Saturday, January 31, 2009


Bands played; the crowd cheered; the new stadium looked splendid, and the game was dire. Still you can’t have everything, and nothing could spoil the day for St. Mirren. I stood at my upstairs window looking on to Greenhill Road about a hundred yards from the stadium and observed the unusual sight of lots of people walking up the road which is usually pedestrian free, my two faithful dogs Mollie and Bessie voted it a hit as they barked themselves hoarse at the unusual supply of people for them to threaten. They had a great time dashing from one window to the next in a fierce display of territorial aggression, this display turns to boisterous cuddling, face licking and ferocious tail wagging when anyone comes in the house, still they look the part, Saturday afternoons are going to be quite noisy from now on.

The pre. match celebrations culminated in an impressive black and white ticker tape welcome as the teams came out and the desire of the home team and their fans was palpable; too palpable perhaps as nerves took over the St. Mirren players, they seemed overcome by the occasion as Kilmarnock settled in quicker and made the better chances. This was familiar stuff from Killie as they showed themselves to be tougher and more physical than their opponents, adding to the home team’s woes was the lack of atmosphere as the fans found their new surroundings a bit strange.

The crowd suddenly woke up due to a refereeing blunder as Kilmarnock midfielder ‘Taouil’ was wrongly booked for simulation, refs. Of course don’t have TV replays this led to Saints chanting “cheat, cheat etc.” which was unfortunate because the player in question was one of the few on show who was showing any composure with his quick control and passing ability. This was followed by a Killie goal by the impressive Kyle; things were going wrong for Saints as their fans began to show their frustration by getting on the player’s backs.

The Saints fans were further enraged by another incident and on this occasion they were right; the Killie keeper came for a long ball which Dargo got to first and the keeper took him out inside the box, a clear penalty; a foul in this circumstance is a penalty but not necessarily a red card if the player is going away from goal; the ref. got that part right; what he got wrong big time was the actual foul, it was a reckless dangerous lunge which Dargo did well to survive without seeing flashing blue lights, this was a red card anywhere on the pitch and it should have been here, a howler by the ref. Hamilton made an absolute hash of the kick; the keeper could have saved it by throwing his cap on the ball as it trundled toward him, I am amazed always to see professional players take penalties on the ground I reckon that about 90 % of penalty saves are shots on the ground, still what do I know.

Saints scored in the 82nd. minute and finished with their tails up, you could argue that it was a fair result, while Killie looked the slightly better team and Saints looked nervous, Killie got out of jail with the keeper incident. Setanta played their traditional part on these big occasions by losing the picture in the 92nd. minute.

The undoubted highlight of the day was chairman Stuart Gilmour introducing First Minister Alex (the spiv) Salmond who strutted on to the pitch with various SNP sycophants hoping to touch the hem of his garment; only to be greeted by a chorus of loud boos and jeers, discerning football fans in Paisley for sure; they then sang a lurid chorus about the First Ministers personal habits; absolutely priceless. St. Mirren and their rather impatient fans withdrew happy at a point but, the overwhelming feeling was one of relief at avoiding defeat on day one at St. Mirren Park Greenhill Road Paisley, they will play better in future and the fans will settle and provide a better atmosphere, one last point, if you can’t control the ball and pass it on this pitch you are in the wrong job, here’s to the future.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Friday Jan. 29 Th. 09 to St. Mirren Park for a celebration dinner to mark the opening of the new stadium accompanied by staunch St. Mirren supporter Anthony Kelly, my nephew. A tour of the stadium is first on the agenda and we get to see the inner sanctum of dressing rooms and treatment areas etc. this is highlighted by being allowed on to the edge of the pitch and into the dug out which causes an outburst of photo flashes; there is a couple of Anthony and me, one of which I will print later, the facilities are superb and everything smells of new paint.

This was a most genial gathering; political opponents mingled and chatted amicably, I found myself being greeted as some kind of minor celebrity for my part in securing planning permission for St. Mirren’s proposals, this was done in opposition to the council officers recommendations which was to deny the club permission to sell the old ground Love St. to Tesco for a super market. I recall the planning meeting being packed to the rafters with worried Saints fans and they burst into loud prolonged cheering when I spoke and moved in favour of granting the necessary permission; this did not go down well with some people; some of whom were my Labour colleagues but I survived and to my great amazement I received letters and emails from every part of Britain, from serving soldiers, from Canada, America, New Zealand and Australia, from Saints fans all over the world in fact, it was a moving experience.

The entertainment facilities are excellent and the dinner was lovely, the chairman Stuart Gilmour and his team beamed with pleasure all night and rightly so; I kept thinking of a movie called “Field of Dreams” which starred Kevin Costner as a farmer who levels a large part of his farm to build a baseball field because he hears a voice saying “if you build it they will come” and they, the great giants of Baseball past do come, and play; I fancy that some past St. Mirren greats might be nodding in approval, a mystical whimsical load of complete hokum but a brilliant movie.

Here we were in St. Mirren’s “Field of Dreams” despite those who opposed it, claimed it would never happen, tried to block it, we stood with glass in hand looking out over the pitch where St. Mirren will play Kilmarnock 2 days later. Much of the talk was of ‘Love Street’ of course and there were some moist eyes as supporters at last came to terms with the fact that they would no longer walk along Love St. to the match, a journey some had been doing for decades. The new stadium is in fact only yards from the original stadium at Ferguslie Park Ave. Where they played before moving to Love St. so in one sense they have also come home; their nearest neighbour is the house at 103 Greenhill Rd. and the next is at No. 105 Greenhill Rd. my house, so I will keep an eye on them. I have posted before about being a kid in sunny Glenburn and meeting at Braehead bus stop to go and see St. Mirren with what seemed like every small boy in the scheme, I pondered on that tonight as I took it all in.

My nephew Anthony had a great night he wandered around taking in all the brilliant reproduced pictures of past teams and past triumphs and got his picture taken with the manager Gus McPherson and the chairman Mr. Gilmour whom I want to thank for making it possible for him to be there. The icing on the cake was the after dinner speakers first was George McNeil ex footballer and professional sprinter, George had the place in stitches telling stories about his life and career a tremendous ‘tour de force’; he had himself laughing as well it was hilarious. Brilliant speaker as he is George would be glad that he did not have to follow the last speaker, Mr James Wardrop - Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, a big title for a big man, well over six feet and built like a centre half 1940s/50’s variety. I have heard James speak many times as he attends lots of council functions and tonight he was on the ball, ‘pardon the pun’ he was as always; very observant, forensic might be a better description and utterly hilarious.

A speech by James is like no other; he regularly has to pause to let the audience compose itself and he does this wearing the expression of someone who doesn’t quite understand the hilarity, I’m convinced that he models this on a mixture of Chic Murray and the late Humphrey Littleton a class act and a Renfrewshire treasure, he is; to steal from Kipling, a man who “can walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch” he was just the right man for the job; not least because he traces his family connection with St. Mirren back decades.

St. Mirren are a Scottish institution and they have just been regenerated; their fans living today will never forget Love St. and they will recall games and incidents that happened there for ever, their own children will learn the stories but tonight, the process of the baton being passed on was very poignant, tonight the Saints served notice that they will go marching on as well as marching in, I’m proud to have helped the club in my own small way and I wish them all the very best except of course when they play my team, that is when my nephew Anthony and I agree to differ but tonight the whole Kelly family agreed, belonged to him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


One of the saddest aspects of being on the political left in this country is the fragmentation which plagues us; if I can name drop for a second, I spent an hour in the company of Tony Benn at the Theatre Royal Glasgow before he did his lecture to a packed theatre, my companions were Cllrs. Burns and Williams and we had a fantastic conversation, we did a brief trawl trough his life history which was an incredible privilege for us. I remember vividly that he was never more animated than when he was talking about the number of left wing parties in Britain; the number at that time was 23, he damned the fact that we were unable to stick together and he also said as I do that there is no other credible vehicle for socialist change than the Labour Party. I’m not sure what the number is now but it still gives me grief that these divisions exist, I read that during the Glasgow East By Election ex Labour Party ex SSP and now Solidarity member Tommy Sheridan was saying that he knew he couldn’t win but was hoping that Labour got a kicking from the SNP, for a so called left wing socialist to find himself on a journey which brings him to a position where he wants the SNP to win is quite incredible, for the SSP to ally themselves with the SNP as happened in Renfrewshire Council is also quite incredible, this is where we are and it is a tragedy.

The overwhelming number of members of these parties started out as Labour members/voters but, sadly they all have one thing in common they are quitters; they have all given up, they are now happy to wring their hands on the sidelines safe in the knowledge that they will never have to get those hands dirty because they will never get anywhere near power; they talk a good game; they are quite rightly a rich seam of comic material for the likes of “Monty Python” and “Wolfie Smith”, a terrific folk singer from North East England Called Alex Glasgow used to bring the house down years ago by singing about them as follows ;-
As soon as this pub closes,
As soon as this pub closes,
As soon as this pub closes,
The revolution starts.

Not really funny I know but very true; some are genuine but misguided, a great many more are bitter because the Labour Party never recognised or rewarded their talents, more still; like the idea of political involvement but don’t fancy swimming with the big fish. In the case of the SSP and Solidarity we have so called left wingers who have moved from being Internationalists to Nationalists and now attach themselves to every popular cause there is. They take their lead from the capitalist media that they profess to hate, the American term “Ambulance Chasers” best describes them. Lots of these people are quite happy to see their mountain of lost deposits grow ever higher; this keeps their bogus claims and posturing safe from scrutiny, I still hope that some day they will come off the comfortable fence that they sit on and join the struggle in the only place where it is really taking place “The Labour Party” until they do, they will achieve nothing and the country will continue to laugh at them.

Comedians and script writers will continue to dip into that rich seam of ridicule and farce that they provide, fly by night actors and luvvies will continue to use them to bolster their rebellious images while, at the same time, making a good living at their expense, Rebels? Revolutionaries? My bloody 'Jim Royle.'

Monday, January 26, 2009


Find out more about British Red Cross work in Gaza... Find out more about British Red Cross work in Gaza at or to donate to our appeal go to
Publish Reject
(Stela Yordanova)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


The toy town revolutionaries of the SSP in Renfrewshire recently acquired a new saviour; an all singing all dancing builder of barricades called Jimmy Kerr, a likeable muddle headed guy who first came to my notice when he wrote asking for my help to get his area community council back up and running, friendly and community minded socialist that I am I gave what help I could, despite my suspicion; after a couple of rambling phone calls and tortuous emails that he was not telling me everything. He managed to get himself appointed as secretary of the Community Council with the well known political activist Barr Crawford as chair, Jimmy however chaired the meetings, and I became more suspicious when he cut me off at a meeting after allowing the Lib. Dem. Councillor to speak, saying that “it was not a political meeting” this caused me to wonder if he was from the revolutionary wing of the Liberal Democrats, this would of course make a change from the SSP and the SNP uniting in Renfrewshire Council.

It took me several months to get Jimmy to admit to me that he was; as I already knew a member of the SS all of Jimmy’s pet projects which he brought to the community council were stamped SSP. He was about as subtle as a “rubber cosh” in no time at all Mr. Crawford was removed from the chair and alas Jimmy is now gone from his own little position of power as secretary. I received an email which I was copied into apologising for any offence that Jimmy might have caused me and others with emails he had sent recently, the email informed me that Jimmy had resigned, it seems that some people spotted that Jimmy was being overtly political and complained about him, as I said the subtlety thing. He replied to them by email hence the resignation. My advice to Jimmy is to consider if Che Guevara would have allowed such a thing to put him off; I think not.

A friend called me and told me about Jimmy’s revolutionary efforts on the blogosphere which I looked up; it seems that his outward pleasantness to me was not exactly 100% genuine, he wrote some unkind articles about me, on one occasion calling me Forrest Gump, irony is definitely not dead. Whatever else this socialist superman is he is certainly not short on ambition; among other things he intends to sort out is the regeneration of the West End of Paisley, Clean away all litter, stop the expansion of Glasgow Airport and prevent Tesco opening a superstore at Renfrew Road, I believe he intends to rest on the seventh day.

I do however sincerely hope that Jimmy realises that those who are exploiting him now will gladly work him into the ground, he is more genuine than the rest of the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Renfrewshire” or is it “The Renfrewshire Liberation Popular Front” put together, but that won’t save him.


Here is a delicious little vignette which shows our dear leader Alex (the spiv) Salmond for the bombastic fool that he is; this is a man who bows to no one in his love and admiration for the low life, workshy, grovelling Ayrshire plagiarist Bobby Burns.

The topic places this conversation about the year 2000; lots of discussions centred on who was the man (not woman of course) of the millennium, Salmond (the Spiv) was; on this occasion nominating Burns as the man of the millennium, there were no constraints on who could be nominated. I remember reflecting at the time on his arrogance and the contempt he had for the people of Scotland by assuming that Scots. would go along with this. He boasted that Scots. would vote for Burns; O.K. it’s show biz. but come on! I can’t think of any Scot. that I know who would seriously put Burns before any of the following :- Isaac Newton, Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Mozart, Michael Faraday, Shakespeare, Edison, Marx, Milton, Pope etc. Anyway the great spiv was off and; beguiled by his own eloquence, he decided to prove his point by quoting the following, “the best laid schemes of mice and men aft gang agley” one of Burn’s most famous lines but; the pompous eejit should have said “gang aft agley” only the most highly polished brass neck could sustain such ridicule which of course he did.

I thought that it was a memorable one off moment but; you’re ahead of me aren’t you. Fast forward to today, Sunday Jan. 25th. 09 and we are back to Bobby Burns; there stands Alex (the spiv) outdoors in Ayrshire looking prosperous and smug. This time he hedges his bets by suggesting that Bobby was the greatest “Scotsman” of the millennium; not the greatest man, hubris or what? Notwithstanding the fact that women are out of it again, he blunders on and I think again, in a similar way :- Livingstone, A.G. Bell, Byron, Fleming, Kelvin, Knox, Lister, Mary Slessor as well as Harry Lauder, The Bay City Rollers, Oor Wullie, Peter Manuel and Fran n Anna.

Incredibly he offers the following; “man’s inhumanity to man makes countless millions mourn” countless thousands mourning become millions in a sec. such is the power of this man; you couldn’t make it up could you?
The highly polished brass neck is as prominent as ever; so is the hubris, what must all those millions of home comers he boasts about think of this arrogant fool? This is the Scottish first Minister and counterfeit Burns lover; again old Bobby Burns springs to mind here -

Oh! wid some power, the gift tae gie us, tae see ourselves as others see us! Was he talking about Alex (the spiv)? As a Scot. who longs to see progress; this man makes me cringe.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


The above title is inspired by Orwell's 1984 , where room 101 held unspeakable terror for employees and; the ministry of truth was the BBC, where the great writer once worked, how prophetic.
Just how powerful is the sinister and ruthless Israeli lobby? We know that in America; politicians who speak out against Israel become history, their careers are over; no matter what atrocities are committed by Israel they keep quiet or else. What about Britain? Why was there no outright condemnation of Israeli war crimes by our top politicians, why was any comment accompanied by the cowardly caveat about blame on the Palestinian side, just what is going on. What have politicians become when they are too frightened to speak out in the face of such horrors; such pitiless treatment of women and children, such premeditated brutality. A heavily armed and sophisticated modern armed force allowed to rampage out of control among defenceless civilians? Now we are beginning to see the results; I hope the Israeli’s are proud of themselves standing as they now do, as guilty as any murdering evil regime in history, what have they become?

Joining the list of shame we now have one of the biggest most powerful news corporations in history the BBC; the noise coming from the grave of Lord Reith is deafening. As today’s newspapers show us the pitiful bodies of the dead children; as the world stands bewildered at the savagery of Israel against innocents; as pleas for mercy go out across the world, pleas for help from beleaguered Gaza and it’s shattered people mount and the BBC has turned it’s back on them. In an unprecedented act of cruelty and cowardice the BBC have refused to broadcast an appeal for aid for Gaza for fear of upsetting Israel, the cowards claim it’s to protect their impartiality, Foreign Aid Secretary Douglas Alexander MP has appealed to them to reconsider. The BBC have said that they worry that people might see it as them taking sides; they are damned liars.

To suggest that the British public would see such an appeal as anything other than a humanitarian gesture is an insult to our whole society. Do they really think that the public will look at dead and dying children lying among demolished smoking buildings; desperate for medical help and think “will I be seen as taking sides if I donate?” Mr. Thomson BBC Director says “we can’t publish anything which might compromise the BBC’s journalism” here’s some news for you Mr. Thomson, you have done just that, you have besmirched the name of the BBC your position is untenable, take a look at Gaza again look at those children's pathetic bodies, and then do the decent thing and resign.

Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. These are some of the agencies that the BBC is refusing to help. I started by asking about the real power of the Israeli lobby, here we get a glimpse of it; when you put a hugely rich, powerful amoral and ruthless juggernaut up against a group of spineless bureaucrats, the bad guys win.

It’s a shameful episode for Britain, the BBC needs an enema.

Friday, January 23, 2009


For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free.
Oh, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be! -

“Let America be America again” Langston Hughes.

I am delighted already to say to President Obama ‘well done’ He has made a significant mark right away; the idea of America straddling the world and lecturing others about freedom and democracy was always an obscene farce, one of the greatest sayings of all time sums up why; “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” America’s blatant dishonesty in terms of human rights has allowed it’s enemies, me included in this matter to pour scorn on them for their lies, hypocrisy and double standards. Obama has moved to close the Guantanamo hell hole where prisoners have been held for over 6 years without charge or trial; they have also been tortured by such techniques as ‘water boarding’ which simulates drowning and sleep deprivation among other things.

Bush’s method of imprisoning these captives was also criminal, in Pakistan e.g. A bounty of $5,000 was put on the heads of terrorists; Pakistani criminal gangs then abducted people; tortured them and filmed their confessions before handing them over to American forces complete with the “video evidence” they were then Guantanamo bound, this allowed Bush and his high command to show how tough they were being on terrorism, the court in the Hague awaits but will they ever appear there? Rendition flights are also to stop and various secret prisons around the world to close, as well as talks to begin with Iran and both sides of the Middle East conflict. Here’s the big question; do you feel safer in a world where Obama is President or one under Bush?

As far as American domestic politics are concerned I can’t emphasize enough how significant the inclusion of Pete Seeger was at the inauguration concert. Over the past some 60 years or so people like Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, and groups like ‘The Weavers’ and characters like Big Bill Broonzy, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Don McLean and many more including artists like Harry Belafonte, Will Geer, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Brando, Ali, Jack Lemon raised their heads above the parapet, I’m selecting these names at random, many more ordinary Americans did the same. They were vilified and in some cases were blacklisted and some careers and lives were ruined because they spoke out against the exploitation of the ordinary people.

Obama’s people are not gullible; they know that millions of Americans have always agreed with a lot of the sentiments that these brave people stood for, the beliefs that they held dear, that final song at the concert ‘This Land is your Land’ was very significant indeed. It shouted at the back of the retreating discredited placeman Bush ‘free at last’ A line from Guthrie’s song sums up that moment and the last couple of days far better than I ever could – “A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting, this land belongs to you and me” maybe we can live in hope again.

I have sat down several times over the past couple of days and thought about my own involvement over 45 years; the causes, the demonstrations, the boycotts, the rallies, above all the people who marched beside me. Some are now gone and I think of how much they would have loved to see President Obama. We have seen many ups and downs and we have come through some terrible times but, today I feel fine; and I congratulate everyone who has helped progressive causes everywhere no matter who you are, savour the moment. The election of Obama whether he proves to be a good bad or indifferent president is right up there with the end of the Vietnam war and the end of Apartheid, people on the left should take everything they can from this and when we face big problems in the future and huge odds remember the new slogan which has been ringing around the world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior and now Obama. These are the American Presidents that I have lived through, most are crooks, and I find only Carter and Clinton tolerable, Kennedy was of course the greatest let down of all. I was 13 when he was elected and joy was unconfined in households like ours where, to paraphrase W.B. Yeats ”green was worn” A fireside rug adorned our living room wall showing Kennedy looking young and heroic with the White House and the stars and stripes behind him. He was a secular saint to people with Irish backgrounds everywhere and the disappointment was crushing when I later learned the truth about him and his wretched family, they were like modern day Borgias. The guys listed above are a strange mixture of dullards, crooks and incompetents with one or two decent incumbents like Clinton, Carter and now hopefully Obama. Ford, Reagan and Bush Jnr. were simpletons who were put there to serve corporate America, to do this as required there had to be a distinct lack of intelligence and great gullibility and these 3 supplied that. Nixon and Bush Senior could have been Mafia bosses had they wanted to but, they preferred bigger crimes. Johnson was a flawed bully and a huge missed opportunity because he could have been great. I was barely aware of Truman and Eisenhower.

‘Obama brings hope’ that has been the mantra but; I only bought into it completely yesterday. This is a picture taken at the Inauguration Concert in Washington, the song being sung is sometimes referred to as the real American national anthem, “This land is your Land” by the late American singer, writer and political activist, Woody Guthrie, a ‘non person’ for many years because of blacklisting and political chicanery. The old guy next to Springsteen playing the banjo in the woolly hat is another ‘non person’ an American communist, Pete Seeger 89 years old; referred to as ‘the father of American folk music’ he also bore the brunt of McCarthyism when he too was given a prison sentence and blacklisted during that dark period for America. Guthrie and Seeger of course like many other blacklisted Americans served during the Second World War, Bush Jnr. by contrast managed to miss Vietnam and still became “Commander in Chief” of the American Military, a dreadful insult to military people past and present.

That Obama is prepared to include all Americans judging by this picture can only be a good thing, the song says that America ‘is your land’ it means everybody not just the rich and powerful but everyone, people might get an education now, people might get health care now, who knows the disgracefully massive prison numbers might reduce. ‘Anyone can become President of America’ so they say; and to a certain extent Bush Jnr. proves that but; this is different, this guy definitely comes from the other side of the tracks; the first black American President, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

The sight of Pete Seeger standing there singing “while all around me a voice was chanting, this land was made for you and me” was inspirational, the American workers and the Liberal community have come through some dark depressing times; decent Americans have seen their country used and cheated by wealthy crooks and seen it’s reputation destroyed in every corner of the world, Obama’s task is to reverse this decline and restore honesty and dignity to that great country.

Those who put Nixon, Bush Sen. Bush Jnr. etc. into power have not gone away, they have retreated in the face of a mighty anguished cry of “enough is enough, we want our country back, we want our dignity back and we want a decent future” The right wing corporate gangsters will do their utmost to destroy the dreams of the American people at every turn and Obama and his family will live their lives as their number one enemies, these people will show no mercy, they will have lost influence, power and above all money; they are ruthless and completely devoid of any morality or decency.

Obama be warned.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I first encountered “Rumpole of the Bailey” in my twenties, by which time I had begun to cut back on my consumption of political books, an obsession which had dominated my reading since about the age of 16, it was, on reflection a great discovery. I vaguely remember watching the character being played by Leo McKern on TV and being captured by it, a huge comic, clever creation which boosted the image of the rather ‘dusty’ legal profession. Rumpole’s creator John Mortimer became a name which I looked out for after that and enjoyed watching and reading anything he did; he also appeared in the newspapers regularly through his high profile as a top QC in some celebrity trials, Lady Chatterley? “a poor novel but people are entitled to read it” said he. The “OZ obscenity trial” was another, he loved being a leading non conformist; which was of course a club that we young revolutionaries all claimed membership of.

Some will doubt what I am about to say but, I had no idea at this time that Mortimer was a Labour man; nor was I, as far as membership was concerned at that time. His background was classic upper class; Harrow, where he formed a one man cell of the Communist Party, an Oxford graduate and QC at the Old Bailey, he did not seem like a comrade of mine, politics were simpler then. Being ‘one of us’ of course and moving in the circles he moved in and came from, made him a curiosity and a bit of a rogue hero to us, opprobrium rained down on him from the establishment; further consolidating his popular position on the left.

A fully paid up member of the awkward squad; Mortimer knew he was a national treasure and he could say what he liked and he did, sometimes he did so in a most derogatory way about Labour and top Labour politicians knew better than to take him on, Labour always claimed to be a broad church and he proved that they were, on many occasions. He was called a champagne socialist; to which he replied “I want every socialist to be able drink champagne “he was pro hunting and smoking and enjoyed annoying the PC brigade

His socialism; while not being similar to mine was; nevertheless, genuine, he championed too many good causes to mention; and was always a voice for progress and freedom. Above all he left behind a great literary legacy and some unforgettable characters; Rumpole’s wife Hilda “she who must be obeyed” His female legal colleague inevitably nicknamed “Portia” and many more. He will be missed by Labour; by the literary world and the British public to whom he was a much loved part of their lives for so long.

As I have remarked in the past; this is a generational thing; I am at an age where I tend to notice that people whom I have admired most of my life are "shuffling off this mortal coil" and the "shuffling" is becoming a brisk walk. Last year was terrible with 'Humph' 'George Melley' 'Paul Newman' 'Studs Terkel' etc. and sadly it now occurs to me that this process will continue to speed up as time goes by, it was ever thus!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A hospital-Bang! a U.N. Station-Bang! Marked ambulances Bang! Bang! Bang! – Journalists Bang! Bang! Bang! Palestinians-Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! – 23 Israeli kills not counting the ambulances, the U.N. Station or the Hospital; it’s been a good day for the IDF. It’s still only 6 pm our time; plenty of time left for more murder, those courageous Israeli pilots dropping the bombs from 30,00 feet on defenceless women and children are sure to be decorated, the brave Israeli Tank Commanders firing shells at stone throwing children will surely get a gong.

I wonder if Israel will have the effrontery to award people with the “Righteous Among the Nations” award after they have finished cleaning away the blood of the children massacred by them, what moral authority does Israel now have, can Israel or anyone who supports their actions ever use the phrase “Righteous Among the Nations” again? and remember we still haven’t had the election yet, anyone with any shred of decency who is offered the award of “Righteous Among the Nations” should refuse to accept it and those who have this award should return it.

Here are the figures at 18.00 hrs. Today.

Israeli Dead 13 Palestinian Dead 1,055 approximately 400 Palestinian children killed, thousands of Palestinians wounded or missing.

I still find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that this is being done by Israel against an imprisoned, defenceless neighbour who doesn’t have sufficient food, water or medicine, Jewish people across the world are recoiling at what they are witnessing and crying out that it is not being done in their name, history will brand those responsible as war criminals, every bit as bad as any evil regime that we know of, past or present.

Some people say that boycotts are not the answer; I say that in our position they are part of what we can do to protest along with demonstrations and contributions to Palestinian charities. I urge everyone to do as I have been doing for as long as I can remember and refuse to have anything to do with Israel, every little thing counts, don’t just do nothing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


It’s a rather disturbing thought that not everyone who saw the badly beaten face of the young girl on TV; who was attacked for having an English accent sympathised with her, unfortunately there are Scottish people, far too many of them, who think that having an English accent is reason enough to be attacked, this is Scotland’s shame; sectarianism, racism and bigotry are rife in Scotland. Far more shaming is the fact that we have politicians who are culpable but deny this obvious truth; no one will be surprised to hear that I am referring to the SNP for it’s anti Englishness and other sections of Scottish society for sectarianism and bigotry.

The unholy alliance of Salmond, Rosanna Cunningham, Brian Souter, Fergus Ewing and various princes of the Scottish Churches have for years been responsible for perpetuating anti gay attitudes for their own ends, I exclude Brian Souter from the charge of personal gain here because I believe that he is, God help us, genuine in his odious beliefs.

The treatment of the Irish in Scotland is racist because of their Irishness and sectarian because of their mainly Roman Catholic religion; on leaving school me and some mates used to play a little game where some of us would approach a factory asking for employment; to be asked “what school did you go to” “St. Mirin’s Academy” we would reply to be told there were no vacancies, some of our remaining pals would then approach claiming to have went to Camphill or Grammar and they were given application forms for vacancies, we speculated about whether 2+2 was 4 in a protestant school, this still goes on albeit, to a lesser degree. The treatment meted out to young Aiden McGeady of Celtic is the classic example; it’s not difficult to understand when it comes from Rangers fans; that has gone on for over a century and Celtic fans respond in kind minus the racism but, it begs an obvious question which is embarrassing for Scots. Why is this brilliant young footballer treated this way from Inverness to Edinburgh to Paisley to Motherwell ? what is their excuse for this poison if it’s not sectarianism ? “I have played football all over the world and the worst example of racist abuse I have ever encountered was at a team called St. Mirren in Scotland” (Ruud Gullit) Dutch footballing superstar, this is not a dig at the Saints it could have been any Scottish ground and it is shameful.

There is an anti English racism which is growing and certain people are to blame for making it worse; everywhere in the world cranking up nationalist sentiments causes violence against those who are not born in that country. I don’t believe Scots. are necessarily any worse than other countries with the caveat that they have a specific anti English problem, witness their puerile behaviour at sporting events involving England, this by contrast is the opposite of the English who are delighted to see any British country as well as Ireland win when England are not involved.

There is always the danger that nationalism causes senseless violence and hatred, no political knowledge or theory is required to get into nationalism, it appeals to the worst in people, simple frustrated people can be whipped up by devious politicians, nationalists are guilty of constantly stirring up anti English feeling, this poisonous drip feed goes on and keeps the hatred boiling. Salmond (the spiv) has deliberately fostered an anti English agenda for his own ends; smart enough to know that certain language is no longer acceptable he and the others in the SNP now speak in code, derogatory references to England or the English have been replaced by sayings like “Westminster rule” “Dictats from down south” “The London parties” etc. etc. it’s not very subtle but neither is their target audience. This deliberate behaviour in my opinion made it’s contribution to what happened to that young girl, people like (the spiv), Sturgeon and the snarling vicious Christine Graham along with others make the bullets and the mob fires them. When Salmond (the spiv) refused to congratulate English Olympic Athletes what message did the mob hear, when SNP MSP’s had slogan cards on their desks saying “anywhere but London” during the competition to stage the next Olympics, what message did the mob pick up ?

'Get back to f****** England – English bastard.’ said this Scottish braveheart before smashing his fist into young Lucy Newman’s face, time to stop and think eh ? Salmond (the spiv) targets the mob, winds them up and watches the hatred explode, the English, or London, as he now says are the cause of all Scotland’s woes, go get them.

I read a simple but devastating question posed in all of this which can’t be answered but people can speculate about, it was “what; if any party would this thug vote for?”

The thug in question shouted anti English abuse before carrying out an assault on this young woman, I wonder if the police are checking on the whereabouts of Sean Connery at the time.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Once again Prince Harry lets the side down, not for his racism but, for displaying that racism; his granddad has been at it for years, likewise his “ghastly old bigot” of a great grandmother, the Queen Mum, an Alf Garnett in knickers. This is clearly the way they talk and now we can’t help but wonder what they sound like when the cameras can’t see them, not a pretty thought. Harry is not to blame, the utter clown in the royal household who decided to make the princes into respectable “normal” citizens instead of keeping them hidden is the one to blame, as are the vacuous wasters and privileged nonentities at the top of the British military. They went along with the con trick designed to reinvent this dullard from a useless rich play boy with barely enough brains to 'hit the floor with his own hat' into a war hero.

No matter what they try, no matter what money they throw at the problem, no matter what lies and deceit they use to fool the British people they can’t avoid the simple fact that they do not have the basic raw material to work with and that’s not Harry’s fault either, short of a brain transplant we, and they are stuck with him. Harry and his dad and his brother have complicated the argument about whether the monarch should be head of state in a democracy, royalists point to the elected heads of State in other countries and say we are better off but we are not, even GW Bush would be preferable to any one of these 3 stooges, yes you read that correctly that’s how awful they are.

At the time he was laughing like a drain at his jolly idea of dressing up as a Nazi for a fancy dress bash it emerged that he was rich to the tune of £8m. I assume he has more now but, I still don’t know why; again not his fault, I doubt if he knows why either and he might be pretty thick but not quite thick enough to question his position, £8m. At the age of 20 with no need to work or answer to anyone how could anyone blame him for turning out the way he has. He was doing great damage to the Royal brand by doing what any young man would do in his position; that is acting like a complete oaf. They decided to recreate him with all that guff about him going to war, a right load of “old pony” that was, an insult to all soldiers past and present and a massive lie.

A greater insult still is his use of the word P*** the people he refers to unlike him have been to the front line when soldiers from that part of the world won 31 V.C.s fighting for Britain, his other insult “ragheads” refers to Arabs not Taliban as the press are trying to spin it.
As George Galloway cruelly but accurately pointed out his late mother Diana’s last two partners before her tragic death were “Dr Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al Fayed - uncle P*** and uncle raghead" in Harry's loathsome language.

When you choose monarchy you run the risk of just such people as the British Royal Family landing on you, you don’t get a choice, which is lucky for the present mob. The possible good side to having these cretins as heirs to the throne is that they will inevitably be compared with the present Queen when she is gone. While still being an anachronism and a waste of money as well as an affront to democracy; she is, compared to her children and her grandchildren a model of rectitude and sense. Her demise will inevitably hasten the day when the whole Ruritanian farce is swept away; this will surely happen when the people see the truly pitiful dross that she has left behind.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Not so very long ago I became embroiled in a rather fierce argument with some people who play rugby, I made the innocent and accurate remark that it (rugby) was played in the most part by people who were not good enough to play football which is of course correct. This caused a ‘stushie’ which prolonged the argument and took it to incredible lengths, some of them actually stated that rugby was superior and more skilful, honestly, and of course tougher which I found quite funny, “over to you Nigel no no after you Cecil, I’ll have to go off for treatment, I’ve burst my bootlace” Anyway, events of this weekend have caught my eye and reminded me of these exchanges with the macho men who inhabit the little world of rugby.

Around the country at the weekend; there were as always sporting events taking place, running, hockey football etc. January weather is of course not ideal for these things but we traditionally soldier on, at least most of us do. Football was played including in Ayrshire, great game at Somerset Park, tumultuous stuff, girls played hockey and people ran races, unfortunately a game had to be abandoned, it wasn’t the girls hockey as some sexists would suggest, it wasn’t schools football either, it was a rugby match, abandoned with 10 mns. to go. Over the many years I played football I have seen games postponed because the pitch was waterlogged, because it was unsafe due to ice, because lines were covered with snow, several for mass brawling, even failing light on one occasion but, none of these was the reason for this abandoned rugby match.

The reason it was abandoned was because it was too cold, the pitch was not bombed, nor did it catch fire, it was too cold. You would be forgiven for thinking, well; these are real tough guys right? it must have been Alaskan conditions right? wrong, the players were just too cold. I can’t resist writing about this after all the abuse I took from tough talking rugby types, the guy who hilariously whipped off his shirt when he scored the last gasp equaliser for Ayr against Kilmarnock and was inspired to hug the ref to avoid a red card is still with us, he apparently has survived the cruel Ayrshire weather, you just couldn’t make this up could you? the warm bath and the traditional post match ritual of cavorting around naked flicking each other with wet towels was too strong a temptation for the rugger boys, they were offsky.

Can I, in the spirit of Corinthian sporting friendship suggest a change of attire to our rugby friends; when the mercury drops before or during one of your rough tough encounters revert to the emergency kit, dispense with the traditional rugby shirt and get on the;
“big girl’s blouses”

Friday, January 09, 2009

"The horror! The horror!" Joseph Conrad - (Heart of Darkness)

As we enjoy the feeling that comes with it being Friday night, we should be less content when we switch on the television and see the children’s bodies being brought from the rubble. As we listen and read about the children suffering malnutrition and trauma who are being found clinging to the dead bodies of their emaciated mothers, as we try to come to terms with the fact that Israel is bombing UN schools with civilians inside them, try to come to terms with the fact that this is Israel that’s doing this, Israel of all people, Israel.

10 Israeli's dead - - 4 civilians

900 Palestinians dead -- 300 children -- - 3-4 thousand wounded.

The figures above ensure that Hamas grows stronger; they will lead the Palestinians after this is over. The Palestinians who are suffering are those refugees and friends and families who were ethnically cleansed when Israel was created, it has effectively been occupied since then by Israel it’s land, sea and air space controlled by the occupiers, many Palestinians still carry the key to their houses which were occupied by Israel when this crime happened. You will hear from the Israeli’s about rockets and terrorism from Gaza, what you will not hear about is the prisoners, the other occupied territories, the state sponsored murders, the apartheid wall, the refugees etc. etc.

I used the quote from Conrad because the book and the film inspired by it “Apocalypse Now” goes into the territory of what man is capable of, we look at past horrors and we shudder, we distance ourselves from them, we try to label the perpetrators as sub human and by doing so we absolve ourselves, but they are not sub human, they are us, the human race at it’s worst.

Two years ago I sat with a group of people discussing these matters and speculating about whether we, in this case the British could do such things. I had accepted a long time ago and said that not only could we do such things but we already had, and with great relish, the group were a mixed bunch who barely knew each other and some were outraged at my suggestion. I was supported most eloquently by an old retired communist Welsh miner who lectured the group on the great civilisation that was Germany and the outstanding artists and scientists which they had produced before descending into barbarism, a barbarism which the Jews and Israeli’s could tell you about like no other people.

That conversation took place while on a touring holiday as we sat on the grass in the warm sunshine drinking cold beer, approximately 50 yards from the main gates of Auschwitz death camp in Poland, we had done the tour and we were all very serious, that conversation remains fresh in my mind and probably always will. While touring the camp I deliberately paused at what were; for humanity; some particularly shameful exhibits, I did so to gauge the reactions of other visitors. All emotions were displayed some balked at some of it and hurried past, some stood stunned and wept, some gazed and gazed shaking their heads, the most common phrase was something along the lines of “how could they” “they were inhuman” “to women and children as well” we find ourselves saying the same words again today, we seem destined to carry on saying them in the future as well.
A line from a song springs to mind at these times from “where have all the flowers gone” by the great American singer and writer Pete Seeger, that line is “when will they ever learn, oh! when will they ever learn” can we learn ? is it too late to stop what is going on in Gaza, the Holy Land. The UN and Britain and the rest of Europe will some day have to stand up to America and put a stop to their roll of world bully, make no mistake about it this would stop immediately if America gave the word, do we have to wait 12 days for Obama ? can he make that leap ? the world needs him to do it, the first black president could become the one who brought lasting peace to Palestine.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


One of the great differences today in terms of military conflict is that it is very difficult to hide what is happening no matter how hard you try. Hence the Israeli attempt to prevent the world from witnessing their crimes in Gaza by banning the world’s media is not working. Throughout every day we can see it on TV in all it’s gut wrenching detail, the mutilated body of a dead infant needs no translation, this is one of the main reasons that America lost in Vietnam, just like the bloodletting and murder in Gaza, Vietnam could not be hidden. Newspapers and TV stations all over the world are witnessing the Israeli brutality and, that brings another dimension to the tragedy, quite tragically and unfairly, it brings it’s own particular danger for Jews everywhere.

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?” (Shylock – Merchant of Venice) W. Shakespeare.

Unfortunately Shylock’s eloquent statement of humanity has never been acceptable to some malevolent people; history records the trials and tribulations of the Jews and can’t be denied. Already and disturbingly we are hearing, seeing and reading about Jewish communities who are suffering anti Israeli protests world wide, protests are also taking place in Israel by some incredibly brave Israeli citizens who are opposed to the siege of Gaza.

In every corner of the world there are Jewish people who are protesting against what Israel is doing “Not in their name” is the international cry of these Jewish protestors, highlighting again that being Jewish is not the same as being a citizen of Israel or a supporter of their blood-soaked Govt. Unfortunately further stories are now being heard and seen which show Jewish areas, synagogues, businesses and innocent Jewish people being attacked and buildings damaged by people opposed to the action in Gaza and, possibly using that opposition to fuel their own evil anti Semitic agenda.

The biggest and most obvious danger here is that this ancient and vile curse of anti Semitism is never far away and is still rife in some countries, including those who boast of their civilisation like France and here. Neo Nazis are still crawling around under stones all over the world and this tragedy is breathing oxygen back into their rancid minds, these people need no encouragement and what is going on in Gaza is just the bogus excuse they need to resurrect their evil creeds and poisonous ideas. These thugs will not draw the distinction between Israeli, Jew or Zionist but they will exploit the situation to give vent to their anti Semitism. The potential for widespread anti Semitism can never be overestimated and vigilance is always required.

I hope this is in the minds of the Israeli leaders as well as other world leaders as a solution is sought, hopefully it will help to bring about a quick cease fire, how tragic would it be if innocent peace loving Jews in various parts of the world were to suffer because of the actions of Israel. To paraphrase Brecht when he urged caution on the defeat of Hitler and Nazism :-

“The bitch that bore him is on heat again” Brecht was right, that beast never went away, we must all hope and pray that present events do not revive it.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Vietnam started it; I was always destined to be politically aware, that was unavoidable in my family, coming from a huge extended family with an Irish Catholic background; politics was never far away from us and as me and my brothers grew up we all grew to accept that it was important; while never allowing it to get in the way of the normal teenage pursuits of wine women and song + of course “fitba” Vietnam was on the Tele. and it spawned a massive protest movement which in turn attracted non conformist writers, singers and agitators of every hew. Add in the Civil Rights Movement and the South African struggle, top it up with a new young generation with ‘attitude’ who were the first generation since the end of WW 11 and the whole volatile mix exploded into what we now refer to as “the sixties” this background made me think of recent events.

When an icon from your youth passes away you tend to look back and analyse what he / she meant to you. The recent death of Helen Suzman is such a case, during the struggle against the evil Apartheid State of South Africa we would march, demonstrate and boycott the hell out of everything to do with S.A. and through it all her name was a constant which represented courage and justice, I remember reading about her defiance of the State and speculating that we would inevitably be reading about her demise in a tragic accident at some time. The fact that that, never happened is in a big way down to the profile she enjoyed and her talent for getting into the international news, quite simply she was too well known and too well respected for the white supremacist thugs who ran the apartheid state to make her disappear, despite constant threats and harassment for years she never blinked in their presence.

The love and respect shown to her by people like Mandela and Desmond Tutu and their remarks following her death speak volumes; I’ve often wondered what she would have had to say about Israel which she supported, while at the same time advocating justice for the Palestinians. I think that the presence of this awkward and courageous Jew in Israeli politics over the last 40 or so years would not have been comfortable for them; a couple of Helen Suzmans in today’s Knesset would be a good thing. All those years ago she was being heard by football playing young men in a peripheral housing estate in Scotland, so we can say to tyrants everywhere, someone is always watching or listening and the world is watching still. Helen Suzman along with people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Mandela and many more like them are the hope of the world.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Its summer 19 59 and a group of boys are gathered at the Braehead roundabout in Glenburn, waiting for the local bus to take us to Gilmour St. Terminus in Paisley, it’s a Saturday and the sun is shining and there is only one subject, football. Myself and Joe O’Donnell are holding court because we had played that morning and helped St. Peter’s Primary School to a victory, yours truly scored a goal, all roads then led to Love Street, St. Mirren were playing Hearts. The St. Mirren forward line was Rodger, Bryceland, Baker, Gemmel and Miller, they finished that season at Hampden by winning the Scottish Cup, everyone wanted to be Tommy Bryceland, check the pictures of the time and you will see why; the word is “Gallous”

There were we two and John McCabe, my brother Hugh, Archie Miller, Rusty Pollock (RIP) Rab Mitchell, Dunky Walker, Matt White and several others all completely convinced that we would one day be professional football players, the usual plan was put into action as we skipped our bus fares and met up behind the Love St. end goal after splitting up to gain access to the ground by various methods such as scaling walls, fences, crawling through holes in fences and getting “lifted ower the turnstile” St. Mirren won that game as they regularly did in those days and we all went home happy, we sometimes bought chips and walked it back to Glenburn in the sunshine, or am I dreaming this ?

Yesterday, Saturday; saw St.Mirren’s last game at Love Street and there was a full house, by all accounts the emotion was such that there wasn’t a dry seat in the stadium, for people of my generation that would be 50 years of going to Love St. difficult I would imagine not to feel emotional. Past friends and relatives would have been remembered as the good and bad times were recalled, the soaring victories and the crushing defeats, above all the feeling of belonging; the feeling that this was their club, as synonymous with Paisley as the Abbey and the Paisley Pattern. The fans have a reputation for being paid up members of the awkward squad, a defiant bunch with a siege mentality borne of being a near neighbour to two of the biggest football clubs in the world; Celtic and Rangers, this proximity has traditionally made the Love St. meetings resemble a war zone over the years.

Celtic and Rangers of course represent St. Mirren’s biggest problem in that more fans leave Paisley to watch them than go to watch St. Mirren “mea culpa” I did what most boys do when they are old enough, they go to watch the team there fathers and uncles watched, to the detriment of the local team, it was ever thus and I would point out that of those boys listed above only one to my knowledge is still a St. Mirren diehard Dunky Walker.

The new Stadium is 150 yds. from my house and looks great, the team’s debt is paid and the future beckons. I am proud to say that I was instrumental in moving the motion through the planning dept. at Renfrewshire Council which saw St. Mirren go ahead with their plans; despite an officer recommendation to refuse them. As a result of this I was sent emails and letters from all around the world which I must admit gave me a surprise, Saints fans from America, Canada, Australia as well as from serving soldiers came flooding in to thank me, it was my pleasure. For the sake of all those loyal awkward sods who are devoted to their team past and present I want to wish them well as I said at the planning meeting “The idea of Paisley without St. Mirren is inconceivable, I vote in their favour” Here’s to the next 100 odd years.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Israel V Palestine The latest results.

Israel 500 killings - Palestine 4 killings.

"You can't beat a fair equal fight can you" (Ehud Barak Israel Defence Minister)