News & Reports

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A small selection of news items and reports that have a particular relevance to Scotland or Scottish workers and our communities.

Listen every night 8pm online or Sunny Govan radio

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

robert burns night russia soviet union

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.

robert burns night russian sovietSome 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.


Taken from

Acting editor BEN CHACKO unveils our campaign to find 1,000 new readers and spread the struggle far and wide

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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.

ben chackoThe 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.

What’s the 1,000 New Readers campaign?

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.

How will we measure success?

2014 morning star summer of heroesLast 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!

Original article:

Introduce your family, friends and colleagues to the Star with this great free offer!

morning star 100 readers logo shadow

2015 jan 1000 readers week offer

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.

2014 jan 1000reader sub screenshotEnter the code 1000READERSOFFER after clicking on Weekly subscription here

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 now and start your free trial subscription as shown above.

You Are More Crucial Than Ever

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.

morning star BERNADETTE KEAVENEYThe 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 ( and One Stop ( and many branches of the Co-Op.

Original article:

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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:


2014 xmas womens sport protest

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",-thats-how-my-love-for-sport-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

2014 xmas womens sport 1 

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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.

2014 xmas womens page1

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:

2014 xmas womens sexist press

Challenging the Stereotypes and Demanding Equal Pay

Girls are Missing Out On the Education They Deserve

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

2014 xmas womens bluelou cartoonAn 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 

FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (2014_Nov_Morning_Star_RSG_conference_report.pdf)2014 Morning Star RSG Conf Report2014 Readers & Supporters Conference Report held in the STUC92 kB



A report of a vital conference was held in November 2014, which features contributions from

Agne Tolmie (Past President STUC),

Ben Chako (Morning Star Editor),

Drew Smith MSP,

Jane Carolan (UNISON General Council & Executive Committee)

Jackson Cullinane (Political Officer, UNITE Scotland)

Colin Findlay (EIS Nationak Council)

plus reports & contributions from local Morning Star Readers and Supporters Groups across Scotland.

PDF is available to download here .

Malcolm Burns

Monday 6 october 2014

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THE People’s Assembly Scotland has called for activists in the Yes and No referendum campaigns to unite and channel their energy into fighting austerity.

Community campaigners and trade union activists from all sides of the independence debate came together at the People’s Assembly Scotland AGM in Glasgow on Saturday. 

They agreed to present an agenda to the Smith commission on devolution demanding real powers which will challenge austerity. 

dave moxham peoples assembly scotlandSTUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham said the huge referendum vote was “a fantastic democratic outpouring” which had been driven to large extent by anti-austerity feelings.

“The People’s Assembly will now be a vital organ in the post-referendum period to win ‘powers for a purpose’ for the Scottish Parliament,” he said.

But he warned that the “nettle of fair taxation” must be grasped. 

“The ability to shape the issues of fair pay, decent jobs and public services should underpin what powers we seek,” he said.

“We are not just talking about tax powers but tax reform — about progressive but also redistributive taxation.”

Bill Greenshields of the People’s Assembly thanked Scotland for the referendum campaign which had “given the lie to the notion created by the ruling class that ordinary people are not interested in politics.”

But he said it was vital that the anti-austerity campaign should now become a movement.

People’s Assembly Scotland chairman Phil McGarry said: “We have a formidable task to unite both referendum groups, but it is vitally important if we want the powers to combat austerity and make a real difference for people on issues like fair taxation, employment, trade union rights, public services and health and safety.”

Malcolm Burns 6/10/2014 

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THE leader of Scotland’s biggest union put class politics in the centre of the debate over Holyrood powers yesterday at a packed Morning Star conference in Glasgow.
Unison Scotland convener Lilian Macer said: “The outcome of the independence vote was about change — whether you were in the No or the Yes camp.
“People have demonstrated that they value public services, they don’t want more cuts, they reject privatisation and they want a fairer and more equal society.”
And she made an impassioned call for unity on the left, saying both sides must work together to empower Scotland’s Parliament in the fight against austerity.
“The real question now is how we make sure new or existing powers are used to create decent job, tackle low pay, end poverty — and deliver for working class people.
“We cannot allow any division from the referendum to deflect from that higher mission.”
2014 oct morning star conference Jennifer McCareyLabour shadow cabinet minister Neil Findlay said it was time to “move beyond some of the entrenched positions of the last few years around the referendum.”
Mr Findlay said the big challenge is how to bring the left together as a campaigning movement.
“Talk of creating yet more parties on the already crowded left, and especially talk of creating new trade unions by some, are extremely misplaced.”
He called on those who voted “yes from a left perspective to use their influence over the Scottish government and tell them it’s time to deliver on a social justice agenda.”
Edinburgh Labour councillor Gordon Munro said the “groundswell of opinion and activity in the referendum came from the grassroots and the shop floor”
and left needed to recognise it.
“We need to make the case for progressive taxation, that seems to have got lost a bit since the only redistributive tax measure in the referendum debate was lowering corporation tax below whatever George Osborne would do.”
SNP Trade Union Group secretary Chris Stephens said there were “opportunities” arising from the referendum despite the disappointment for those who had delivered the large Yes vote.
“Winning powers over employment rights, health and safety, welfare and broadcasting would be positive developments in Scotland’s story.”

 2014 oct morning star conference afternoon panel


The leadership’s right-wing policies helped the SNP’s rise, says Solomon Hughes

For years, the Labour Party thought that “new Labour” won votes for free. Now it looks like there is a bill to pay. It might cost all of Scotland.

New Labour cost a lot in the short term as voter turnout slumped to record lows, but Blair, Brown and their ministers always covered up discontent with a great big election win.

From 1997 to 2010 new Labour sold the party’s principles. It cost the health service millions of pounds paid to privatisers as Labour started a commercialisation of the NHS which even Thatcher could not implement. 

It cost all public services billions as Labour handed the banks and big contractors swathes of the public sector in the private finance initiative. 

It cost a lot in terms of civil liberties as Labour brought in draconian powers in the name of fighting terrorism.

It cost thousands of Iraqis their lives as Labour became the party of war. 

All told, the Blair-Brown plan cost Labour its soul. But it didn’t seem to cost at the ballot box, which meant discontent within the party was always damped down. 

Lots of Labour members complained. Hundreds of thousands left the party. But there was no major confrontation within the party on the big issues. 

I’ve been to every Labour conference since 1999, and the sad truth is that the opposition to new Labour was very small. Lots of Labour members bit their tongues. 

For example, many Labour members were active in the anti-Iraq war campaign on the streets. But the Iraq war was only debated at Labour conference once — in 2004. 

Worried about the upcoming election, the party decided not to rock the boat and voted to back the continuing, disastrous occupation of Iraq.

A lot of members thought that Tony and Gordon did a lot of bad things, but they did win elections. That success, in contrast to the defeats of the previous three elections, and the occasional good thing it enabled — the minimum wage, higher social spending — was enough.

There were new, striking electoral victories over new Labour from the left. 

George Galloway in Bethnal Green. Ken Livingstone winning the London mayoralty after he was kicked out of Labour for opposing the wasteful Tube PFI. Dai Davis becoming Blaneau Gwent’s MP in 2006. The Scottish Socialist Party winning seats in Holyrood. 

Caroline Lucas’s victory as Britain’s first Green MP in Brighton and Richard Taylor’s election in opposition to health privatisation in the Wyre Forest in 2001 weren’t strictly challenges from the left, but they attracted a lot of disenchanted Labour votes.

These challenges were serious, but ultimately the left outside of Labour weren’t able to hold together. We were too prone to internal division and self-destructive behaviour. So Labour rested easy and stuck with variants of Blairism.

But Labour should have spotted the signs. 

Because the Scottish National Party did. Salmond built the votes for his party on the back of discontent with new Labour. 

In a particularly self-harming way, Scottish Labour is even more “new Labour” than the party in the UK as a whole. 

So, especially after the financial crisis, Salmond swam in the opposite direction. No NHS privatisation, no welfare cuts, no bedroom tax, no Trident, no English Tory-Labour Westminster consensus. 

These are the building blocks of the Yes campaign. If Blair and Brown were going to detach these sentiments from Labourism, Salmond would connect them to Scottish nationalism. 

The SNP built votes when Blair and Brown were in government. But their big breakthrough came in the 2011 Holyrood election — this victory also won them the chance to hold the referendum. 

Their big breakthrough came when Ed Miliband was trying to shuffle Labour leftwards. 

But Ed’s little moves, muffled by ridiculously right-wing Scots Labour figures like Johann Lamont or Jim Murphy, were too little, too late. Labour’s continued commitment to austerity was a huge gift to the SNP. 

The idea that Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband can make big breakthroughs against the Yes campaign, when they were in charge when the SNP grew, is unconvincing. 

The “fear factor might just be enough to win No in the referendum. 

But they have lost Labour a huge swathe of their electoral base. Labour’s enthusiasm for the “banks won’t like it” argument against independence shows that the party’s instinct is still to follow the diktats of the banks and the City. 

Unless there is a major change of direction, they are also going to continue on the road to long-term decline.