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Showing posts with label Dalmarnock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dalmarnock. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Commonwealth City Part One–and the Ardenlea Street outrage.

This outrage was perpetrated on a Glasgow grandmother and her family by the combined force of Glasgow City Council in the name of the Commonwealth Games, 80 police officers, 15 riot vans and masked council workers, who broke into her family home in a dawn raid.

This didn't happen in a third world banana republic, it happened in Glasgow, Scotland.

No politician, no political party, no government agency offered any significant or meaningful help  - there was some SNP involvement - before it, during it or after it. Celtic Football Club, on the doorstep of this appalling event, boasting of its role of Celtic in the Community, offered nothing. No rich athlete offered help.

The only real professional help came from film-makers, an Australian academic at Glasgow University who is a world expert in urban regeneration schemes and Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre.

The Scottish press and media offered superficial and often distorted and close to hostile coverage - with one honourable exception - the Scottish Sun, with significant input from journalist  Paul  Drury.

I personally approached major media contacts begging them to cover the story fully, including Private Eye, the Guardian and Channel Four News. None offered any significant response. They are still silent.

Two more episodes will be shown - I have have no knowledge of content or treatment, but I know that a major story has yet to be told, and the this fine piece of filmaking from Stephen Bennett is only the start.

Friday, 28 September 2012

ALEOs, externalisation and Glasgow City Council – a blog from 2010

In all the hoo-ha about how hard up GCC is because of the council tax freeze, remember this – a blog from 2010. Since then, of course, we’ve had the scandal of the commonwealth Games development and the astronomical profits of property speculators while small businesses and house owners were crushed and evicted by GCC, and there have been some egregious final settlements made to former employees of GCC. That’s where at least some of the council tax went …

EXTERNALISATION

Economists use the concept of externalities to describe the impact organisations make upon the society that they operate within. An organisation’s responsibility is to itself and to its own objectives but in the process of discharging this responsibility, it creates an impact on others, positive or negative. If that impact and effect was part of the organisation’s intention – part of its business strategy – that’s fine, but if it was simply an unintended consequence of its pursuit of its objectives, then problems can arise.

An externality is the effect of a transaction between two individuals and a third party who has not consented to, or played any role in the carrying out of that transaction. MILTON FRIEDMAN

For example, a mining company has an environmental impact, a chemical company may pollute the rivers or the atmosphere, a growing company may force smaller companies out of business – the negative examples can be multiplied along familiar lines.

The negative impact of organisations on people and communities can be considerable. A large company that becomes the dominant employer in an area can destroy the entire community if it pulls out. A dominant company can drive down the price of the goods and services it procures, forcing small suppliers into reducing their margins to dangerous levels.

An organisations can engage in practices and processes that are actively dangerous to the health and safety of those it employs and to the external community. Such effects were common in the early stages of the industrial revolution, and they were still occurring in the late 20th century, and will still occur in the 21st century, especially in third world or economically vulnerable communities. (The disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in India is still one of the worst examples, and of course, Chernobyl.)

Entrepreneurs have two major concerns – one is to be able to take commercial risks without destroying entirely their own security and economic viability, and the other is to be allowed to focus on the central purpose of the venture without being deflected by external consequences that are not central to the business purpose, especially those that relate to morality, legal compliance and social values.

Business is essentially amoral – morality and legality are constraints imposed on it by a society that it of necessity must operate within, and the dynamic balance of these forces is the essence of capitalism in a free society. Organised crime is simply a business that elects to ignore these constraints.

That is not to say that entrepreneurs, business managers and directors of companies are amoral, or lack a moral compass, but that the very nature of business is without malice or pity, and the moral individual must operate within that context. All too often the individual moral conscience becomes subordinate to, or is crushed by the demands of the organisation.

When businesses are small, and a sole proprietor or family dominates, the business activities can and usually will reflect their personal ethics and morality, and concepts of equity and justice can prevail. In rare cases, that ethical basis can survive the growth of the company if the values of the founder or founders – or indeed the founders themselves – are still present, and some great British companies managed to preserve such an ethos until comparatively recent times. Altruism has existed and does exist in business, but it often has a hard time …

HOW BUSINESS PROTECTS ITSELF

Entrepreneurs protected themselves against the first risk - destroying entirely their own security and economic viability in commercial ventures – by getting the concept of the limited company on to the statute books. The company or corporation became a legal person, distinct from its owners and directors, with almost all of the legal protections an individual person has under law, and a limit set to its liabilities – the limited liability corporation.

Without that legal protection, there can be little doubt that we would not have had the industrialised world that we know today. An entrepreneur could set up a venture and take risks, supported by investors in the company - the shareholders and venture capitalists – and fail occasionally without destroying his or her own capital and financial security, going into personal bankruptcy and losing everything. Legal safeguards were set up to prevent abuse of this immunity by entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs protected themselves against the second risk - being deflected by external consequences that were not central to the business purpose, especially those that relate to morality, legal compliance and social values, and not being allowed to focus on the central purpose of the venture – by insisting that it was the job of government and society to impose morality and social values upon them by legislation and regulation. This was the first externalisation, releasing the organisation from the need to establish its own morality and values and leaving them free, within the regulatory constraints, to pursue their business objectives. Thus was the balance to be maintained between the legal protection of the limited liability company and the needs of the society it operated within.

The company, in essence, could be amoral but have its morality imposed by society and be constrained within limits acceptable to that society.

But this ideal rested on an assumption that proved naive and false from the very start, namely that the limited liability company would not be able to influence the legislative constraints that they operated within. In fact, from the earliest days, companies have sought to influence, and in an increasing number of instances, subvert the very legislative process that was meant to constrain them.

The most spectacular example of this has been the insidious, relentless and inexorable growth of the military/industrial complex, a threat defined and named by President Eisenhower in 1961.
This has proved to be a cancerous growth that has perverted our values, our politicians, our democracy and our world.

THE IMPACT OF EXTERNALISATION ON THE UNITED KINGDOM

The results of externalisation in America have been evident for well over a century – explosive industrial and commercial expansion delivering enormous wealth and prosperity to some and utter misery, poverty, sickness and death to others. Initially, the exploited were the immigrant population and the ill-educated lower classes, but then, faced with the growth of organised labour and labour protection legislation at home, exploitation tended to shift to America’s colonies (which of course it always denies having) in Latin America, in its offshore islands, and in many other parts of the world. In this, they were simply following the brutally exploitative model of British imperialism, whilst coyly rejecting the idea of an American empire.

(The continuing American hatred of Castro’s Cuba stems, not only from  real ideological or strategic beliefs, but also significantly from the burning resentment of American big business and American organised crime at losing a population that could be exploited with minimal risk and effort.)

But closer to home, the events leading up to the financial meltdown that followed the near-collapse of Northern Rock had already signalled that all was not well with our notional democracy, and the regulation of big business.

Maggie Thatcher began the process in the 1980s that involved widespread deregulation, externalisation and outsourcing of business, and we entered the era of the short-time temporary contract, of cleaning contractors who didn’t clean - killing hospital patients while their directors grew fat on the proceeds - of railways where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing and trains crashed with alarming regularity, of an exploding housing market where essential workers couldn’t afford to live within commuting distance of their place of work, of the destruction of entire mining communities – the list goes on.

Industry, notable the financial sector, were allowed to lobby, bribe and bully the Westminster government and our elected representatives, and to negate or at least emasculate the regulatory authorities designed to keep each industry in check. A government and the regulators turned a blind eye while the banks and the financial industry gambled with the security and the lives and hope of millions of ordinary citizens. The concentration of power – by acquisition – in the newspaper industry and the media also led to distortion of objective journalistic values and to the impotence of government in the face new Citizen Kane’s in their Xanadus.

Revolving doors carried senior civil servants into top jobs in the industries they had been so recently responsible for controlling. Regulatory bodies were – and are - packed with industry representatives, neutering attempts to limit the worst excesses. Our own elected representative were either lobbying themselves or acting as pimps for the professional lobbyists. And of course they were also ripping off the taxpayer by inflating their expenses or actively falsifying them.

A new generation of politicians, drawn at a much younger age from the offices of the party machines and from PR companies, or straight from university, saw politics as a career and a route to enrichment rather than a calling.

They knew nothing, had done nothing, had achieved nothing  and were, figuratively speaking, nubile adolescents eagerly awaiting their imminent ravishment and reward by the hard-eyed men and women of big business.

And so we come to Scotland, and to the great city of Glasgow

EXTERNALISATION’S IMPACT ON SCOTLAND

Scotland, a little nation of over five million people at the northern end of Europe, had nonetheless punched well above its weight for centuries, in culture, in learning, in innovation and invention and had made a crucial contribution to the industrial revolution. It was no stranger to the huge forces of industrial and commercial change that swept across the globe: it had experienced the cruel impact of the shift from the land to the city, from an agrarian society to a mechanised one, and its people had felt the iron hand of capitalism.

The abandonment of personal responsibility by their leaders, in very early forms of externalisation – an externalisation of responsibility and values - driven as always by rampant greed, from the Highland clearances to the dispossession of the lowland cottars had brought misery to hundreds of thousands, and the great workshops of Empire in the ancient city of Glasgow exacted a terrible price from the ordinary people, producing amongst other evils disease, death and malnutrition in the worst slums in Europe.

The clan chiefs unforgivably broke the bonds of faith, blood and absolute trust to enrich themselves (with a few honourable exceptions) and most of them reap the benefits of their ill-gotten gains to this day. The lowland landowners were little better, and both highland and lowlands leaders were prepared to ruthlessly suppress any attempts by the people they were exploiting and oppressing to obtain justice.

(The ‘Big Factor’, John Campbell, Chamberlain of the Duke of Argyll’s estates in Mull and Tiree, was so hated by his former tenants that emigrant communities in America and Canada celebrated his death (1872) in ‘uninhibited style’ with singing, bonfires and drinking.)

We must never forget that this, in the main, was done by Scots to Scots. There are those who are still doing it to this day, and their betrayal is all the greater because they know their history. They still see their noblest prospect as the high road to England, specifically Westminster, and once there, Scotland becomes almost an embarrassing memory.

In our own time, Scotland was devastated by Maggie Thatcher’s destruction of large parts of our industrial heritage. Her cynical and ill-judged attempt to pilot the hated poll tax in Scotland cost her party dear, and ultimately brought her down as Prime Minister. The Tory Party has been a negligible force in Scotland since that time.

But of course Scotland had been, for over half a century, a Labour fiefdom, nowhere more powerful than in Glasgow, one that was propped up by the ineffectual Scottish Liberal Democrats, whose utter betrayal of the ideals and principles of liberalism continues under Tavish Scott, in the name of unionism.

The  revelations followed Steven Purcell’s tragic collapse and resignation show something deeply suspect in the heart of the administration of Gleschu - the dear green place - by the Labour-dominated City Council.

ALEOs and Glasgow City Council

The responsibilities of Glasgow City Council are as extensive and complex as one would expect from the requirements of governance of one of the major cities of the United Kingdom, a city of 620,000 souls. The governance of this great city is entrusted by its electorate to elected councillors, and they represent the democratic will and control of the people of Glasgow over how their city is run.

Ideally, those running for office would see the role of councillor as a vocation, not as a career ladders nor as a route to personal wealth. Power would be sought unselfishly to serve the people.

But life – and politicians – ain’t always like that …

An elected councillor can expect to earn a minimum of £16,234 per annum, and has pension rights in addition to this. This is about two thirds of the average wage and in itself is unlikely to attract an ambitious and able person who is not driven by an altruistic wish to serve his or her fellow citizens, and is even less likely to persuade someone to give up a higher rate of remuneration to seek election.

However, anyone who was driven by money and career considerations would already be highly aware that the potential earnings are very much higher. The great British public were duly shocked when the Telegraph exposed the true level of earnings of honourable and right honourable members of Parliament, made up of expenses, expenses fiddles and extra-curricular activities of various kinds, including directorships, consulting, and other nice little earners too numerous to name.

The Glasgow electorate – not easily shockable after generations of corrupt administration – might just be beginning to see what is going on by the light that the Herald (belatedly, but God bless them for doing it now!) has been mercilessly shining into the earnings activities of their councillors.

And they may be coming to grips with the acronym that represents a nice little earner – the ALEO, or Arms Length External Organisation, which should really be ALEGO, Arms Length Governance External Organisation. I suppose ALEGO was too close to A LEG OVER, with its related concept of screwing the electorate. Or is it related to that old Glasgow chant about the Eely Aleo?

So what are the ALEOs? They are external organisations set up by Glasgow City Council to run departments and functions and deliver services to the people of Glasgow that were formerly run by Glasgow City Council. They are given a considerable degree of freedom of decision and action, but have at least one board member who is also a councillor, to ensure that they remember to whom they are ultimately accountable – the people of Glasgow.

Here’s what Glasgow City Council says about the principles of governance in a paper relating to ALEOs by its External Governance Committee on 26th May 2009.

EXTRACT

1.1

Governance has been defined as the means by which an organisation ensures that the level of direction and management of the affairs of the organisation are satisfactory, aligns corporate behaviour with the expectations of  the public and maintains accountability. The process of governance therefore involves the clear identification of responsibilities, accountabilities and adequate systems of supervision, control and communication. Fundamentally, governance is about how the organisation ensures that it is doing the right things, in the right way, for the right people, in a timely, inclusive, open, honest and accountable manner.  

1.2

The Council has statutory responsibility for the delivery of a range of services and it meets
this through its operating structures and its governance arrangements.

END OF EXTRACT

ALEOs are therefore a manifestation of externalisation – outsourcing – and of shuffling off the inconvenient need to run departments, deal with real people and with trades unions - in other words, of reducing, if not avoiding real responsibility for doing what Glasgow City Council is elected to do. A fig-leaf of residual control and accountability is provided by the external director or directors appointed from the ranks of councillors – and perhaps friends of the Labour Party.

It goes without saying that the above is not the rationale used by Glasgow City Council to justify the helter-skelter multiplication of ALEOs.

It was, of course, no part of justification for the setting up of the ALEOs to provide a nice little earner for councillors or others, nor to regard the ability of the new external directors, in the City Council’s own words (from the extract above) to

… ensure that the level of direction and management of the affairs of the organisation are satisfactory

… align corporate behaviour with the expectations of  the public and maintains accountability

(provide) … clear identification of responsibilities, accountabilities and adequate systems of supervision, control and communication

… ensure that it (the ALEO) is doing the right things, in the right way, for the right people, in a timely, inclusive, open, honest and accountable manner

as rather likely to be compromised by their need to protect a healthy supplement to their council salaries and to stay on the right side of their new board members. The eternal question cui bono? always has a familiar answer in Glasgow – Who dae ye think, Jimmy?

The potential of corruption in government is ever-present, and it is not McCarthyite to say that the facts revealed by the Herald give grounds for grave disquiet.

Whit’s goin’ on Jimmy, eh? There’s somethin’ no’ right here, ah can smell it fae here …

Friday, 10 February 2012

A message to Glasgow Labour councillors – don’t be part of the death of Labour – be part of the future of Scotland

The Glasgow Labour ship is aground, holed below the waterline, but may float until May.

To Labour councillors - I have this to say - you can't avoid risk either way, so make the smart bet - move to the SNP. You'll be welcomed, and your constituents will understand - but only if you do it now, and spend the next ten weeks or so explaining and convincing them. If you truly believe in Glasgow, you MUST do it - and you can.

Don't be part of the collapse of Glasgow Labour - be part of the future of Scotland!


Glasgow City Labour – three wheels on their wagon – excited squeals from Gordon Matheson



Municipal politics often present an ugly, sordid spectacle, one that is mercilessly depicted in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs feature. Few present one as sordid as Glasgow City Council, which over decades has honed the traditional script elements of cronyism, petty nepotism, influence-peddling, individual venality and payoffs allied to huge profits to the external vultures -the beneficiaries of contract placements, insider information and land deals. And of course, bullying and intimidation, both within the hallowed precincts of the City Chambers, and among the deprived communities that suffer under such a regime when they make their brave individual protests.

We only have to remember the victims of the Dalmarnock Commonwealth Games development and regeneration project – were ever two words so misused? – the families made homeless, the small businesses wiped out, the disabled children and their families callously deprived of their Accord Centre.

When their voices were raised, the full force of the law, plus police (80 of them plus 15 riot vans) and masked council workers with sledgehammers was deployed against them, in one of the most shameful episodes in municipal history. The “rich got rich and the poor got poorer”, but the property developers, the lawyers and the councillors? “Ain’t we got fun?”

But a rotten wagon travelling on rough terrain begins to rock: people fall off – or get pushed – the axles give out and the wheels begin to come off. Yesterday in the council chamber we saw unprecedented scenes, or at least got the flavour of them. Glasgow City Council’s Labour hegemony came perilously close to the edge of the ravine.

But Labour ‘won’ the vote – 40-38 – and a flushed and excitedly squealing Gordon Matheson  bounced out of the chamber in a state of euphoria, emitting breathless gasps about passionate ideals and values, labouring under the delusion that he had won a victory rather than narrowly averted a humiliating defeat – a Pyrrhic little victory that presages an inevitable end in May.

I said a bit last year (see blogs below) about the implications of corruption in local government and the GCC Labour policy of clearing ‘deadwood’ from the rotten Labour tree, a futile exercise, since the great axe of the democratic voice of the electors of Glasgow is going to bring it down in the May elections.

And when the light shines on the fallen trunk, some strange thing will be seen scurrying away into the undergrowth.



BLOG EXTRACTS – 2011

Blog - Friday, 16 September 2011

What happens when the wheels come off the Glasgow Labour machine?

Back in May of this year, I asked the following question -

What happens when any political machine loses power at the local level anywhere in the United Kingdom, indeed in any city in the democratic world?

The City of Glasgow, my native city, was not far from my mind when I asked the question. (see blog extract below). I was thinking ahead to the local elections of 2012. The wheels have begun to come off the Glasgow Labour machine even earlier than I thought they would.

First we had The Scotsman on 13th September, with the headline Labour split over plan to ‘devolve’ the party with a sub-header of Angry backlash as Westminster accuse Murphy and Boyack of ‘selling out’ to the Nationalists. (That could as well have been worded as UK nationalists accuse Murphy and Boyack of ‘selling out’ to the Scottish Nationalists.)

Then on the 15th of September, The Herald carried the headline Labour faces backlash over shake-up of councillors.

(Among those being ‘cleared-out’ are former City Treasurer James McNally and former licensing chief Stephen Dornan.)

Their attempts to clear out what they see as deadwood councillors has understandably not been received well by the dead wood. I’m a dog man myself – I have two Westies, Angus and Dougal – and I was interested to see that the Deadwood Clearer-in-Chief, aka Brodie the Beagle Jamie Mallan, also seems to be a dog man, at least according to The Herald.

The idea that some elected officials in Glasgow City Council are deadwood seems to be either an affront to democracy, or a recognition of what some have always alleged, that the Glasgow voters would vote for the equivalent of the Hartlepool Monkey if it ran on a Labour ticket. Hartlepool notoriously hanged the monkey, but so far Glasgow Labour have not proposed such a draconian penalty. However, I conceive of other possibilities. In my blog (below) of May 2011, I identified the possible categories that could exist within a rotten borough, which of course, post-Purcell, Glasgow may not be …

Within the central structure of a rotten borough there are three groups -

honest employees and politicians

dishonest employees and politicians who are up to their necks in the corrupt practices

those who are all too aware of what has been going on, but who have not participated in, or profited by it, but who have remained silent rather than blow the whistle.

Now, assuming that those conducting a clearout of alleged deadwood – such as that being carried out in Glasgow - had insider knowledge of which group each councillor was in, and assuming that the possibility exists, however remote, that they were not all as honest, public-spirited and dedicated to those who elected them as I hope all Glasgow City Councillors are, the $64,000 question is then – which group would they target?

Logically, it would be the dishonest ones, but for that to be true, those conducting the clearout evaluations would have to belong to the third group, those who were aware of what was going on, but had not blown the whistle. Since by definition, apparent incompetence and corruption go hand-in-hand, the reason for clearout can then safely be advanced as incompetence.

However, if those conducting a clearout in this imaginary rotten borough (there is no current evidence that GCC is a rotten borough, at least since Purcell) were in fact complicit in dodgy goings-on, the logical strategy would be to clear out the honest politicians who were not aware of what was going on, but not those who knew, but didn’t participate, since this might induce them to blow the whistle belatedly.

I fervently hope that Glasgow is not, and even allowing for Purcell, never has been a rotten borough, but in a city council and administration of the size and complexity of Glasgow, with all the temptations inevitably involved in the placing of lucrative contracts, the granting or withholding of planning permission and licenses, the insider knowledge of large-scale development projects such as the Glasgow East Regeneration and the Commonwealth Games projects, it would be nothing short of miraculous if no elected official or salaried employee had ever yielded to such temptations.

In their position, I would be as angry and apprehensive as the group of Glasgow councillors who have been categorised as ‘deadwood’ clearly are under these circumstances, because of the inevitable potential damage to their reputations and because not only their competence is being impugned, but a dark cloud of suspicion will inevitably accompany them if they go quietly. In their place, I certainly wouldn’t …

Colin Smyth, Labour’s Scottish General Secretary, has a job and a half on his hands. Perhaps Tom Harris, MP can help.

MORIDURA BLOG 26th MAY 2011

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ENTRENCHED REGIME LOOKS LIKE LOSING POLITICAL POWER?

Let’s look away from Glasgow for a moment, and consider what happens when any political machine loses power at the local level anywhere in the United Kingdom, indeed in any city in the democratic world.

I will use the term used by Private Eye, that indispensable publication that covers the ground that mainstream media are either too lazy, too complacent or too scared to address - rotten boroughs. Private Eye regularly publishes the sordid details of such rotten boroughs across the UK, where blatant corruption, the self-interest and the personal profit of councillors reign supreme over any concern for the people who have the misfortune to be dependent on them.

The mechanics of such corruption of local democracy across the UK are always the same - the award of contracts in disregard of best practice, failure to declare interest by councillors, nepotism, insider knowledge of land development, so-called consultancy and training contracts, lucrative sinecures for councillors on quasi-independent bodies, revolving door appointments to organisations that have benefited from council largesse. The necessary links with external organisations created by the giant budgets controlled by councils creates a potential for influence that should work for the good of the people, but all to often operates against their interests.

But like all political power, when the continuity of the hegemony is threatened, those external organisations whose relationship with the political power brokers  has been less than transparent begin to get jittery, and a process of disengagement begins that is deeply worrying to the politicians involved.

And within the central structure there are three groups - honest employees and politicians, dishonest employees and politicians who are up to their necks in the corrupt practices, and a crucial third group, those who are all too aware of what has been going on, have not participated in, or profited by it, but who have remained silent rather than blow the whistle.

It is this group who begin to break their silence when the power structure begins to look shaky, anxious not to be caught up in a scandal that they have never profited from. Once those first cracks appear, the honest group, often comprising senior professionals, becomes uneasily aware of what has been going on under their noses, and begins to probe the weakest parts of the edifice of corruption.

Soon thereafter, panic sets in among the truly corrupt. Having no allegiance to any person or principle other than that of expedient self-interest, they begin to try to distance themselves from what may be coming their way. At that point, the dam begins to burst- auditing bodies, professional organisations, the police, national government and the media acquire a sudden interest.

SUMMARY

I make the above points as general observations about corrupt organisations. Glasgow City Council may be entirely free of corruption, especially since the end of the Purcell era, which may itself just have been the personal failings and the personal tragedy of one man. If this is so, then in the Dalmarnock case, they have been simply deeply misguided in the way they pursued otherwise laudable objectives in relation to the regeneration of the East End of Glasgow and the huge opportunity presented by the Commonwealth Games,  displaying professional callousness and a total lack of empathy towards an entire community of ordinary working people, and a highly selective view of the law as it relates to compulsory purchase and the acquisition of land for development purposes.


Monday, 21 November 2011

The GUU debate and this and that

I may have given an unintended impression in my piece on the GUU debate on independence yesterday, namely that that members of the two teams reflected their real political views in debate.  I do understand clearly that principle of such debates, namely, that the position taken in relations to the motion does not necessarily reflect personal views.

My experience of formalised debating – as opposed to making my living from real life debating – is confined to one series of debates many years ago, jointly organised by the BBC and the local chamber of Commerce in Newcastle, and sponsored by the Newcastle Breweries(S&N). The debating teams included a BBC team, other media teams, lawyers, the University and the local debating teams, including the Wranglers, Newcastle’s oldest and most respected debating club, and other companies. We were offered an opportunity to form a team, but nobody expected much of a team of brewery managers. I was the team captain.

We won, defeating all comers.

The rules of that debate were that the team selecting the motion did not get the choice of either being the proposer of the motion or the opposer – that choice was given to the other team. It was therefore pointless choosing a motion that suited your personal views and strength since you might have to oppose it. This rule, I believe, is common in debates, but not universal. I have no idea how GUU set their rule or chose their motion and proposers and opposers.

My comments were about the nature of the arguments advanced, and the general atmosphere of the debate. However, I could not but observe that, however the choice was made, the team members of the anti-independence team contained three who were not eligible to vote in a Scottish referendum because of non-residency in Scotland, and that each team did seem to include individuals who tended to be identified with a viewpoint, e.g. Duncan Hamilton.

But I look forward to being proved wrong, and finding, say, Duncan Hamilton, Manus Blessing and Murray Pittock emerging as staunch supporters of the UK in the real life independence debate that is now raging in Scotland, and all the members of the GUU team who so vigorously opposed the motion on Saturday revealing themselves as passionate supporters of Scotland’s independence from the UK. They will then have shown themselves to be true devil’s advocates in debating terms.

Or maybe each team member actually passionately believed in what they were saying

LABOUR AND TORIES – GUARDIANS OF THE PEOPLE’S TAXES

In their page 13 piece – Devine forced to sell flat to pay off debt – the Sunday Herald reminded us yesterday that in the wake of the expenses scandal. four Labour MPs, including Devine were jailed and two Tory Lords. As for the rest of the Labour and Tory house flippers, pornographic video renters, excessive claimants etc. the phrase by the skin of their teeth comes to mind.

THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW

The spat between the UK Supreme Court and the Scottish Legal Establishment continues, with accusations being flung around, as senior legal figures, wigs askew and gowns a-flying, demonstrate that the law is not always above politics, especially where matters pertaining to the Union are concerned.

Cui bono? not to mention Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

They talk of little else in the working class communities of Dalmarnock, as ordinary people and small businesses contemplate the wreckage of their lives perpetrated by Glasgow City Council  in the name of the Commonwealth Games and urban regeneration, with the full majesty of the law firmly behind the perpetrators and the obscenely rich property developers and their speculative gains.

And while this was going on, the complacent professionals of Glasgow – journalists, lawyers, academics - turned their heads the other way, with a tiny number of shining exceptions. I wonder how many attended the GUU debate?

ABOVE POLITICS?

As terrified European countries abandon democracy for unelected technocracy, we hear similar voices here in Scotland, in the letters pages and in statements from the Scottish trades unions.

The shipbuilding unions have played along enthusiastically with the new Labour/Tory/LibDem coalition tactics of scaremongering over defence jobs – the defence-as-job-creation theme – with special reference to shipbuilding. LibDem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore (new friend of Margaret Curran and Willie Bain, Labour) with his ever loyal little sidekick, David Mundel have been warning – i.e. threatening – Scotland that it would not be in the front line of defence spending if Scotland left the UK.

Kenny Jordan, regional secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions wants to meet Philip Hammond, successor to Liam Fox (remember him?) as soon as possible.

We don’t have the time to play party politics with the situation,” says Kenny Jordan, “Our concern is for the future of our members’ jobs.”

When people say that they are not playing politics, they almost always are, and the politics are right-wing politics. So says Polly Toynbee of the Guardian, who is as close to left-wing royalty as one can get. And so say I, who am about as far from left-wing royalty as one can get …


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Making political capital out of …

The following tweet yesterday provoked a little exchange between Angus Macleod and me, and an ironic reference by  Rolf Rae-Hansen to Angus’s proclivity for referring to ‘cybernats’ …

Angus Macleod

AMacleodTimes Angus Macleod

What I cannot fathom is why some people think it is so vital to refer to English,rather than UK, riots .

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Because riots don't take place in a state, Angus - they happen in a city, or cities or a country. Info: four countries in UK

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@AMacleodTimes Of the 4 countries in the UK, only one has had riots so far - England. Useful to tourists headed for one of the other three?

Rolf Rae-Hansen

rolfraehansen Rolf Rae-Hansen

@moridura Don't worry, I think @AMacleodTimes understands full well, he is just one of those CyberUnionist wind up merchants. :)

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@rolfraehansen @AMacleodTimes I thought there was a little faux naivety in his question - he fathoms, all right - and so do I ...

Since then, of course, Alex Salmond made his statement, the BBC mended its ways, and started referring correctly to English riots, and a wave of unionist - and it is unionist - protest came, accusing the First Minister of ‘playing politics’ with the riots, with the Scotsman feeling that it warranted the front page and most of page two.


The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has stated, as civil order crumbles in English cities, that the riots are “criminality, pure and simple.” The riots of course, are neither pure nor simple - they are a deeply debased manifestation of what has gone wrong with the society created by Thatcher, Blair, Brown, Mandelson, whose gross political errors are now being fatally compounded by Cameron and Clegg and their benighted coalition.

The situation is political, because every manifestation of our society stems from either political action or inaction. Life is politics, and no amount of moralising, demanding that parents behave responsibly, advocating a return to traditional values, etc. will make a blind bit of difference - they are a smokescreen thrown up in a vain attempt to conceal the poverty of idea and vision of our leaders, and to try to cover their tracks and evade responsibility for what they have done for the last thirty years.

And what they have done for the last thirty years has been done by Westminster, in the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,  the failing, crumbling, stitched together political state called the UK, the rump of a failed empire.

Every word that has been uttered by politicians, and by their creatures in the media since the Tottenham riots has been political - by the Government in an attempt to defend themselves, by the Labour Party in an attempt both to evade blame for their 13-year role in creating the social mess, and to make expedient political capital over the Coalition’s misfortune. Every word from politicians in Scotland has been political, and the comment has divided sharply and entirely predictably along the Scottish San Andreas fault line of unionist/nationalist sympathies and political philosophies.

Of course it’s political - politics created this bloody (literally) mess, and only politics and political action will get us out of it. Scotland must help the English people in any way they can, with understanding, with deep respect, and with resources and practical help, of which the police resource is only one immediate example.

Scotland must listen to the voice of the English people, in all its ethnic, cultural and class diversity, to its young people, to its academics - such as Dr. Clifford Stott (see clip below) - when they have something pertinent and helpful to say.



But we must distinguish sharply between the country of England and its people - our neighbours, friends, colleagues and relatives, to whom we are linked by a shared language, a shared history and a shared archipelago - and the failed State of the UK, which is the root cause of the troubles of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Only the independence of Scotland will solve the problems of Scotland, and in the process, lead towards the necessary independence of England and the people of England. Scotland is different - we know it, and our English neighbours know it. Neither country should shrink from recognising these difference, nor from examining them.

The fundamental difference is that Scotland is committed to a social democracy that cares for all of its people, especially its vulnerable people, and every political argument nationalist Scots have with unionist Scots and with Westminster politicians centres around that fact.

So when you hear a unionist politician or media sympathiser, especially a Scottish unionist politician or media sympathiser say “stop playing politics” with this or that burning issue, remember that what they are doing is playing politics - unionist politics - and what they are saying, with increasing desperation is Don’t call attention to anything that reveals the progressive failure of the UK, the Westminster Government, and the greedy, amoral conspiracy against the people of these Isles called the British Establishment, a conspiracy of inherited or ruthlessly acquired wealth, power and privilege, totally undemocratic, self-serving, amoral, and utterly opposed to the independence of Scotland, the independence of England and the independence of Wales.

Perhaps the new Jimmy Reid Foundation can ask themselves some searching questions as they try to give a voice to the Left in Scottish politics. First among them should be -

1. What made Jimmy Reid, a lifelong Socialist and internationalist, become a nationalist in the last years of his life?

2. Where does the ‘new’ Scottish Left stand on the nuclear deterrent and nuclear power?

3. Where does the new Scottish Left stand in the independence of Scotland?

If they duck these questions, or put them on the back burner because they are too controversial, then they will, of course, become yet another irrelevant talking shop of old lefties, mildly amusing and good chat show sofa material.

They might also ask themselves why the Scottish Left ignored and betrayed the people of Dalmarnock, as the Games juggernaut rolled over their lives …

Saor Alba!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Legacy? - What Legacy? - The Commonwealth Games

Newsnight Scotland’s first half last night was devoted to the question of what lasting benefit, if any, will result from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It started well, asked the right questions of the right people, including Dr. Libby Porter of Glasgow University, who as far as I know is Scotland’s only expert on international urban regeneration projects, and John Beattie, former rugby internationalist and now a broadcaster.

Both made highly relevant contributions: both questioned if there was any real legacy of such events. Dr. Porter asked what should be the central questions in this debate - who benefits by such projects, and the one that is never asked - who suffers because of them? The answer is clear - property developers, athletes and politicians benefit, and the local people - the beating heart of the area being ‘developed’ - suffer, and are, on occasion, destroyed economically and emotionally by the development juggernaut.

This first part of the Newsnight item occupied one third of the total time budget - the remaining two thirds were devoted to a talking heads studio discussion of mind-bending banality and irrelevancy between Gordon Brewer and Doug Gillen, a sports journalist, and Professor Joe Goldblatt of Queen Margaret University.



Newsnight Scotland had the choice, of course, of including real people, ordinary Scots whose lives had been turned upside down by Glasgow City Council and the Commonwealth Games developers - the Dalmarnock families and small businesses, who have been forced out of their homes and have received no compensation whatsoever because they had the temerity to challenge the derisory sums offered to them, while already rich property developers were having millions thrown at them by GCC - or the mothers of the disabled children who are wholly dependent on The Accord Centre, which is being taken away from them, with no satisfactory replacement.

But such an injection of real life and real people into the debate would have been emotional, untidy and difficult to manage, whereas a couple a talking heads, however, irrelevant to the debate, was the infinitely easier option, the default choice of lazy journalists and lazy producers everywhere.

Alternatively, Newsnight Scotland could have given Libby Porter a place on the panel, or even the total slot, because she has lived and breathed the Dalmarnock experience, got involved with the real, vulnerable human beings who are obscured by the glib PR of politicians and Glasgow Council, and their ever-compliant companions, the Scottish Press. Libby, an Australian, didn’t just theorise in the groves of academe, she was there on the streets, and behind the barricades, sharing the pain when the full force of the Glasgow City Council, the law and the Glasgow Police were thrown against one of the families, the Jaconellis.

The Sun's horrifying eviction report and video

I look forward to the New Scotland after independence, but some of its people and its institutions are going to have to take a long, hard look at themselves if they are to be a part of it. The people of Dalmarnock have been betrayed by their media, their press and above all, by the professional classes of Scotland, with a tiny number of glowing exceptions.

The Human cost of the commonwealth Games

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The NUJ, the Herald and the freedom of the Press

The Herald carried a letter yesterday from Paul Holleran, NUJ Organiser calling for the press to hold the Trump organisation to account, a call one might have thought redundant, since the press and media have never let up on Trump since he first appeared on the Aberdeen scene.

Trump, in fact, is a popular target for the  press for the following reasons - he is a loud American with a bad hairdo, some risible political opinions, and not the most diplomatic of men. But more significantly, his project on the Menie Estate is a safe distance from the central belt of Scotland, where most of the media is centred, it is in Alex Salmond’s heartland, and because of the history of the project, it can usefully be laid at the First Minister’s doorstep.

But the press and media, with the honourable exception of the Scottish Sun, have carefully either avoided, underreported or misreported and misrepresented a much more egregious scandal involving a large property development in the central belt - the Glasgow East regeneration/Commonwealth Games project, especially as it affects Dalmarnock and its people.

The reasons for this neglect are fairly obvious - there is no single convenient foreign villain, there is little that can be presented sentimentally about rolling sand dunes and ecology, and most importantly, the ‘villain’  is the powerful monolith of Glasgow City Council, a Labour hegemony that up until May 2010 had intimate links with the UK Government, and still has links with a powerful Labour opposition party. The ordinary people of Dalmarnock can safely be sneered at, jeered at and ignored by the complacent Glasgow professional classes - a much safer option than offending the powerful.

This ‘villain’ can call on the Glasgow Police, the full resources of a council workforce and the draconian power of the law when necessary - and they have used all three to crush the hopes of the Dalmarnock families and businesses.

And it exercises powerful patronage through its political and commercial networks. GCC can make you rich; it has made many speculative property developers rich - or richer than they already were - through the settlements it reached with them over land purchase deals, all perfectly legal and a matter of public record, for those who take the trouble to look.

As far as my recollection serves me, the Herald has never published a letter of mine on the Jaconelli case - and I have sent many. I sent another yesterday (text below) - it has not appeared today.

The Herald, however, has no problem in using the services of Gerry Braiden today to attack the First Minister for supporting the Save the Accord campaign, a Dalmarnock disabled centre threatened with closure by GCC, obliquely accusing him of bowing to political pressure, and ‘kowtowing’ to the Save the Accord campaign. Of course, nothing the Labour-controlled GCC do is ever remotely political in the eyes of the Herald, and they fight only with the “sword of truth and trusty shield of fair play”.

A Google search, or Herald site search will give anyone interested a fair idea of how Gerry Braiden reported the Jaconelli case. It would be fair to say that neither he nor the Herald have been enthusiastic advocates of the cause of the Dalmarnock families and businesses, but have always managed to faithfully reflect the position of Glasgow City Council.

Glasgow councillors up the Eely-ALEO!

UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO The Herald - 14th June 2011

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish Organiser (Letters 14th June) calls for a 'healthy, functioning Scottish press' to hold powerful people to account over the behaviour of the Trump organisation in Aberdeen. I agree wholeheartedly.
  But where was the Scottish press when ordinary families and small businesses were being forced out of their homes and livelihoods in Dalmarnock by Glasgow City Council to make way for the Athletes' Village for the Commonwealth Games. Where were they when the Jaconelli family were faced by 80 police, 20 riot vans and masked council workers with sledgehammers as they mounted a last, defiant protest against eight years of derisory offers and legal intimidation. The answer is that they initially gave inadequate and often wildly inaccurate coverage, virtually a slanted re-hash of GCC leaks and press releases, and only at the final brutal end of the siege of Ardenlea Street to behaviour that would have disgraced a totalitarian regime in other parts of the world.
  One newspaper, the Scottish Sun, actually engaged with the story, with the facts, and with Margaret Jaconelli and the other families, and actually had a journalist inside the house as the combined forces of municipal power broke into the last refuge of a hard-working Glasgow grandmother and her terrified family and friends.

  Unlike the Trump homeowners, none of these Dalmarnock owner-occupiers were refusing to sell their homes or businesses - they simply wanted to negotiate a fair price for having their lives uprooted. But they were denied this and subjected to arbitrary and unrealistic valuations under compulsory purchase legislation, and because they refused to be intimidated into accepting grossly inadequate settlements, are now homeless and virtually penniless, all that they had worked for destroyed in the name of progress. All of this happened in parallel with speculative property developers being allowed to negotiate and reap astronomical profits, in some cases for doing little more than opportunistically acquiring vacant lots and re-selling them for profits that reached into millions of pounds for modest investments of a few hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  It's not too late, Paul Holleran, for the Scottish Press to start holding powerful people to account, and they can start in the City of Glasgow, where the HQ of the NUJ is situated, with a much bigger story than the Trump story, and a much more egregious injustice to get their journalistic teeth into. Or are there some people who are just too powerful to be held to account? Is it just easier to go for a cardboard villain from another country with a bad hairdo?

Saturday, 30 April 2011

You got it right in 2008, Glasgow voters - now get it right again in May 2011

This was my first YouTube video in 2008 - a cry of pain over the lost Labour Party, and a cry of hope for Glasgow East voters to do the right thing - vote SNP.

You did do the right thing, Glasgow East, overturning a 20,000 Labour majority, voting for John Mason, one of your ain folk.

But you panicked in May 2010, Glasgow East - fear of the Tories made you let Labour in again - the party that wrecked the economy and wrecked your hopes and dreams. They bottled their chance to form a Rainbow Coalition, and thus let the appalling ConLib Coalition into power.

Now Labour says "It wisnae us - big boys did it and ran away ..."

But it was you that ran away, Labour - a contemptible act. Since then the corruption of GCC, the Purcell Affair, the obscene profits of developers in Dalmarnock and the unforgivable persecution of Margaret Jaconelli in her own home have all exemplified the rotten thing Glasgow Labour has become.

Don't repeat your 2010 mistake at the critical Holyrood elections in May. BOTH VOTES SNP - Glasgow and Scotland's - real, best hope for the future.


Friday, 25 March 2011

Reflections on the brutal end to the Siege of Ardenlea Street

Margaret and Jack Jaconelli’s 35-year life in their family home ended yesterday under a brutal assault by over 80 police officers, council workers and 20 riot vans, initiated by Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council.

The Jaconellis are now homeless, but this indomitable, archetypal Glasgow working class family won’t be for long - they will pick themselves up and start again, finding a new home, and making a new life. But one thing is certain - they won’t give up their fight for justice, aided by their lawyer, Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre.

THE SCOTTISH PRESS

The coverage of this story by the Scottish media can be characterised in general as belated, inaccurate and in some case, deliberately and consciously biased in favour of Glasgow City Council. Journalists, if some can even be dignified by this honourable appellation, were lazy and incurious, accepting at face value the many distorted misrepresentations fed to them by GCC’s publicity mill and rumour machine, cooperating supinely in the Council’s attempts to present the Jaconelli’s as greedy and unreasonable.

These people would not have recognised a significant human interest story and the dubious political dealings that surrounded it if it reared up and bit them on the arse. That is the most charitable explanation of their behaviour: there are others.

I suppose if your journalistic instincts begin and end with scanning a press release by the powerful and well-resourced, or having cosy lunches and briefings from their minions, instead of taking a trip to the heart of the problem - 10 Ardenlea Street - and talking to those directly involved, then this is the kind of lazy copy you will deliver to equally uninterested editors.

But many of these news outlets had another agenda - they were Labour-supporting organs, unionist to their core, and an election was coming up. A story that showed a relentless and unfeeling persecution of ordinary Glaswegians did not sit well with the image of the People’s Party, Labour - the party of John MacLean and Keir Hardie, of  Red Clydeside, champions of the under-privileged. Such a story might bring home to Scottish voters that Scottish Labour, the puppet regime of Blair/Mandelson'/Brown’s New Labour, in the run-up to May 5th, had been hiding for decades behind the corpse of the old Labour Party, trotting it out, decaying and rotten, but covered in bright paint , to fool the people of Scotland.

This could not be allowed to happen. Bluntly, they hoped to bury the story, and when the Jaconellis inconveniently and bravely put their heads above the parapet to shout that the Labour emperor had no clothes, to shoot them down with a volley of lies, distortions and unfounded accusations.

But not even such a feeble excuse for a democratic press could not ignore a story when it got legs, and they were reluctantly forced into correcting some of their inaccuracies by events.

THE SCOTTISH SUN

It must be said that there have been honourable exceptions to this behaviour, notably in the form of the Scottish Sun’s coverage of the Jaconellis, significantly attributable to a freelance journalist, Paul Drury, who did what real journalists do - went to the source, went to the locations, got to know the people involved, asked real questions, checked and cross checked facts.

Of course the Sun sensationalised the coverage a bit - after all, they are the tabloid’s tabloid and that’s what they do. Unfortunately, in their attempts to point up the egregious disparity of treatment between that meted out to the Jaconellis and the enrichment of the developers who swarmed over the Commonwealth Games site, they may have at times unintentionally harmed the Jaconelli’s interest with their ‘£3.5 million pound Gran’ headlines, unwittingly feeding the Glasgow City Council lie that Margaret Jaconelli was pursuing a huge and unrealistic settlement figure, something that was never true.

But on overwhelming balance, the Jaconellis and their supporters are grateful to Paul Drury and the Sun for acting as virtually the only real counterbalance to the hostile and biased coverage of the rest.

TELEVISION

The Scottish television coverage, although not visibly biased, was belated and superficial, and predictably only interested when the saga entered its last, more sensational stages. Newsnight Scotland, often a byword for leaden, dull coverage of Scottish affairs, with occasional flashes of brilliance - usually when Isabel Fraser is in the interviewer’s seat - never touched the story.

Even in the last few days, they have given a much higher profile to the Glasgow University student protest evictions than to the much more significant brutal and over-the-top storming of the Jaconelli’s home. But then that’s the West End, much closer to the hearts of Scottish media types than the forgotten ghettos and people of Glasgow East.

Television, of course, completely missed Margaret Jaconelli’s confrontation, first with Gordon Matheson, Leader of the GCC Labour Group, then with Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party outside the Scottish Labour Party Conference on Saturday last. Only the Sunday Post, as far as I know, ran this story and published the photograph of Margaret and Ed Miliband.

THE POLITICAL PARTIES

Labour in Scotland maintained a deathly silence on this, as well they might have, since Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council under Gordon Matheson are the villains of this sordid piece. The Tories were predictably absent - after all, they are the party of money, privilege and exploitation of working people: Why would they speak? The pathetic Scottish LibDems don’t have their troubles to seek, and stayed well below the parapet.

But the strange behaviour of the Scottish National Party over the Jaconelli case deserves some examination. After a couple of statements  of concern by the First Minister some considerable time ago, a brief visit by Alison Thewliss, GCC SNP councillor for the Jaconelli’s, and one or two minor expressions of concern by others, a great blanket of silence fell over the issue.

Using such limited resources as I have, I repeatedly and persistently tried to secure some level of involvement from the Party at all levels. The responses to this have, in the main, been to ignore me completely (the SNP have been terrified of bloggers since the University of Cheese scandal, although they recognise their value) or to offer feeble excuses such as “Well, Margaret hasn’t come to my constituency surgery”, prompting the irascible response from me that this vulnerable, overstretched woman, struggling with her problem, with the terminal illness of her brother in England, the abandonment of her virtually at the door of the courtroom by her previous lawyer, and facing the full weight of QCs, District Valuers, et al, needed her elected representatives to visit her, not the other way around.

The Jaconellis are - or at least were - SNP supporters. Much bloody good it did them, at least up to the eleventh hour, when two offers offers to mediate in the dispute came from the Scottish Government,  a fact little reported anywhere in the media. (GCC declined both offers, as they had refused Margaret’s formal request for mediation and ADR.)

I repeatedly told the SNP that this story would get bigger, and eventually break into the media when the inevitable confrontation occurred. I had secured tentative interest from Jon Snow and Channel Four News, but then world events of staggering implications took over their whole agenda. (I have also kept Ken Loach informed through his film production company.)

The SNP should have been publicly and vocally on the right side of this dispute since the start, because it is a uniquely Scottish dispute in the Labour heartland that they need so badly to capture. Doing the right things was clearly the right thing to do here - but they didn’t, displaying all too often the rather uncertain grasp of new media - an occasionally old media - and its significance that too often characterises the Party’s approach.

They are going to have to do a damned sight better if they are to remain in power after May 5th. They still have my full and committed support, but, I regret, my faith is a liitle dented after the Jaconelli failure.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Margaret Jaconelli walks taller and has had an idea …

Margaret Jaconelli has announced her candidacy as an independent for the Scottish Parliament today. Her campaign HQ will be 10 Ardenlea Street Dalmarnock, her threatened home of 35 years, under siege by Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council.

Last Saturday, Margaret confronted Glasgow City Council Labour leader, Gordon Matheson outside the Labour Party Conference. Her persecutor-in-chief hastily ran away, refusing to talk when he realised who he had by the hand.

Undeterred, Margaret went on to confront Ed Miliband, who did listen, took her phone number and promised to act. (reported in the Sunday Post with picture.)

Margaret exhibits fully the qualities and hopes that Jack McConnell, former Scottish First Minister, expressed in his farewell speech at Holyrood today -

… will walk a little taller, cringe a little less and have ideas above their station.”


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

You got it right in 2008, Glasgow voters - now get it right in May 2011

This was my first YouTube video in 2008 - a cry of pain over the lost Labour Party, and a cry of hope for Glasgow East voters to do the right thing - vote SNP.


You did, Glasgow East, overturning a 20,000 Labour majority, voting for John Mason, one of your ain folk.

But you panicked in May 2010, Glasgow East - fear of the Tories made you let Labour in again - the party that wrecked the economy and wrecked your hopes and dreams. They bottled their chance to form a Rainbow Coalition, and thus let the appalling ConLib Coalition into power.

Now Labour says "It wisnae us - big boys did it and ran away ..."

But it was you that ran away, Labour - a contemptible act.Since then the corruption of GCC, the Purcell Affair, the obscene profits of developers in Dalmarnock and the unforgivable persecution of Margaret Jaconelli in her own home.

Don't repeat your 2010 mistake at the critical Holyrood elections in May. VOTE SNP - Glasgow and Scotland's - real, best hope for the future.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tonight’s tweet for non-Twitterers

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

If you're member of Scottish CND, why vote for the nuclear bombing parties - Labour, Tories, LibDems? Only one party is opposed - the SNP.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

The Greens have two heads in Holyrood. Anything to do with their support for the nuclear bombing parties this week? Get the Geiger out!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Where is the voice of Celtic Football Club in the Margaret Jaconelli case? The club was founded for the people of Glasgow East - help now!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Five ordinary Glasgow people could have a Christmas free of worry at last if they are supported by their ain folk, Holyrood and the Law.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

A message to the SNP about Margaret Jaconelli - you've done something to help, you've listened, but this is the big push - do more, please!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Lord Sanderson - help five ordinary people in Dalmarnock whose lives are being blighted - stand up for ordinary Scots and revive the Tories!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Iain Gray - lean on your Labour Glasgow councillors about Margaret Jaconelli, and have a word with the Herald - they might listen to you ...

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Perhaps Goldie, Gray and Scott, superhero champions of cheap supermarket booze, the UK, WMDs and nuclear lochs, will help Margaret Jaconelli

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Will Glasgow Labour politicians, fearless champions of the people, ease up on expense-paid trips long enough to help Margaret Jaconelli?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@

@itsBronagh That is grossly unfair to anuses everywhere.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Will the Commonwealth Games Athlete's Village and GCC/Labour crush the lives of five ordinary Glasgow people, or will the Law bring justice?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Hopes of this weekend's paper - Express, Sun, Sunday Post - covering Jaconelli case. But the Herald? Do they need GCC/Labour's approval?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

At last the Scottish Press are interested in Margaret Jaconelli - the Express, the Sun, the Sunday Post - but what about the Herald?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Margaret Jaconelli's legal appeal against Glasgow Council over her compulsory purchase order comes up on 20th December. Justice at last?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

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@bcnsco Scots should visit, and marvel at what they were, and what they will be again, once they recover their lost independence. Saor Alba!

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

When Scotland is independent, which Party will scamper for a place in the new Holyrood? Why the Tories, of course! And Labour and LibDems ..

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Which influential Tory under Thatcher was - and still is - totally opposed to Scottish devolution, Lord Sanderson? Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Which party before 1999 was implacably opposed to devolution, to a Scottish Parliament? Could it have been the Tories, my Lord Sanderson?

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Of what nation are you a Lord, my Lord Sanderson? Could it be of the United Kingdom? Who ennobled you? The Scottish people? Please remind us

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Sanderson says the electorate 'thinks' the Scottish Tories are anti-Scottish. But they are, my Lord, and are especially anti-ordinary Scots.

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Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Sanderson says the electorate don't understand what the Scottish Tories stand for. But they do my Lord - that's why they don't vote for them

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Margaret Jaconelli case–another Crichel Down in the making?

I have done my best in blogging and twittering to raise some political and media interest in the Margaret Jaconelli case – the Glasgow grandmother who is apparently being forced out of her home by a compulsory purchase order that does not recognise the true value of her property before it was hit by the Commonwealth Games redevelopment.  I say apparently because I have never met Margaret, and have had only two short telephone conversations with her. I therefore only have her version of events, but she seems sincere to me, and under acute emotional and financial pressure, and I believe that she has told me the truth as she knows it.

I have already contacted the two SNP councillors involved, Bob Doris and Alison Thewliss. Bob Doris has replied to me - so far Alison Thewliss has not. I have sent the details as I know them to people who at the very least should know what is happening, and who may be able to help.

Based on an admittedly partial, and perhaps superficial knowledge of the case, I have offered Margaret Jaconelli the following advice -

1. You cannot fight your corner on the law alone. The law does not guarantee justice - it is a process that sometimes delivers justice and equity, but often doesn't.

2. You must raise the positive media profile for your case by regular press releases to the main Scottish media outlets - The Herald, the Scotsman, the Record, (and maybe the Sunday Post), STV, BBC Scotland and Radio Scotland.

3. Your case can be won if the media perceives firstly, a story 'with legs' and secondly, can present it as an injustice - the bullying might and legal clout of Glasgow City Council and the developers against one vulnerable Glasgow granny, fighting for a fair deal. There must be sufficient embarrassment for all concerned, including the political parties facing a Holyrood election in May 2011, to make them reach a no-precedent equitable settlement that ideally recognises

a) a fair price for your home

and

b) a fair price to compensate you for stress and loss incurred, including meeting all legal costs and expenses.

4. Your strong sound-bite elements include -

a) the value placed by the CP process appears ridiculous, and has been pulled down by the very process of planning blight caused by the development.

b) your personal circumstances - woman with ill husband and terminally ill brother fighting for justice and the future of her family (sorry to put it so starkly, Margaret, but you must use the reality of this to help your case.)

c) the apparent misrepresentation by Glasgow City Council and the planners - according to your account - of a meeting, presented to the Press as a hearing when in fact it was an informal meeting, and the apparent misrepresentation to you of it as being one where you didn't require legal representation, when, in fact, the Council were legally represented.

d) correction of the apparent error in the press and media claims that you have been offered alternative accommodation four or more times, when you say you have not, and have only been offered temporary accommodation for 12 weeks, and that offer made under an acceptance ultimatum just before you entered a meeting.

e) the fact that Scottish Enterprise, a publicly funded body, set up to encourage enterprise has recently been paying thousands of pounds to Scottish media presenters to front up meetings aimed at business development, when you and your husband have been entrepreneurs and have run your own business for years.

f) Emphasise strongly that you are not refusing to move, not blocking a necessary development, but seeking a fair deal for events that have disrupted and come close to destroying you and your family's life.

g) Refer to the fact that the Crichel Down Affair of some sixty years ago was a gross injustice over compulsory purchase and land valuations that caused a major political scandal that led directly to the reform of the legislation to its present form.

NOTE TO THE SCOTTISH PRESS AND MEDIA

If there are still investigative journalists out there with a nose for a story and some human concern for the little person facing the might of government and big finance, please give some time to examining the fact of this case. If you have already looked at the facts, please look again – don’t wait for a human tragedy to make your story …