So it is that annual week of festivities for left activists. The show that is the Tory Party annual conference. They have ventured north of the Watford Gap galvanised by the election result which gave them a majority which they will use to inflict further misery. While the social media showed images of a tory being egged, Boris being ping ponged, the real human tragedies of cuts to working people and the poor are being played out inside the hotels.

Cameron and Osbourne  have used every opportunity that there will be no u-turns on the cuts to tax credits which will plummet many working families   misery. Cameron wants us to move towards a “High Wage, Low Tax, Low Benefit” society. It’s commanding heights will sweep away those unable to work or those that earn less than the 50K paid out to our elected politicians. Jeremy Hunt today at a fringe meeting rallied the troops with a call for the British economy to become more like the successful economies of China and the USA. Our economy was once as buoyant as theirs when we used slavery and near starvation well knownwages to enslave the working poor. America so   for its economy which sees the once thriving heavy industries dying. Where single parents are bussed 100s of miles a day to work for the minimum wage. Where children do not see their parent and where  food banks  are accepted. How about China’s thriving economy where workers are paid pennies to provide the latest craze the West wants. Where workers live in squalid conditions. Is that the society we want Britain to become? Well the tories in Manchester do.  Let’s have a conference in Manchester Dave can visit Salford Boys Club in between demonising the ordinary folk. Those who did not egg or spit but marched in defiance and the desire for a different way. We who believe this are the majority remember that.

Osbourne spoke today of the blue collar tories, the powerhouse of the North. A new dawn for the market economy when English local authorities can set their own business rates. The market is king. Greed is good. The tories claim that they are the party of the worker and perhaps they are if you have never had it so good though most of us are being left behind. They claim Corbyn and his move to “the left” is a return of the eighties. The truth though is their party personifies all that was wrong about the 80s the pretentiousness, the Geko mantra “Greed Is Good”. Look after your own as there will be no services left to support the most vulnerable, no solidarity apart from the old school ties networks.

It is ironic that this happened on the day the tax was levied on poly bags in England. We in Scotland and Wales look on amused as England have their five-minute tantrum. We know that like us they will be carrying poly bags around to save the charge. Now I know this is good for the environment but my concern is the use of the stick. In shopping bags the 5p up you have to pay but it concerns me the tories like this updated form of Skinnerism, Use punishment to make the rats crawl through their maze quicker.

I predict the stick approach will be popular with the tories. Already Duncan Smith is talking about reducing universal credit for part-time workers if they refuse to work extra hours they are offered. Many in this age of zero hour contracts will welcome an increase in hours but what about those faced with circumstances that mean they cannot manage these extra hours. What about single parents, those with caring responsibilities, those who disabilities and ill-health but of course the tories have never been good at seeing the bigger picture and rewarding those who despite the obstacles they face manage to work part-time.

I dare to dream of a society where we can care for each other. I dream of an Independent Scotland that does not take the austerity light course but offers an alternative approach. I dream of a society where we respect and care for each others. The marchers at the Manchester Demo were on the same side of the fence as me the right one. I hope one day there will be no more tories in Scotland. Dream with me, see through their lies and believe that through collective responsibility and in a socialist society which will be kinder, fairer and more equal. Being on the Left is something to be proud of, let’s not let the tories claim to be a centre party. Let’s expose them for what they are the gatekeepers of privilege and power. Dare to dream.

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A Costly Day Out

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A Costly Day Out

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A Uniform Society.

I like the idea of school uniforms. In an ideal world there would be no competition about what  shoes or designer labels to wear. However for many parents including myself this is a stressful time. There are two local school wear shops in the town I live in. At this time of year there are stressed staff and parents looking for the particular pieces of uniform they ordered months ago. For many of us we have to do this so we can save up for the cost. In previous years I have always sent my son to school in the polo shirts and sweatshirts they prefer. Look at school websites and the children are always dressed in clothing with the school badge. My two sons have issues wearing shirts and ties, they find them too enclosing. For children on the autistic spectrum clothing can cause a range of sensory issues as I know many friends will attest too.

This year though I have had no choice but to go for polos and clothes in the appropriate school colours but without the badges as I can’t afford them. My sons’ schools have many families in the same situation as me so I know I am not alone. There is still that feeling of shame though when you can’t provide what are deemed as uniforms. There is a shame and humiliation there which only a parent can understand.

Local areas have started school clothing banks, these are not new though. When I was a child in Dundee there was the school exchange where we shopped for our back to school grants. I remember being five and “losing” my coat in the cloakroom. My mother and teacher helped me look we found a similar duffle coat but it had a boy’s name on it. “David”. My mum said it wasn’t mine. When we got home though my mum told me it was my coat. It took me a few years to realise that she was ashamed to admit she couldn’t buy me a new coat. I am one of five children and grew up in poverty and I understand now.

It is a shame on our society that now school clothing banks still exist though for many they are an essential. Shame on a government that allows this poverty to exist and has enforced the “big society” to be a necessity whether we like it or not. All our bairns will go out to school presented as well as we can despite the impact of poverty and I just want to say I hope we see and end to their existence soon. I hope tomorrow will be a better world in many ways but this starts with the basics of being able to feed, clothe and heat all our bairns.

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A ‘social’ landlord can legally swipe 100% of tenants dole – It’s time for action!

A 'social' landlord can legally swipe 100% of tenants dole – It's time for action!.

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No More Hiroshimas

Today commemorates the use of the first nuclear weapon in the world. 70 years later we still live under the shadow of the prospect of a war which would mean the end of all mankind. I am a cold war kid, I can remember lying in my bed hearing the drone of an aeroplane above me and praying it wasn’t going to drop the bomb. I hoped my bairns wouldn’t have to live with this worry but a generation on the threat is still there.

We have heard all the arguments about why we don’t need nuclear weapons. Of course there are the economic ones but I agree with what the prime minister of Japan. Nuclear weapons should just not be part of any civilised society. Full stop. There continuing existence is a shame on us all. In modern warfare, two people can cause Armeggedon by entering codes and launching these evil weapons. There would be “retaliation” and the end of the world.

For us living in the West of Scotland we also live in fear of a nuclear accident as warheads are transported from down south to Faslane. Convoys carrying these are a regular occurence. An accident at Faslane might see the destruction of the whole of the West of  Scotland. That is why we protest.

As I have for many years I will attend our local commemoration at Barshaw Park in Paisley. If you can join us meet at the car park at seven before we walk to the Peace Garden. I always feel part of a bigger movement and am mindful of similar remembrances happening all over the world there are others who believe in an end to this too. My first political activity was marching up the Law in Dundee with CND aged 11 and making a stand against nuclear weapons will be something I will always do. Just because it is the right thing to do.

I remember today to the Peace Campers at Faslane Peace Camp who stay as a permanent reminder that these weapons are so evil. I know they need support. Folk to stay overnight, practical help, supplies. If you visit you will get a warm welcome.

70 years ago a nuke exploded 20,000 feet above Hiroshima. Eisenhower claimed it was the only way Japan would surrender but what was wanted was an excuse to drop the first bomb. Those who didn’t die straight away were not the lucky ones. The present generation still live with the physical damage of radiation poisoning. A sentence beyond life. We who still live under the shadow of the bomb have a duty to remember and remind folk that the very fact these weapons exist is inexcusable.

Like all actions that can change the world they begin individually. That is why I believe in unilateral disarmament. These weapons have no place in any type of Scotland especially an Independent one which will come soon. Those in power have a responsibility to question why they are there and arrange their removal as soon as possible. We all have a responsibility to speak to our friends, families and neighbours to tell them the reality of the use of nuclear weapons. So tonight I will be marching with my family and sharing the message with them, carrying the torch of truth on to the next generation. Wherever you are today, marching or not please spare a minute to think of all who have suffered with the hope it will never happen again. We all need hope that little flame of inspiration that can change the word.

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Adventures In Socialism and Friendship on Islay.

A few months after the referendum, a requet popped up on one of my social media pages. It was a request to come along to Islay and speak to members of the Islay YES alliance which still existed. At the time though I worried about childcare it brightened my heart to hear some groups were still in existence. Of course I knew of a few closer to home but the thought of a wee Island getting together intrigued me. I also know folk with a connection to Islay who always call it home. I wanted to visit.

So last week Scott and I took the three and a half bus journey from Glasgow to Kennacraig. Islay is actually very close to Glasgow less than an hour by plane but I recommend the bus with its beautiful scenery. I felt as if I was on a pilgrimage and could feel the knots untangling from my neck. I started to relax and not worry about my everyday life and the political bubble I had left at home.

Lesley and Jim met us in Kennacraig and we travelled together to Islay. We flew the red flag on the boat and broke bread. Friendships were born and forged. I guess the biggest compliment I can give Islay is I took no pictures. I just soaked in its beauty and special air. Jim and Lesley had gone to such great efforts to make us feel at home and we did. We chatted and discussed everything from the referendum to Doctor Who. I got the impression that the folk in this little island had worked together to gain a YES vote. There was a sense of community and folk committed to helping others for no other reasons but because we are humans.

We had arrived at full blast holiday season so our gathering was around twenty. I was impressed by the number of women there not something you see so often over here. All with interesting questions about post referendum. One woman asked why we stood and did not seek an alliance with the SNP. It surprised many that our policy post referendum was to do so. I was touched that these were folk at the heart of their community. A local businessman explained many folk come to see him instead of the councillor for support. I saw parallels in how we support folk in our communitites. Glenburn where I stay is not so distant from a rural community as Islay.

After the meeting I met with some folk who wanted to hear more about socialism. We absolutely bonded over stories of the referendum. One of my favourites was a drive in movie in George Robertson’s back garden where Braveheart was screened. I think in a lot of ways socialism was alien to folk but human contact and shared experiences helped us see the humanity in each of us. We spoke to folk who were mostly SNP and challenged my socialist perspective and they listened to us.

Next day we had to return home but with new friendships and the promise to return out of season. I believe folk will vote socialism next year because they have met us not as creatures from a museum but modern thinkers with modern answers and shared experiences. Despite the fact there are many luxury homes on Islay many people worj for the minimum wage and struggle. It makes them stronger though. I was left with a deep impression that community is important and that all politics must germinate from there. As I said I am often caught up in “politicking” when what counts most is how you connect with others. Islay has changed that for me and I will be spending more time in my local community. I hope you will too.

Scott and I have made two lovely new friends in Lesley and Jim who personified hospitality. I can’t wait until I return. I have the fresh air of Islay in my blood and I don’t think it will ever leave me. Thanks to everyone who I met. I didn’t mean it Donald. Keep doing what you all do so well. Jim said a friend had said to him, if socialists were brave in laying out their policies, the world would be a better place and that is so true. We can change the world if we reach out to each others. Another Scotland is necessary.

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