Category: Editorial

Unite and Fight! Save the NHS

Brexit is quite challenging  for everyone in the UK.   The SNP  and Labour till only recently have been engaged in a “war of position ” via the customs union  with the Tories who are engaged in a pathetic “war of manoeuvre” with the EU  whose “Ireland first” approach has laid bare the contradiction between the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit out with the customs union. How this effects public opinion  is largely unknown.  Pollsters are biased and if you have ever been a regular part of a sampling poll you can see how manipulative they can be. Things like multiple choice without all the options. The question to pose is what in the interests of the many?  Among these are no hard border which more and more seems unlikely .  The Tories would have to go down the road of no deal with the EU.  That would be a disaster and it is hard to see how the Tories would survive that.  It seems like Hobson”s choice that  the ” Brexit means Brexit” rhetoric would be dead and the Dup will be upset with anything gives the six counties a different set up than the rest of the UK.

The issue of the NHS especially  in England is the pressing  and privatisation will affect the budget for Scotland.  This should be the focus of all workers  in the UK.  If all we hear is SNP snipes at Labour  and Labour snipes at the   SNP . What we have we got – divide and rule. I think it is time to focus on the crimes of the Tories which far exceed anything else.

A Strategy for the Scottish Left 

The sectarianism in Scotland  is woeful. It is hard to even mention a conflicting group’s name without the swords coming out. It is hard to mention the progress the left has made in the Labour party without the sins of the right being brought centre stage.
We have to struggle to rid ourselves of divide and rule thinking and focus on  a clear presentation of a strategic thinking  that can emerge from our present troubles. The bottom line is anti-austerity .  This is tied to racism and immigration, in that blame for austerity is often focussed away from the banksters, who are trampling on the poorest and most disadvantaged of our population many of whom have to contend with racism as well.

The issue of Brexit also divides the left. Those on the left inside the bigger parties both the SNP and Labour party are largely likely to be remainers whereas the biggest of the small left groups are anti EU . The argument is that we should leave the EU as its very nature is that it is a bosses club  However, remainers like myself say that is not the most essential feature of the EU. The prime feature of the EU is that it is the largest trading partnership in the world, leaving it makes no economic sense.  To get by this impasse we have to differentiate between what is ideological and what is real. We have to recognize that the Tory Brexit plans are in conflict with the Good Friday or Belfast agreement.  We have to recognize that the Tory Brexit plans are anti immigration and racist. We have to recognize that that Tory Brexit plans will reduce trade and create unemployment.

Pointing to the neoliberalism of the EU does not ameliorate this situation.  It is the immediate neoliberalism of the Tories that is far more dangerous.  A danger to peace in Ireland, a danger to the security of immigrants in the UK and a danger to the NHS which is being targeted by US corporations for privatisation. A danger to jobs as the UK leaves its trading agreements in tatters.

We need to build a UK wide anti-austerity movement that points to the achievements of the SNP no matter how limited its powers are at present.  In our day to day lives we have to build solidarity networks that achieve gains, even small gains for those most affected by neoliberalism. Our attitude has to be to leave no-one behind,  bring forward everyone into these struggles. In this we have to show the vigilance we had during the miners strike against sectarian dominance.

I believe that an indyref 2 movement has to push the anti-austerity agenda as far as it can in order to achieve victory  Not everyone who supports  independence is a leftist but it would be a crime not to recognize the direction the SNP has taken though not fully enough . However that is balanced between internal factors and external budgeting.   Leftists in both the Labour party and the SNP have to come to grips with what will bring the Tories down rather than what separates them in degrees of radicalism.

Keep your eyes on the prize!

Brexit:- The Games Begin

Brexit:- The Games Begin.  9/2/2018

To-days opening of the Winter Olympics coincides with the delivery of an ultimatum from the EU to the UK.  Just a reminder that leaving the single market and customs union will lead to tariffs at the Irish border. Meanwhile, the UK government who have fudged the issue by saying that they don’t want a border, that if there is to be one it would be an Irish choice. They also agreed if in a vague manner to having no hard border.

As the Irish Times reports ““It’s important to tell the truth,” Barnier said, suggesting that British officials have not been forthright about the implications of their public pronouncements. “A U.K. decision to leave the single market and leave the customs union would make border checks unavoidable.””   With Arlene of the DUP being an obstacle to any real compromise this issue is liable to be dragged out a long as possible.  The delay of any realistic possible solution is already weakening the position of the Tory Government with continuing leaks of significant documents including one that shows that all scenarios are bad for the UK economy.

This would signal a possible u-turn if it were not for polls that show that many of those who supported Brexit would rather be worse off than “overrun” by immigrants. The ideology of Brexit has little regard for economic realities.  Those from the left promote democratic arguments, so-called Lexit and point to the bureaucracy, dictatorship, and neoliberal policies of EU countries but this is much at present an aside considering that Portugal is the only country that has moved to the left as far as government power is concerned. Though passions still run high in Greece – leaving the common market has little appeal to those struggling against austerity.  Neoliberalism is bound to be the dominant force in Europe with or without the EU.  Protectionism offers little economic advantage. Leaving the world’s largest trading partnership and the having to compete with that very same partner for Asian, and American markets is very much a no-brainer for practical-minded people.

Corbyn has been a disappointment for the pro-EU left, the mantra of  a “Brexit in the interests of working people” based on the above analysis is a position of staying in the single market.   While it is true that the market in itself is not in the interests of working people, Brexit merely cuts us off from a larger market it does nothing to change the interests of workers in the marketplace. One poll says that 70% of the Labour party membership is for the single market.  The  TUC too has an anti-Brexit outlook and are worried about where the Tories are headed.   A tax haven with no workers rights.

Corbyn is shilly-shallying. This may have some basis in reality and ties into the mood against the Conservatives and their mismanagement of Brexit, the prostitution of themselves to the DUP, and the continuation of austerity in all government departments including the police force.  It does look as though he is giving them enough rope while hoping that the severity of the situation will help win ex-labour UKIP voters back. However, there will be far less room for Corbyn to manoeuvre if the Hard Brexiteers get their way.

The SNP who have been consistent insofar as they have argued against Brexit from the days of the slogan “Scotland in Europe” are also among those putting pressure on Corbyn to declare support for the single market and customs union.  While both Sturgeon and Corbyn have been waiting for clear mandates to push their agendas, the weight against the Tories is mounting.  The demise of the NHS in England, the possible inclusion of the NHS in  a secret trade deal with the US which could allow US companies to gain compensation from the Scottish government if privatisation is not allowed, should alert us all to the need to build an anti-austerity movement capable of bringing down the Tories and their Brexit shenanigans. A lead from Scotland in this direction can push the Labour party more rapidly towards a clearer position on Brexit that reflects the views of its members and trade union backers.

Editorial: How to use this website!

This a unique project in many ways, I seek to bring visitors to a launchpad in many directions.  I want the website to be regarded as an evolving piece of web design that is open and free for all.  There is a slideshow of 20 photos with links to articles I have collected from all over the web.   The pattern is 4 pictures leading to that appear under the slideshow. I sometimes include a few of these pictures to the Slideshow if the colour and theme add to the feel of the slideshow.   A good place to start is the slideshow as each article has categories stamped on it.  This allows to go to categories on the sidebar where there is a drop down menu, that will give both the articles and number of articles in that category.   If there is more that 10 you can scroll further  by pressing “older posts.” Do come back for updates in the categories you are interested in.

The subject I cover most is politics, that won’t change, even though these pages are the least visited. I hope in time that will change , there is enough interest to motivate me to be as cutting edge as possible on austerity , Scottish Independence and social justice. .  Moreover,  I want to develop more local news as well enlarging the world outlook that I am developing in these editorials.

Everyday I post on travel, book reviews ,science and art. I head for what I see as the most colourful and beautiful,  Photos from these articles help to create an ongoing pastiche of cutting edge news in all these fields and more.

I have android app which acts mainly as bookmark but has potential for more. I want to be more effective at adding events.  My youtube channel is perhaps even cooler that this blog. I upgrade it daily more or less with even more news .  I add music videos which are on the whole folk with little slips into other genres.  Other categories are Comedy , Movie Trailers and History .I hope to gain contributors here but anyone can join. I will even host a page if it fits in with the development of the website. Although education is my main concern I hope that Smeddum’s Hotpotch will not only gain a reputation as a place for the curious, but a place of high quality  entertainment and aesthetic excellence.

Quick Editorial note on the flag fiasco

The charade was started by the Tories who believe it is in their best interests to keep Scotland polarised and blame it on the SNP . It is them who don’t want to talk about austerity, trident or anything else. They also want to keep the leftward leaning Labour Party part of their unholy alliance with the liberals. I noted that the BBC factcheck said it was Salmond who made the change. It looks to me that the Brits want to set the agenda and our focus should be elsewhere particularly on the NHS and it’s demise in England which whatever shows that more power for Scotland would be an example for England to follow.

Editorial: Is Jeremy Corbyn playing the long game?


One of the biggest shifts in British politics after the Scottish referendum was the announcement of the EU vote. I was surprised by the result. How could the Tories make such a mistake? Some of my more conspiratorial friends thought that was impossible. Yet there was always a hubris about the British Imperialists. This was excellently captured by “Carry on Up the Kyber” . In which the British ruling elite sat through the bombardment of their colonial palace, drinking tea and exploring their stiff upper lips.
The gamble was to keep us in Europe indefinitely more or less. Staying in the EU was such a no-brainer that surely that even the bottom rungs of society would get it.
Yet we saw a large difference between Town and countryside in the referendum. Little England became defiant and largely for the wrong reasons, not least racism. Yet there was some good reasons for leaving the EU. The Bankers treatment of Greece was imperialistic. Baited by Goldman Sachs into bad debt then given impossible and inhuman austerity measures to impose.
Yet the UK was not Greece. It was a privileged member of the EU and was forever trying block anything progressive that moved in The EU,. Playing at being the US junior partner. Even going to war with Iraq did not have the approval of France and Germany initually. The UK could even maintain its own currency within the eurozone.
Despite everything Greece stayed in the EU. The main reason for this was the single market; The largest trading bloc in the world. As Michael Moore put it the UK had voluntary demoted itself from the premiere league. One of the things to plague the left was the idea of the common market . This supposedly gave too much power to Brussels. Hence protectionism became a badge of hard leftist faith. Something that would have been frowned upon by Karl Marx.

What is clear about protectionism is though it may be a tempory fix for this or that industry it will hurt most industries. This is why when Corbyn says “As he said in his letter back to Ian Blackford, the summit (Blackford proposed a summit for the Single Market)rests on the falsehood that the single market is a membership organisation which you can join, which it is not. Our approach for a jobs-first Brexit, which involves retaining the benefits of the single market, is through negotiation with the EU.”
He is effectively saying we want both protectionism and the free market. The best I can think of this is that it is a stalling mechanism. The SNP are trying to force his hand seeing the recent report from the Labour List saying 75% of the Labour party membership want to remain in the single market as members.
The political long play which I gathered was also the SNP’s  strategy up till now  who seemed to want to let the Tories sink with brexit. The hubris of the Tories is indeed sinking if not drowning. The show of strength by Dublin seems to have pushed hard brexit at least sideways towards the mainland hurtling towards a vote in parliament of some sort. Perhaps towards a new referendum on a deal that will by its very nature will be worse than brexit.
The Tories are in a death agony. If the leadership of the Labour party emerges from hard brexit it has a much better chance playing to its strengths in Metropolitan areas than in Middle England Tory heart lands. Another reason for stalling is to keep a hold of labour voters who voted  for brexit.

Editorial. Scotland a beacon? Real events or wishful thinking?

Editorial. Scotland a beacon? Real events or wishful thinking?

In my experience which I understand is not scientific evidence as such, real events transcend ideology. John Lennon wrote “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. Hardly proof but perhaps here the proof is in the eating and everybody’s life experience can verify this truism to some degree or another.
Perhaps a moment of awakening for me was during the 2014 referendum in which a turning point was when Alex Salmond pushed the SNP’s anti- austerity
message higher up the agenda. It started a poll boost that finally swung Project Fear into full gear by frightening the older generation up and down the country with lies about pensions and such.
It was sorely disappointing to lose to the manipulators of big business and war. Yet it proved to be less than an outright victory for unionism, the Blairite Labour party took a nose dive for their treacherous alignment with “Better Together” The Tories were reduced to one seat.
Despite a minor comeback for the opposition to the SNP at the last General election caused by a unionist coalition again bringing the then fledgling Corbynista Labour party into more disrepute. The change in labour leadership in Scotland though welcome has much to challenge its shabby record and it has to do much moe than declare that Scottish independence is feasible.
What the SNP have done with its limited power with the horrid exception of crippling council budgets,( Removing ring-fencing for the disabled who have seen their services slashed) Despite all this have mitigated some of the worst affects of austerity, removed student fees, and stopped the NHS from becoming a basket case as it is in England and Wales.
This latter saving grace of the SNP , on top of their anti-trident policy offers much to those suffering from austerity down south . It is a real beacon which explains the popularity of Nicola Sturgeon in those countries.
However askew the beacon, however much the Tories austerity is to blame or however weak is the SNP’s opposition, the existence of this beacon is
It is the actual shaping of this beacon that will define the way forward for Scotland and ultimately the rest of the UK. Make no mistake the rise of left reformism in Scotland has had a profound effect on the rise of left reformism in the labour party.
The real event of ongoing austerity and the possible departure from the single market will pose many challenges for the SNP government and the Scottish electorate. If Scottish Labour stop their electoral alliance with the Tories they may make more of a comeback but that could possibly be the start of another SNP landslide.
Ultimately the key to Scotland’s independence is anti-austerity, we need to build a strong base capable of shaping a beacon of hope for the whole world. This movement is capable of providing the tipping point for indyref2 or a Labour/SNP coalition in Westminster which would be a huge step forward.


Editorial : The Forgotten People-plight of the long-term Mentally ill

Editorial: The Forgotten People
When folk think of forgotten people their first thought is often the native Indians of our American neighbour, (you know the one we keep those Trident missiles for) Yet I am referring to a different group of people all together more near to home. Namely the long- term mentally ill.
In Inverness and Glasgow we have seen some of our larger communities uprooted, deprived of funds and building spaces. I know less of the circumstances in Inverness but as Graham Morgan of HUG (Highland Users Group) said “The closure of it (Cairdeas Cottage)will mean that many, many people will no longer have that service and in their words will have nowhere else to go.”

In Glasgow we have seen the closure of the Charlie Reid Centre which was a flagship service for the Support in Mind Scotland, it was run “by the people for the people” as Sandra White SNP msp noted at our meeting with her to help stop the closure. She said she would seek a seminar at the Parliament but we heard nothing from her. I attended a forum run by the Glasgow Trades Council where I asked the question. What happened to the risk assessment report legally due by the Council to report to the public at large. She  said something to the effect that the membership did not want to take part in such a report. This was news to me and I don’t know what evidence she was using to
assert such a blatant contradiction to the commitment of our membership to keep the centre open.

Still the question seems to have been lain to rest by the powers to be.

One of the problems is that that much of the Scottish government’s focus has been on “recovery”. It has less meaning for the long-term mentally ill, for whom one good day a week can be seen as a miracle after months of torment or anguish. This focus is counterproductive for the long term mentally ill and puts them under undue pressure to conform with market needs over personal needs.
People that would find it very difficult to hold down a job or impossible don’t need that kind of pressure in an area where suicide is high risk.
Another thing I have noticed this time about consultations with the mentally ill through their organisations is that the government funded agencies is that these meetings tend to attract those have firmly fixed to established bodies for years and tend to comply to the funding requirements of such bodies, those who actually need the services have a difficult enough time finding safe social spaces,( which incidentally, Raymond Bell a former head of Glasgow Social work department implied the pub was such a place,)

The roll out of Self Directed Support was a shambles in Glasgow, against the Scottish government’s wishes according to Michael Matheson then Minister of Public health, Glasgow’s then labour run council introduced service charges that were in line with the whole of the care component of high rate DLA. This was outrageous and put services in the financial dock. Instead of services being free at the point of delivery, it became a competition for money. This alienated over a hundred of our membership, many of whom we heard ended up in hospital or jail.
At present the remnants of our community is seeking help from the newly run SNP/Green council, even though we are at square one or two of this game of snakes and ladders, where the ladders have been previously systematically kicked from us . Our new group Glasgow Minds is hopeful that current reports such as Audit Scotland’s which is critical of SDS helps to focus the minds of our politicians on this national disgrace that neo-liberalism has brought to our doors.


Although I build this website at the beginning of November, I have been struggling with health issues. I am now more able to focus on my own writing. Firstly let me thank those who have downloaded my app. It was quite an effort to make it and it is very pleasing to me that this is in production. I d like to thank those who have subscribed to my YouTube channel which is a great joy both to produce and share. Although, I have not launched the website yet as there is a few upgrades to come. I am planning to hold an event in January.

The idea of the website is little complex but I shall endeavour to explain . It started as a blog that I kept bits and pieces in. Some of them are still there at the bottom end or foot of the main page. Recently I had the idea of improving the website to the maximum I could make of it. So far I have published two of Freddy Anderson’s poems. Two of the most remembered. More are to follow. There is much to be done in that department and I will try not to let the memory of my father down. Also I have published here some of my best pieces which have been easy to access from other places such as Counterpunch.

I remember being at a class of Paul Cockshott way back. He was talking about the primary contradiction in the world. Capital/labour or imperialism/nationalism. It was an interesting enough discussion but it felt a little out of time even then. The fall of the USSR was not the end of history. That was triumphalist nonsense . What I witnessed was the whole saga of dumbing down. The marginalization of jargon. Language being depoliticized. This whole issue took off about the marginalization of working class accents but it’s worse than that. Rebellion and the language of rebellion was ostracized.

The referendum taught me that the prism of national freedom was too narrowly focused and that the struggle against austerity had to be emphatic. That one without the other was pointless. The closing down of building centred disabled services was quite a blow not only to me but to the political dignity of our country. It has made me a little less proud of our Scottish heritage and what I would like to see passed on to future generations.

I am not a bitter person I believe that would subtract from my persona and philosophy but I am still angry that austerity is still killing people throughout the world. It is an ideological attack on the poor by the banks and their lackey politicians. I support those who speak out against austerity but there has to be a line drawn in the sand when it comes to collusion with murder. STOP IT. No political party should agree to implement cuts but join with the major trade unions in their battle to defend lives and livelihoods.

The era we are living in is characterised by the demise of US imperialism and the rise of the BRICS alliance This growth of the idea of multipolarity is a direct counter balance to Nato. This is primary contradiction at play, it filters through to everything else. Imperialism has been core to finance capitalism ever since the growth of the banking sector. The idea of imperialist rivalry from Russia is muted by the fact that Russia has n’t a bank in the top 200.

It is China that has banks that are competitive and they are either owned by the State or regulated by the State. This makes them fundamentally different to the privately owned banks that fuel western


imperialism. This list of hospitals gives us a little snapshot of that types of “austerity” found in China

The cold war between the Western powers and their acolytes with every other country is being conducted with regular patterns that are beginning to break down as with Syria and Iran, members of the targeted “axis of evil”. This ostensibly isolationist breakdown has seen the rise of protectionism in the countries that championed the “free market” the most the US and the UK.

The shambles of Brexit . Voluntary leaving the largest market in the world will be felt on these islands for decades. I make no apology for covering this item in depth and particularly the Irish border which has dangerous implications for the Good Friday Agreement.

The impoverishment of the UK will be noticed and felt more outside London. I will give out the details of events that either protest austerity or discuss it or related items such as immigration.

Life is stressful. We have to wind down proportionately. I add constantly to my music, comedy and News playlists from YouTube. There is a button in the left hand corner of the YouTube that lists the items on each playlist. TAKE IT EASY BUT TAKE IT.