece. It was one of his works unknown in Russia — and indeed not too well known in Scotland — his notorious Twa Wives.
If you don’t know the work here’s a fragment:
She farted by the byre-en’
She farted by the stable;?
And thick and nimble were her steps
As fast as she was able.
In retrospect I’m not too proud of my contribution to Anglo-Soviet cultural understanding that night.
Perhaps I can put it down to the whisky. What I do know is that I’ll never forget that amazing Soviet Burns Night in Moscow all those years ago.
THIS will be a huge campaigning year for us as we count down to May’s general election. The Morning Star is 85. It was founded in 1930, in a country mired in the Great Depression that followed the Wall Street Crash, to act as the voice of working people resisting a ruling class determined to make them pay for its crisis.
The parallels with today are obvious, and the need for our paper — the voice of the organised labour movement, the only daily paper committed to peace and socialism — is more acute than ever as we approach the general election.
"the need for our paper — the voice of the organised labour movement, the only daily paper committed to peace and socialism — is more acute than ever!"
Austerity is not an accident. It is not, as it is sometimes portrayed even on the left, a daft economic policy
aimed at reducing debt and fostering an economic recovery which happens to be counterproductive.
Austerity is a logical — and so far successful — strategy by Britain’s ruling class to increase its share of
our country’s wealth by taking it away from working people.
"Austerity is a logical — and so far successful — strategy by Britain’s ruling class to increase its share of our country’s wealth by taking it away from working people."
In the process, the gains won by workers over the past century have to be reversed.
That means attacks on our pensions, our wages and our workplace rights, as well as on public services such as the NHS, locally accountable schools, free higher and further education and many more things which previous generations fought for in order that people could live, work and retire in dignity.
"That means attacks on .. things which previous generations fought for"
So austerity is logical. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Working people have fought and won before, which is why we have these services in the first place.
And every day workers are resisting the ruling-class onslaught, most effectively through their trade unions.
Only the Star reports these struggles. But we must reach more readers if that story is to be heard loud and
clear — and May 2015 is to become the election the labour movement won.
And every day workers are resisting the ruling-class onslaught, most effectively through their trade unions.
Only the Star reports these struggles.
We’re launching the 1,000 New Readers campaign to reverse the gradual decline in sales that has affected the Morning Star alongside the rest of print media.
We’re looking at everything. Meetings have begun with trade unions to discuss how we can co-operate to maximum effect — what they need from our paper and how we can reach the members who aren’t yet daily readers. The support we’ve received has been phenomenal and humbling, with a wide range of excellent ideas coming in, including offering union members subsidised access to our e-edition and app, using the paper in union education programmes and ensuring members know that this is the newspaper that tells their story.
It’s not just unions we’re approaching — we’ll be meeting with activists for political parties including Labour,
the Greens and the Communist Party to see how we can campaign most effectively for the left policies we need to turn this country around. Our paper has a great relationship already with anti-austerity movement the People’s Assembly as well as a wide range of solidarity and progressive campaigning organisations, but we’ll be looking to improve our links and cross-promotion with all of them.
The Star is privileged to have the best and most committed readers of any newspaper
The Star is privileged to have the best and most committed readers of any newspaper, and many of them run readers and supporters groups up and down the country. We’ll be looking to help these groups grow, found new ones and make the most of this unique asset. All this is combined with a proactive new approach to promoting our stories and those of our labour movement allies on social media, spreading the word far and wide to workers in struggle: we are your paper.
Last year we ran the Summer of Heroes fundraising campaign and were bowled over by the colossal £154,000+ you raised for the paper.
It’s easy to report on how much money comes in, but the 1,000 New Readers campaign will be trickier.
Sales fluctuate day by day, week by week, town by town. But we’ll be setting regional targets and analysing
what strategies are paying dividends in each area. Success would, obviously, mean a rise in sales by 1,000 a
day on average, but we wouldn’t stop there. The daily paper of the left should be a mass circulation weapon
in the hands of the labour movement.
We hope too that by revitalising our relationships with the trade unions, organisations and campaigns of the left we will give new life to the paper itself, improving the range and depth of our content and strengthening our campaigning punch.
Our first editor William Rust quoted Lenin on the role of a workers’ paper:
“An economic and political tool of the masses in struggle.”
That’s the future we see for our Morning Star.
Be sure not to miss out on the Free Morning Star e-Edition subscription for a week! 1000READERSOFFER and let all your friends, family & colleagues - and share this great offer on social media as much as you can!
This offer is part of the New Year 1000 New Readers Campaign.
Starting from Monday 19 Jan, everyone who has wanted to try out the fantastic Morning Star e-Edition can do so for free for a week, as part of the 1000 New Readers drive started at the beginning of 2015.
Enter the code 1000READERSOFFER after clicking on Weekly subscription here https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/subscribe
This is a genuine "no strings" offer - there is no catch (as we often expect when things are offered "free" online)!
We are sure that when people (who don't already know what a great newspaper the only English-language Socialist daily is) realise just what a tremendous daily source of news, sport & features it is - that they will want to read it a lot more often!
Visit https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/subscribe now and start your free trial subscription as shown above.
Circulation manager BERNADETTE KEAVENEY explains how our loyal readers can use their local knowledge to help us find new supporters and secure this paper’s future.
O ALL the doomsayers out there who proclaim that printed newspapers are dead and buried, let me reassure you that this is not the truth.
The average daily sales figure for national newspapers is 7.1 million. This does not include the avid consumption of over a million daily free newspapers given out to commuters the length and breadth of Britain.
What we do have though is a changed pattern of sales. Not all our readers buy the paper daily from Monday through to Saturday.
They buy it from random shops when they see it and not through a preferred regular retailer.
There is a move towards new readers buying a mixture of the e-edition during the week and print edition at the weekend. These different buying habits are something that we in the sales team are working to address.
We are investigating combined subscription packages for print and the app and these will be rolled out as soon as they are finalised.
Meanwhile it is important that the print edition is placed in areas where it is most likely to sell, taking into account the restrictions that are imposed on us by a shrinking independent retail market and the demands of multiple retailers who charge for including us.
In a retail world of “stack them high, sell them cheap,” all niche titles suffer and the Morning Star is no exception.
However within the industry the Morning Star is handled professionally by our main partners, Trinity Mirror — who print anddistribute us — and the wholesalers John Menzies and Smiths News.
I know that I have the staunch support of my colleagues and our readers as we embark on our new 1,000 Readers Campaign.
If you who would like to help me increase sales in your area, please do get in touch.
There are a variety of initiatives I wish to implement to boost sales.
These range from mapping targeted sales drives, sales pitches — particularly outside places of travel — and leafleting local areas in conjunction with increased availability in shops.
Most importantly, we want to use your local knowledge to help us reach our key audience within the labour, peace, green and trade union movement.
You can place an order at any retailer selling newspapers. It is also available from all branches of RS MCColls/ Martin McColls (www.martinmccoll.co.uk) and One Stop (www.onestop.co.uk/store_locator.php) and many branches of the Co-Op.
Original article: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2e85-You-are-more-crucial-than-ever
As part of the special edition of the Morning Star devoted to the myriad struggles facing women in modern Britain, the Sports section continued the theme and below are a number of the articles that are online here:
Principled Woman Leads the Way With Protest
Charlie Webster: "I Felt So Happy When I Was Doing Exercise, That's How My Love Of Spirt Started"
Palestine: Football Is A Form Of Resistance
Easton Cowgirls: players from two British women’s football teams who completed a tour of Palestine in late October
The special bumper Christmas Eve Women's Morning Star edition was jam-packed full of superb articles - focusing on women and the continued struggle for equal pay, equal rights, and an end to discrimination and poor attitudes that can be found even in our progressive organisations. Below are a number of these articles which are free to read here online. Every daily edition of our class's paper is worthwhile, but these special editions help our movement to focus on specific areas of struggle, and enable us to be better informed about the various strands of activism that are encapsulated in our movement.
A Welcome to the Christmas Eve 2014 Women's Edition:
Get Involved in the Fightback! - the Women's Assembly Against Austerity
Down with the Bad Santas of the Coalition Government - Frances O'Grady's Special Message to Morning Star Readers
Women: A Secret History of Militant Workers
The Year in Sexist News:
Challenging the Stereotypes and Demanding Equal Pay
Page 3 is Far from Harmless
Is Taylor Swift Really the Most Powerful Woman in Media?
Democracy is Weakened When Women Are Shut Out
Women Will Be the Priority in 2015
Abuse Too Often Begins In Schools
Women And The Problem With Cameron
To Ignore Women Is To Ignore Our Dedication to Peace and Progress
There Are Few People More Deserving Than Working Poor Women
Labour Movement Sisters Are an Inspiration To Us All
Rolling Back the Progress on Domestic Violence
Sexism Was Just Laughed Off - I "Was the Problem"
A Woman Who's Quick Off The Draw - BlueLou the Star's Own Award-Nominated Cartoonist and the Only Female Catroonist Of Any Daily National Paper In Britain
The Conflict Between Feminism and The Transgender Movement
Sylvia Pankhurst's Christmas Party
An original BlueLou cartoon above in response to Nigel Farage & UKIP's attitudes to women and breastfeeding not being a part of normal healthy life i.e. that mothers should be confinded to an out of sight corner lest they offend the never-afraid-to-be-offensive Nigel Farage.
This year's Morning Star Bazaar was held in Partick, having been held in Denniston community for a number of years.
At the end of the day, over £1,000 had been taken in sales and donations!
Huge thanks to everyone who helped ensure another successful fundraiser for the Morning Star - the only daily newspaper that stands up for working class people and our communites, as well as our organisations such as the Trade Unions. The Morning Star relies on a Fighting Fund to ensure its survival without the deep pockets of Capitalist backers, so every penny raised and donated makes a difference!
Here is a short 2 minute video of just a few of the fundraising activities